Sail training on a tall ship -- Opinions wanted.

I just got back from my last vacation, which means it’s time to start planning the next one.

I’d like to sail on a tall ship. I’ve heard of a few where the passengers are also a large part of the crew. I don’t mind working hard at something I’ve never done before, the new experience is worth it to me.

Ah, but the details are important. I’d like it to be a square-rigged ship. To me, that’s the absolute classic tall ship. Plus, I already know a bit about how sloops and schooners work, but the square rigging is a mystery. And I’d like to actually travel from one place to another. I don’t want to just putter around the Caribbean and back to where I started. These ships were invented to cross oceans; I want to experience some part of that. The ideal would be Boston-to-Bermuda, or something similar.

Searching around the net I found the Barque Picton Castle.

It does around-the-world trips, but I don’t have 18 months of vacation saved up. There’s a trip this fall that looks just about perfect, though; a three-week leg from Nova Scotia to Barbados.

Before I sign up, I still have two questions that you sailing dopers might be able to help with.

  1. The ship was originally built in 1928 as a fishing trawler. After some exploits during World War II (minesweeping, liberating Norway, that kind of thing) it was converted to a sailing ship by welding on a new bow and adding three masts. Is that going to compromise the whole this-is-how-it-was-back-in-the-day feeling that I’m after? I thought hull design was one of the cutting-edge things that separated one ship from another. Is a tall-ship hull similar enough to a 1928 fishing-trawler hull that this is as close to the real thing as I’m likely to get?

  2. Will there be much actual sailing on a trip from Nova Scotia to the West Indies? I know I said I wanted to cover some distance, but I’d also like to see some variety in the conditions. Do you just set a course, trim the sails and then swab the decks for three weeks? Tacking (not the specialty of a square rigger, from what I’ve been able to find out), running with the wind, I’d like to see as much of it as I can. I know prevailing winds change with latitude, is that enough to see everything the ship can do?

Wow - sounds great! And to think she actually served as a minesweeper in WW2 - I’d love to see them break out the White Ensign on her mizzen. Looking over the website, it seems you’d get plenty of sailing experience. I wouldn’t sweat the rebuilding of the ship, either.

A friend of mine was in the U.S. Coast Guard and served aboard the Academy’s tall ship, the USCGC Eagle. She’s never forgotten the experience.

Living in Eastern Connecticut I see the Eagle Daily when I drive over the New London Bridge. It’s a beautiful white Barque

Southeastern Connecticut and all the way up the coast through MA and into ME have day and week long tall ship charters. It’s very fun… I believe the Mystic Seaport has old school charters on some of their 19th century whaling ships.

Thanks for the comments. Sounds good, so far.

I was in New London two summers ago for the tall ships festival and saw Eagle, (I’d seen her once before then as well) but didn’t know she was based there.

Sounds like she’d have some good advice as well. Any chance I can get her opinion on my plans; adventurous, foolhardy, or both?

Alas, no. I fell out of touch with her more than a decade ago. More’s the pity.

Never pass up a chance to sail a tall ship…

I have absolutely NOTHING to add, except that I had to read this three times before I realized the subject wasn’t SNAIL Training on a Tall Ship.

I could not for the life of me figure out how you train a snail, or what you’d be training it to do, for that matter.

Carry on.

Go for it! I was able to sail on the iron bargue Elyssa. Though it was just for a shakedown in Galveston Bay I was hooked. I volunteered for half a year, driving 200 miles to help out on Sundays. I finally gave up, partly because at that time the crew for voyages was selected by hours worked and there were a lot of retirees who were putting in 40+ hours each week.

Thanks for bringing this to light. I may sign up for a week of work someday.