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Before You Sail

All you need to know


I’ve never been sailing before and I’m worried about not knowing what to do.

The majority of people who sail with us have never sailed before.  Don’t worry! The crew will explain things and guide you through everything you need to know to be able to sail the boat. You will get the opportunity to learn lots of new skills and have fun at the same time.

Where will we go? 

This totally depends on wind and weather, and the itinerary for the voyage. It’s no good planning to go somewhere if the wind is in exactly the wrong direction – or if the forecast says the wind would be wrong for coming back!

How fast does the boat go? 

Our average sailing speed is about 6 knots (nautical miles per hour) – that’s almost 7 land miles per hour. The maximum speed under sail can be over 10 knots. Under engine the maximum is actually less: only 5 or 6 knots. But sailing is more fun than motoring, so even in light winds we often sail – albeit rather slowly!

Can we go ashore? 

There are normally opportunities to go ashore in some of the ports we visit, for shopping, beach BBQs or visits to interesting local sights.

What about toilets and showers?

There are toilets and showers on board Tall Ship Maybe and Tall Ship Blue Clipper. On Maybe there are two shared bathrooms and on Blue Clipper there are ensuite cabins and a shared bathroom in the forepeak. When you arrive at the boat you will be given a housekeeping brief and using the toilets and showers will be explained.

Will I be seasick? 

Some people may be seasick but it hardly ever lasts beyond the first day or two. If you are worried, bring your own seasick tablets (ask your chemist which is the best brand for you, especially if you are taking other medication). Some varieties can make you drowsy. Read the instructions: when to take the pills, how many and how often. And tell the staff on board what you are taking.

What if I get ill?

At least one of the staff will be trained in dealing with illness or injury at sea; and we’ll get you to a doctor ashore as quickly as possible if necessary. You do need to tell us in advance about any condition you already have. We’ve had people on the boat with anything from mild asthma to serious medical conditions. Bring any medication, inhalers (and spares) you need – and tell the staff what you are taking. We need to know of any serious medical conditions before you book to ensure we can provide you with the best experience possible. 

Can I Smoke On Board?

We do not allow smoking below deck on TS Maybe or TS Blue Clipper.  Smoking on deck may be permitted on longer passages at the discretion of the skipper and is designated areas.  Anyone under the age of 18 will not be allowed to smoke on board.  

How can I build up sailing qualifications?

Bring your RYA logbook if you have one (if not you can buy one on board for £10). It allows you to keep track of all your sailing and your qualifications.

I have a special interest in navigation / engines / weather etc. 

Tell your Skipper or First Mate  at the start of the trip, and we’ll make every effort to help you learn more about anything on board that particularly appeals to you.

Can I work towards my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award on board? 

The voyage can count as your residential. Make sure you bring your record book along, and tell the Skipper or the First Mate  at the start of the trip – then we can help you set goals and watch your progress.


Passport and Visa Information

If your voyage is sailing to foreign shores, you will require a full passport that is valid for six months after the end of the voyage or an identity card. You will be responsible for obtaining any necessary visas.

European citizens can obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC is a replacement for the old E111 and is free. Application forms are available from the post office or via the internet.

Personal Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance Is required on all Maybe Sailing vessels.

Now you have booked and paid for your voyage please ensure that you have appropriate travel insurance.

Our Vessels are covered by third party liability insurance for serious injury or loss of life, but we strongly advise you to take out travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday. Make sure you find travel insurance that gives you financial protection if you must cancel or curtail your holiday, cover loss or damage to baggage, or incur any additional medical or transport costs. If you have your own annual travel insurance or a cover with your credit or debit card, please check your own policy carefully to make sure it covers sailing/ cruising/ yachting for sailing more than 12 miles from shore.

The Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic Insurance Advice

Please visit our Terms and Conditions page which has more information under the Insurance section.


Tall Ship Travel Insurance from Topsail Insurance

Topsail’s policies are tailor-made for tall ship holidays, whether pilot cutter, ketch, lugger or tall ship, and have no restrictions as to how far offshore you can sail including Antarctica.

Topsail also provide cover for:

  • Your journey to and from the voyage.
  • Changes in itinerary or the start and end port.
  • Climbing aloft – if you wish to do so.
  • Airlift from the vessel



Medical Conditions

Please inform us in advance of any medical conditions and medication that you might need to bring on board with you. For both Tall Ship Maybe and Tall Ship Blue Clipper you will be required to climb, unaided, a steep ladder of over 2m to access the accommodation areas.  

Dietary Requirements

If you have any special dietary requirements  we need to know this prior to the voyage in order that we can try to accommodate your requirements in the planned menus.


Warm and waterproof clothing is very important as it can get pretty cold during sailing, especially at night even in the summer. A waterproof and windproof jacket and over-trousers are recommended to help keep warm and dry. For the same reason bring rubber boots or waterproof shoes, preferably two pairs in case one gets wet, with some profile on the soles which is necessary to avoid slipping on a wet deck. Sun cream is also essential to protect against sunburn during long periods of being outdoors.

Personal Travel Insurance

We do insist that all trainee and voyage crew take out relevant travel insurance to cover their voyage. We do like to check that you have travel insurance when you arrive on board.  A reputable adventure sail training insurer is TopSail


Life on board Tall Ship Maybe

Please remember that space on board is limited and that you will generally not require smart clothing. Pack comfortable and practical clothing for all weather circumstances. It is recommended to pack in a sports bag that can easily be stored away as there is no room on board for suitcases. Maybe has 4 different cabin sizes, two berth cabins, 3 berth cabin, 4 berth cabin and a 6 berth cabin. Each cabin has it’s own wash hand basin, and each bunk has a storage area. The cabins all have a radiator for those chilly nights and electricity sockets (3 pin UK sockets).There are two bathrooms on board, a comfortable saloon area and galley.

Life on board really is about getting stuck in and involved in all aspects of sailing the ship. Don’t worry if you have not sailed before – most trainee crew have no previous sailing experience, so you will not be alone. The permanent crew are always on hand to support you through all the tasks involved and you will always have an experienced permanent crew member with you on watch to show you what to do and answer any questions.

You will be put into one of three teams, called “Watches”, which take it in turn to be responsible for various tasks on board including keeping watch, even at night.  Every trainee steers the boat, keeps look-out, and takes down log entries. When we trim the sheets or do a manoeuvre such as tacking or gibing, hoisting or dropping a sail, everyone helps. The permanent crew will allocate jobs to everyone so that no-one is left out.

Each watch takes it in turn to prepare and cook the meals. It can be fun and relaxing to cook a big meal for everyone – or it can be a real challenge when the weather isn’t so nice and the boat is moving around a lot! It’s not all hard work on board. We want trainees to enjoy the experience and have fun. When each watch is not on duty, the permanent crew members will provide activities for the trainees and there is also time to just sit and relax with a good book.

Life on board Tall Ship Blue Clipper

If you are interested in a sail training experience on board a bigger vessel, they why not join Blue Clipper.  There are twin ensuite cabins and a larger 6 berth family/group cabin with shared bathroom.  Each cabin has a porthole so if you are on the top bunk you can watch the starlite horizon from the comfort of your bed. Each cabin also has an electricity point (2 pin European socket).  Bedding is provided but you will need to bring your own towels.

There is a large comfortable saloon area with a bar and area to make tea and coffee. The saloon is on deck level with windows to both sides so you can enjoy the view without going outside on those wet days.

Many voyages are designed to be more relaxing which take into account some senior and family sailors. On these voyages, you may or may not want to get involved with the day to day running of the ship. It will be your choice, there is no obligation to participate.

You will be fully immersed into life on board a tall ship and if you wish to you can take part in watches and help the cook in the galley.  This is the best way to fully experience life on the sea!  Help hoist the sails; take the helm and steer the ship; climb the mast to stow the top sails or head out onto the bow sprit to stow the jibs. There will be lectures and you can learn about navigation and sailing in general. When you are not on watch you can also sit back, relax and enjoy the sea breeze with a good book in one of the many seating areas on deck.


What About Safety

The safety of everyone on board is of paramount importance and our obligations in this respect are taken very seriously. Maybe and Blue Clipper are maintained in accordance with the Maritime Coastguard Agency’s Code of Practice for Small Commercial Vessels and the Large Yacht Code for Transport Malta. Annual surveys by an independent assessor and regular maintenance ensure that all the safety equipment meets or exceeds the legal requirements to operate as a sail training vessel.

The Skipper and crew are responsible for the safety of the vessel and everyone on board. Every voyage starts with a safety briefing. There are specific points that must be covered during these briefing sessions and the crew need to satisfy themselves that all members of trainee crew understand these points. These include fire alarms/drills, man overboard and most importantly the wearing and use of life saving equipment. All crew members wear integrated lifejacket/harnesses while on deck at sea.

The permanent crew on board Maybe and Blue Clipper are trained and qualified to meet or exceed the regulations laid down by the Department for Transport, Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Trasport Malta.

The Skipper and First Mate are qualified to Royal Yachting Association Yachtmaster Level with Commercial Endorsement. The permanent crew are required to gain certificates in radio communications, first aid and sea survival.

All the permanent crew on Maybe and Blue Clipper with responsibility for young people have Enhanced DBS Checks.
We have a comprehensive Child Protection Policy, Equal Opportunities Policy and Risk Assessments are in place for all activities on board Tall Ship Maybe and Tall Ship Blue Clipper.


Maybe Sailing assumes responsibility for members of voyage crew only when sailing on board Maybe or tender and holds Third Party Liability insurance to cover Maybe Sailing’s legal liability in the event of injury or mishaps only during these periods. In this respect we advise that trainee crew members take out personal travel insurance cover to meet any medical needs, for loss or damage to personal property and when off the vessel.

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