Skip to main content

Ethos - All our holidays include 'Hands On' Sailing

Working aloft in South Georgia, Antarctica

Hands on Sailing

On a Classic Sailing voyage you become the crew on brigs, brigantines, barques, schooners, pilot cutters, trading ships, luggers, privateers, sailing trawlers and even rowing boats.

'Hands On' sailing is at the core of all our sailing holidays. Every one can join in and is encouraged to do so within the limits of your ability. You won’t be asked to do anything you have not been trained to do and training always begins right at the start of the voyage.

Go aloft if you can. It is a voluntary activity but it is the essence of being on a tall ship.

Pilot Cutter Agnes. On our boats anyone can steer....but it is a skill that needs teaching
ilot Cutter Agnes. On our boats anyone can steer....but it is a skill that needs teaching

Sailing for All - No Experience Needed

Classic Sailing have never aimed our activity holidays exclusively at sailors. We have introduced thousands of people to sailing and travel under sail. If you are already hooked or an experienced sailor there are plenty of challenging voyages too

Read more about the different ways you can learn to sail with Classic Sailing and why no experience is needed for any of the vessels we promote.

no experience needed

Anyone Can Sail

We are constantly trying to find ways to make sailing less elitist, and also with a big fleet to chose from we can find the right level of participation and challenge for you. Some vessels or voyages are more physical or challenging than others, but it is teamwork, so a determined novice would not feel out of place on 99% of our voyages.

In terms of specialist provision - we have run holidays with Charity 'Dementia Adventure' on our own boat Eve of St Mawes to allow both carers and those suffering from Dementia who were once keen sailors to sail together and re-connect with nature and the sea. Two of the tall ships we work with - Lord Nelson and Tenacious - are purpose built to allow disabled and able bodied crew to sail as equals. 

Read more about who comes: age mixes, families, young people, male or female.

Who comes

"Absolutely brilliant sailing, have been on a complete "high" ever since, which couldn’t be removed even when sitting on the underground and walking under grey London skies" Anna P.

Do I have to Do Everything?

There is quite a difference in terms of required participation from vessel to vessel and sometimes between different sorts of voyage. If you find a voyage you fancy, take a look at the voyage description which will tell you that vessel's way of operating in the section titled 'what to expect'. It should explain whether you can dip in and out of activities, or need to be there for every sail change. Some boats have rotas for everything, others rely on their professional crew for cleaning, deck scrubbing and anchor watches.

If you are doing a passage making voyage that involves long days or overnight sailing then the guest crew are split into watches and you might be on duty on deck for 4 hours and off for 8 hours or something similar. Our watch leaders and mates will try and keep you busy or warm. 

West Country Trading Ketch Irene is happy to accept non rope pulling partners and has nice double cabins en suite.

Can I do Everything?

We love keen sailors and try everything types but our professional crews are only human. They can only fit in so many experiences and learning opportunities in one day. If you choose to run a traditional vessel with strangers every week then it generally means that you love people and take pride in teaching them about traditional sailing, wildlife and the places you visit. 

The best time to ask if your wildest dream, or sailing career goal can be met, on the voyage is when you book. Talk to us in the booking office on 0044(0)1872 580022. Even better if you put on your booking form you really want to improve your pilotage, take a sun sight or bake bread, then at least the skipper is pre warned.

The next best time is when you meet the skipper or mate for your first safety briefing. They should be asking you what you hope to get out the voyage. If you are still to shy to admit yet that you want to stand on the end of the bowsprit and have a Kate Winslett moment, then you will have to corner a crew member 'at an appropriate moment.' 

'Sail Training' for Adults

Traditionally rigged vessels use only blocks and tackles and human power to set sail, and all the boats we promote are classed as 'sail training' ships, so you will definitely get 'hands on sailing' when you sign on as crew.

The professional crew will train you and help you set sails, steer the ship, keep watch and even help with the navigation. They are highly skilled at bringing out your natural talents and creating a happy crew out of a bunch of strangers.

There is a misunderstood perception that sail training ships only take youths, the disadvantaged and naval cadets. Several of the ships we work with do have a mission to develop the lives of young people, but the concept of adult crew on sail training ships goes far beyond a fund raising exercise. At least half of the fleet has adventure charter holidays for all ages as its primary motive and some were purpose built for it. The insatiable demand for adult adventure charter voyages outstrips the teenage desire to go to sea, which is why we set up Classic Sailing in the first place. 

Hands on Sailing for Families

Our vessels are made to be sailed by many hands so we don't mind if a few of them are small. If you want to sail as mother and daughter, son and grandad, as a family or two families then vessels like Grayhound are completely unfazed by babes in arms on board, or young pirates with their parents, and have child prices with holidays in Cornwall, Scillies and Brittany on a privateer with canon. You can ask about other vessels in the fleet. The minimum age for a child with an parent or guardian generally depends on the nature of the voyage.

Pilgrim has high sided decks and lots of short tasters which would suit a family.

Golden Vanity is a 39ft gaff cutter that individual 16-25 year olds can learn to sail and take charge of themselves as part of a structured RYA training programme and Duke of Edinburgh Expedition.

Gaff ketch Maybe is a popular choice for teenagers and students with good opportunities to get recommended and come back as a volunteer.

The Classic Sailing Fleet

 

 

Relevant voyages

Vessel Start Date End Date Start Port End Port Price

What others say about us

CURRENT AVERAGE   4.6 STARS
249 REVIEWS

Facebook reviews

"A life changing experience with talented crew who gave us hope for mankind ...and biscuits"

Customer comments

Read what the press say about our holidays
 

Magazine articles

 

Why book with Classic Sailing?

The call of the sea

Destinations for sailors & explorers

Over 300 voyages a year

11, 051 customers introduced to

traditional boats and tall ships.

Tell us your sailing dreams

Experts

Office Team of 4 Skippers

6 Times Around the World between Us

Selling Holidays for 22 Years

3 Dogs to make us laugh

Contact Us

How to Book

Voyage Applications Online 24 /7

How to book a voyage

Terms & Conditions   Travel Insurance

Loyalty Discounts & Price Match

Frequently Asked Questions