The Oosterschelde feature
Tall Ships have long been connected to the very early stories of exploration and remain an integral part of our worlds history.
The tradition and age-old convention of manually setting sails in order to be propelled through the worlds waters coincide with stories of success’, failure and folklore.
Today, curiosity still heightens when these eye-catching vessels navigate the oceans as they remain a significant symbol of adventuring.
Sailing with the Oosterschelde is especially momentous because of the stories and sciences the “three masted topsail schooner” embodies.
To gain a first hand account of the complexities, vagaries and specifics of sailing a tall ship on the Oosterschelde is both a liberating and a therapeutic experience.
Built in 1918 as a sail-powered freighter, she is currently scurrying the shores of Australia as she wanders the oceans following the old trade routes of historic times.
She has been winding back the clock as a part of a circumnavigation with two other Dutch tall ships, the Tecla and the ‘bark’ Europa. They have touched in at Fremantle, Adelaide and will make their mark on Melbourne before sailing to Hobart and then up to Sydney.
Along the way, the Oosterschelde has been giving fortunate passengers from around the globe the opportunity to join her in following the footsteps of seamen and women of yesteryear.
Spanning fifty metres in length, reaching as high nine stories (36 metres) into the sky and with a huge sail space of 891 square metres, she is currently harnessing the wind off the Victorian coast to catapult her east to Melbourne. The spectacular vessel is at full capacity with 24 people on board.
A combination of passengers, volunteers and crewmembers all working together to make the expedition as successful and spirited as possible.
Forget a cruise ship with all of the luxuries that coincide with those extravagant boats today. From the casinos on-board, swimming pools and the rest of it, this traditional tall ship offers a much more authentic and memorable experience that is hard to be matched.
The crewmembers are intelligent, hard working and hospitable. The food is delicious restaurant quality and the saloon and bedding is surprisingly comfortable.
Whilst the sailing lessons and knowledge that are passed on as a part of the package are priceless.
Since being restored under the Rotterdam Sailing Ship Foundation in 1988 at home in the Netherlands, she facilitates a genuine sailing experience.
Not only because of her delightfulness on the water, but also because of her uniqueness.
Since being built as a sailing cargo vessel in 1918, she is one of the last of its kind after most of them were destroyed over the years.
Today, passengers, volunteers and crewmembers work together as a tight-knit team, with everyone on board invited to take the helm, set sails, assist with maneuvers, help navigate, observe the weather conditions and much more.
The crew are only to happy to explain the function of all the ropes, halyards and sheets as everyone on board actively participates in sailing the vessel.
Life on the water onboard the Oosterschelde is refreshing. It is soothing. At times, it is hard work, daunting and rocky. But always enjoyable.
She rides the waves comfortably and safely and sets a wonderful scene for experienced sailors, novices or adventurers willing to try something new. The Oosterschelde does not discriminate, she can accommodate anyone as long as they are willing to contribute and embrace to the journey. From setting sails, climbing the rigging, keeping watch, adventuring out onto the bow – this experience is the real deal.
The people you meet and the places you see are the resounding standouts for the passengers and crew alike.
No single day is ever the same.
It is indescribable and perhaps you have to see it to believe it. The sky is a different colour everyday; the sea has diverse shades and different waves.
There is wild life always in the vicinity, Albatrosses’ come and go, Gannets dive in the ocean. There are whales, dolphins, turtles, and so much more. It is different everyday. There are no repeats.
It is more peaceful than boring. More stimulating than uninteresting. More breathtaking than monotonous.
The fixation with sailing a traditional tall ship heightens when reminded that the principle behind these magnificent vessels has stayed the same for hundreds of years.
When you think about it, in actual sailing, not that much has ever changed. There is always the main aim to catch the wind in the sails and go as fast as possible. The thing that has changed of course, is that in the old days it the ships and sails were created by hand and by eye and by feel.
Whie the technologically is more advanced systems today. But the Oosterschelde still operates off manual charts as well.
Sailing is predominantly exactly the same. You want to catch the wind and you have the wind flow through the sails, you adjust one sail and it will affect one behind it.
The same concept as 400 years ago or 100 years ago. And amazingly, it will stay the same in the next thousand years.
In 1998 the ‘Oosterschelde’ completed a journey of one and a half years around the world. The ship sailed to the tropics, but also made expeditions to Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia.
Fifteen years on, and you could say the three Dutch tall ships are travelling the world as one big family. Together, the three ships are sailing around the globe following the traditional sailing routs of yesteryear and their arrival on Australian shores marks almost the halfway point in the trip.
In Port Adelaide an Melbourne, the piers were bursting at the seams with a mountainous crowd. The people that lined the port were treated to the rare spectacle of the three Dutch ships in full sail.
But perhaps one of the best moments was captured in the surrounds of the open ocean, when the Europa – looking glorious in full sail under the glistening sun – sailed right up to the Oosterschelde to enjoy moments that money cannot buy.
It is all a part of their journey around the globe. In full sail, these ships are like watching magic in motion and creates a rare spectacle if you are on the deck or watching from the shore.
You too can be apart of a voyage around the globe, an extraordinary and exceptional opportunity for anyone. But like the olden days, you just have to be adventurous enough.