because life's an adventure

Tall Ship sailing with JoJaffa

Swing from the yard arm! Me hearties!

JoJaffa's FREE e-zine
Your email address:
more info

Open Outcry
Ask a question get advice
Why....Tall Ship Sailing?
Getting started
How do I get started?
Kit and caboodle
Recommended reading
Spoil yourself
Holidays and Vacations
Getting more out of....tall ship sailing
I've got the basics, what next?

Back to top
JJ's Home

Why....Tall Ship Sailing?

Tall Ships - The words conjure up an exciting kaleidoscope of impressions, giant square-riggers with towering masts and billowing sails, leaning majestically to the wind, of sleek schooners sliding gracefully through the water.

Imagine being at the helm of a magnificent tall ship, guiding her across seas to exciting adventures, new experiences and lifelong memories.

Gracefully sailing past spectacular coastlines - the East Coast of Ireland, Gomera in the Canaries or the Isles of Scilly. Beauty combined with the tranquility of motion by sail.

Stand at the helm you are holding the great might of a 50m ship ploughing the ocean and splashing its nose like a playful dolphin on every wave it meets.

Recall visits to museums and dream back to the pioneering days of racing tea from china or high adventures on the high seas.

The Yards are aloft lifting great sheets of sail. Look to the top of the mast and spy a little creature keeping look out - and realise that is the leader of your watch. Ahrgg - adrenalin - just keep it steady now!


You hit a hurricane storm force 9 gusting 10 and for three hours you make headway against the coast line, you are just treading water. At one stage you are even going backwards.

Sitting on the deck midships you get to watch the waves grow and then crash over the bow, drenching everyone. You just hear a whoosh and remember to hold on.

From a rough start, the storm suddenly blows its self out, the winds drop and seas slowly subside.

That night is cloudless, the sky shimmering with stars, brighter than a galaxy of diamonds, and there is absolute silence, apart from the sound of the wind gently filling the sails and the water lapping under the hull.

Sitting on the bridge, keeping look out, at 3 o'clock in the morning feels like paradise.

Look up at the ghostly sails, lit only by the light from the stars, and know what it feels like to be a pioneer voyaging out to look for the end of the world....

There are more great pictures of tall ships in JoJaffa's Tall Ship Gallery

Tell us what got you interested in tall ship sailing.

Back to top
JJ's Home

Getting started

Tall ships require big crews, perhaps 40 crew for the voyage and 8 to 10 permanent crew. These ships are too big for most ports, so they just sail on day and night. Perhaps they will anchor outside a port, then the crew are individually transported by motorised dinghy to the shore.

Typically, every one is placed into one of four watches. Each watch is led by a crew member with experience - your watch leader. This way everyone takes part in running the ships but all duties are tailored to individuals' abilities and many require teamwork enabling everyone to take part.

You'll find that you'll be on watch every 16 hours - it's kind of weird to get up at 2am and do 4 hours of sailing a tall ship in pitch darkness (unless the moon is out) before day break and breakfast. But it gives you a wonderful insight of the 24 operation of the ship - no turning on the motor and heading for harbour on a tall ship!

Although the traditional rig on tall ships includes some sails which can be worked from the decks with ropes, others have to be handled aloft.

This means that volunteers get the chance to climb aloft and unfurl the sails, under the care and guidance of the professional crew (oilskins and harnesses might be needed).

Tall ships are wonderful places to experience the immense power of sail. They also create great friendships - it is not unusual for people to meet up with sailing companions again and again. That means that they are great people travelling solo.

To start tall ship sailing you really don't need any experience at all. Given that each ship has a large crew, so long as there are a few experienced hands, everyone else can pick it as they go along.

This makes it one of the most sociable ways to learn (and fall for) sailing.

The Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST) runs 2 ships, the Lord Nelson and Tenacious, for a mixed crew of able bodied and disabled people. There is almost no restriction on any one crewing - many blind, and wheelchair bound people have completed successful trips along with able bodied people. You just need to be at least 16 years old.

The JST's Lord Nelson and Tenacious sail out of Southampton in the spring and summer, Portugal in the autumn and the Canary Islands in the winter.

Other Tall Ships will take anybody fit, able and 16 years old or older. The only exception to this is the Soren Larsen which is based in New Zealand but sails around the world, and will take children if accompanied by an adult.

You might also sail schooners (small tall ships) - such as the 'Sir Winston Churchill' which offers grants if you are aged between 16 and 24.

Tall ship sailing from Europe

Check out Tall Ship Fan's excellent English and German site for an introduction to the German tall ship, Roald Amundsen and many others.

For the Dutch tall ships check out Hollands Glory - you need to be able to understand a little dutch. this covers the Dutch tall ship Europa and her sister ship Oosterschelde

Tall ship sailing in North America

If you are looking for a ship sailing around the US try

Tall Ship Sailing in NZ

If you are based in the southern hemisphere, check out the Soren Larsen - she will take children under the age of 16 if accompanied by an adult. This ship sails across the world, so you can even board her in Halifax, Canada!

Back to top
JJ's Home

Getting more out of....tall ship sailing

Treat your self to a visit (virtual or otherwise) to some of the sites of the great ships of old

The Cutty Sark - step back in time to the most romantic days of merchant shipping... when wind & tide, the skill of a crew, and the shrewdness of a ship's master were almost the sole arbiters of the success of a voyage.

Nelson's HMS Victory - where 821 officers and crew lived and worked, the Great Cabin where Lord Nelson planned the battle of Trafalgar, and the place below decks where he died uttering the immortal words "Kiss Me Hardy".

Follow the Tall Ships Race or even enter it yourself. The Tall Ships Race runs every year and is open to any tall ship crew (so long as 50% of the crew are under 25 years of age - of course the other 50% of the crew can be any age).

Useful links

Back to top
JJ's Home

Kit and caboodle

Need a good book, video or more advice? JoJaffa has picked out the best for you. For each book/ video just click on the amazon link find out the price and get more information.

If you can suggest any good books about tall ship sailing, let us know.

Recommended Reading

VHS : Sailing the Windjammers
by n/a
VIDEO - A bird's eye view of the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race. Includes: Lord Nelson, Iskra II, Malcolm Miller, Eendracht and Belle Poule. An extended version of the HTV documentary.

Amazon UKin association with...Amazon US

Books : Sail Tall Ships
by American Sail Training Association
The Associattions 300+page guide to sailing tall ships around the world. Great reference for anyone looking to get started.

Amazon UKin association with...Amazon US

Books : Tall Ships of the World
by C. Keith Wilbur
The most popular book on tall ships. Lots of detail.

Amazon UKin association with...Amazon US

Most tall ships will equip you with oil skins and wet weather gear.

You might want to spend 20 to 100 on boots and very likely, a warm waterproof jacket.

For great jackets go for the Helly Hansen - or just check out Fogdogs enormous range:

Fogdog carry loads of reviews and offer great prices and worldwide delivery. Alow extra time for your goods to arrive if you're based outside the USA.

Back to top
JJ's Home

Spoil yourself

Sail in the tall ships race - or just follow the action from your screen.

Take a winter sailing holiday around the Canary Islands on the Lord Nelson.

Back to top
JJ's Home

Open Outcry

Got a question? Get an answer!

Post a message to the sailing_tallship discussion board.

You might just

  • have a general question about tall ship sailing?
  • want to make a comment
  • want to share tips and advice with fellow JoJaffa-ers?

... Then why not use our tall ship sailing chat board

Maybe someone has already asked that burning question you're longing to find the answer to ...

Back to top
JJ's Home
If you are interested in tall ship sailing, you'll probably also enjoy some or all of the following

or even ...

JoJaffa 2000 to 2004Disclaimer