At the end of summer, when the sun starts retreating to the southern hemisphere, so does Bark EUROPA. And you can too! This year you have the chance to join the ship and her crew when they sail towards the Canary Islands and eventually across the Atlantic Ocean to Uruguay. Imagine filling your days with playing around with stunsails, going to sail training outside on the sunny main deck, climbing around in the rig or helping out with maintenance projects. But above all the close proximity to nature, the simplicity of life and the ultimate freedom is what make these ocean voyages extra special. Spending time at sea will give you a different perspective on time and distance and an opportunity to admire your surroundings, the beauty of nature and the importance to care for the environment.
Departing from our homeport Scheveningen, the Netherlands, we will set sail on a diverse ocean voyage, beginning with the busy English Channel, to the infamous Bay of Biscay and into the warmer and calmer waters towards Tenerife.
From nearly all corners of the world, our guests will arrive on board. Embarking through our gangway, you will be welcomed on board. You will meet your fellow travelers, a first glance at who you will share your sailing experience with. They will be solo travelers, friends or couples, young and old, from various countries and with different backgrounds, all united in one dream of sailing the oceans on board EUROPA.
After leaving the harbor the crew will prepare you for the next three weeks of sailing. You will learn the color of the watch (red, white or blue) that you are assigned to and at what time your watch will start. The safety instructions begin and you will learn the ropes, learn how to climb the rigging and how to keep a steady course on the helm.
Sailing the English Channel offers a diverse sight. The coast is visible at times and the white beaches and cliffs are a rare treat seen from the sea. At night when you stand on look-out, you must be sharp because the Channel is a very busy stretch of water. In fact, it is the busiest shipping area in the world. Be prepared to see ships of every size and shape. Their lights are visible from a distance and on look-out you will help the officers on watch to navigate these waters safely. Sometimes the lights from other ships blend in with the many lights on land and this, together with the Northern stars and glowing phosphorescence in the water, creates a magical light show at sea.
Exiting the English Channel, you will sail past île Ouessant. The surroundings will start to become quieter and the feeling of being truly out at sea will settle in. By this time, you will be used to the routine on board and there will be time to help the permanent crew with traditional maintenance tasks and navigation. Working with leather, wood, metal, sailcloth, a sextant or sea charts will give you an idea of all that is necessary and useful to sail a traditional sailing vessel. There will be lectures about the aspects of navigation, sail theory, maritime biology and much more.
Slowly we make our way towards the infamous Bay of Biscay. This bay has made a name of itself throughout history for its temperamental weather conditions. Parts of the continental shelf extend far into the bay, resulting in fairly shallow waters in many areas and thus the rough seas for which the region is known. On this voyage, we will not sail into the Bay of Biscay but pass it on our way south and some rough seas can be expected sailing in this region. This will be the perfect opportunity to practice all you've learned the past days. Sail handling in this area sometimes requires the complete crew on watch. Stand by the bunt- and clewlines and be ready to shorten sail!
The more south we sail, temperatures will rise slowly and the wind will fill the sails of EUROPA when we steer towards Tenerife. We still have about 700 nautical miles to go and have plenty of time to connect with our fellow crewmates, to enjoy the endless mountains of water that appear and disappear around us, the indescribably beauty of sunrises and sunsets on the ocean, the millions of stars and all shades of blue of the ocean.
Leaving the last bit of the European coastline behind, will give you a chance to experience some open seas and get a good feel for the ship and sail handling. You will be amazed how quickly you will have gotten used to the life on board and all it entails. Together with the permanent crew you will have time to learn about maintenance, sail theory, sail making and traditional rigging work. The crew will give lectures on the sunny main deck about (celestial) navigation, ocean winds and currents and marine biology.
These waters are perfect for a mid-Atlantic swim on a quiet and wind still day. Jumping from the bowsprit and having a swim around the ship as she slowly bobs forward, with five kilometers of deep blue ocean under you is truly an unforgettable experience.
A sailing voyage in this part of the world is pleasant. The favorable winds will slowly blow EUROPA towards Tenerife. We may even reach our destination with a few days to spare, giving us time to explore the surroundings of the islands. While famously being home to a multitude of busy seaside resorts, the Canary Islands also hide some strikingly beautiful nature and scenery behind this polished façade, that are definitely worth a visit.
There are many reasons why people choose to cross an ocean under sail. It is the ultimate voyage to really get off the grit for more than 2 months. Perhaps you wish to trade the gloomy fall for some real tropical sailing, or you’re ready to make the transition from pollywog to shellback. On board EUROPA, crew and trainees of different ages and nationalities, from different walks of life, come together, making each crossing unique.
After a stop in the Canary Islands we sail further in south westerly direction towards Cape Verde. At the start of the crossing we sail about 150 nautical miles off the coast of the Western Sahara with a favorable wind from the north east. You can expect warm weather and favorable winds, stunningly beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the open ocean and if we are lucky maybe a dip or two in the deep blue Atlantic.
There is plenty of time to assist with sailhandling, helping with all kinds of maintenance activities and enjoying lectures on topics ranging from sail setting and striking, to meteorology, navigation and seamanship. During the night watches, the clear skies offer magnificent opportunities to stargaze. The sky of the northern hemisphere is losing terrain, with Big Bear and Polaris slowly sinking below the horizon.
Another interesting sight to see at night is the algae lighting up on the bow of the ship. The effect is fantastic when we are accompanied by dolphins, who take some time to swim with us, while their tails light up under water. In the wake of the ship, the trail we leave behind in the water is fluorescent green and blue, with little underwater explosions from time to time. It is the fascinating phenomenon of bioluminescence.
After having spent a week or so at sea, the silhouette of an island will appear in the distance. Although we don’t have a planned stop on the Cape Verdian islands this year, we will keep the tropical islands in mind for a spontaneous landing if the situation occurs. From the Cape Verdian islands we will start the Atlantic Ocean crossing. This is the longest sail of them all, with more than 4000 nautical miles to reach South America. Instead of one day on a plane, it will take us a month and a half to cross the ocean. It gives you a chance to have a complete break from social media and constant connection, to delve into the trade of traditional tall ship sailing – a trade which not many people in the world master anymore. This voyage offers you magically starry nights, swim stops, the opportunity to roll up your sleeves and help our crew with maintenance. And of course, a meeting with King Neptune, upon crossing the equator… Upon reaching Uruguay and disembarking after a spectacular ocean crossing, you can rightfully consider yourself a fully-fledged sailor and shellback and we hope you will have made both memories and friends for life.
On board Bark EUROPA we call our guests voyage crew. This means that Europa’s permanent crew will train you to be a sailor. No experience is needed, our crew will learn you everything along the way. Unlike going on a cruise, on Bark Europa you will be going on a hands-on, active sailing adventure. You will be divided into three watches, red, white and blue, named after the colors of the Dutch flag. You will be 'on watch' for four hours after which you have eight hours of free time.
During your four hours on watch there will be different tasks that will be divided between the members of your watch. There will always be two people on helm duty. The crew will explain how to steer the ship and what to look out for and together you will maintain a steady course on the helm. During the watch there will also be two people on look-out duty at all times. When you spot ships, buys, debris or wildlife then this will be communicated to the officer of the watch.
The rest of the watch members will be on deck duty. The permanent crew will give you sail training and you will assist in all sail handling. This involves setting- and taking away the sails by hauling- and easing lines, climbing the rigging to furl or unfurl the sails. The crew will instruct you how to work on deck and you will learn how to trim the sails to the direction of the wind. During deck duty, there is also time to assist the crew with maintenance tasks. This way you will learn how to work with traditional tools and methods, such as woodworking, sail making, celestial navigation and traditional rope- and rigging work.
During your eight hours 'off watch', there is plenty time to rest and enjoy the scenery. Whether you wish to do some quiet reading or write in your logbook in the library or prefer to enjoy an active role in the social life of the deckhouse: there is a place for everyone. In the deckhouse you will also find the ships bar where you can enjoy a glass of wine with your fellow crewmates, play a board or card game or just enjoy a good talk. The crew will be giving lectures on various subjects, from traditional sailor skills and knowledge to science and astronomy.
Of course, you can still assist the permanent crew and the voyage crew ‘on watch’ during your time off watch with sail handling and maintenance jobs. Sometimes the galley team asks for a hand with peeling potatoes or apples. Your off-watch time is for you to fill in, you may do as little or as much as you like.
An ocean voyage on a ship like Bark EUROPA not only gives you an idea of what life must have been like as a sailor in the past – it invites you to experience what it is like for yourself. Despite modern safety, navigation and communication equipment, the simplicity of life on board is comparable to how it could have been like more than 200 years ago. It will give you an idea of the enormous pack of water that we will sail, where storms and high speeds will alternate with slower progress and calmer waters.
Without any internet or connection on your phone, life on board is a way to be completely disconnected from our hectic lives at home. It gives you time to really connect with your fellow crewmates, yourself and the moment. Without Google, you’ll turn to each other and books for information. Let the people on board surprise you with their knowledge on very diverse subjects. Live in the moment and soak in the peace and serenity around you, the complete silence apart from the sound of the ship gently breaking through the waves.
Respect for the environment and the oceans plays an important role in the philosophy of EUROPA and her crew. We hope to inspire our trainees to focus on everything around them: not just a vast open ocean but a world on its own. We offer our voyage crew the experience to look at this world of endless ever changing blue and listen to the sound of the ocean, the wind in our sails and to the peace and tranquillity around us.
By conducting safe and environmentally responsible sailing voyages, we offer first-hand travel experiences to give our guests a better understanding of the ocean itself and the species that inhabit her. We hope that this way we create a group of ocean ambassadors all over the world.
For longer ocean crossings, Bark EUROPA welcomes scientists on board, carrying out their own research projects. We have been joined in the past years by oceanographers, astronomers and marine biologists. The presence and knowledge of scientists on board are always highly appreciated by both our crew and trainees.
We show them the wonders of the ocean by inviting our international voyage crew to participate in the ocean research conducted on board. The researchers involve the trainees in their oceanographic research by presentations, organizing special on-board exhibits, discussions and hands-on trawling work.
By working together with universities and other institutions we hope to connect the scientific world with our world at sea, to bring scientific knowledge to a wider audience and help to create more awareness for the state of the oceans and the polar regions. Together with researchers, universities and companies we have been able to collect solid data in recent years. Building a database requires a great deal of effort over several years and we are happy to make every effort as a platform for collecting this data.