In the middle of summer, with long days full of daylight, the Bark EUROPA sails from Harlingen across the Wadden Sea and the North Sea to Antwerp. Do you want to experience a fresh breeze, the salty sea air and night watches under the starry sky? We would love to welcome you on board!
This summer trip on the North Sea is a pleasant trip with a lot of activity in the ports. Both Harlingen and Antwerp are Tall Ships Race ports and are full of beautiful square rigged ships and sturdy long rigged schooners.
After an evening full of excitement in the harbor of Harlingen, we will leave the next day together with dozens of ships in the Sail out. A unique event in the Netherlands!
The first nautical miles we will sail over the Wadden Sea. With a bit of luck, the wind will come from a favorable direction to immediately set a few sails. There is not much space in deep water on the Wadden Sea, so our possibilities to put up all the sails is limited in the first hours. We need a bit more water to let the Europa really move. Fortunately, there is plenty to see: The Tall Ships fleet, the fishing fleet, the sailing vessels of the ‘bruinevloot’ (that is how we call the Dutch traditional sailing fleet) who can sail over the sandbanks with their flat-bottomed boats and around low tide seals can be seen on the sandbanks in the distance. To starboard we might catch a glimpse of Terschelling, to port the contours of Vlieland. We choose the open sea and sail out!
The voyage crew consists of solo travelers, friends, or couples of all ages and of all nationalities. All our guests have one dream in common: finally making an active sea voyage aboard Bark EUROPA! At the start of the voyage, you will receive a Sailors Handbook containing detailed descriptions of the ins and outs on board the EUROPA. This way you can practice all the sailors’ terms while you’re on board.
After arrival on board the crew will tell you everything about the coming period at sea. This way you will quickly hear how the watch system works and what time your first watch will start. You will also receive a detailed explanation about safety on board and the crew members will introduce you to all the lines on board. They explain how to safely climb the mast and how to sail a stable course. As a voyage crew, you quickly become part of the team. With friendly guidance and directions of the permanent crew, the guests can quickly set the first sails and take over the helm, even without any prior experience. All fellow crew sails the ship together, a really close team is born.
One of the things that makes EUROPA unique is its traditional rigging. The imposing masts and yards with dozens of sails and miles of rope make many new guests dizzy. And yet…. After a few days, you will get used to all the ropes around you and you will discover the logic of putting a staysail up and trimming the square sails, which is quite impressive from deck!
All guests participate in the watch system. You are on watch for four hours, after which you have eight hours of free time. Together with the permanent crew, the captain ensures a balanced watch with enough manpower every hour of the day to set sails, climb the masts and sail maneuvers. And not to forget, the permanent crew ensures enough rest hours for every person on board!
During the four hours on watch, there are always two people at the helm and two on the lookout. The crew will teach everyone how to keep course and speed and what to keep an eye on as a 'lookout' on the foredeck. In any case, you pay attention to other shipping traffic, buoys, and animals in the water and immediately let the officer on duty know if you see something special. The other members of the watch help on deck. You will set and trim sails and untie or roll in sails high above the deck. Together you trim the sails as soon the wind direction or course changes.
As soon as your watch is over, there is plenty of time to rest. For example, with a book from the ship's library or by socializing in the deckhouse, playing a game of cards and having a drink at the bar with your fellow crew members. It's amazing every time how much knowledge everyone takes on board. Thatmakesforveryinterestingconversations!
The Netherlands has hundreds of kilometers of coast along the North Sea, which is known for its endless beaches and protective dikes and dunes. The North Sea is a beautiful nature reserve. In the Dutch part of the North Sea you will find more than 200 species of fishes and after 50 years the enormous bluefin tuna is back in this biggest nature area of the Netherlands.
At night you have an important task on the lookout. Much of the North Sea is a busy sailing area and if you are assigned as a lookout, you will be helping the captain and mate navigate through this busy water. You see ships of all sizes and types and fortunately the navigation lights can be seen in the dark to help you with your task.
As a night watchman, you also have enough time to enjoy the impressive starry sky and possibly the luminous algae in the water. This combination can create a magical light show. During the day you will certainly see the windmills that provide so many households with clean energy, the drilling platforms, all kinds of ships and with a bit of luck we will see dolphins around the ship or a whale in the distance.
The permanent crew can teach you everything about the maintenance of a square-rigged ship. There is always something to splice, sand, sew and paint on board. If you are interested in navigation, you can get acquainted with the sextant and discover all kinds of new things about sea charts and the history of navigation. The enthusiastic crew gives lectures throughout the day on topics such as navigation, sailing theory and marine sciences.
In the North Sea, the weather can sometimes be turbulent. The northwesterly storms push the waves high in the German Bight and the southwesterly winds demand a lot of extra vigilance from both the guests and crew for removing and setting sails. Sometimes it is 'all hands on deck' with the buntlines, clewlines and sheets to quickly salvage a square sail or the halyard and downhaul to lower one of the staysails.
At sea, time is abundant to enjoy the endless waves that appear and disappear around us and the indescribable beauty of sunrises and sunsets at sea. The most beautiful places onboard? At the front of the bowsprit with the whole ship under full rigging above you and the open sea underneath you and…. On top of the yard. How small we are as humans at sea!
A sea voyage with the EUROPA means that you are disconnected from your daily life and all normal contacts. The rhythm of the sea determines your days and this gives, despite the enormous physical effort of sailing, a lot of rest. The tranquility ensures many relaxed conversations and certainly not only after a glass of wine, but also at the helm or while sharing a lookout! Many long-lasting friendships have already been formed on board through the shared adventure.
Respect for nature and the oceans plays an important role in the philosophy of EUROPA and its crew. We hope our guests open up to everything that happens around them. We encourage them to listen to the sounds of the ocean, the wind in our sails and the peace and tranquility around us and hope that guests will open their hearts and feel inspired to commit to nature.
During longer voyages and ocean crossings, scientists are often on board the ship to conduct research. In recent years, these have included oceanographers, astronomers and marine biologists. The collaboration with universities connects our world at sea with the scientific world and this gives us the opportunity to transfer knowledge to a wider audience. This creates more awareness and creates a network of ocean experts around the world. Together with researchers, universities and companies, we have been able to collect thorough data in recent years.
We slowly approach Antwerp via the Westerschelde, where we join (and enjoy) the other Tall Ships. During the Tall Ships Races we also celebrate the international friendships and exchanges between people of different nationalities and ages. Over the years, EUROPA and her crew have built a reputation for sailing into harbor under full sail, long after other ships have taken their sails. The entrance to Antwerp will be no exception.
After this spectacular sailing trip we can still enjoy the harbour, which is full of festivities: the perfect end to the trip!