“I must go down to the seas, again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.” John Masefield, Sea Fever
Tall ship travel is the most elegant of life’s experiences.
It’s also romantic, poetic and fun. In a world where terrorism and wobbly economics have stripped the elegance from travel, sailing on a tall ship is a ray of sunshine directed to the adventurous soul. It is a type of boutique travel, where everyday hardy crews of fit young men and women weight anchor, cast off lines, climb rigging, pull ropes, and drop sails to glide over the sea to the next adventure. Except that on a tall ship this method of travel is part of the adventure.
As a travel writer I get to do a lot of very cool things. I get to see a lot of the
world, experience fine food and meet interesting people. Sailing on a tall ship is at the top of my list of fun things to do.
I’ve sailed five times on four tall ships. The first was the SSFantome in the Bahamas. It was primarily a booze cruise under canvas. Next came a week on the tall ship Europa, sailing from Cape Tormentine around PEI to Pictou. After that was a week sailing the west coast of Newfoundland on the Concordia. Finally, I joined the initial cruise of the Caledonia in the French Caribbean and again from Quebec City to Bonne Bay.
The Europa, which is taking part in the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, was built in 1911 as a floating lighthouse. It is 185-feet-long, has three masts, and 27 sails which cover 11,000 sq. ft. and requires over five miles of rope to manage. Europa’s white hull, neatly tied sails and taut rigging looks like Disney designed a pirate ship.
The barquentine S.V. Caledonia is 248-feet-long, 30-feet wide and has 21 sails containing 17,000 sq. ft. of canvas. Under sail, the Caledonia, which has a four-yard front mast and two single masts, looks like a cross between the Bounty and the Bluenose. Caledonia, which was based in Halifax, is not part of this year’s tall ship gathering. It is for sale if anyone catches the dream to play pirate or enter into boutique cruising. Caledonia can accommodate 57 passengers in 32 cabins in four-star comfort. It operated with 22 crew.
Tall ships are a true adventure. Because of their size they can take you to ports
that bigger ships have to bypass. One of the places we visited was Anticosti Island. I’ve grown up hearing the weather forecasts for Anticosti, but how many every go there?
Not surprisingly tall ships draw a lot of interest from local residents. In every community a ship visited we were treated as part celebrity, part curiosity. People who live by the water, who make their living from the sea, sail recreationally or are descended from seafarers are naturally fascinated by the anachronism of such a creature in their midst. It was pleasant, surprising and natural since all the communities we visited were founded in the age of sail. In these communities, fortunes rose and fell during the period when tall ships connected the world, so we became part of their living history. Continue reading “Tall ship adventures”