At 223ft long (63 metres) she is the largest tall ship Classic Sailing offers activity holidays on, but the crew to guest ratio is excellent so you will be well looked after. This historic Portuguese tall ship has excellent facilities on board and plenty of holiday toys like dive ribs, ‘stand up paddle boards’ and kayaks, but this is also a ship where you can take part in the hands on sailing, join a night watch or climb the rigging.
Santa Maria Manuela was once the flagship of the Portuguese cod fishing fleet. Built in 1937, in the same year as her sister ship Creoula, she was designed to fish the Newfoundland Banks and rich fishing waters of Arctic Greenland. She often carries the small rowing and sailing dories that would have set out from the mother ship to fish for cod, so you can continue her fishing tradition from small boats or from her huge wooden decks.
Length On Deck
Vessel Type / Rig
Santa Maria Manuela’s new owners have given a lot of though into how to offer unique activity holidays on a tall ship over 200 feet long. With the deck spaces to store water sports ‘toys’ and dive equipment on some specialist dive trips, the keen professional crew offer much more than the sail training experience. Adventure charter voyages are open for all age groups. The Portuguese are very hospitable people and want you to have a great time on their flagship
She has been restored to create a comfortable ‘mother ship’ with well organised hospitality team, but without compromising her ability to offer the real hands on tall ship experience. Even complete novices can be taught to become crew on one of the biggest schooners in the world. The huge gaff sails are traditionally rigged and it will take teamwork to set all sail on her 4 masts and look magnificent. On passage, guest crew will be in working watches, participating in the sailing, steering the ship and lookout duties.
Santa Maria Manuela has a home port of Lisbon and uses her local waters to advantage. She offers mini ocean passages from Portugal out to the Madeira and the Azores island groups. Once amongst the islands, the ship has large ships RIB (rigid inflatable) to take you ashore to explore. Whether you chose Island hopping or specialist scuba diving voyages there is plenty to do. The ship has kayaks and stand up paddle boards (SUP) and several of the professional deck crew have dual roles as water-sports instructors or guides.
She also sails to Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) for both island hopping and dive holidays, so the fresh trade winds here help her power up under sail and you can watch her mighty bow carve through the blue seas.
Setting sails on this four masted legendary tall ship reminds us of the size of the ocean going fishing fleets of the early 19th Century. Santa Maria Manuela took part in the international tall ships races in 2018. Her identical sized sister ship Creola is owned by the Portuguese Navy and with bigger topsails than Manuela can still reach 17 knots. In their heyday in the 1930’s the fish catch, caught by rod and line in small wooden dories, could be as much as 36 ton of cod in a single day, so every ship would have been very keen to get home across the North Atlantic first.
The scale of the ship is more akin to the big Russian tall ships than other schooners or barques in Classic Sailing fleet. You can hold a substantial party on her decks, indulge in a bit of deck football or try a thrilling kind of relaxing in the bowsprit netting, way above the sea. If that is not enough vertigo for you then the view from the top of the mast is an adrenalin inducing 113ft above the sea.
The meals cooked on board are a mix of traditional Portuguese and international tastes, but fish and seafood feature strongly.
The giant bows were strengthened for ice conditions in Greenland fishing grounds. Santa Maria Manuela has offered fishing and sailing voyages in the Arctic Circle. She may repeat these voyages in future. Guests took sailing dories out in the waters of Lofoten to re live past times. They have oars and a lug sail, but watch out for Moby Dick.
For Portugal, the sea is our history and it has to be our future” National Geographic
Santa Maria Manuela aims to be involved with at least one oceanographic or marine conservation expedition a year as part of the ships ethos. In June 2018 she was the floating base for the Oceano Azul Foundation expedition with National Geographic Pristine Seas, Waitt Foundation and partners.
This involved diving and new research around the Azores to conserve sea life. The ships crew benefits from being involved in this contemporary research each year, and takes full advantage of the knowledge the professional divers and researchers bring on board, when they are running adventure charter voyages. For example on their diving expeditions in the Azores and Cape Verde your dive master is one of the divers from the National Geographic Expedition this summer.
Most people who step aboard the Santa Maria Manuela have not sailed before. The professional crew are there to teach you and make sure your voyage is rewarding,engaging and most of all, fun. Life onboard really is about joining in, so they invite you to roll your sleeves up and get involved. The professional crew are mostly from Portugal, so the main working language is Portuguese, but English is the second language. The ship has crew manuals translated into English, and any verbal briefing or sailing instruction can be translated into English by the deck crew or officers as English is the international language for seafarers worldwide.
The Captain and his 4 officers oversee the safe and efficient running of the ship and the sailing and learning experience aboard. The ship is owned by ‘Recheio Cash & Carrry’ a large catering supplier so good food is close to their heart and the hospitality team work hard to look after you below decks, while on deck the ships boatswain and his team of four able seamen make a point of working with the trainee to get the sails up at every opportunity.
The family values which are so celebrated in Portugal are evident through the service provided by our Chief Steward and his team, with meal times forming a central element in the crew (ships crew and guests) coming together as a unified team.
On short passages and island hopping voyages the sailing is an essential part of the voyage but your requirement to participate is not so necessary. Enjoy the view and fresh air and join in as much or as little as you like. The sailing is more likely to be day sailing with overnight anchorages or ports.
On longer voyages you can expect to be involved in sailing handling and watch keeping. Therw is more on the watch system below.
The ships full time crew have a section responsible for the deck and sail handling headed by the Bosun. The regular bosun that I sailed with is called Ivo He has just the right character for a bosun , knowledgeable, safety conscious and a great encourager. A keen yachtsman and currently gaining RYA qualifications on top of his big ship certificates.
There will be two teams per gaff sail lined up on opposite sides of the ship. The bosun and his team of deckhands will sort you into line and show your how to pull on a rope as a team, Yes you will be putting considerable effort into hauling but the pace will be adjusted to suite the team and people can drop out and others can take over. Everybody has their own abilities and this is fully respected and no one will be called out for lack of ability.
The port side team will haul the end of the sail towards the aft end up in the air until it sticking up like a peak, that’s why it’s called the ‘peak halyard’. The starboard side team who will haul the part of the sail up closest to the mast and you will see the top structure, the gaff, of the sail has a fitting that goes around the sides of the mast to keep it in place. This looks like a jaw and throat so is called the ‘Throat halyard’. Don’t worry there is no need to learn all the names and parts of the ship it’s not like there would be a test or anything.
Apart from the four large gaff sails there are three headsails, the ones in front of the foremast. Each sail will take one team to haul it up and other people to control the sheets etc.
In good weather it is possible to set sails above the four gaff sails normally called gaff topsails. Although these are in use high above the deck the hoisting is all done from teams on the deck.
Santa Maria Manuela also has a square sail set on the foremast. This requires teams on deck to set and to put away. If this square sails needs to tied up, stowed away, when it is aloft a small time can be sent up the rigging to physically tie it up. Going aloft is always voluntary and if you choose to go aloft you will be trained first and wearing a safety harness. Personally I love to go aloft as you get amazing views and a real feel for sailing the old fashioned way.
On a Tall Ships Race or long Ocean passage a formal watch keeping rota will be in operation with four watches. Basically a four hour watch with 12 hours of in between but this can vary.
The duties include –
Full details of what it is like to sail in the Santa Maria Manuela Manual are available online and will be sent to you with your booking approval.
Whatever you level of sailing experience you will find that Santa Maria Manuela and her crew will adapt to your abilities and make sure you have a great time.
The cabins are described in detail in this section, but in summary the ship has a mix of cabins for 2, 4 or 6 people
All the shared cabins have:
You won’t get lost on the main deck, but it is almost large enough for a game of football. There is plenty of room to store dories that can be sailed or rowed, water sports equipment and 2 large RIBS (Rigid Inflatable Vessels with outboards) that can take up to 14 people each ashore or on a dive.
The ship also has sit on kayaks and stand up paddle boards for guests to use when the ship is anchored somewhere suitable. Most of the deck crew have a secondary recreational role in addition to sailing knowledge, so you can go to an expert on a kayak or ask a technical question about diving
The bridge and navigation room is on the main deck. The main companionway is in the centre of the deck, but there are at least 3 other access points to lower decks.The galley is also at deck level, which is very handy when meals are served on deck.
You can see from the layout below that you could hold quite a large party on the main deck, so if you want to hire the whole ship, she does have dates around her sailing programme where she can be in port and provide a very stylish venue. Contact Classic Sailing for details on 0044 1872 580022
Santa Maria Manuela is one of the larger tall ships based in Europe. She has two decks levels. There is a bar on board for when you are off watch. The ship has WiFi and there is a screen for watching movies in one of the communal areas.
This is the first deck you come to as you go below. Here are located the recreational areas and some of the cabin accommodation.
The Captain and deck officer accommodation is towards the stern.
The guest crew (trainees) have cabins in the middle of the ship. This is a designated quiet area and doors are off a central corridor, with access to the outside main deck. All cabins have a port hole so you can see the sea.
There is a multi purpose room with chairs and tables for guest crew to relax in, meals, use for lectures etc.
There is a scullery for the galley forward of the recreational room and has another companionway to access outer main deck.
stewards and ratings have accommodation near the bow
There are two sets of steps down to deck two, where there are further trainee cabins en suite in the middle of the ship. This is a designated quiet area and doors are off a central corridor. All cabins have a port hole so you can see the sea.
The ship has watertight bulkheads separating the accommodation from other areas of this deck, like Engine room, laundry, food stores.
The ship has a mix of cabins for 2, 4 or 6 people sharing. All the cabin accommodation in in the central part of the ship, which is the most stable part of any ship.
All the shared cabins have:
Quilts and bed linen is provided, as well as towels for use on the ship (you need your own towel for the beach). The beds are bunks in all cabins with a ladder to reach the upper bunks. All beds have privacy curtains. If you are a solo traveller (the majority of our trainee crews come as individuals) then you will be allocated a cabin with other guest(s) of the same sex.
Unless the ship is taking part in a tall ships race it is unlikely that the ship will have it’s maximum of 50 guest crew, so there should be reasonable flexibility if, when you find yourself on board, you want to move to a different size cabin or location.
There are 240v 2 pin European sockets in each cabin.
Length Overall: 225ft (68.64m)
Length on deck: 173ft (52.68m)
Beam – 33ft (10m)
draft – 18ft (5.5m)
Year built: 1937
Vessel type/rig: 4 masted gaff schooner
Trainee crew berths (guest crew): 50
Max Professional crew: 22
Sail area 1266.4 sq m (12 sails)
Displacement ton – 992 tonne
Satellite Communication System:
The ship has a satellite email address which can be provided
The ship is run by 18 crew and supported by up to 46 trainee crew – that’s you!
The Captain and his 4 officers oversee the safe and efficient running of the ship and the sailing and learning experience aboard, while his Hospitality Manager ensures that the ships trainees and guests are cared for. The ships two engineers keep the engines running below decks, while on deck the ships boatswain and his team of four able seamen make a point of working with the trainee to get the sails up at every opportunity.
As you would expect from a ship owned by one of Portugal’s largest food companies, catering is important and meal time is a chance for trainees and ships professional crew to get together. The chief steward, chief cook and the galley team are used to providing Portuguese home cooking for charter guest crews, hungry oceanographic research teams and corporate events and special functions.
The photo above is from 2018 – here are a few names that are on the ship in winter 2019
Front Row: Sandra – Chief Steward, Ivo the Bosun on the right
Middle row: Nuno -2nd Engineer on the left