Feature Summer 2018

Tall Ships and Tall Ship Cruising

By Frank Falcone • C400/445

On July 4, 1986, The United States celebrated the 100th birthday of the Statue of Liberty. Perhaps some of you remember this event. It was a celebration of epic proportions carried out in New York Harbor not to he equaled or exceeded perhaps until the year 2086. In 1986 I was serving in the U.S. Naval Reserve and was lucky enough to be selected as one of the 30 USNR Officers to plan and implement an International Naval Review (INR) for this extraordinary event. It was the largest INR in world history. As I recall, 25 of the 27 tall ships in the world at that time and 12 navies of the world participated. It was during the planning and implementation of this event that I became totally intrigued, consumed and enthralled with tall ships and the dream of sailing such ships on the open sea. However, it wasn’t until January, 2018, that this dream came true.

My wife, Linda, and I took a cruise aboard the ROYAL CLIPPER. Built in 2000 and operated by Star Clipper Cruises, this ship is the largest and only 5 masted full rigged sailing vessel currently sailing the seas. She is a magnificent ship! She’s pictured near St. Lucia in the southern Caribbean Sea. I was fortunate to capture this photograph near the conclusion of our cruise.


I hope that you’ll agree that, for us sailors, cruising aboard such a ship can be an extraordinary experience. And, it was! The Royal Clipper carries 42 sails and, under full sail, can cruise at 17 knots. Under power, she cruises at 15 knots. While underway during our 7 day cruise, most of the time, we were actually sailing with no propeller engaged. We observed crew members raising, lowering, tending, trimming and repairing the sails and were able to visit the bridge and to speak with the ship’s officers while underway. Every time the sails were raised, observing guests were also treated to beautiful music – a sight and sound experience not to be forgotten. If so inclined, guests can also help out with trimming the sails, can climb a mast and/or recline in the bow netting which is mounted on both sides of the enormous bowsprit. For me, this cruise was unlike any other because it was ‘sailing, really sailing’ aboard a world class tall ship just like those that visited the USA in July of 1986.


There have been a few movies produced which have attempted to capture the lore of the sea and the intrigue and romance associated with sailing the seas aboard tall ships. ‘Master and Commander’, ‘Captains Courageous’, ‘In the Heart of the Sea’ and the various attempts to tell the story of ‘Moby Dick’ (my favorite was the Gregory Peck as Ahab version) quickly come to mind. However, nothing can compare to actually sailing aboard a magnificent tall ship such as the ROYAL CLIPPER.


All of the guests aboard the ROYAL CLIPPER on our cruise received a gift of a book entitled ‘The Star Clipper Saga’ authored by Mr. Erling Matz in 2013. In this outstanding text, Mr. Matz provides some clear definitions of various types of tall sailing ships. Perhaps most of us know the definitions of a sloop, a ketch, a cutter and a yawl. However, beyond those sailboat definitions, Mr. Matz provides some knowledge for us to use if we’re lucky enough to spot other types of sailing vessels when we’re ‘out there’. A few tall ship sketches from his book along with their definitions are included with this article.


Thanks to this excellent work provided by Mr. Matz, we now have a clearer understanding of what we’re actually looking at if we observe one of these magnificent ships either in port or underway.


Ref: The Star Clipper Saga; Star Clippers 2013, Erling Matz 2013 (text & design)


So for all of us sailors and sailing enthusiasts I hope that this article provides some interest and, perhaps, sparks a desire to visit or sail a tall ship at some point in the future. For me, such an experience was on my ‘bucket list’. However, I didn’t cross it off yet. I may need to make my bucket a little bigger to squeeze in a few more tall ship cruises! Stay safe out there!


Plus, discover more articles in the Summer 2018 issue!



Close Encounter

By Mike Simpson [CM440]


View from the Bridge

By Bill Martinelli [C470]


Change of Course
By Laura Olsen [C36/375]


Sailing’s Must-do List
By David Crosby [C250]


On July 4, 1986, The United States celebrated the 100th birthday of the Statue of Liberty. Perhaps some of you remember this event. It was a celebration of epic proportions...



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