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Combine two ocean legs for an epic adventure at a great price

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4 Berth Cabin Per Person


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Embark Disembark Vessel DurationVoyage No
Tue 06-12-2022, 10:00Rotterdam, the Netherlands Wed 04-01-2023, 09:00Sal, Cape Verde Oosterschelde 29 NightsOS061222A

Migrate South for the Sun – Rotterdam to Tenerife and then onwards to Cape Verde. Enjoy Christmas Day in Santa Cruz after 20 days at sea, and then see in the New Year en route to Cape Verde: the perfect way to escape all the usual festive hype ashore. Oosterschelde heads South in December like a late migrating bird, heading for her favourite winter sailing grounds. This impressive three-masted schooner is sailing from the Netherlands to the Canaries – a 20 day ocean adventure across Biscay and down the coast of Africa, followed by a further 8 days blue water sailing from Tenerife to Cape Verde.

  • Voyage
  • Vessel


  • Christmas and New Year on board are very special occasions.
  • 28 days sailing from Holland to the Cape Verde
  • Real Ocean Sailing
  • Powerful ocean going schooner with square sails
  • Excellent below decks accommodation
  • Big Wave Sailing on an impressive Tall Ship
  • Civilised accommodation for life on an angle
  • Piano, library, leather sofas, stove and bar
  • square and gaff sails
  • proper big ships wheel
  • full range of weather from Biscay to Canaries
  • Possible stops in North Spain and Cadiz area
  • Stops in the Canary Islands
  • Good dolphin spotting near continental shelf


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

Sailing on Oosterschelde with Classic Sailing
Sailing as guest crew


Experienced or keen sailors who have a realistic attitude to the possibility of seasickness, until they get their sea legs, or are experienced enough to know they are not bothered by it. There will be rough seas this time of year so if you get a buzz from being on a powerful ocean going schooner in big Atlantic swell and can tough it out until the conditions get warmer then this is a classic tall ships adventure.

Those wanting to escape the dark days of winter and enjoy an outdoor life with waves and spray, sail handling action and camaraderie on deck, and a very comfortable, civilised ship below decks.  Its a raw, wild adventure with good possibilities for whales and dolphins on this route and the hundred and one daily variations that make life at sea unpredictable and full of wonder at the powers and beauty of nature.



  • Christmas and New Year at Sea are very special occasions.
  • Big Wave Sailing on an impressive Tall Ship
  • Civilised accommodation for life on an angle
  • Piano, library, leather sofas, stove and bar
  • square and gaff sails
  • proper big ships wheel
  • full range of weather from Biscay to Canaries
  • Possible stops in North Spain and Cadiz area
  • Good dolphin spotting near continental shelf
Oosterschelde is a fast ship
Oosterschelde is a fast ship – 300 tons of steel hull and wooden masts


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.

Oosterschelde – Ocean Milebuilder to Canaries and on to the Cape Verde

Oosterschelde, like several European tall ships, will head South like a migrating bird in Autumn, heading for her favourite winter sailing ground. This impressive three masted schooner is sailing from her home port of Rotterdam to the tropical islands of Cape Verde off Senegal which lie on the same Latitude as St Lucia in the Caribbean. 

dolphins under a sailing ship bows by Volker
dolphins under a sailing ship bows by Volker

Milebuilder Voyage – Get into the rhythm of passage-making

This 28 day voyage offers you the chance to experience the true life of a sailor on a proper ocean passage departing from a  cold, dark European port in winter but quickly reaching warmer seas off Portugal and then Africa and the Canary Islands. The ship will not make many port stops, during this trip. Therefore, this voyage is not meant for people who wish to go sightseeing or who know they suffer badly from seasickness.. You will be on board of a three masted topsail schooner for three and a half weeks.  You are sailing through some of the best seas for dolphins and whales in the Northern Hemisphere, especially around the edge of the continental shelf near Northern Spain, the fast tides near Gibraltar, and the pilot whale breeding grounds off Tenerife.

Canary Islands to Cape Verde

Cape Verde is 700 miles further South, on the latitude as St Lucia in the Caribbean, so if you are looking for a good bit of sun, blue seas and sailing in shorts and t shirt, then this is a perfect break for those who already know they love sailing.  The Canaries are on the edge of the NE trade winds but Cape Verde islands sit slap bang in the middle so the sailing should be exciting too.  

Mizzen mast view on Oosterschelde
Mizzen mast view on Oosterschelde

Milebuilder for the Career Sailor

The voyage from Rotterdam to Canaries  is about 1800 miles. If you are working your way towards the 2500 qualifying miles needed for a RYA yachtmaster exam then this passage is a good way of getting to that target quickly and with considerably more comfort than a large yacht. If this is your aim, remember it will give you open ocean experience but not much coastal navigation or pilotage, but if you combine it with other shorter voyages it is a good string to your bow. 

If you really want to be flamboyant en route, there is a piano in Oosterschelde’s saloon.

A mile maker voyage is principally to get a ship from A to B. Oosterschelde is quite a fast ship so it is possible you may reach Canaries a day or so early, but car hire is easy in the Canaries and some great mountain roads and villages to the north of the island to explore, or just soak up the sun on the beach.

Avoiding all that Commercial Christmas Hype

If you hate all the commercial build up to Christmas, then being at sea in late December and relying on what you have on board for entertainment, maintenance and meals is a refreshing change to shopping hell and naff Christmas advertising on the TV.  Your mobile phone is soon out of range and you are free from shore responsibilities for a few weeks. Christmas Day itself will be a truly special occasion as, moored in Santa Cruz, you can finally have a meal with the entire crew after 20 days at sea. Sailing onward for Cape Verde, and the New Years’ celebrations at sea, will be unforgettable.

Free as a bird. Why we go sailing
Free as a bird. Why we go sailing

Down Channel to the Atlantic Ocean

The first part of the voyage is potentially cold and challenging as you head for the Dover Straits and down Channel to the Western Approaches and out into the Atlantic.  Cornwall or Brittany are probably your last chance for a port stop as no ship wants to hug the coast in the Bay of Biscay.  Next landfall will likely be the mountains of Northern Spain or the Spanish and Portguese rias.  A favourite stop here is Vigo.

Blue Water Sailing via Canaries

The voyage down the Portuguese coast to Cape St Vincente may still be quite cool but after the Straits of Gibraltar the winds and current should be favourable and the climate gets warmer and warmer. Oosterschelde will make a stop in the Canaries and then it is a further 850 miles to Cape Verde.

If you plan to stay on in Cape Verde, see our Cape Verde voyages for ideas on what you could do if you stayed on for the next voyage or travelled independently through the islands. (Cape Verde visas required)


Crew ashore walking in the Canaries mountains in Tenerife
Crew ashore walking in the Canaries mountains in Tenerife


Watch Keeping & Working Aloft

During the voyage you will be spilt up into watches, the normal duty rota is four hours on duty and eight off but this may vary with circumstances and crew abilities. This is a deep sea voyage and you will get into the rhythm of an Ocean Passage with time to unwind and enjoy the sheer beauty of the Atlantic. If you like to keep busy then there is always ships maintenence to help with.

Oosterschelde has square sails so the brave can help the crew aloft to stow sails, but it is never compulsory.

The foremast has square sails on Oosterschelde
The foremast has square sails on Oosterschelde

Ocean Seabirds & Cetaceans

There are islands off Vigo, several of which are bird reserves and rather beautiful anchorages. The rugged surf swept coastline and drowned river valleys (rias) are a haven for sea birds which wheel about in vast numbers and chase the local fishing boats down the Portuguese coast.

In addition to bird life it is more than likely that you will see dolphins and whales as they too travel the coast of Western Europe and can often be seen in vast schools where the Continental shelf comes close to the tip of Northern Spain. The next hotspot for cetaceans is amongst the Canaries where again the seabed rises from great depths around each volcanic island. Nearer to Cape Verde the ship may be followed by bonito and tuna, and you may spot turtles in the lee of islands where the sea is calmer.


Trade Wind Sailing with Exploration Ashore ?

If you would like some good trade wind sailing on the ocean but would prefer a bit more exploring ashore – why not look at our 11 day Cape Verde based voyages. 


Oosterschelde – Round the World charter vessel

Oosterschelde was built in 1918 and is an extremely tough ocean going ship. She carries a worldwide operating licence and has sailed to the Arctic, Antarctica, Indonesia and around the world as a charter vessel. She carries a skipper, mate, engineer, 2 deckhands and a great cook, but the rest is down to you as guest crew, so if you want hands on sailing where your contribution to the ship is highly valued, or you are looking for sea time for a sailing career then this is a seriously good voyage to sign up for.


Ocean sailing in the Westerlies belt often means gale – less winds – next gale as the depression systems hurtle across the Atlantic. If the jet stream moves North then you could escape lightly and have a balmy sail down towards Northern Spain, but be ready for both extremes. The day light hours, weather and temperatures improve as yo head southwards and you might be in shorts as you reach level with Portugal or North Africa.


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.


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 on 01872 58 00 22 and we can chat through your concerns and possibly find options that might suit you better.


  • 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

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.



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.

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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