|Sun 12-05-2024, 14:00Pasaia, Northern Spain||Thu 23-05-2024, 11:00Gloucester Docks, UK||Grayhound||11 Nights||GR120524|
Set sail from the idyllic port of Pasaia Itsas Festibala in Northern Spain aboard the Grayhound, a traditional Cornish Lugger dating back to 1776. The voyage across the Bay of Biscay is more than just travel; it’s an immersion into 18th-century seafaring life. Hoist sails, navigate by stars, and drink in the maritime splendour while dolphins play in the wake and seabirds provide escort.
Your destination is no less thrilling: Gloucester’s Tall Ships festival, a bustling waterfront event where the Grayhound will be among the star attractions. Rub shoulders with sailing aficionados, tour other magnificent ships, and recount your own tales of crossing the Bay of Biscay.
GRAYHOUND is one of the largest sailing luggers in the world today. She was built in Cornwall in 2012 and has a 20m long hull, is 33m overall and a canvas area of 470 square meters. The original plans were those of a three masted lugger from 1776. Luggers from that time were built for speed and swiftness ideal for privateering, smuggling…or for hunting the latter! “Pirate hand-break turns” and cannon firing is always on the menu on Grayhound!
You will join Grayhound in Pasaia, a fetching Spanish port where the Bay of Biscay sparkles under the warm, Iberian sun. If you’re able to, we recommend arriving a day early to explore this charming harbour town, nestled along the rugged Basque coastline. The town is steeped in maritime history—something that’s right up any sailor’s alley. Walk past fishermen’s houses and look out for the statue of the French writer, Victor Hugo. Why not head up to the La Plata Lighthouse for a panoramic gaze over the Bay of Biscay – after all, you’ll soon be sailing out there! You can almost hear the old navigators whispering in your ear, urging you to set sail. Navigating up the Bay of Biscay, you’ll traverse waters that present a mix of open ocean and coastal landscapes. The transition from the rocky coasts of Spain to the expansive sea serves as a dynamic backdrop for your journey.
Spring is a great time of year for wildlife enthusiasts. In the Bay of Biscay you’ll find yourself in the heart of one of Europe’s most spectacular seascapes, teeming with marine life. The azure waters and gentle breeze create a mesmerizing, immersive experience. Keep your binoculars handy because you might spot playful dolphins riding the bow wave, and if you’re lucky, majestic whales breaching the surface. It’s also a prime time for birdwatching, with seabirds like gannets and shearwaters soaring overhead.
Grayhound offers a hands-on sailing experience. Under the guidance of skilled professional crew, you’ll get involved in setting the sails, helming, and if you fancy it, even celestial navigation if conditions allow. It’s a taste of 18th-century seamanship brought into the present, and you don’t need prior sailing experience to take part. One of the most rewarding aspects of the trip is the teamwork. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a newcomer, there’s a role for everyone on board. Shared responsibilities create a sense of community, and you’ll find that the physical tasks, though demanding, are part of the charm.
Sailing up the Bristol Channel and navigating through the canal system to reach Gloucester is a journey that transitions from the openness of the sea to the more confined, but equally charming, waterways of the British interior. The Bristol Channel is known for its strong tidal ranges, among the highest in the world, which can be both a challenge and an asset. As you navigate northward, you’ll transition from the broad Bristol Channel into the River Severn. After reaching Sharpness, you’ll transition from the river to the canal system. The Gloucester and Sharpness Canal was initially engineered to bypass a particularly hazardous stretch of the River Severn; it’s relatively straight and wide for a canal, specifically designed to accommodate larger vessels like the ones you’re familiar with. This leg of the journey is typically serene, surrounded by lush greenery, pastoral settings, and the occasional old industrial warehouse reminding you of the canal’s working history.
Your journey culminates in the Gloucester Tall Ships festival, a gathering of classic ships and maritime enthusiasts. Grayhound will be among the featured vessels, providing an opportunity to compare notes with sailors from other ships. Gloucester Tall Ships Festival is one of the most anticipated maritime events in the UK. It attracts tall ships from around the globe, making the docks come alive with nautical activity. These festivals have been occasions where heritage, tradition, and modern sailing culture coalesce beautifully. As for activities, you can usually expect a robust programme featuring live music, sea shanties, maritime-themed plays, and interactive workshops. There’s often a market selling nautical crafts and foods, as well as a range of shoreside entertainment, from funfair rides to spectacular fireworks in the evening.
While no prior experience needed for this journey, please be advised that this voyage is partly an open-water crossing, with a night watch system in place and be aware that the Bay of Biscay can at times be challenging – while we don’t want that to put you off, please take some time to consider if this voyage is right for you. Rest assured that Grayhound’s seasoned crew will act as your maritime mentors, schooling you in the art of sailing this iconic vessel so that even the most novice guest will have a safe and fun crossing. Whether it’s hoisting the canvas or plotting a course across open waters, you’ll be invited to take the tiller, read the charts, and keep watch as you navigate through the twilight. It’s a tactile experience that not only connects you with the Lugger but also deepens your relationship with the open sea.
Spring can be a bit unpredictable in terms of weather, so be prepared for a mix of conditions. You might encounter some brisk winds, especially across the Bay of Biscay. While the weather might be a bit on the cooler side, it’s also a refreshing time to sail, and you’ll appreciate the salty breeze in your face.
The sea state can vary, but generally, the Bay of Biscay is known for its lively waters. ‘Grayhound’ is a sturdy vessel, well-equipped for these conditions, and the experienced crew will ensure your safety and comfort throughout the journey.
On a sailing voyage we never use the word itinerary, as skippers will always be aiming for the best and safest sailing routes for the forecast. They are as keen as you to include some of the highlights described above, but when it comes to sailing, you have to go with Mother Nature, not fight her. The description provided is based on what we think might be possible, based on past trips, or prior experience, but nothing is guaranteed on a sailing voyage. As such, the scheduled joining ports, routes, activities and/or destinations may be altered. Due to the complexities of weather systems, this may be at very short notice.
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. Handling cargo adds an extra dimension – building teamwork and communication skills and leaving you with a great sense of achievement.
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.
Thank you so much to all the Grayhound crew for an unforgettable adventure. I cannot imagine a kinder and better crew with which to sail.Caroline
Thanks all for a great time, I really enjoyed it. Fastest Channel crossing I have managed!Barney
An unforgettable experienceJonathon
We've had two idyllic sailing trips. One particularly fantastic day scrambling over big volcanic rocks down a deep craggy valley to a black sand beach with dramatically high cliffs. Grayhound was waiting, attracting attention because she's so beautiful and unique. Swimming out to her in the clear waters o the Atlantic rates as one of life's highlights.Grayhound Guest
Fantastic, exhilarating and an honour to be on such a ship.Des
Excellent company of genuine all round sailors. The wind in my face and the swell beneath. 5 stars for welcome, accommodation on board, safety, quality of sailing, food, skipper and crew.Barry
Outstanding and unforgettable experience. Loved learning the lug rig, meeting the crew and other guests, playing an active role on board.Charlie
Brilliant sail on an interesting boat with friendly and knowledgeable people.Steve
Three masted lugger Grayhound is a unique sight and a joy to take photos of. Not only does she look very unusual as it is a rig not seen much now, she has a mission to deliver cargoes under sail, so she is the darling of the press. 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.
A Coruna to La Rochelle MS240615
La Rochelle, France
La Rochelle to Bordeaux MS240623
La Rochelle, France
Biscay Crossing & Pasaia Festival Sail - GR250424
Horta, on Ilha do Faial, Azores
Pasaia, Northern Spain
Recently Viewed Voyages