|Tue 06-12-2022, 10:00Rotterdam, the Netherlands||Mon 26-12-2022, 09:00Santa Cruz, Tenerife||Oosterschelde||20 Nights||OS061222|
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 . Tenerife has cheap flights back home, or you can sign up for leg 2 and enjoy a further 8 days blue water sailing from Tenerife to Cape Verde.
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.
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, 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 Caribbbean. This is the first leg of the journey from Rotterdam to Tenerife, with cheap flights back home from the major winter sun holiday destination.
This 20 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.
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.
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. If you can’t spare the 20 days off work, the voyage after is only 8 days blue water sailing from Tenerife to Sal in Cape Verde. Christmas Day itself, once moored up in Santa Cruz, will be a truly special occasion, as for the first time in weeks you enjoy a meal with the entire crew.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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 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.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
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.
There are cheap flights to Tenerife from all over Europe as it is a major winter sun holiday destination. You can probably find a flight from regional airports too. There are too many discount airline options to mention.
The harbour in Santa Cruz de Tenerife is huge, with two marinas and miles of harbour wall and quaysides for cruise ships and bigger tall ships. Berths for tall ships are small fry for the port authorities as the bigger more profitable ships get priority, so the sailing ships captain will have to go where ever the port authority puts them, and they may not get to stay there for very long. Please book a flight that gets in at a sensible time for you to get to the ship on time, even if it means getting there the day before and booking into a hotel.
If your vessel is small enough to get into one of the marinas then we can usually be a bit more specific as to where to find the ship beforehand.
The ships exact location in port is often controlled by the port authorities and they will only allocate a docking position a few days before. You will be informed as soon as possible of their exact joining location.
Any changes will be communicated to you before your voyage start date. Make sure you make a note of the ship’s number found in your confirmation email in case of any problems on the day.
Take a Photo of your Ship
We recommend you take a photo of your ship with you to show taxi drivers so they can get to to the right ship!
You can usually see the ships masts on the other side of the harbour, but the taxi drivers will know the shortest route to get to that berth. If you are the independent type with a rucksack walking from the bus depot, chose your route with care, or ask a local, or you could end up walking miles without finding the cruise ship / public entry to the dock.
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.
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
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
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 "
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
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
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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