Adventure sailing holidays have the ability to carry passengers to the far reaches of the world, accessing some of the most remote and magnificent scenery the world has to offer.
Having just returned from my first tall ship sailing adventure off the west coast of Scotland, and with my interest for the high seas well and truly piqued, I take a look at some adventure sailing holidays I would love to join.
1. East Greenland
Duration: 15 days, Isafjordur to Kulusuk
Price: €4,950 ($5,800)
More information: anotherworldadventures.com
Along the 2,600km (1,600mi) stretch of coastline between Tasiilaq and Scoresby Sund on the east coast of Greenland, barely 3,500 people carve out an existence, making it one of the most remote places in the world. This is the realm of polar bears and narwhals.
On this trip, a 60ft sailing yacht carrying just 12 passengers and two crew departs from Isafjordur in Iceland taking approximately 32 hours to cross the Denmark Strait before travelling southwards along the east Greenland coast. When conditions are right there are plenty of opportunities to make landfall and explore the spectacular wilderness of Greenland.
2. South Georgia, Falklands & Antarctica voyage
Duration: 22-39 days, Falkland Islands to Ushuaia
Price: From €7,490 ($8,800)
More information: barkeuropa.com
The 100-year-old iconic tall ship Europa offers a number of Antarctic adventure sailing holidays. My favourite is the 34-day expedition from the Falkland Islands to Ushuaia in Argentina via South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula in the Weddell Sea. These iconic destinations evoke the epic journeys of discovery made by the likes of Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen.
Covering over 2,400 nautical miles (2,500km) the ship visits some of the most inhospitable yet beautiful open ocean. Expect icebergs, albatross and penguins, the latter in their thousands. Finally, return to civilisation by crossing the infamous Drake Passage.
3. Cruise the Hebrides of Scotland
Duration: 7 days, Oban to Oban
Price: From £600 ($900)
More information: ladyofavenel.com
The Scottish west coast may not be as remote as some destinations on this list but it offers comparable wild beauty, albeit with the option of a cozy pub and hearty meal at day’s end. Fresh from my first sailing adventure in the Inner Hebrides I can thoroughly recommend a week among some of Scotland’s finest scenery.
The Lady of Avenel is a 102ft Brigantine square-rigger that runs a range of tall ship adventure sailing holidays around the UK. Options include sea kayaking, paddleboarding, wild swimming, mountain walking and whisky tours, as well as a variety of passage cruises.
4. Sailing Cuba
Duration: 8 days, Havana to Havana
Price: €1,279 ($1,500)
More information: gadventures.com
Adventure sailing holidays don’t have to be among hostile, glacial seas. The Caribbean offers some of the most stunning waters in the world and it is an exciting time to visit Cuba. Recently, the country has seen a massive increase in tourism, making sailing an ideal way to see the country while escaping the crowds.
Explore the Canarreos Archipelago located to the south of Cuba’s main island via a small and personal 82ft catamaran. As well as snorkelling, rafting and kayaking, passengers can explore the land via hiking and cycling excursions.
5. Spitsbergen (Svalbard) Sailing and Photography Cruise
Duration: 7 days, Longyearbyen to Longyearbyen
Price: €2,700 ($3,200)
More information: classic-sailing.co.uk
The Dutch-owned tall ship Antigua is a Svalbard specialist, sailing to the high-Arctic archipelago every summer since 2008. The ship takes voyages throughout the summer to the Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, located roughly midway between continental Norway and the North Pole.
However, it’s the September photography-focused trip that interests me most. The nights are darker at this time of year and better for viewing and photographing the Northern Lights. The crew includes photography experts as well as wildlife specialists to help passengers spot polar bears, walrus, cetaceans – both at sea and ashore – and the plethora of birdlife on offer.
6. New Zealand to the Falklands
Duration: 44 days, Auckland to Port Stanly
Price: £5,500 ($7,300)*
More information: jst.org.uk
A square rig ocean passage aboard the Tenacious, the largest operating wooden hulled ship in the world. From New Zealand the ship follows the Roaring Forties westerly winds found in the Southern Hemisphere between the latitudes of 40-50°.
After 4,000 miles (6,500km) of open ocean the ship will round Cape Horn and head for the Falkland Islands. With a 3,000-mile non-stop passage behind them – from 50 degrees South in the Pacific – all the crew will have met the criteria to become members of the International Association of Cape Horners (provided the voyage was completed under sail without using the engine). Apparently, more people have summited Mount Everest than joined this exclusive club.
*Subsidised price through fundraising. Full price is £8,800 ($11,600).
7. Picton Castle Circumnavigation
Duration: 425 days, Lunenburg to Lunenburg
More information: classic-sailing.co.uk
The three-masted tall ship Picton Castle has completed six world circumnavigations. In March 2018, she will begin her seventh. The voyage begins in Lunenburg in Nova Scotia, Canada, and for the vast majority of the voyage will sail in a westerly direction towards the sunset. From Canada, it heads south to the lower latitudes, rounding Cape Horn into the Pacific Ocean.
From the Pacific Ocean it passes through the Torres Strait, between Australia and Papua New Guinea and into the Indian Ocean. Rounding southern Africa and the Cape of Good Hope, it crosses the South Atlantic, approaching the Equator again, the Caribbean and then northwards, along the North American coast, returning to Lunenburg.
Passengers will be apprentice deckhands (trainees) and be expected to take part in sail handling, small boat sailing and handling them under oar, helmsmanship, rigging, chartwork, ropework and even sail making and boat building. Trainees may sign up for one or more of the four legs of the voyage. They last from 88 to 135 days and are priced at $15,000 per leg. Alternatively, the whole 425-day voyage is available for $48,000.