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Advanced Thrills & Spills, Sailing Challenges & Command Skills

The staff in the Classic Sailing Office have enough sea miles to go around the world 6 times, but we are not embarrassed by paying to go a sailing voyage, if it fits our ambitions. The logical conclusion of a sailing hobby is to buy your own boat, but there are cheaper ways to see the world on a beautiful and probably bigger sailing ship...and keep the day job. 

Experienced sailors don't always want their next voyage to be more challenging or harder. We have plenty of customers who have weathered the gales and already been tested for courage by the sea. Our office and sea staff hope we can offer you mutual respect and we can learn from each other. When you ring us we are ready to answer questions from novices to master mariners. You might be someone who knows enough to look for an ocean passage that has trade winds in the right direction, but we can tell you which ship might will offer the most advanced thrills or good company.

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Where Can I Go for Big Waves?

Whilst we wouldn't advocate you go looking for storms, there are places in the world that can put ships and crew through their paces. Quite a few of us get a kick out of coping in a hostile environment and there is a buzz from contributing to the team, or leading others in the face of some danger.  A nasty gale and a sea state that makes moving down the deck rather comical, can occur very close to home on any exposed coastline, even in August.

If you really have to go in search of bigger waves, this is what you are looking for: A long 'fetch' for the wind to blow over and plenty of weather systems to create the big waves. The icing on the cake is a bit of shallow continental shelf or narrow gap to push up the wave heights. 

The ocean going ships we work with, do not take sailing in big seas lightly. Safety lines, harnesses, mesh netting on lower decks to 'strain' sailors if they get washed off their feet. Sometimes the lower decks are out of bounds. Below decks you need a sense of humour.

Try these places:

Europa for Southern Ocean as Westerlies blow all the way around the world without land interrupting. Off Cape Horn and South Africa are pretty wild. 

In the North our smaller boats try to avoid sailing in winter gales and are tucked up ashore by November,  but several of our fleet head South in the Atlantic and on the edge of the notorious Bay of Biscay. In size order they are Maybe, Blue Clipper, Lord Nelson, Oosterschelde, Tenacious.

The South Pacific has big waves too. Bark Europa by Sandy Gale.
The South Pacific has big waves too. Bark Europa by Sandy Gale.

Long ocean passages

Classic Sailing have over 50 ocean passages each year, so you really are spoiled for choice. Sign up for a classic trade wind trans Atlantic from Cape Verde to the Caribbean. Dodge Icebergs in the Weddell Sea, search for Orca in the Arctic, or notch up some nice warm miles on a mini blue water passage between islands.

If you want to learn how to set stun'sails and skysails, wire splice, serve standing rigging and advanced marlin-spike seamanship, then warm ocean passages from Cape Town northwards or Western Europe to South America on Bark Europa 

See our pages on ocean sailing.

Trans Atlantic Crossings     Oceans with Icebergs        Remote Oceanic Islands


Taking down the skysail yard at sea on Bark Europa
Taking down the skysail yard at sea on Bark Europa. Photo Debbie Purser

Rites of Passage

Sailors tattoos would celebrate certain rites of passage. A swallow for every 5000 miles, a turtle for crossing the equator, a fully rigged ship for rounding Cape Horn and an Anchor for crossing the Atlantic.Here are a few that might be on your bucket list:

  • Sail around Cape Horn the fast way
  • Sail around Cape Horn the Hard Way
  • Cross the Atlantic
  • 2500 miles needed for my Yachtmaster qualifying sea time.
  • Climb a tall ship mast in a force 7 plus.
  • Work aloft in the dark
  • See dolphins or whales in the wild

If you can't find what you are looking for them ring us in the Classic Sailing Office. We get visibly excited whenever the Irving Johnson 'Around the Horn' movie is played, so we understand your desire to get wet and cold.

Best Voyages for Cetacean Spotting                 Voyages Near or Around Cape Horn


Close quarters sailing and racing

The best way to sail our traditionally rigged ships to their full potential is to race them. Sail hoists that might have taken 20 minutes to explain to everyone and put up on a normal voyage, will now be sweated and tailed by a fired up team in a few minutes.....and questions later.  If you need an incentive to study pin rail diagrams, learn your ropes and take pride in being in the right place, before you are even called, then these are the voyages for you.  It is also pretty good for action photos if you can multi task.

Tall Ships Races are the creme de la creme of big sailing ship racing, but even these can vary in style. They are generally offshore or ocean races, but some have to tack and gybe through islands.

Events like Douarnenez Temp Fete, Brest Festival of the Sea, Limfjord Rundt, Swedish Smack race and Brixham Heritage Festival - Georges Cup are great events for wooden boat lovers and the medium to small Classic Sailing Vessels on our website.

Round the Cans racing with bowsprits and overhanging booms is not for the faint hearted but if you are up for it then the Pilot Cutter Review or Falmouth Classics are great race events in Cornwall each year.

Tall Ships Races     Events & Festivals (not all are Close Quarters Racing)


Racing on Pegasus at the Pilot Cutter Review
Racing on Pegasus at the Pilot Cutter Review

Yachtmaster Offshore - Exam Prep on Long Keeled Boats

This is a brilliant end of season opportunity to get your RYA Coastal or Offshore Yachtmaster qualifications. An RYA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate of competence is often the ultimate aim of aspiring skippers. It is a well known, highly respected qualification worldwide, proving your experience and competence as a skipper, whether you want it for leisure or for a sailing career.

If you are not quite ready for a Yachtmaster Offshore exam you can use this same preparation course before being examined for Yachtmaster Coastal Certificate of Competency.  The pre requisites and breadth of experience for this course are less.


Yachtmaster Prep Course & Exam 


RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Theory

Learn to do the actual calculations, not just pose with a sextant. This is a distance learning course you can buy from us and do at home, or anywhere with an internet signal. This course is provided by Navathome - an experienced distance learning school with a tutor to answer any questions by email. Classic Sailing also sell RYA Day Skipper Theory, RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Theory, and PR.

N.B. If you need the RYA Yachtmaster Ocean for a super yacht or sail training career or are aiming for STCW95 Deck Office qualifications you can complete the course at home but you will need to do the exam with an invigilator at a sailing school.

Learn More about our RYA shorebased courses.


Ways into a Sailing Career

On our old website we had many pages on how to work on tall ships, start your own charter business or simply step on the sailing career ladder as a volunteer or in a trainee placement.  We are slowly updating these useful snippets. Here are a few to get you going...or ring us for advice. Everyone in the office has had an interesting sailing career after changing from previous careers.

advice pages to come

  • useful advanced experience like night pilotage, 60 mile passages
  • Maintenence & rigging
  • Earning money from your own boat

Sailing Careers Advice      Job Vacancies     Watch Leader Training 

Be a Wildlife Guide and Zodiac driver in Antarctica - Photo Valery Vasilevskyi
Be a Wildlife Guide and Zodiac driver in Antarctica - Photo Valery Vasilevskyi
Sailing experiences you might like
Southern Ocean epics - A real sailors choice -upto 5000 miles in Antarctic and Sub Antarctic waters

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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.

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Office Team of Skippers

6 Times Around the World between Us

Selling Holidays for 22 Years

2 Dogs to make us laugh

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