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Tecla -Sailing Expedition to St Kilda & The Outer Hebrides

This remote archipelago beyond the Outer Hebrides island chain was once inhabited by a hardy community that survived on fishing and puffins. Today the birds are the attraction with many thousands breeding on the steep cliffs. The Outer Hebrides offers more sheltered anchorage options and plenty of history from Black Houses with their peat fires to ancient standing stones. Tecla's 'Peat and Puffins' early season voyages to the Outer Hebrides and St Kilda have a good record for getting to St Kilda.

Embark
Tue, 23-04-2019 - 18:00
Ullapool
Disembark
Tue, 30-04-2019 - 10:00
Ullapool
Duration
7 Days
Vessel
Tecla
Voyage No.
TC2019-2

Berths and voyage availability

TYPE: 2 berth cabin ensuite -pp under 26yrs. AVAILABILITY: Limited places. PRICE: 880 EUR. BOOK NOW
TYPE: 2 berth cabin ensuite - pp over 25yrs. AVAILABILITY: Limited places. PRICE: 1,080 EUR. BOOK NOW
*Booking fees may apply

Tecla - St Kilda and Outer Hebrides

IDEAL VOYAGE FOR...

Wilderness lovers, frontier types, wildlife enthusiasts, walkers, sailors who want a fast, ocean going ship with a good chance of getting to St Kilda, and will be thrilled to explore the Outer Hebrides, whether you reach St Kilda or not. Not so ideal if you are prone to seasickness or don't like walking ashore on remote islands or peering over precipitous bird cliffs.

VOYAGE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Chance to reach St Kilda
  • Early season good for birds breeding
  • Sea Eagles, Otters, Puffins and whales possible
  • Meet resilient island communities in the Hebrides
  • Standing Stones, Ancient settlements, Celtic history
  • Great excuse to travel up to Ullapool through superb mountain scenery
  • Possibly visit the Shiant Islands on route
St Kilda Cliffs and seabirds by Melissa Williams
St Kilda Cliffs and seabirds by Melissa Williams

FULL VOYAGE DESCRIPTION

Expedition Style Voyage

Through the Sound of Harris and beyond the protection of the Outer Hebrides chain of islands lies the remote St Kilda archipelago, 43 miles offshore the nearest Hebridean shore.

This sailing voyage leads to sparsely inhabited islands, tiny fishing villages, deep lochs and rugged cliffs that will be appealing to nature lovers looking for puffin, sea and white tailed eagles, whales and other cetaceans. The hundreds of islands of the Hebrides have their own character, are very isolated and therefore entirely self-reliant. This area is rich in seabirds, which usually breed on the steep cliff faces. With the Tecla, a relatively small tall ship, we will visit unique places that cannot be reached by anything but boat or ship. Whilst cruising these amazing sailing grounds you can help setting the big gaff sails and jackyard topsails on main and foremast. 

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. St Kilda can often be untenable to anchor off due to ocean swell and in those conditions there are much better places to tuck up and anchor.

Ullapool - Tecla's Favourite Base 

The crew of Tecla were made very welcome by the local community in Ullapool in 2015, so the ship is back in the harbour in 2016 and starting all her Outer Hebrides and St Kilda voyages from here. Even further North than Eda Frandsen's summer base in Mallaig. Ullapool in the picturesque Loch Broom  is North of Skye, North of Torridon and level in latitude with the Shiant Islands and across the infamous Minch is Harris and Lewis.

Standing stones on Lewis
Standing stones on Lewis by Debbie Purser

Shiant Islands for Puffins and Sea Eagles

Not as well known as St Kilda, but a firm favourite with many of the vessels Classic Sailing work with, lies the Shiant Islands. As you will be sailing North of Skye towards the outer Hebrides you may stop here. Debbie from Classic Sailing sailed here in 2015 and saw four resident sea eagles, and was surrounded by puffins ashore. If you have never seen a sea eagle (correct name is white tailed eagle) they are much bigger than Golden Eagles with a wingspan upto 8ft.

Ideal time of Year for Wildlife & Seabirds

The waters surrounding the Hebrides and St Kilda are rich in sealife and nutrients. During the crossings between the different islands the chances are high that we will spot whales and seals and this is a great time of year for ocean seabirds as they come into the high cliffs to breed. Twenty species of birds are breeding at St. Kilda, with over a million birds sitting on about 300.000 nests.

A quarter of all the Northern Gannets on the Northern Atlantic totalling about 60 000 pairs are breeding on Boreray and the Stacks. Atlantic Puffin are the most common seabird in the archipelago; there were once millions of pairs but a declining fish population has dramatically reduced there number. St Kilda has its own unique St. Kilda Wren, with a slightly bigger beak and a different song; it is estimated that there are 250 breeding pairs and a major sighting for any ornithologist or amateur bird watchers.

Gannets gathering nesting material by Debbie Purser
Gannets gathering nesting material by Debbie Purser

St Kilda - a holy grail for adventurous sailors

St Kilda really is a long lost outpost of the British Empire.  The Outer Hebrides are very self sufficient and distant from the Scottish mainland, but St Kilda sits right out in the Atlantic.

You need a good weather window to reach here and anchor safely. Tecla has a good record for getting to St Kilda despite programming some of the earliest landings of the season, but there are plenty of awesome destinations in less exposed locations if the weather is too wild. Not many sailors get to stand on St Kilda's main island of Hirta and even less visit the other islands in the group like the Flannan Group and North Rona.

The anchorages are often affected by ocean swell so there is no guarentee it will suitable to stop or even reach the small group of islands.

On this archipelago we will find hundreds of thousands of seabirds.  See below for more details.The island group is very remote and affected by ocean swell so if the weather is too tough for an ocean going sailing ship like Tecla, then she will continue her exploration of the Outer Hebrides

Tall Ship Tecla early morning departure

The History of St Kilda and its People

St. Kilda lies approximately 45 sea miles west of the Outer Hebrides. It is a small group of islands, Hirta being the biggest. As long as people can remember Hirta has been inhabited by the Celts. In the ancient feudal era the island group was in possession of the clan Macleod of Macloud.

For millennia the Celtic community on St. Kilda had been dependant on whatever the island group had to offer.

At the beginning of the previous century the St. Kildans lived exceptionally primitive compared to the rest of Europe. They lived of a few sheep, the agriculture and especially of bird catching. Annually a ship with necessities such as knifes, needles and yarn came to the island. These goods were exchanged for dried birds and tweed.

Living off Seabirds

Tens of thousands of birds were caught every year, especially Auks, Northern Fulmars and Northern Gannets. For food they would make dangerous expeditions to catch the birds and there eggs on the incredibly steep cliffs; especially on the islands in the north (Boreray, Stack and Stack Armin) which are really no more than steep tall rocks.
One hundred and eighty people lived on the islands towards the end of the 17th century but they only had 16ft boats to get about in. There was not enough timber to build there own craft so these tiny boats crossed the eighty mile passage from the mainland. 

The St. Kildans lived in houses with walls made of boulders and roofs made of turf and hay. The earliest houses had no chimneys or windows and they must have been very damp, dark and dingy to live in. In the 1830’s wood and glass were introduced into new dwellings and the old houses became stables and stores.

Brave puffins by Debbie Purser
Brave puffins by Debbie Purser

The old feudal Celtic community of St. Kilda was gradually destroyed by the influence the Anglo Saxons from the mainland but the morning “Parliament” persisted. Every morning the men folk would meet on the Village Street and decide what had to be done that day and who would do it.

Strict Christianity had always been part of life on St Kilda and they also were responsible for the education of the children. At the start of the 20th century stone houses with sanitary facilities were introduced and an attempt was made with charity and tourism to keep the islands going; the main aim of which was to get them enough food to live on. But still the inhabitants were poverty stricken and near to starvation most of the time so that on August 29th 1930 the British government removed the last 39 inhabitants.

Also in 1957 the National Trust for Scotland became the owner and made St. Kilda a nature reserve. In 1986 St. Kilda became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In recent years the National Trust for Scotland has restored some of the houses, the church and the school for accommodation and education on the life of St Kilda. Tourism has been encouraged in so far as it does not conflict with preserving the flora, fauna and wild life of the St Kilda Islands.

Hirta Bay by Gordon Hudson
Hirta Bay by Gordon Hudson

Plenty to explore in the Outer Hebrides 

The Hebrides derive their name from the Norse (Viking) word Havbrodoy meaning on the edge of the sea, but they were inhabited long before the Norse Era. Pliny called them Hebudes, and Ptolemy in the 2nd century wrote of the Eboudai islands above Ivernia (Ireland).

Enjoy the novelty of a being on a historic sailing ship  exploring distinctive celtic communities, who only have a handful of yachts visit them each year, and have relied on small cargo shipspast and present for thier essential supplies.

Some uninhabited islands which are a haven for seabirds. Like the Great Barrier Reef, the chain of Outer Hebridean islands runs parallel to the Scottish mainland and protects it from ocean storms. The Atlantic facing coast is an almost continuous strand of sand dunes and machair (grass) whilst the east coast is deeply indented with a maze of islets and anchorages.

WINDS, WAVES & WEATHER

This time of year the sailing can be cold if it is strong winds, especially from the North. They can even still be snow on the mountains of Torridon on the mainland  but it is generally milder as you head West. Loch Broom is a good flat water loch to set sails but once out in the Minches it can be rough, but you do have the bulk of Skye and the mainland to protect you from East winds and the Outer Hebrides forming a bit of a barrier from the Atlantic. Beyond the Outer Hebrides you are in the North Atlantic but you are unlikely to be sailing for St Kilda if the seas are very rough.  Offshore islands can have their own micro climate and may miss the rain that the mainland mountains seem to attract. Be prepared for wild weather and then anything calm and sunny is a bonus! 4 seasons in one day.

HANDS ON HOLIDAYS

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.

Photo of Tecla by Howard Gear
Photo of Tecla by Howard Gear

SAILING STYLE & LIFE ON BOARD

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.

 

AGILITY & FITNESS

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 INCLUDED

  • Skipper & professional crew
  • Personal Safety Equipment
  • Sailing Instruction
  • All meals, snacks and refreshments
  • Port and landing fees
  • Linen and duvets
  • Third Party liability insurance

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED

  • Travel to Joining Port
  • Travel from end port
  • Alcoholic Drinks
  • Towels
  • Waterproofs
  • personal travel insurance

 

 

Ullapool, Scotland

Latest port updates

For Joining any vessel, head to the harbour where your ship will more than likely be the only sailing vessel. Address: The Pier, Ullapool IV26 2UH

Ullapool - The Port

As a base for starting a sailing holiday, Ullapool rewards those who take the trouble to travel this far North. On the entrance to Loch Broom are the Summer Isles and if you head out West you come to the Shiant Islands before your reach Harris and Lewis. From here, it is a relatively short hop to St Kilda, or the Flannan Isles. The sailing grounds are virtually empty and in June it feels like the sun hardly sets. At nearly N 58 degrees latitude Ullapool is further North than Moscow. Its a long way up from Edinburgh, but not as difficult to get to as you might think.

Ullapool is nestled on the shores of Loch Broom. Whatever the weather, you are immediately struck by Ullapool's whiteness and by its regularity of design and layout. This is a legacy of the town's origins, being designed and built in 1788 by Thomas Telford and the British Fisheries Society to exploit a boom in herring fishing at the time.

The town is also the main terminus for the car and passenger ferry to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. The ferry operates seven days per week so all the public transport to Ullapool is good and there are plenty of accommodation options in the town.

Ullapool Town Facilities

As a base for exploring the north west of Scotland, Ullapool is ideal. It has accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets, including one of the best (and best located) campsites in this part of Scotland. And since the upgrading of most of the roads further north it is within reasonable reach of many parts of the region that twenty-five years ago would have needed a major expedition to reach.

Ullapool offers some very nice pubs, including the Ferry Boat Inn. It also has a range of shops from the smallest right up to a well-stocked supermarket: anyone on a self catering holiday is sure to be visiting the latter at some point during their stay.

For those wanting to know more about the area the excellent Ullapool Museum & Visitor Centre on West Argyle Street can be highly recommended. This is in the old parish church, and tells the story of the people of Loch Broom and the history of Ullapool.

How to get here

By Road & Parking

Spectacular driving once in the Highlands but allow plenty of time and rest stops. It is 210 miles between Edinburgh and Ullapool.

Rail & transfers

By train from Edinburgh: There are trains to Edinburgh up both the West and East coast of Britain. Once in Scotland the only train choice is Edinburgh Haymarket up to Inverness from Edinburgh. You then need to travel from Inverness on the East side of Scotland to the West coast by bus -approx 1 hour 20 mins. There is no train station in Ullapool, the nearest station is at Garve and this is a sub-line between Inverness and Kyle. 

If travelling all the way to Ullapool from Southern England by train, try ticket split websites to find best prices.

Air & transfers

Quickest option is to fly direct to Inverness airport from various regional and international airports.

Flying to Inverness airport - current flight routes include scheduled routes from London Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton, Belfast, Dublin, Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, and Amsterdam.

Driving from Inverness Airport to Ullapool Port takes about 1 hour 15 mins by taxi, so if you are pushed for time this is your fastest option.

There is a shuttle bus from airport to Inverness Bus Station every 30 mins for £2-3 (2015 price) and it takes about 23 minutes.

Buses from Inverness Bus Station to Ullapool Ferry Terminal run 4 times a day costing approx £12 single and taking 1 hour 22 minutes. 

Places to stay, Things to do, Travel companions

Classic Sailing invites to a private facebook group where you can connect with other sailors who have booked with us. If you want to find a travel companion or share ideas on accommodation options before your trip, then posting a request on this is this is a safer option than our public facebook page. (due to data protection laws we cannot pass on contact details for other sailors on your trip directly)

Your travel responsibilities

Passports and Visas***

*** “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.”***

Travel, Health, Vaccinations and Safety

Security 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 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

Travel Insurance

It is compulsory that you have travel insurance to sail on any of our voyages, but you do not have to buy the insurance from us. If you purchase your own please make sure it covers sailing as an activity, and racing if you are racing crew. Most our voyages sail further than 3 miles from the shore so check that you will be covered sailing outside territorial waters.

Classic Sailing recommend Topsail Insurance http://www.classic-sailing.co.uk/travel-insurance They have policies designed for sailing crew on yachts or tall ships, whether you want an annual policy or a single trip. These are suitable for UK based sailors but the page also has links to alternative companies and recommended insurance companies for non UK citizens.

Ullapool, Scotland

Latest port updates

For Joining any vessel, head to the harbour where your ship will more than likely be the only sailing vessel. Address: The Pier, Ullapool IV26 2UH

Ullapool - The Port

As a base for starting a sailing holiday, Ullapool rewards those who take the trouble to travel this far North. On the entrance to Loch Broom are the Summer Isles and if you head out West you come to the Shiant Islands before your reach Harris and Lewis. From here, it is a relatively short hop to St Kilda, or the Flannan Isles. The sailing grounds are virtually empty and in June it feels like the sun hardly sets. At nearly N 58 degrees latitude Ullapool is further North than Moscow. Its a long way up from Edinburgh, but not as difficult to get to as you might think.

Ullapool is nestled on the shores of Loch Broom. Whatever the weather, you are immediately struck by Ullapool's whiteness and by its regularity of design and layout. This is a legacy of the town's origins, being designed and built in 1788 by Thomas Telford and the British Fisheries Society to exploit a boom in herring fishing at the time.

The town is also the main terminus for the car and passenger ferry to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. The ferry operates seven days per week so all the public transport to Ullapool is good and there are plenty of accommodation options in the town.

Ullapool Town Facilities

As a base for exploring the north west of Scotland, Ullapool is ideal. It has accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets, including one of the best (and best located) campsites in this part of Scotland. And since the upgrading of most of the roads further north it is within reasonable reach of many parts of the region that twenty-five years ago would have needed a major expedition to reach.

Ullapool offers some very nice pubs, including the Ferry Boat Inn. It also has a range of shops from the smallest right up to a well-stocked supermarket: anyone on a self catering holiday is sure to be visiting the latter at some point during their stay.

For those wanting to know more about the area the excellent Ullapool Museum & Visitor Centre on West Argyle Street can be highly recommended. This is in the old parish church, and tells the story of the people of Loch Broom and the history of Ullapool.

How to get here

By Road & Parking

Spectacular driving once in the Highlands but allow plenty of time and rest stops. It is 210 miles between Edinburgh and Ullapool.

Rail & transfers

By train from Edinburgh: There are trains to Edinburgh up both the West and East coast of Britain. Once in Scotland the only train choice is Edinburgh Haymarket up to Inverness from Edinburgh. You then need to travel from Inverness on the East side of Scotland to the West coast by bus -approx 1 hour 20 mins. There is no train station in Ullapool, the nearest station is at Garve and this is a sub-line between Inverness and Kyle. 

If travelling all the way to Ullapool from Southern England by train, try ticket split websites to find best prices.

Air & transfers

Quickest option is to fly direct to Inverness airport from various regional and international airports.

Flying to Inverness airport - current flight routes include scheduled routes from London Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton, Belfast, Dublin, Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, and Amsterdam.

Driving from Inverness Airport to Ullapool Port takes about 1 hour 15 mins by taxi, so if you are pushed for time this is your fastest option.

There is a shuttle bus from airport to Inverness Bus Station every 30 mins for £2-3 (2015 price) and it takes about 23 minutes.

Buses from Inverness Bus Station to Ullapool Ferry Terminal run 4 times a day costing approx £12 single and taking 1 hour 22 minutes. 

Places to stay, Things to do, Travel companions

Classic Sailing invites to a private facebook group where you can connect with other sailors who have booked with us. If you want to find a travel companion or share ideas on accommodation options before your trip, then posting a request on this is this is a safer option than our public facebook page. (due to data protection laws we cannot pass on contact details for other sailors on your trip directly)

Your travel responsibilities

Passports and Visas***

*** “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.”***

Travel, Health, Vaccinations and Safety

Security 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 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

Travel Insurance

It is compulsory that you have travel insurance to sail on any of our voyages, but you do not have to buy the insurance from us. If you purchase your own please make sure it covers sailing as an activity, and racing if you are racing crew. Most our voyages sail further than 3 miles from the shore so check that you will be covered sailing outside territorial waters.

Classic Sailing recommend Topsail Insurance http://www.classic-sailing.co.uk/travel-insurance They have policies designed for sailing crew on yachts or tall ships, whether you want an annual policy or a single trip. These are suitable for UK based sailors but the page also has links to alternative companies and recommended insurance companies for non UK citizens.

Tecla

Tecla has circumnavigated the globe, sailed around Cape Horn, won numerous tall ships races, and is now carving her name as a great expedition ship. At 127ft overall she has the live-aboard comfort of a tall ship but with only 12 guest crew it feels more like a shared adventure with the multinational professional crew.  Tecla's sailing programme is always bold, often in the wake of famous explorers and always with a love for wild nature. She is an original Dutch herring drifter built in 1915 to fish the North Seas under sail.

Statistics

 

  • Length overall: 127ft (38.00m)
  • Length on deck: 90ft (27.00m)

 

  • Year built: 1915
  • Vessel type/rig: Gaff Ketch

 

  • Guest berths: 16 - 20
  • Crew berths: 4

 

 

Tecla exploring the wild coast of Iceland

What Tecla Does Best

Pushing the Frontiers of Adventure Charter Holidays

Tecla is only 90 feet long on deck, but she punches above her weight in terms of adventurous sailing programmes. She is really hooked on sailing in the Arctic and all the exploration history associated with it. After a couple of seasons sailing in East Greenland she is following the pack ice down this virtually uninhabited coast to Cape Farewell and around the corner to West Greenland as far as Disko Bay. This will put her into position to be the first tall ship to make an attempt on the North West Passage (dates soon) through to the Pacific and beyond. Make sure you sign up for our e newsletters (see footer at bottom of the page) to recieve the details as soon as they are released.

Tecla amongst the ice in Greenland
Tecla amongst the ice in Greenland

Pioneered Coastal Sailing Around Iceland

Tecla are as close to being our Iceland coastal sailing specialists as you can be without actually being an Viking. They have invested 3 whole summers into creating and proving their iconic voyages around the West and North coast which all include a chance to enjoy the NW Fjords and the mighty Hornstrandir cliffs and National Park. Sailing along this wild coast for leisure and adventure in Iceland is something fishermen do all year around, but is not particularly common amongst Icelanders and we think they are really missing a trick. The West Coast and NW Fjords are where where the Viking's settled as there were fjords, anchorages, huge seabird populations and rich meadows.

Tecla is a homely ship because for 12 months a year she is the family home. The saloon and galley is the warm heart of the ship below decks, but you also have en suite cabins with hot showers and radiators. When the sun is out there is 90ft of deck space to curl up with a book or journal. With a guest crew of 12, exploration ashore can be as physical as you want: Whether you prefer beach-combing at sea level, or climbing with the more energetic to the highest sea cliffs. Gijs is Tecla's main skipper in the summer and loves hill walking and mountaineering is irrepressible when it comes to exploring ashore.

The North Coast of Iceland is one of the most reliable places in Northern Europe for whale watching, especially if you want the chance to see larger species like blue whale, humpbacks, . Don't just take Tecla's, or our word for it....see the statistics for North Sailing Whale watching day trips in Skaljfandi Bay . Just think how much more wildlife encounters can be possible a longer Icelandic sailing voyage.

Whale sighting from Tecla in Iceland from guest crew Maria Cerrudo
Whale sighting from Tecla in Iceland from guest crew Maria Cerrudo

Wanderlust in the Wake of Great Explorers

The Tecla crew are an energetic bunch. The owner-skippers are ‘up for adventure’ and their sailing programme really reflects that ambition. This is not a tall ship that sits on its laurels. Skippers and siblings Gijs and Jet, research their destinations well, and have a great sense of history and place. The library on board reflects their constant wanderlust, but they also like to really get to know a cruising ground. Their parents, former skippers Janette and Jan, keep a steady hand on the tiller back at base, or you can find them occasionally on board. They have two ships dogs which can join them in some countries.

After carving a name for herself as a winning contender at tall ships races (read about her tall ship victories), she undertook a world voyage with charter crews in 2013-14. Tecla has been island hopping in Cape Verde; explored the Brazilian coast; crossed the South Atlantic to Cape Town. Sailing in company with her bigger companions Europa and Oosterschelde she not only kept up with these ocean going tall ships, but was frequently ahead of them.

Charter crews went looking for the 'Sardine Run' off Mauritius, crossed the Indian Ocean to Australia and took part in a tall ships race from Sydney to New Zealand.  Tecla braved the Southern Ocean, crossing the South Pacific and Rounding Cape Horn, so she proved she was a tough ship, and fast enough to keep up with and often beat her bigger companions Europa and Oosterschelde.

Sailing Expeditions 2018 climbing high in the Faroes with the Tecla Crew

Experienced Ice Pilots

In the winter, Skipper Gijs has sailed as mate on square rigger Europa in Antarctica and South Georgia, and makes no secret about his fondness for high latitudes and wild places. Sailing the iceberg strewn waters of the Weddell Sea and navigating a square rigger in the broken sea ice, fog and blizzards around the Antarctic Peninsula have hugely added to Gijs's ice pilotage experience.

Landing crews by zodiac in remote Antarctic locations with potentially dangerous wildlife is another useful skill he has brought back to his Tecla Arctic Expeditions. The ocean passage between Iceland and Greenland Scorseby Sound brings different pilotage problems. Gijs has run three summer season in high latitudes and added the Denmark Strait, East Greenland Coast and Scorseby Sound to his ice pilot experience. Navigating through the icebergs and sea ice as it breaks up and drifts down the Greenland East Coast requires a certain patience, experience and respect for the elements.

Another added bonus is that Gijs has worked with some of the best polar wildlife guides with Arctic and Antarctic expertise, and he is well read in historic and contemporary polar exploration journals and wildlife conservation.

Greenland sailing on tall ship Tecla
Tecla on the way to East Greenland

 

 

Style of Sailing

Tecla is very much an adventure charter ship so the style of sailing is 'hands on' but her well trained staff recognise that her expedition style voyages attract all types and ages of guest crew. Whether you are a keen traditional sailor who want to learn all the ropes, a bird watcher or a sea lover who just wants to experience a romantic way of travelling, you can all feel part of this little ships community and do what you can manage to help sail the ship and contribute to life on board. She originally sailed with 16 but now prefers to keep guest crew numbers to only 12, so you find the ship pretty spacious. She is about the same length on deck as Irene.

Tecla does some big trips with fairly small professional crew of four for the size of the vessel, so there is more expectation for everybody to help sail the ship on these offshore voyages. Guest crew will be divided into groups called watches and on a passage there will be a watch keeping routine. Watch keeping means that when it is your turn to be on watch you will need to be out on deck trimming sails, steering and helping navigate if that is your interest. You will always have the skipper or mate with you as the watch leader, so they is plenty you can learn, and its a great time to get a bit more individual attention, sailing tuition or if the sailing is straight forward, put the world to rights. It means the other watch team can relax on deck or below decks. knowing you are concentrating on getting the best out of the ship, and notching up the miles towards your next destination, day or night.

On a fore and aft rigged ketch there is more sail trimming, tacking and gybing than you might find on a square rigger, so at times on watch you may be very busy. 

Most of the deck layout of the Tecla has been kept in a traditional style from her days as a herring drifter and then cargo ship. On deck you will find traditional details like dead-eyes rather than bottlescrews, and a lot of wood work. Sails are set by hand, a big part of the electricity used on board is generated by the dynamo on the propeller.

Tecla has a tough riveted steel hull and a lot of sail so she is both powerful and lively to sail. She has a decent sized RIB (check type) for trips ashore. . 

 

Learn to steer a gaff ketch on holiday. Tecla has a big ships wheel

Life on Board

The saloon is a nice place to socialise and relax below decks.  Upholstered seating and a large library of exploration and wildlife books in several languages add to the homely feel and a radiator keeps things warm, as does the galley area opposite.  You can chat to the cook, but don't try pinching the cakes till they are ready.  

There are two person cabins with cozy duvets and linen provided. The cabins have heating (radiators) and a huge amount of headroom. You can latch the door open for more air in hotter climes and there is an opening porthole for natural light. All cabins have a toilet (that doesn't need any pumping!) and a shower en-suite.

Read more about the accommodation below.

Gijs and Jets mum Janette is often the cook on board, when she is not running the sailing business from home.  On some trips the family dogs might be on board, but it depends a bit on the shore-side regulations.

All the family speak good English and the working language on board is English. Some special diets can be catered for, but many of Tecla's voyages are 3 weeks away from provisioning ports and sailing in remote areas with no human habitation or fresh food shops so they cannot accept those who require a strict vegan diet.

Voyages in places like Greenland or even NW Iceland are a long way from any hospital, so you do need to be in good health for these voyages.

Life on board Tecla is a mix of active sailing holiday and exploring ashore

Accommodation on Tecla

Accommodation down below on tall ship Tecla
Tecla Saloon and a library to feed the explorer in all of us

Below Decks Accommodation

The companionway steps dive down to the living accommodation quite a long way, so there is ample headroom for taller sailors. There is a main corridor that all the cabins lead off from. At the far end is the galley and saloon. the professional crew have separate accommodation at the stern of the ship (aft).

Two person en suite cabins with heating

Each two berth cabin is has heated with a radiator and there is an en-suite toilet and shower room with hot and cold water in every cabin.   In the cabin itself you will find a simple basin and tap and mirror. Your bed will be either the higher or the lower bunk. All beds are over 80cm wide and 2 meters long. Each bed has a reading light for the evening hours. Your clothing can be stored in cupboard and your bag or suitcase can be stored under the bed.

Tecla cabins have heating and en suite shower wc

Saloon and Galley

The heart of the ship on Tecla is the saloon.  The galley is open plan in the same room as the saloon, so its a very warm social space. There is a big saloon table and seating with cushions all around. On the other side of the room is more seating and tables for meals or for writing journals and hobbies.  Tecla has a ships library full of books that will bring out the explorer in you. Many of the books are in English and there are some great 'coffee table' style books about nautical adventures.

Tecla's crew  love to read up about their sailing destinations whether it is Icelandic sagas or boat building in the Orkneys, so if you run out of your own novels there is plenty to dip into.

Tecla interior - saloon
Tecla interior - main saloon table

 

Ships Dogs

The Tecla family have two ships dogs who are sometimes on board, if regulations permit. Generally they are at home in Holland.

Tecla's Ships dog Sadie enjoying walkies on Skye.
Ships dog Sadie enjoying walkies on Skye.

 

Tecla - Ship Specification

Photo by Howard Gear - Tecla from the air
Photo by Howard Gear - Tecla from the air

Worldwide Operating Licence

Tecla is equipped to sail the world’s seas and holds all the safety certificates required by Dutch Law. She carries 4-5 professional crew. As you are part of the guest crew you also will be fully trained in some aspects of emergency procedures.

 

vessel type - gaff ketch    
year built 1915 Winkel, NL
length overall 124ft 38m
length on deck 90ft 27m
beam 22ft 6.55m
draft   2.7m
sail area   370 sq m
tonnage 92  
guest crew overnight 12  
professional crew 5  

 

Tecla has a riveted steel hull and deck with watertight bulkheads. She has a fantastic underwater hull shape for deep water sailing. She is a fast ship and has won many awards at Tall Ships Races. When she sailed around the world and all the way to Australia in company with larger Dutch tall ships Europa and Oosterschelde she was more than capable of keeping up with them despite their longer waterlines. Quite often ahead of them!

Sails & Spars

The bowsprit is huge but fully retractable in a few minutes for small harbours.

She has 3 sizes of flying jib, a fore staysail with a sheet on a sliding bar. The main and mizzen are very heavy canvas and gaff rigged. They can be reefed. There is also a storm tri-sail. The topsails are jackyard topsails so you hoist the sail and an extra mast (or jackyard) extending both mizzen and main mast. This is quite an exciting sail hoist and also fun coming down.

Shaft Generator for Carbon Free Electricity

When sailing Tecla can charge her batteries without the diesel generator as the movement through the water spins her propeller and a shaft generator captures the free energy.

Tecla has a normal generator too, but there is no need to have it running all the time. 

Water makers and Radiators

Tecla can make fresh water from sea water which enables her to go on long expeditions. She has big water tanks too.

Navigation & Communications

Tecla has Sat C communications plus saterlite phone for Greenland Expeditions

She also has VHF for coastal and HF long range radio. 

For the NW Passage she will carry a Yellow Brick Tracking device so your friends and family can track the ship.

You can currently follow her on Marine Traffic App as she has an AIS transmitting her position, spread, status etc.

We will give customers fuller information in 2019 as she will be updating some of her equipment for her NW Passage and Antarctic seasons in 2019-20

Gijs - Captain on the Tecla
Gijs - Captain on the Tecla

Tecla - a Family of Captains!

Skippers are Jan, Jet, Janet and Gijs, all one family but two generations!  Don't worry. They take it in turns to be in charge!

Together the Sluik family of Jan, Jannette, Gijs and Jet, muster a large number of years of traditional charter sailing experience and invite everybody to join them aboard to be a part of the history of Tecla. 

The Tecla crew consists of three or four permanent professional sailors. This crew is partially made up of the family and completed with some dedicated sailors that we have met around the world.

The crew give their heart and live to sailing the Tecla and can show all the tricks of trimming the sail to the fullest and teach anybody how to bake some amazing homemade bread.

Gijs -Captain of the Tecla.

Gijs shares the command of Tecla with his sister Jet.

Gijs started sailing when he was a young boy. Professionally he started sailing in 2001 as deckhand on the Aagtje, Eenhoorn and later Stad Amsterdam. He worked on the Stad Amsterdam as deckhand, quartermaster and third mate over a period of 3 years.

After that his full attention was directed to the Tecla, where he has been the full time captain for several years. Gijs has a passion for fast sailing, he is devoted to the Tecla and loves working on her deck as well as in the chartroom.

Debbie in Classic Sailing office has sailed with Gijs when he was the first mate on a square rigger sailing from Brazil to Antarctica, and also more recently in Orkney, Shetland and the Faroes. If you can't pronounce his name Dutch style then 'Heiss' is close. He speaks great English, loves to sail every ship he works on to the max....is happiest when he can run around the deck and pull sails with the guests. Gjis has a strong interest in maritime history and exploration and always wants to take Tecla to new places.

Jet is relief captain on Tecla.

Jet started sailing professionally in 2005. Before that she spent many weeks a year sailing with her parents. Sitting next to Jan steering, was the best spot on board. After getting her bachelor degree in Communication, Jet worked in the office of Amnesty International for 2 years. Jet could not resist the call for adventure when the opportunity came to buy the Tecla. Jet has sailed as cook and first mate but after experience on other ships she now sails as skipper too. Jet uses her marketing and communication skills to advantage to promote Tecla and the family business too.

Captain of Tecla - Jet receiving an award
Captain of Tecla - Jet receiving an award

Jannette - co-owner and manager of the Tecla.

Janette started sailing after she met Jan. Together they bought an old Dutch vessel, the “Aagtje” and restored her to full sailing condition. For more than 10 years they sailed together on the Ijsselmeer and Waddenzee. After a short adventure with the Eenhoorn (Unicorn) the step up to the open ocean and the Tecla, was not difficult. Until recently Janette was always on board, but now she spends more time as shore manager, together with the pensioned dog Nyske and the young springer spaniel Sadie, to organize better contacts between ship, authorities, trainees etc. Missing the sailing? Of course, but she does make a few guest appearances during the season.

Tecla manager Janette and Jan have run charter sailing ships for years
Janette and Jan have run charter sailing ships for years

Captain Jan - With Us in Spirit

Jan Sluik sadly passed away in 2018 but he is such an important part of Tecla's story, we feel you should know how it all started.

Jan  sailed and owned vessels from an early age on. Rebuilding and repairing traditional beauties is in his blood, he used to work on old timers together with his dad. In 1991 Jan and Janette launched the two mast tjalk Aagtje as a charter vessel from Hoorn. Later they switched homeport to Harlingen to sail on the Waddenzee more. In 2002 the sold the Aagtje and bought the Eenhoorn. Which they sailed from Harlingen as well and sold in 2005, after which they bought the Tecla to start a new project together with their children, Gijs and Jet.  Gijs and Jet have grown up with the sea in their blood and now are the full time skippers of Tecla, replacing their parents out of the water.

Tecla sails with a Captain, Mate, Cook and deckhand and for Iceland and Greenland a wildlife guide.

Current sailing grounds

Tecla - Kit List

tecla-sourcetecla-iceland-skipper.jpg

Kit List for Tecla 

THIS IS TECLA standard voyage kit list. Specialist Antarctic kit list to follow shortly

Included

  • Sailing instruction 
  • Safety Equipment (Life jackets and harnesses)
  • All meals to including refreshments throughout the day.
  • Bed linen, duvet, pillows and towels. 

What's Not Included

  • Travel to and from the start and end port. 
  • Optional trips or tours taken ashore
  • Meals ashore
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Personal towels

 

What to bring

There is limited storage space on Tecla so please pack all you belongings in a soft rucksack or bag.

  • Footwear: Shoes with a good grip e.g. trainers or sailing deck shoes. (Sandals are great for beaches but you do need toe protection for sailing). Tecla has steel decks so waterproof walking boots are fine at sea in moderate winds and dry conditions and great for voyages where you might do some rough terrain walking like Iceland and Scotland. 
  • Rubber Boots or second pair of shoes for wet weather or getting in/out of dinghies. 
  • Swim suit & beach towel
  • Suntan lotion & sunglasses
  • Sun hat / warm hat, scarves, gloves
  • Clothes that dry quickly like fleeces and thermals. Mix of warm, waterproof & windproof layers. Wool jumpers are warm, even when wet, but can take a while to dry. Merino wool type shirts are good for under layers.
  • Small rucksack for going ashore
  • Travel insurance documents/any travel tickets
  • Personal medicines/ spectacles/ seasick tablets –check which brand if you suffer from asthma or are on regular medication.
  • Camera/binoculars etc
  • Modest quantity of alcohol for evening meals
  • You are welcome to bring musical instruments

 

Off

Tecla - Reviews

Tecla crew enjoying afternoon sun

This was a great voyage.  A great mix of sailing in Scottish waters, some super hikes and an opportunity to see some of the immensely important historical sites in the Orkneys and Sheltands.  Mooring alongside in Fair Isle was a great privilege.  The ocean passage to the Faroes was quiet but as a result we were blessed with clear skies whilst slinking in and out of the islands and some of the best coastal views one could hope to see anywhere.  The ocean passage to Iceland was a bit of a bimble until we were 60 miles off and then it got exciting.  Thanks to a great skipper and permanent crew we snuggled into a fjord whilst the cruise ship ran aground in Reykjavik harbour.  A good holiday, an adventure and fun. K Barker, Tecla Ullapool to Reykjavik, May 2018

What was the best bit?

Sailing under the Skye Bridge on a windy, sunny morning. ..

What was the worst bit?

Being sea sick on the first day, but I can't blame the boat or the crew for that - just the stormy weather.

Why do you sail?

I have never sailed before, this was a 'give it a try' holiday - it hasn't put me off doing it again sometime

Any other comments

An enjoyable week in less than ideal weather conditions. The crew was competent and friendly, the catering excellent - I wouldn't hesitate to recommend a voyage on Tecla." Jonathan E. Sailing in Scotland

 

"Brilliant, I would do it again tomorrow. And good value too. Food was excellent. I loved the spicy meat balls and my wife loved the fresh langoustines." Steve.

The voyage was " a delight. A competent and engaging professional crew, an interesting voyage with some challenges and some great rewards. Good companions to make the log spin around." Mike 

What aspects did you enjoy most? "The sailing from Faroes isles to Iceland in perfect weather." What aspects did you enjoy least? "cannot answer this question as enjoyed every single moment"  If you could sum up the trip? "It was my first voyage. I just thought I like being out, I like being active, and I like the sea, so I will have a look at sailing.  After that marvellous experience I will certainly continue." Annon feedback form  May 2015

Sailed on Tecla to St Kilda in June - amazing crew (Gijs, Janet, Barbara) and great company. I loved everything about the trip and strongly recommend to join the Tecla folks. Most enjoyable classic sailing with great food, true sense of teamwork, great guidance and good sense of humour. Can't get any better." Cheers, Thomas M.

"Best Experience Ever (5 stars for sailing, crew and food) " David on TC28/04/14

I sailed aboard Tecla from Oban to the Scillies in very early May. It was cold, wet and mostly pretty windy. It was thoroughly excellent. The Tecla is a great little ship, but it was the skipper and crew (paid and "trainees") that made it for me. Great job, thanks guys. I plan to come again. Steve W

I‘d never been sailing in Iceland or on Tecla so this was a double first for me. What I like about remote places is that the people you meet are welcoming and pleased to see you. They seem to be secure in their communities and proud of where they live. In 8 days in Iceland I only saw one policeman very very briefly. Not at the airport but following us for about 30 seconds in a police car in Reykjavik. Was it cold in Iceland, Yes and No, on arrival there was no need for more than 2 layers on top and one below. But later when sailing and the wind picked up from the north it did require 5 top layers and 2 below but we were less than 30 miles from the Arctic Circle!  Overall I really enjoyed the voyage and the wildlife. Adam Purser June 2018

Off

RESERVE YOUR PLACE FOR 7 DAYS WITHOUT FINANCIAL COMMITMENT

As long as the voyage is not about to start, Classic Sailing can reserve your place for 7 days without payment or financial commitment, whilst you talk to your boss, find a home to look after your dog, or check flight prices.

All Classic Sailing need from you is a completed booking form to start the process: We check availability, approve your booking form, and provisionally reserve a berth.  You place is confirmed and booking terms apply, only when you have paid the deposit. We strongly recommend you do not purchase flights or travel tickets until your voyage is fully confirmed.

 

Solo sailors

The boats will always ensure that solo sailors sharing the same cabin are the same sex. If you wish to have sole occupancy of a cabin on any of our voyages a single occupancy charge will apply, this depends on which boat you wish to sail on. 

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