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Ocean Adventure from Cape Verde to Rotterdam via the spectacular Azores

Book your cabin

4 Berth Cabin Per Person

Limited places

€2770.00 3080.00

2 Berth Cabin pp

Limited places

€3015.00 3350.00

Embark Disembark Vessel DurationVoyage No
Wed 29-03-2023, 17:00Sal, Cape Verde Thu 27-04-2023, 09:00Rotterdam, the Netherlands Oosterschelde 29 NightsOS290323

Sail an Ocean going schooner from tropical Cape Verde off West Africa northwards to Europe. The voyage begins in hot sun and trade winds and you can spot flying fish leaping between wave crests. Stopping in the Azores is an added bonus and the seas around the Azores and on the edge of the continental shelf all the way to North Biscay are rich in fish and cetaceans so there is always plenty of marine life and birds to see.

Spring is also the best time of year to see whales: in April there are many fin whales, blue whales and sei whales passing the Azores on their annual migration. Living and working on a tall ship and standing watches day and night offers one of the best ways to get up close with nature and maximises your chances of seeing dolphins or whales in their natural element.

  • Voyage
  • Vessel


  • Sail through the Cape Verde Archipelago
  • Powerful ocean going schooner with square sails too
  • Excellent below decks accommodation
  • Tropical sun and strong trade wind sailing at the start
  • Stop over in the Azores for re supply with fresh produce
  • Excellent whale spotting potential on this route
  • Escape the modern world totally – no internet out here
  • Become a blue water Sailor


Vessel type / Rig Three Masted Schooner
Guest Berths 24
Beam 25ft
Draft 9.8ft
Deck Length 131ft
Overall Length 164ft
Tonnage 400 tons
Year Built 1917/1992
More about the Vessel

Voyage Description


Experienced sailors or ocean lovers that love ocean voyages and the life of a blue water sailor. One you set off your life is totally dictated by the weather and natural elements. This voyage is likely to offer the full range of ocean weather from tropical trade winds through to lighter wind around the Azores High and possibly a rough and cold crossing of the Bay of Biscay, but at least the spring time westerly depressions are generally blowing you the right way. 



  • Sail through the Cape Verde Archipelago
  • Powerful ocean going schooner with square sails too
  • excellent below decks accommodation
  • Tropical sun and strong trade wind sailing at the start
  • Stop over in the Azores for re supply with fresh produce
  • Excellent whale spotting potential on this route
  • Escape the modern world totally – no internet out here
  • Become a blue water Sailor
Sail on Oosterschelde with classic sailing
Spot wildlife from aloft with a birds eye view


Sail an Ocean going schooner from Cape Verde off West Africa to Europe.This is a great opportunity to be crew on a substantial ocean passage without needing to buy an expensive long haul flight. Stopping in the Azores is an added bonus and the seas around the Azores and on the edge of the continental shelf all the way to North Biscay are rich in fish so there is always plenty of marine life and birds to see. The Azores is one of the best places in Europe to spot cetaceans and the best time of the year is during the Spring time. In April there are many fin whales, blue whales and sei whales passing the Azores on their annual migration.

On a sailing voyage we never use the word itinerary, as skippers will always be aiming for the best sailing and shore landings for the forecast and most idyllic or sheltered anchors and ports. They are as keen as you to include some of the highlights described below, but you have to go with Mother Nature, not fight her. The description below is based on what we think might be possible, based on past trips, or experience, but nothing is guaranteed on a sailing voyage.

Enjoy Tropical Cape Verde

It is worth arriving a few days early to enjoy the hot sun, miles of white sand beaches of Cape Verde’s flattest island.  The voyage starts in Palmeira on Sal but Santa Maria is the place to stay if you want a bit of a beach holiday first. Santa Maria is less than 30 mins from the airport by taxi and  great for watersports like windsurfing or kite surfing and there are several schools on the main beach and plenty of hotels and apartments which can be booked via the web. The beach runs for miles with a cross onshore wind and playful waves for swimming in, and only only pier is a hive of activity with acrobatic dives from local kids and the landing of fish daily.

When you leave you will be heading North so you will see how different and more mountainous the other islands in the archipelago are. 

local fishing boats in Cape Verde. Photo Arthur Smeets
local fishing boats in Cape Verde. Photo Arthur Smeets

Ocean milemaker voyage – Am I up to it ?

The main mission for the ship is to get back to Rotterdam as swiftly and safely as possible, and that means sailing as much as possible but there will be some headwinds on some of the route and possibility of rough weather. As the voyage is billed as a mile maker the price is fixed for the voyage but it is always possible the ship may get into port a few days earlier.  This is a challenging ocean passage and ports are often many days away so it is not a voyage for those with any health problems or prone to seasickness.

This voyage starts in the Port of Palmeria and Oosterschelde is usually anchored so the ships crew will meet you by dinghy, near a small  cafe where the local fishermen unload their catch. The captain  will welcome everybody onboard and he then explain all the (safety) rules onboard and will go through the plans for the voyage.
Unloading fish in Palmeria on Cape Verde. Photo Arthur Smeets
Unloading fish in Palmeria on Cape Verde. Photo Arthur Smeets

A different way of life

This long voyage offers you the chance to experience the true life of a sailor. You will be part of the ships crew and participate in watches day and night, so you are quite justified going off for a ‘power nap’ in the afternoon or whenever you are off watch ! There are a lot of miles to cover so there will be few stops, but in someways they trips ashore seem even more special after a concentrated period at sea.

Trade winds, Whales and a route via the Azores

During the first part of the voyage you will be in boisterous NE trade winds which means the ship will have to sail hard up wind but the hot tropical sun means that spay on deck is actually  quite refreshing and Oosterschelde may be shouldering a big bow wave as she powers as far North as the wind will allow.
The first port will be Horta in the Azores for bunkering fuel (fuel is difficult to obtain in Cape Verde and needed for engine but also generators and water makers) and fresh provisions.

Visit the Azores on a Tall Ship

As it is winter early spring you may experience some gales and big seas but Oosterschelde is a tough ship that has sailed around the world.  The whole route is a great location for spotting whales and dolphins. Even far out to sea many seabirds follow the ship and you may see turtles, sunfish and at night the phosphoresence holds many delights, providing a light show in the ships wake and stars above.
As we approach the English Channel the sea gets shallower and changes colour. The continental shelf rises from 5km deep to 200 metres and the upwelling of plankton creates very rich seas.
If the voyage is ahead of schedule the ship may stop in a French or UK port or the Channel Isles.
dolphins in our bow wave. Oosterschelde in Cape Verde
Photo Arthur Smeets

Rotterdam – Oosterschelde’s Home Port

If the ship makes good time and you arrive 1 or 2 days early  in Oosterschelde’s home port, then the ships crew can show you their favourite haunts! The Classic Sailing team have visited Rotterdam several times and it is a great working city with a young vibrant atmosphere, a lot of waterfront and things to see and do. The train network is awesome and it is easy to get to Schipol Amsterdam Airport or anywhere in Europe from here. 



Ocean sailing in the Westerlies belt often means gale – less winds – next gale as the depression systems hurtle across the Atlantic.  The day light hours, weather and temperatures will be at their best for the first few days on board as you explore the archipelago of Cape Verde, but be prepared for potential foul weather as you  head North.


Whether you are an experienced sailor or a complete beginner, the professional crew will train you to be guest crew from the moment you arrive, with the intention that everybody works together to sail the ship. The common thread to all Classic Sailing holidays is ‘Hands on’ participation on ships that use ropes, blocks and tackles and ‘people power’ to set sail.


We cater for a wide range of ages and physical abilities and how much you are expected to do varies a bit between vessels. See the vessel tab above which explains all about the ‘sailing style’ and what to expect in terms of hands on participation. There is a lot of information about day to day life, the ships facilities and accommodation on the vessel pages.

The gaff sails on all three masts are huge and it is a long way up to release the gaskets and set Oosterschelde’s square sails. There is a Captain, Mate, couple of deck hands, engineer and chef so the ships guest crew will need to work hard as a team to race this impressive ship.

Oosterschelde is a very comfy ship – restored for adventure charter with a huge saloon with bar, piano, wood burning stove and library so if you have always fancied running away to sea for a few weeks, we can’t think of a more stylish way to do it as hands on ships crew.

Both of Classic Sailing working directors have sailed on Oosterschelde in Jan 2011 so we can tell you what she is like to sail on if you give us a ring.

More details and photos of Oosterschelde – see vessel details tab above.

blue water sailing on tall ship oosterschelde
blue water sailing on tall ship oosterschelde


Every customer sailing with us will need to fill in basic medical questions on their booking application. If you are not sure if your current level of fitness and agility are up to a voyage, then please ring the Classic Sailing Office


  • Skipper & professional crew
  • Personal Safety Equipment
  • Sailing Instruction
  • All meals, snacks and refreshments
  • Port and landing fees
  • Linen and duvets
  • Third Party liability insurance


  • Travel to Joining Port
  • Travel from end port
  • Alcoholic Drinks
  • Towels
  • Waterproofs
  • Personal travel insurance


Start & End Port

Sal, Cape Verde

For joining Oosterschelde and Blue Clipper, and usually, any ship on the island of Sal see the above map for the port of Palmeira. It is about a 15-minute taxi ride from the airport (€15 approx). If you are staying over on the island before joining your ship, please see advice below on where is best to stay.

Voyages start and end from Palmeira which is a bay and small fishing port on the west of the island, nearer the airport. The large concrete commercial breakwater is cordoned off.

Wait under the shady tree near the bar, Chiosco, near the Chapel ‘Capela De Sad Jose’ where the local fishermen unload their catch on a little stone jetty. The ship’s dinghy will come in to collect you at joining time.

Rotterdam, the Netherlands


Rotterdam – With Oosterschelde


There are a few places in Rotterdam where you could potentially be meeting your vessel. Make sure you have made a note of the ship’s phone number found in your final confirmation email in case of any problems on the day.

Rotterdam is easy to get by high speed train.



Kit List

Oosterschelde Kit List



  • Sailing Instruction
  • Safety Equipment (life jackets and harnesses)
  • All meals to including refreshments throughout the day
  • Duvet, pillow and sheets
  • Hand towels

What is not Included

  • Waterproof jackets and trousers
  • Alcoholic drinks but there is a bar on board

What to Bring

Suitcases take up a lot of room in a cabin, so it is better to uses soft bags in a ship. A small rucksack for going ashore is useful.

  • Oosterschelde does not supply waterproof jackets and salopette type trousers. Please bring your own waterproof clothing.
  • A mix of warm and wind proof clothing.
  • Lots of thin layers is better than one thick layer in cold destinations.
  • In tropical countries - long sleeves and long trousers to protect you from the sun 
  • Footwear on board needs a good grip and soft soles- the decks are wood or steel.
  • Ashore stout, waterproof walking boots are best if you are in remote places.
  • Oosterschelde has European 2 pin sockets 240 V
  • Cameras, chargers and video recorders
  • Binoculars are handy for bird watching etc.
  • Suntan lotion, hats, sunglasses
  • Dont forget any regular medication, persciption glasses and spare
  • Euros for bar bill
  • Passport, travel insurance, tickets etc
  •  To get ashore is usually by dinghy so be prepared to get wet feet. Rubber boots or quick drying sandals - depending on the location.


Cape Verde & Caribbean Crew

Together with my husband Bert we were on the trip around the Cape Verde on the Oosterschelde and had a great time. The crew was fantastic and very friendly. They showed us what has to be done to sail a beautiful ship like this. Made some new friends among the passengers and it was a trip I will not forget for a long while. And who knows when we will meet again. Thanks" Jenny H E.  from NL Mar 2018

I've just completed my fourth voyage in four years and it was like a big family holiday! Familiar faces welcomed us aboard, we met up with guests and friends from previous voyages and the islands that we visited in the French West Indies were beautiful. The best part of the voyage was our last sailing day when the "lunatics took over the asylum". Maarten let the guest crew sail the Oosterschelde from St Lucia to Martinique (while keeping an eye on us to make sure that neither we or the ship were in danger) It was hard work but safe to say that I learned a lot more on that day, having to think about what I was doing, rather than just being told what to do. We are just about to book our next voyage" Richard D. British Columbia

What was the best bit?
Variety of sailing and the islands visited.

What was the worst bit?
One rough passage.

Why do you sail?
We enjoy the technicalities of sailing a large vessel and the passage planning involved. We generally enjoy off-shore sailing.

Any other comments
The skipper and crew were very friendly, helpful and informative. Accommodation and food was very good.- Phillip B - Cape Verde 

Ocean Passages

What was the best bit?
A genuine feel for a bit of a longer ocean voyage with great people.

What was the worst bit?
Somewhat cramped cabins if sharing

Why do you sail? 
Comraderie; understanding historical sailing voyages; seeing interesting parts of the world" Robbin C: Ocean Crossings

Credit to Robbin Conner - Oosterschelde Ocean Crossing from Cape Verde to Rotterdam
Credit to Robbin Conner - Oosterschelde Ocean Crossing from Cape Verde to Rotterdam

Canada Tall Ships Race Participants

So happy to have sailed from Miramichi to Quebec! So good to be on this beautiful grand old lady with only nice and funny people. Miss you all! And for this moment especially Richards' breakfast. Thank you so much Jenny Edward Richard Jan-Willem Jurriaan and Maarten, and all the other guests for this wonderful and amazing time. Love and hugs xxx Ernst and Ellen V.

The dream come true! What a georgous trip I had between Québec and Halifax! A part of me will be onboard forever... Il will be back to you, most beautiful ship of the world! I will be back, Oosterschelde!  What a crew! What a captain! Marteen, I could write a novel with you as the major character! You are an amazing guy, a good, a great man! Your team is fantastic! I am now back ashore but... "I must go down to sea again... "

" C'est pas l'homme qui prend la mer
C'est la mer qui prend l'homme " 

Pierre-Luc. Canada

Now is the hour that I must say goodbye, soon you'll be sailing far across the sea. We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when. Maybe in the south pacific or around Cape Horn. Captain Arian, I would sail anywhere in the world with you, your crew and Oosterschelde. Warren C. New Zealand

The Word from European Voyages

Just sailed on the Oosterschelde across the North Sea to the Netherlands! Great taste of sailing would recommend to anyone who is thinking of dipping their toe in. Loved every second of it, hauling ropes out in the elements (mainly with the Sun on my back) rolling around in the middle of the North Sea on the deck of an authentic lovely Dutch schooner brilliant! A life changing experience of the open sea, next stop RYA competent crew! Many thanks to Adam and Classic Sailing for all the arrangements at such short notice and thanks too to all the crew for looking after me and feeding me so well. Be warned though life ashore afterwards can seem very hum-drum." Rex aka Steve W

I  want to thank the crew for the three magnificent days passed on board, between "Golfe du Morbihan" and "Le Havre". I sailed on numerous occasions on about ten different ships, and this sailing on Oosterschelde is the best experience I ever had. I was impressed by the good performances of the ship, and by the way the crew adjusts sails permanently so that the ship always gives the best ; it was an immense pleasure to participate of my best in all these operations. I regret that our different languages did not allow us to communicate more, because all the crew members were really very nice and very thoughtful with us. I have now only an envy: to embark again on Oosterschelde, to be on the deck to participate in the laborers of sails, to climb on the mast to help the crew, and to share again these excellent moments given by sailing on Oosterschelde !!! " Excuse my bad English, Gilbert P. Vernon, France

Vessel Gallery

Three Masted Topsail Schooner Oosterschelde in action and images. Photos from Classic Sailing customers, ships crew and professional photographers. We hope it gives a flavour of her sailing, life on board, the people that come, her beautiful sailing grounds and what it is like to live below decks.

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