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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

All Ages come sailing with us. Photo Roland Gockel

Questions About Age, Fitness and Agility

Is there a minimum age?

From time to time we have specific voyages for parent and child and there may be no lower limit. A child under 16 always needs to be accompanied by their parent or legal guardian. Sailing Lugger Grayhound will take families with a mix of ages and babes in arms and has child rates on their holiday voyages. 

Some of our ships have minimum ages for vessel insurance reasons e.g. Lord Nelson and Tenacious will only accept Children 12 years and over with a parent or guardian on day sails.

Teenagers

Traditionally rigged ships are great for teenagers and blocks and tackles are a lot safer than winches you get on a typical charter yachts.

They generally need to be 16 or over to sail on their own, but youth sail training ships like Maybe sometimes do special summer holiday voyages for unaccompanied young people from 14. Tecla has reduced rates for 15-25 year old sailors in exciting places like Iceland or Greenland if you ask us. 

Is there an upper age limit?

It is unusual for Classic Sailing voyages to place an upper age limit. 

What is important is a reasonable level of health and fitness.

Every sailor whatever their age is required to complete a health and safety form. For some voyages and vessels extra medical forms may be required if you are over a certain age threshold or have a medical issue that could present a problem. We will inform you if this required after we have studied your answers to the standard application form. See our questions on 'how strong and agile do I have to be?'

How strong and Agile do I have to be?

Our benchmark for arm strength is based on whether you could get from below decks to the outside deck via the companionway steps or an evacuation ladder in an emergency. We ask if you can climb a 6ft vertical ladder, which is about the length of an emergency exit ladder or a boarding ladder to get from a tall ship deck to an dinghy. If you can't hold your body weight for these few seconds then you need to talk to us about whether our voyages are suitable.

In terms of agility it is all about being able to move around the ship safely. Some vessels are purpose built for disabled crews with braille signs, ample hand rails on deck, lifts between floors and able bodied buddies to help you (see Lord Nelson and Tenacious). Other vessels can have wide and shallow companionway steps or steep ladder like entrances.

Our holidays are hands on voyages where we all help as a team to hoist sails. There will always be a mix of strengths on board from physical to motivational and social, and everyone's contribution is valued. 

You don't need to be super active. A normal level of fitness will be adequate; you should be able to walk continuously for 30 minutes without experiencing difficulty.  (Except on Lord Nelson and Tenacious which cater for disabled people and wheel chair users.)

If I have a medical condition, will it be a problem?

Please telephone us for advice, take a look at the questions on the booking form for your vessel so that you can see the sort of questions we will need to ask. Saying yes to any of the medical conditions like diabetes, or taking medication for thing like blood pressure may not exclude from a voyage. It depends a lot of the rigours or remoteness of the type of voyage you want to do, and your personal medical history.

The skipper of the vessel or ships operator generally has the final say in the decision, but often Classic Sailing can find you an alternative voyage where your condition could be acceptable. We do occasionally have to ask for a doctors note or even turn an application down on medical and safety grounds. Please note any medical information is totally confidential. We have addressed how we handle your confidential medical information to make sure it conforms with EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Read our privacy policy for more information

Typical Beginners Questions

Can I really Sail on any voyage without any experience? 

Yes*. Our professional crews will train everybody when they first arrive on board...and the assumption is that you could be completely new to sailing. We can teach you how to coil a rope, the jargon, how to tie basic knots, pull on a rope safely, find the right ropes to haul and steer by the wind....and much, much more.

The first briefing will address most the things beginners worry about like, how to use the toilet, how will I know to get up for my watch at night, how to move safely around the boat, where to stow your gear, what to wear when the ship goes to sea etc.

Choosing a 52 day expedition to Antarctica an crossing the whole South Atlantic, might not be a first choice for a nervous beginner but if you really want to do it, then there is no restriction on beginners signing up, but we recommend you talk to us so we can give you some sensible advice to prepare yourself.

* There are a few intermediate and advanced RYA courses (day skipper, Yachtmaster Exam, career sailor placements or delivery trips that have some pre-requistes for a level of experience, but the website voyage descriptions will tell you what experience is needed for these formal training schemes.)

Do I have to go aloft ?

Do I have to go aloft?
No, going aloft is always a voluntary option. On a tall ship you will be given the opportunity to go aloft, often in port before leaving the harbour, as part of the training programme. Our advice is to go aloft if you possibly can, it is the essence of Tall Ship sailing. You will always be in a safety harness whilst working aloft, and under close supervision when you first climb.

If I don't go aloft what will I do?
There is plenty of work on deck and you may be able to go out on the bowsprit. This again would be with a safety harness and under supervision. Even if you do go aloft you will spend most of the time on deck.
Going out on the bowsprit is more popular than going aloft and you get an amazing view of the ship powering through the sea. Safety harnesses are worn.

 

Will I be Seasick?

If you have never been on a boat before, then you may be seasick but you can lessen the likelihood of it happening, and it may not happen at all.

Where possible our skippers work hard to fit in a short sail in sheltered waters to help everyone get their sea legs and avoid being sea sick. It is not just beginners that can get seasick- remember Admiral Nelson was always prone at the start of a new trip. 

All sea sickness is is your body getting confused with the unusual motion. If you stride about like an old salt, try not to worry about the possibility of turning green, and get stuck into all activities on deck, your body will get used to your new environment. The lucky ones are completely un effected. If you are prone to motion sickness it is rare for it to last more than 24 hours, and if you step onto dry land it magically goes away.

Generally shorter 3 and 4 day voyages are designed to sail in comparatively sheltered waters without overnight sailing. It is very rare for customers to be sea sick on these trips unless you get a nasty sea and wind direction that makes a slow roll unavoidable in all viable directions. The skipper will be keeping an eye on how you feel and adapt the voyage to avoid seasickness as much as possible if it is a problem (i.e. poke the ships nose out into the rough stuff to give the gung ho types and thrill and then turn around and sail up a nice flat tidal river instead). For a first voyage we recommend you choose a 3 or 4 day voyage or a sailing ground with options for sheltered sailing between islands, in rivers in Devon or East Coast or in sea lochs like Scotland.

Greenland Scorseby Sound is another flat water venue.

Should I buy my own sailing gear for a first voyage?

Not really. Sailing clothing is notoriously over priced. Many of the UK based ships provide waterproofs but it is not so common on the Dutch tall ships. If you need to supply them most outdoor sport waterproof jackets and trousers will normally be adequate. Rubber farming wellies, running shoes or lightweight walking boots are fine on our wooden and metal decked ships. See our kit lists for advice and you will see that normal clothing for active outdoor sports are perfect as long as you bring enough layers.  When you have had some sailing experience, you can make better choices.

What do I take with me?

Every voyage has a link to a kit list for that particular vessel and clear bullet points on what is included and what you might have to bring (each vessel varies slightly. Most have duvets and pillows but a few still require sleeping bags. Some supply hand towels. Most provide waterproofs and all personal safety equipment. You can also view a vessels kit list and see more about the accommodation in the vessel details section on our website.

Are solo travellers welcome?

Yes; the majority of people on Classic Sailing holidays are solo travellers and there are no additional charges. We have plenty of women travelling on their own to join the ship. The beauty of a sailing adventure is it is a sociable choice for those who want to meet new people for an experience where it is totally natural to live and work together.

Questions About Food On Board

Are all meals and drinks included?

All meals on board are included which is normally breakfast, lunch and dinner and may include some snacks, cakes in between. Hot drinks like tea and coffee, herbal teas are included as well as squash or water anytime. 

If you are exploring ashore all day in a location where you can go to cafes or buy snacks then you may have to purchase lunch. In remote or expensive locations the ship may provide pack lunches.

The guest crew as a whole may decide to try out a local restaurant ashore or have a celebratory last meal in harbour. Some ships will give you the choice of eating ashore or on board as long as the cook knows numbers to cater for.

Alcohol or fizzy can drinks are usually extra so bring some cash. The bigger ships generally have a bar where you can run up a bill to pay at the end. Smaller ships usually have a small supply of wine or beer you can buy to consume with meals. Where that is not possible they may encourage you to bring a bottle or two of wine to share at meals.

The consumption of Alcohol is always at the discretion of the skipper and should never be before going on watch or aloft.

Can you cater for special diets?

Yes, all our vessels are glad to help you with your dietary requirements to the best of their ability, the availability of obtaining specialist food items, and with consideration to galley space that is available to them. Please make sure you complete the section on diet when booking and we will get back to you with any questions that the boat may have. 

Describe the food standards and typical meals on board?

All the vessels Classic Sailing work with cook fresh and wholesome meals on board. Some have dedicated chefs and galley assistants. On some small boats the mate or deckhands cook, but as they are living on board all season, they love to cook healthy meals with good ingredients. 

On longer trips most vessel bake their own bread and have big freezers and cool grocery storage areas. We think all the boats we work with will amaze you with their food, but some are real foodie specialist, using organic or local produce or catching their own seafood. Check our our customer reviews for each individual vessel to get a flavour of how good the catering is.

Snack Attack - What if I'm still hungry?

The ships cook will tell which parts of the galley are off limits and what you can snack on.

 

Accommodation & Facilities on Board

 

Can I charge my phone, camera or laptop?

On small vessels you may need a car lighter attachment for a 12 volt circuit off the ships domestic batteries; the larger vessels mostly have  240 volts electricity, when the generators or engine are running. Be prepared for square pin UK or European sockets, ask for vessel specific details. Sometimes the sockets are in every cabin, or you might have to wait your turn in a communal area.

Where are the toilets, wash basins and showers?

Every ship we work with has a way of heating the water for a hot wash or shower. There may be a limited supply of hot water on the smaller ships, or even on the bigger ones if you are trying to mimimise your carbon footprint (basically hot water is heated by the engine, or an electric immersion element powered by a deisel generator).

Some ships have a WC en suite to your cabin, or it might be in a corridor nearby. On bigger ships there may be a loo at main deck level.

Some vessels have Wash basins and showers ensuite or a wash basin in each cabin. Others have a seperate wash room/ shower room or several male and female shower rooms.

Privacy - where do I change?

A few centuries ago it was considered normal to sleep with your family or guests under one roof. Today we are used to privacy and our own bedrooms so it seems a bit weird to share a cabin with a stranger.  After the first night most discover it is not really a problem as long as everyone respects each others right to a bit of privacy when dressing. 

On boats where you are all in bunks in one big space then there are usually curtains and reading lights so you can change in your bunk. On bigger ships you will probably be in a single sex cabin or in a two person cabin as a couple.

You can often chose what cabin type or size you want.

Everyone worries about snoring guests. It can happen and bringing ear plugs just in case is a good idea. You will find all that healthy activity makes sleep come quite easily for most.

Passports, Visas, Vaccinations & Travel Safety 

Do I need a passport or visa?

The simple answer is yes. Border Control Vessels or Port Authorities can ask the skipper for everyone's passport at any time. If you don't have a passport, speak to us as some other form of ID might be ok.

Classic Sailing cannot cover every possible visa scenario as customers may have dual nationality, or be working or living in a country different from their passport nationality.

To avoid any last-minute stress, we advise you to contact the local embassies of the countries you will be visiting in your country to find out which travel documents you need. Please start early, obtaining a visa can take some time. It is your responsibility to have the right travel documents for all countries you visit during your stay on board.

If you plan to travel onto other destinations please check you have a right to stay in the country too as you may be classed as arriving in a country as ‘yacht sailors in transit’ and not have same rights as a tourist.

Even if you don’t need a visa, please check your passport expiry date is sufficient for country entry requirements.”

 

Health, Vaccinations and Safety

ecurity for tourists in certain countries, regions or cities can change rapidly. Please check with your own Government Foreign Office for their latest advice for travellers.

UK travellers check under specific destination at Government Foreign Office https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Likewise we suggest you check if there are any recommended or required vaccinations well before departure as some take more than one jab. For UK travellers check out ‘Fit for Travel’ http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations

 

Joining Your Ship & Travel Related Questions

How to find your ship in port

Our ships location in port is often controlled by the port authorities and the authorities will only allocate a docking position a few days before the ship is in port. The ship will inform you as soon as possible of their exact joining location.

Classic Sailing will provide you with the ships contact numbers with your voyage confirmation email.

If you have received an email thanking you for your full or final voyage payment you will already have been sent your ships phone number.

It is very important that you keep a record of the ships contact number with you in case of any last minute changes to you or the ship.

cheapest options to travel to the joining port?

All voyage page have links to pages on both your joining port and your departure port. We do try and give you up to date advice on various forms of travel, best airlines for cheap flights based on other customers experience and ours if we have recently helped a customer to solve a transport problem.  Please bear in mind our area of knowledge is tall ships and Google searches may be more helpful. Our prices do not include travel to and from joining and leaving ports.

Do make sure your travel insurance covers your whole period away, in case you have to claim any ancillary travel costs like hotels if you have to cancel.

Should I arrive the night before?

It depends a bit on the joining time. Most are in the afternoon or evening, but not all voyages. Our joining times are when the ships crew want you on board so they can welcome you and start a safety briefing and familiarisation training before the ship sets sail. They may have to leave the quay quite promptly, so it is polite to ring them in advance on the ships emergency contact phone, if you think you are going to be late.

If you are joining an expensive voyage where there is very little chance of catching up with the ship if you only are delayed, then it makes sense to arrive a day before and stay in a hostel, air b&B or hotel. The Antarctic voyages are a good example as the domestic flights down to Ushuaia from major hubs like Buenos Aries are often affected by bad weather over the Andes. We will normally tell you in the port description if we think you should be there early. It also means if your luggage goes missing you have more time for it to catch up with you or buy replacement essentials.

Generally booking your transport home on the same day as your voyage ends is not such a problem as Captain's are fully aware that all guests may have to catch a flight or train that day and will generally try and arrive the evening before, or be anchored very nearby.

Can you recommend a hotel or cheaper accommodation in port?

We do have a few hotel or hostel recommendations on the port pages of our regular ports, but with over 300 ports it is hard for us to vet quality or prices. Typically they are places the changeover professional crew use and are adequate and cheap rather than top end hotels

Classic Sailing are experts in traditional sailing and not accommodation in ports all around the world. We recommend you use Trip Advisor or similar for accommodation ashore.

Your accommodation on board is included in the voyage price from the evening of the date your join to the night before your leave day. If you arrive early the ships crew are usually happy to take your heavy bags off you so you can go off and explore the port until joining time. The crew have a very short time to turn the vessel around for the next voyage and do a lot of maintenance, moving quay berths, re-fuelling, cleaning and catching up on sleep themselves, so we can rarely accept requests to arrive early or stay an extra night.

What if I am late arriving? Will the boat sail without me?

Always take the ships emergency contact number with you. It helps us hugely if you put a mobile phone number on your booking form which we can pass onto the ship.

If you are running late, do ring the ship for advice and leave a message if you can't get through with your name and some idea of how late you are going to be. The ships crew might not pick up your message immediately but they will certainly try and contact you and check for messages if you don't turn up.

Transport connections can go wrong, and chances are you may not be the only crew member running late. It is very rare for a boat to go off without you, but it is disruptive for the voyage plan and other customers holiday enjoyment to have to delay, or repeat training programmes for late arrivals. Don't panic if you see the ship departing the dock. It may just have to move to an anchorage and can still pick you up by dinghy.

If you have 'blown it big time', or it's due to strike, accident, emergency at home and you really can't make it without you or everyone else on board missing a big chunk of the voyage, then after discussion with you (if you are contactable) the boat may have to sail without you. Do talk to the ship and Classic Sailing office and you may be able to claim on your holiday insurance, or join at a later port.

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