Bark Europa Tall Ship Holidays To The Antarctic

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Bark Europa Tall Ship Holidays To The Antarctic

Bark Europa offers tall ship holidays to the Antarctic with a special brand of adventure sailing for about 40 passengers at a time.

As part of the tall ship sailing experience, paying customers are required to help operate this elegant square rigger vessel, including being a part of the 24-hour watch rota.

Tall ship Bark Europa is one of the niche windjammer cruises available in the world today. The cruises to the Antarctic are popular and help to preserve the romantic age of the square rigged ship.

There are easier whale watching holidays you could book, however, for those who seek adventure this three masted sailing ship is an exciting way to go.

 

Square rigger types of sailing ships like Bark Europa are a beautiful sight to see on the water. She carries 12 square sails in total; six on both the fore and the main mast. The mizzen mast carries the spanker and the gaff topsail. Moreover, she carries 10 staysails and can also carry six studding sails. This information is extracted from the passenger’s handbook! (We really couldn't tell you which is which!)

Square rigger types of sailing ships like Bark Europa are a beautiful sight to see on the water. She carries 12 square sails in total; six on both the fore and the main mast. The mizzen mast carries the spanker and the gaff topsail. Moreover, she carries 10 staysails and can also carry six studding sails. This information is extracted from the passenger’s handbook! (We really couldn’t tell you which is which!)

 

A Tour of Tall Ship Bark Europa | by Sharon Henry

Sadly, Darrin and I are not going to be sailing the Antarctic, but we’re still pretty excited as we’re being given a tour of Bark Europa as she sits in the Jamestown anchorage.

First there is a rope ladder climb with choppy seas added to the mix. Once on board this Antarctic ship we get a lick of approval from the ship’s pet dog, Sirius.

According to storybook tales, parrots or monkeys used to be the captain’s choice of animal, but on the Europa it’s a dog, aptly named Sirius after the Dog-Star constellation. Because of the island’s quarantine laws, he is not allowed ashore even though he’s giving the full ‘puppy-dog-eyes’ treatment looking forlornly at the departing tenders.

 

Bark Europa ship rigging lines on are coiled everywhere on deck. Teamwork is required to handle these lines which set, hand and trim the 30 different sails.

Bark Europa ship rigging lines on are coiled everywhere on deck. Teamwork is required to handle these lines which set, hand and trim the 30 different sails.

 

The Tall Ship’s Schedule

Towering overhead is a dizzying network of ropes, rigged to control each of the ship’s 30 canvas sails, attached to 33 metre masts. Despite this it looks orderly, clean and tidy on the wooden deck of the sailing cruise ship, which blends beautifully with the red and yellow painted bulkheads.

Bark Europa has just finished a season of dodging icebergs, and organising penguin and whale watching excursions. Antarctic expedition over, the tall ship is now harnessing the trade winds and is homeward bound to Norway with 40+ passengers and 14 crew.

Originally built in 1911 in Germany as a light ship the Europa underwent a major renovation in 1986 and was re-rigged into a three-masted bark. Now Dutch registered she offers sailing trips to the Antarctic and sail training adventures on the open ocean.

 

Europa ship colours are not immediately obvious from a distance, but the bold paint job makes her a very photogenic lady!

Europa ship colours are not immediately obvious from a distance, but the bold paint job makes her a very photogenic lady!

Captain Klaas Gaastra of Bark Europa is one of three captains who alternate command.

Captain Klaas Gaastra of Bark Europa is one of three captains who alternate command.

 

Everyone Must Speak The Same Language

Today the SS Bark Europa is under the command of Captain Klaas Gaastra, who has been with the company since 1994. His friendly, easy manner seems to filter through the whole ship.

“For a ship like this we have to keep sailing all year otherwise it’s not possible to keep,” he tells us. “The owners don’t get any money. They bought the ship because they like it, but all the earnings go back into the ship. They do it for the love of preserving traditional sailing.”

The passengers on board have a mixture of sailing experience, some novices and some who even own yachts. All are required to answer ‘hands on deck’ and help with sailing. This includes watch duty of four hours on, eight hours off.

“We have all nationalities and all ages,” smiles the captain, “Singapore, Romania, Russia, mostly from Europe, Canada and the States. We’re for everybody, as long as you speak English then you’re welcome.”

 

The Biggest Fun

There is a skeleton crew on board, everyone else has scarpered ashore to squeeze in some sightseeing before setting sail again after a day and half stay.

One person still here, is Laura, the bartender/crew member from Argentina who adds to the ship’s multicultural count. Darrin immediately assumes she’s a football fan.

“When I’m at home I don’t watch all the time but when I’m away I become more passionate,” she laughs. “The last World Cup I was in Croatia and was the ONLY Argentinean in that part. It was the biggest fun.” Argentina made the final (2014) losing to Germany, 0-1.

As always we’ve found football to be an international language that creates instant connections.

Laura first set eyes on the Europa when the vessel used to dock at her home town. She had met and made friends with the crew, “I came for a visit and just loved her and decided that I had to join. I tried for a job and was very lucky to get on.

“The hardest thing being on here for me is missing some people a lot. But then when you’re at home, you miss the people from the ship! It really feels like home here. It’s a very, very nice working atmosphere.”

 

Bark Europa’s bartender is Laura, when she's not playing tour guide to curious photo-bloggers.

Bark Europa’s bartender is Laura, when she’s not playing tour guide to curious photo-bloggers.

 

Square Rigger Holidays In The Antarctic

A trip on the Bark Europa could set you back a few thousand Euros and is aimed at a niche market of adventurous seafarers. A round voyage traverses the Atlantic from Europe to South America, Antarctica (for the summer), South Africa and back to Europe.

In case we need any arm twisting Laura tells us South Georgia is her favourite leg of the trip. “It’s beautiful, so full of wildlife and they are not scared of people, they just come to you so you can see them close up.” Enticing stuff.

 

Windjammer, Bark Europa, making what has become an annual call at Jamestown harbour. Built in 1911 in Germany the vessel survived two world wars and following an eight year rebuild she became the Bark Europa and now sails under the flag of The Netherlands.

Windjammer, Bark Europa, making what has become an annual call at Jamestown harbour. Built in 1911 in Germany the vessel survived two world wars and following an eight year rebuild she became the Bark Europa and now sails under the flag of The Netherlands.

 

Bark Europa And The Sailing Ships At St Helena

Captain Klaas Gaastra is making his seventh trip to St Helena since working for the tall ship company.

The island and old sailing ships are a natural fit, they share a nostalgic throwback to days of old when the oceans were the new frontier and swashbuckling adventure was to be had. St Helena’s location smack-bang in the middle of the Atlantic was a hot spot for vessels venturing to and from the East.

In her heyday up to 1,000 ships called here annually to replenish stocks, and sailing ships in the harbour were a permanent fixture.

Centuries later whenever a tall ship drops anchor in James Bay it still looks ‘right.’ Like this Dutch ship, Bark Europa, her presence ‘fits.’

Standing here on the wooden deck, surrounded by the ropes and rigging we gaze inland at the cliffs of St Helena. For a moment we have a little glimpse of what it must have been like for the of sailors of old who have dropped anchor in this very spot.

 

'Sirius' the dog is one of the crew on board Bark Europa. Adorable as he is, unfortunately quarantine laws prevented him from being allowed ashore at St Helena so a view from the deck was sadly as close as he could get.

‘Sirius’ the dog is one of the crew on board Bark Europa. Adorable as he is, unfortunately quarantine laws prevented him from being allowed ashore at St Helena so a view from the deck was sadly as close as he could get.

 

The 3 masted sailing ship - navigating the high seas.

The 3 masted sailing ship – navigating the high seas.

 

Bark Europa’s passenger dining room doubles as a recreation area.

Bark Europa’s passenger dining room doubles as a recreation area.

 

Stuck on you – velcro has been added to the Bark Europa chess set to keep everything in place during a game at sea.

 

Heading down into the accommodation and galley deck on Bark Europa. The stairwells are very steep - mind your head!

Heading down into the accommodation and galley deck on Bark Europa. The stairwells are very steep – mind your head!

 

'Bark Europa calling St Helena, Bark Europa calling St Helena, come in please." Checking out the radio room.

‘Bark Europa calling St Helena, Bark Europa calling St Helena, come in please.” Checking out the radio room.

 

Below decks on the tall ship.

Below decks on the tall ship.

 

Fish for dinner tonight - Marianne preparing dinner in the galley on board Bark Europa.

Fish for dinner tonight – Marianne preparing dinner in the galley on board Bark Europa.

 

"Steer toward that cloudy island!" What The Saints Did Next style instructions.

“Steer toward that cloudy island!” What The Saints Did Next style instructions.

 

Bark Europa bridge. Very high tech with GPS and radar systems for navigation.

Bark Europa bridge. Very high tech with GPS and radar systems for navigation.

 

Bark Europa crew mess.

Bark Europa crew mess.

 

Not so pretty but very important, the electricity generator, located near the bow of the ship.

Not so pretty but very important, the electricity generator, located near the bow of the ship.

 

Bark Europa Square Rigger Trivia – Did You Know?

  • The Europa’s trips to Antarctic for 2016/17 are fully booked.
  • Her maximum speed under sail is 12.5 knots.
  • It takes about 45 minutes to hoist all sails.
  • It takes about 5 minutes to take all sails down.
  • Including all sheets, halyards, clew and buntlines, brasses and mooring lines there is 5,5 kilometres of rope on board.
  • A total of 225 ocean going vessels called at St Helena during 2015. Bark Europa is the 150th vessel to call in 2016, so far. (It’s May)

 

Bark Europa’s library and chart room located right at the stern. This area also known as the quiet room.

Bark Europa’s library and chart room located right at the stern. This area also known as the quiet room.

 

By |2018-11-13T09:17:29+00:00May 25th, 2016|Guided Tour, Lifestyle|9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Patrick G Henry May 26, 2016 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    I’ve visit this post few times amazing pictures and story, what is also amazing is the connection and information shared with so many about the Europa via What The Saints Did Next. Well done Darrin and Sharon.

  2. Margaret Beckwith May 25, 2016 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Thanks Mr Tom

    My granddad was wounded in the battle of the Somme 100 years ago this coming summer. He sent my mam a beautiful embroiled post card from the hospital in Calais, which I still have. I never knew him because he died long before I was born. He was from Republic of Ireland. I am very proud of my bit of Irish blood.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  3. Rick Stucker May 25, 2016 at 10:57 am - Reply

    Our first visit to St. Helena was last year on the RMS. I think I now have a new voyage to consider, although a couple of days on the island would simply be a tease.

    • Saints May 25, 2016 at 4:58 pm - Reply

      We’re sure a trip on board the Europa would be a remarkable experience and soon the new airport will offer the opportunity for transfers = extra St Helena time! 🙂

  4. Museum May 25, 2016 at 9:05 am - Reply

    Interesting! Is the ship a barque, or is it just called Bark Europa?

    • Patrick Plunkett May 25, 2016 at 12:30 pm - Reply

      Museum

      She is rigged as a Barque, a vessel with at least three masts, all of them fully square rigged except for the sternmost one, which is fore-and-aft rigged, but is named Bark.

      I was lucky enough to meet Laura last September on a 2-week voyage from Cascais via Madeira to Tenerife.
      This September, I will join in Oporto and go via Tenerife to Cap Verde on a 3-week voyage.

      Perhaps the Antarctic run in 2017-2018??

      • Saints May 25, 2016 at 4:39 pm - Reply

        Thanks Patrick for bringing some expertise to this answer. Laura was great, we had a good laugh and really enjoyed the tour. Jealous of your voyage on Europa – the ship is so photogenic it would be amazing to take our camera on a trip and capture life at sea. Might have to stowaway next time 🙂

    • Liza de Kurver - Bark Europa May 25, 2016 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      Goodmorning! Indeed EUROPA is a threemasted barque, the main and foremast are square-rigged and the mizzen is rigged fore-and-aft

      • Saints May 25, 2016 at 4:42 pm - Reply

        Thanks Liza. We were considering hiring a boat to photograph Europa leaving under sail but the weather was miserable and departure was late in the day.

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