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Sunderland Tall Ships Festival - A Sailors Guide to Events

On the waterfront

The city of Sunderland has put together an incredible programme of events on the waterfront to attract the public and tall ship enthusiasts to this 5 day Tall Ships Festival from tues 10th July to Sat 14th July 2018. Classic Sailing love the atmosphere that these festivals create. With a backdrop of masts and rigging and the buzz of excited young crews getting ready to race each other there is always plenty to see.

There is an official Sunderland Tall Ship Festival website aimed at the general public with lots of useful information about shoreside events, how to get to the festival sites and best places to see the Parade of Sail on the Saturday.


City of Sunderland Tall Ship Festival Website


Here at Classic Sailing we though we would produce an alternative guide to the festival, aimed at sailors and those keen to go to the festival to learn about sailing on tall ships or meet up with shipmates.

Ships at the Festival - Where Else do they Sail?

As tall ship 'travel agents' we have to start with the ships we know best and are currently on Classic Sailing Website. In addition we can tell you here which of the others offer adventure sailing holidays for adults.

Oosterschelde - Three Masted Topsail Schooner

Adult individual berths for adults  Hebrides, St Kilda, Cornwall, Ocean Voyages, Cape Verde Winter Sun 


Oosterschelde Voyages - dates & Prices


Oosterschelde island hopping in Cape Verde every winter
Oosterschelde island hopping in Cape Verde every winter

Lord Nelson - barque

 Adult individual berths for able bodied and disabled adults - Sailing South to Canaries for Christmas, Trans Atlantic, Caribbean, Bermuda and home, Scotland in 2019, Tall Ships Race 2019 in Norway, Iceland.

Lord Nelson voyages, dates & prices


Lord Nelson in the Caribbean
Lord Nelson in the Caribbean

Tenacious - Even bigger Barque

 Adult individual berths for able bodied and disabled adults - UK day sails an short breaks - longer trips in autumn to Portugal, Spain, Mediterranean, Canaries, Azores


Tenacious voyages, dates and prices 2018-19


Tenacious by Marcin Dobrowolski
Tenacious by Marcin Dobrowolski

Morgenster - Brig

Adult individual berths for adults only 2 voyages left in 2018. You can sail her from Esbjerg Tall ships festival south to Amsterdam for only €150 euros in a few days (20-22nd July) or another short voyage from Harlingen Tall Ships Festival to Rostock (5-9th August). Normally Morgenster has a year round charter season but has private charter to South America and Antarctic in the winter. She has no programme yet for 2019.


Morgenster - last two voyages in 2018


Up the rigging on Morgenster
Up the rigging on Morgenster


Gaff Ketch Maybe

Adult and youth berths in Ireland, UK and Portugal in 2018.

Maybe - Voyages, dates and Prices

crew helming Maybe

And a few Tall Ships we don't yet work with:

Santa Maria Manuela

Adult individual berths for adults - adventure holidays with diving and fishing in Northern Norway, Azores, Madeira, Cape Verde


Santa Maria Manuela
Santa Maria Manuela

Christian Radich

Madiera, Canaries, Norway

How to Check Out Tall Ships Like A Pro

Most ships will have a section of the day when they are open to the public. They don't normally let you go below into the living quarters so how do you make the best of your visit around the deck?

There will often be crew stationed around the ship to make sure nobody falls down a ladder. Its a boring job so most are more than happy to answer questions about life on board. Find out if you are talking to professional crew (they know the most), volunteer crew (they think they know it all) or new voyage crew (they are just bluffing), or the wildcards - volunteers from the festival organisers (they know the best bars in town and where to watch the ships from the shore, but possibly not much about the ship).

If you are footloose and fancy free and could turn up tomorrow with a kit bag and sail - it is always worth asking if there are any spaces. You won't get anywhere if you expect a freebie but if you know the full price of a berth you can always try a reasonable offer (best to ask the Captain or mate if it seems like a possibility. Be prepared to do the compulsory admin that goes with this, like going on line to fill in booking forms, buy travel insurance etc). 

If you take Classic Sailing booking office number with you we might be able to help you process a last minute booking or take a credit card payment. 01872 580022

If you have sailed a square rigger or schooner before, you can have fun trying to find familiar rigging like a peak halliard, buntlines or yard braces....and start a proper conversation about what she is like to sail.

Other questions - do the guest crew have to do domestic chores, anchor watches, can you work up to being a watch leader or deckhand. Are there training sessions once the initial training is over? Are there lectures on non sailing topics? 

Corner a tall ship Captain ...or two
Corner a tall ship Captain ...or two

Talk to the Smaller Vessels

The public and school children all love to visit the big square riggers and pose for selfies at the wheel. If you want to chat to sailors and avoid the queues check out the yachts and smaller ships like Maybe, Jolie Brise. Its a lot braver and more exciting to races these vessels, and you still have big square riggers to view up close during the race, especially its light winds.

What to Wear - Fashion Tips

No self respecting tall ship sailor wants to look like a 'grockel' (as we call tourists in Cornwall), so perhaps don't dress up as a pirate. The exception might be on Wednesday - pirate day at the event with the Wear Pirates - Spottie, Dottie and Pottee.

Jeans smeared in slush, a Rendevous 2017 bracelet from last years trans Atlantic Tall Ships Race and a well loved t shirt from an exotic foreign tall ships event all helps start conversations....even if you never actually sailed. In terms of  t shirts that promote a certain ship -there are cool tall ships, recognised around the world ....and not so cool. As promoters we obviously can't tell which ones are not so cool as we love them all equally.

A good weather beaten suntan and a far away look like you have sun stroke from being out on the water all day - adds to tall ship sailor look more than an expensive pair of Oakleys.

event bracelets from last year
Canadian Tall Ships Race bracelet RDV 2017



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