Monday 18 May 2015

From aboard Star Clipper in the Aegean Sea

IMG_1380 editor, Roderick Eime, is aboard the tall ship, Star Clipper in the Aegean Sea.

Built in 1991, the 112m 2298GRT Star Clipper and its sister ship, Star Flyer, carry just 170 guests and 72 crew. These elegant, four-masted barqentine carry 36000square feet of sail which they use at every opportunity. In fact the ship can sail at up to 17 knots under ideal conditions and perhaps just 10 knots under power.

In an introduction to tall ship sailing by our cruise director, the ebullient Peter Kissner from Bavaria, we're told that the dramatic oil paintings depicting the intrepid vessels with every sail hoisted leaning into a stiff breeze and surrounded by angry white-caps is a work of artistic licence. Apparently the best performance is obtained with just a fraction of full sail and the ship in an almost upright position.

“But, of course,” Peter says with a German chuckle, “this is not so attractive for the artist! A ship leaning at 20 degrees or something is fun for about 10 minutes, then you want to cry.”

While the Star Clipper has every modern navigation aid and convenience, the sails must all be unfurled manually, preserving the tradition of a proper Sailing Passenger Vessel (SPV). This, we're reliably informed, is in contrast to some of the other fancier ships with fully computerised rigging and flat hulls which he describes scathingly as “cruise ships with sails”. Duly noted.

The only compromise to modern needs is the ability to unfurl the main sails automatically as maritime regulations will not allow sailors to climb the rigging after dark.

Some other fun facts worth knowing is that the ship can heel a full 110 degrees before risking capsize and that instead of conventional stabilisers, the sails perform the same task in conjunction with 200 tonnes of passive ballast.

I'm looking forward to the opportunity to climb the rigging myself and get hands-on with some of the deck duties and maybe even take the helm.

Rod is sailing as a guest of Star Clippers and Cruise Express

For more details, call Cruise Express on 1300 764 509 or visit
For bookings and further details, see Star Clippers specialist Cruise Express

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