Category: Sailing Tips

A Guide to Sailing in the Algarve

Algarve Portugal

Searching for an all inclusive holiday to Portugal? Why not try something new with a fully skippered sailing holiday in the Algarve. With around 200 kilometers of breathtakingly beautiful coastline, azure blue waters and warm winds, a skippered sailing holiday in the Algarve allows you to experience true, authentic Portugal. For those who have yet to be tempted, read on to find out more;

The natural beauty of the Algarve
From gentle golden cliffs sheltering sea caves to striking red rock formations and sand dunes, the coastline is ever-changing here and is best absorbed under sail. A tall ship sailing holiday in this region means you can soak in the natural beauty of the Portuguese coastline at all times, from dining alfresco, sunbathing on deck, or even using onboard kayaks to explore the coast.

The sheltered coastline and warm sailing winds create the perfect sailing area for beginners or old hands, and if you’ve been wanting to learn to sail on a traditional boat in warmer climates, Portugal may be the place for you. Historic tall ship Maybe offers taster sailing trips, perfect for a short break getaway from Portimão. Adventure travellers will love joining tall ship Blue Clipper for a longer open sea voyage around the Spanish and Portuguese coast. 

Beautiful Algarve Beaches
With miles of secluded coastline it’s little wonder that the beaches here are renowned for being some of the most beautiful in the world, with the region regularly voted the best beach destination in Europe. With gentle, secluded coves hugged by whitewashed pretty fishing villages, vast stretches of golden sands and white soft shores along the islands, variety is guaranteed. And the best way to discover as many as possible? By boat of course! Offering an adventurous twist on a typical Portuguese beach holiday, a sailing holiday in Portugal means you’re sure to find the best hidden beaches in the Algarve (and after a morning learning to sail a traditional tall ship, there’s no better way to relax!)

Ancient History

The history of the Algarve is extensive to say the least. The Algarve was once occupied by the Arabs and the name ‘Algarve’ actually arose from the Arab word ‘Al-Gharb’, which means ‘The West’. The Romans then settled here until their fall in the 5th Century which saw the region occupied by roman Visigoths. In 1755 Portugal experienced a huge earthquake which destroyed much of the Algarve’s then-infrastructure as the epicenter was close to Lagos. There is still plenty to see, including the Castelo de Tavira which dates back to the neolithic period, the Faro archaeological museum and Roman ruins in Vilamoura. A skippered sailing holiday with traditionally rigged tall ship Blue Clipper or historic ketch Maybe offers you the opportunity to experience Portugal as explorers would have done hundreds of years ago. Make the most of the warm winds at sea and ancient history on shore. 

The beauty of the sailing winds in this area means there’s plenty of time to explore ashore, with new destinations ready to be explored nearly every day.  Get a taste for authentic Portuguese culture, splitting your time between cultural highlights and hidden gems away from the tourist hustle and bustle. 

Fabulous Food

After a busy day at sea learning the ropes under the watch of the professional crew, you’ll be sure to work up an appetite. It would be impossible to talk about the Algarve without mentioning the incredible cuisine. An eclectic mix of seafood and meat dishes, both influenced by the Arabian and Portuguese ruling throughout the years, the local delicacies are a real highlight of this area. Although both Blue Clipper and Maybe offer all inclusive holidays in the Algarve, with an onboard chef ready to prepare delicious meals, there is still plenty of opportunity to experience the local delicacies ashore! 

Whales and Dolphins

Over 26 species of cetaceans pass through the Algarve waters with 5 calling the area home. Sailing in the Algarve provides an incredible opportunity to observe common, bottlenose, risso dolphins and even minke whales. It’s no secret that marine wildlife is best spotted from the water, and there’s no better place to watch than the deck of a tall ship. Channel your inner explorer with a sailing holiday and be ready to spot killer whales, pilot whales, humpback whales and schools of tuna. 

Explore Gibraltar and North Africa

The Algarve is a great starting point for those wanting to sail the Southern coast of Spain, or even venture down to Gibraltar. Sail with us down to the ancient port of Cadiz in Southern Spain to soak up over 3000 years of maritime history. Head to Gibraltar to experience the melting pot of English, North African, and Spanish cultures, before crossing the Gibraltar strait to visit Ceuta. Sailing holidays from the Algarve are able to reach some interesting destinations, with some breathtaking landscapes along the way.

With all this and so much more, sailing in the Algarve is the best way to experience this phenomenal region. Why not try it for yourself on board tall ship Blue Clipper. Take a break from the grey skies, soak up some winter sun and fall in love with a new destination!?

10 Reasons to sail in the Caribbean

St Lucia Caribbean Marigot bay unsplash

The Caribbean is regarded by many as the Best Place in the World to holiday. Home to thousands of islands and perfect sailing winds (out of hurricane season of course!) we would have to agree with this… Forget the all inclusive Caribbean resorts and head for an authentic Caribbean adventure on an all inclusive sailing holiday! Sailing trips to the Caribbean should be on everyone’s bucket list, and if you’re still not convinced then here are our top ten reasons for choosing a sailing holiday in the Caribbean!

1. Warm Weather
Temperatures in the Caribbean sit between 23ºC to 30ºC all year long both day and night – so you can ditch those woolly jumpers but don’t forget the suncream! Whilst there’s plenty of time to be spent ashore sunbathing on the beach, one of the best things about yachting in the Caribbean is the gentle ocean breeze as you relax on the deck of the boat.

2. Perfect Sailing Winds
We obviously make sure that our holidays occur outside of the hurricane season! The Caribbean has constant trade winds, averagely blowing at about 15 – 25 knots from the East, most of the year. Dream sailing conditions making island hopping a dream to navigate for our skippers on Eye of the Wind, Chronos, Rhea, Blue Clipper and Skyelark. So whether you’re joining us on a 5* luxury yacht, or on a traditional tall ship, the warm winds make sailing a breeze..

3. Beautiful Beaches
We have all seen the photos of the pure white beaches hugging the islands providing the perfect holiday backdrop. Whilst typical Caribbean beach resorts are brimming with tourist hustle and bustle, our boats can take you to so many “off the beaten track” beaches you won’t know where to look! So whether it’s beaches overlooked by the volcanic mountains of St Lucia, or tropical beach destinations hidden along the shores of Antigua, find your favourite hidden gem beach in the Caribbean (and be sure to let us know!).

4. Wonderful Wildlife
From flamingoes to Sea Turtles, Marmut Monkeys to rare butterflies, the Caribbean is home to a rich and diverse abundance of fascinating wildlife and rare species. One of the benefits of a sailing holiday in the Caribbean is the proximity to marine wildlife. From our boats, you can swim with dolphins and sea turtles, snorkel with tropical fish in beautiful coral bays or even rent a diving suit at a local village and explore the shipwrecks. Whatever island you visit, rest assured you won’t be short of wildlife spotting opportunities.

5. Crystal Clear Waters
Low water density and lack of industry make for fantastically clear waters so swimming and snorkelling are top of the list for activities! And not only are they crystal clear but the average water temperature is also 27ºC – it’s like swimming in a lovely bath! Many of our voyages are able to take in the world class snorkelling destinations in the Caribbean, including the reef-lined Bequia Island or the under-water world of Tobago Cays.

6. Thousands of Islands
The Caribbean is made up of thousands of islands and with so much to explore, you’ll be longing to return for more from the moment you arrive. A skippered sailing holiday is the best way to experience as many islands as possible, with each mainland wonderfully culturally different from the next.

7. Fabulous Food
Traditional Caribbean food is a fabulous fusion between African, European, East Indian and Chinese cuisine. Your all inclusive Caribbean vacation starts with our on board chefs, who will certainly make sure that they are hopping ashore to grab the local delicacies to cook up a feast for your dinner. The seafood is especially fresh and the spices available will be like nothing you have tasted before. And of course, you must try the Caribbean rum!

8. Colourful Caribbean Culture
From the beautiful timber buildings to the local festivals to the wildlife, there are so many ways in which the Caribbean is full of colour. It would be impossible to choose the best Caribbean islands to visit, with each having its own unique community and culture. A sailing holiday in the Caribbean allows you to soak in as much culture as possible on your tropical vacation! The festivals reflect the rich and cultural diversity of the islands and if you catch one, you will be in for a once in a lifetime experience!

9. Interesting History
The Caribbean is steeped in colonial history with each island seemingly worlds apart from the next. The BVI is home to many pirate stories and shipwrecks while the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda are full of historical and archaeological places of interest for those who love to sniff out a bit of history. A skippered sailing holiday to the Caribbean means you have built in tour guides in the form of our experienced crew who will be more than happy to make recommendations on all the top sights and hidden gems.

10. The Caribbean People
Whatever island you visit, you will find the (majority!) of locals to be friendly, happy-go-lucky and amazingly laid back. As you anchor from one port to the next be sure to befriend the locals, as they know all the best hidden gems of the area. They really do make your Caribbean sailing holiday experience a relaxed one!

Take a look at our sailing holidays in the beautiful Caribbean.

How to service (serve) a rope

The Bessie Ellen - 1904 West Country Trading Ketch

The arts of a sailor such as serving, splicing and knotting is fast becoming a dying art: skills are lost, tools are harder to come by, and sailors seem to have less and less wish to whittle or turn out their own. Drugged by the power of smartphones, social media, the fo’c’sle has become a very different place than when I started life at sea 20 years ago.

One of the first arts we would learn was serving a splice. Aboard sailing ships much of the wire rigging would be parcelled and served, rope eyes and strop-blocks all dressed smartly in turns of marlin. Today, even though materials are modern and hardier, serving is still an important task to learn, finished off with a waterproofing of linseed oil and tar offering the appearance of a well-dressed ship.

TO WORM AND SERVE A ROPE – TAKEN FROM THE RIGGERS GUIDE & SEAMANS ASSISTANT – PUBLISHED 1877.

Set up your work between two points and heave taught.

Worming the rope is to fill up the vacant space between the strands of the rope with spun yarn in order to render the surface smooth and round for parceling.

Parceling a rope is wrapping old canvas round it, cut into strips two or three inches wide according to the size of the rope.

The parcelling is put on with the lay of the rope.

The service is of spun yarn, put or hove on by a wooden mallet; it has a score in the under part according to the size of the rope so as to lay comfortably on the rope.

The serving is always laid on against the lay of the rope, a man passes a ball of spun yarn taking the turns well out of it at some distance from the man that is serving the rope; when the required length is put on, the end is passed under the last 6 turns and hauled taught before cutting off.