Posts Tagged ‘clipper ships’

SCC_brochure_cvrIt’s the real thing!  Tall ship cruise operator Star Clippers operates three of the world’s most authentic, head-turning ships; the majestic four-masted, 170-passenger Star Flyer and Star Clipper and the magnificent flagship, five-masted, 228-passenger Royal Clipper.

The Star Flyer began its’ maiden season in Central America last November, in Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, where it will sail six, seven, 10 and 11-night cruises out of Puerto Caldera to explore the bays and inlets of the Pacific coastline, with visits to lush rainforests and hidden lagoons.

Star Clipper Cruises has exciting itineraries in Central America and the Caribbean, where the Clipper ships will visit dream locations in the Grenadines and British Virgin Islands among others. The company’s ever popular ocean crossings are ideally suited to those who dream of long sea voyages, while the summer season will find the ships roaming the Mediterranean (French or Italian Riviera), the Greek Islands and a fascinating new route between Athens and Istanbul, including Turkey as a new destination.

Turkey should be an awesome destination to see from the decks of a Star Clipper Ship. In an article released today in eTurboNews.com, Turkey is expecting 31 million tourists in 2011!

The article states, “In the Turkish Hoteliers Federation (TUROFED) annual tourism report, Mr Ahmet Barut, the President of TUROFED said “The total tourism revenue is expected to reach USD 25 billion in 2011 with 31 million visitors”.

Turkey is on the way to becoming one of the top tourist destinations and is currently ranking as 7th in visitors numbers in the world. The tourism sector in Turkey has grown nearly 16% in the last 3 years whereas the more traditional destinations of Spain and France have contracted by a similar amount.”

Starting in May, 2011, The Star Clipper Cruise Line will begin sailing Turkey, seven nights Southern Turkey or with the Greek Isles and Northern Turkey. I can’t wait!

To find out more, visit www.starclippers.com.



The Captain offers a lesson on a sextant. Photo by N.Birnbaum

Star Flyer anchored off Curu Preserve, Costa Rica. Photo by N.Birnbaum

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Photo: N.Birnbaum 2011

If you dream of adventure sailing on a tall ship through the wilds of Central America, anchoring in pristine coves filled with dolphins, whales and birds not other boats or cruise ships, then you need to book a cruise with Star Clipper Cruises.

“Star Clippers operates three of the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels. Visiting ports often untouched by larger cruise ships and offering passengers the activities, amenities and atmosphere of a private yacht, Star Clippers is recognized as one of the premier specialty cruise lines.”

Join in a rare adventure of nature unbounded – cruising both Nicaragua and Costa Rica or Panama and Costa Rica itineraries.


Photo: N.Birnbaum 2011

“From the stunning volcanic peaks of Nicaragua down to the rustic scenery of Panama, Central America’s breathtaking beauty allows you to just sit, stand, lie or look in any direction and watch nature perform around you. Howler monkeys roam freely through the jungle canopy above while manta rays weightlessly glide through the waters below.”

Clearly this is not a cruise ship in the ordinary sense. Star Flyer, like it’s sister ship, the Star Clipper, is a true clipper ship reflecting her proud heritage in every inch of her polished brass and gleaming brightwork. Once onboard you’ll discover a new age of sail, where the traditions of the past are happily married to the comforts and amenities of the present day. Star Clipper and Star Flyer are modern cruise ships in every way, created for luxury-loving passengers who also love the traditions and romance of the legendary era of sailing ships. Star Clipper and Star Flyer are both 360 feet long and each carries just 170 guests in pampered comfort.

Don’t miss out on this new cruising ground. Check out their new Panama Itinerary today!


Photo: N.Birnbaum 2011

Costa Rica and San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua Cruises run 7-nights.

Next sailing dates: February 13 or February 27, 2011.

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica –
At Sea –
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua –
Playa del Coco, Costa Rica –
Cuanjiniquil (Nat. Park Santa Rosa), Costa Rica –
Puerto Carrillo, Costa Rica –
Islas Tortugas / Curu / Quesera, Costa Rica –
Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica –


Photo: N.Birnbaum 2011


or the newest 14-night Panama Canal Adventure:

Balboa to St. Maarten – March 19, 2011: 8 Ports of Call:
Panama Canal Transit – San Blas Islands, Panama –
Cartagena, Columbia – Oranjestad, Aruba –
Willemstad, Curacao – Jost Van Dyke, B.V.I. –
Sopers Hole, B.V.I – Virgin Gorda, B.V.I. –
Gustavia, St. Barts.

Rates start at $1,943 ppdo.

More Info: http://www.starclippers.com/us/plan-your-sailing/destinations/costa-rica-a-panama-canal/panama-canal-sailings.html


Photo: N.Birnbaum 2011

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SevenSeas_map_SSCA.org“What Are The Seven Seas?”

You would think that with such powerful search tools like Google, that question would be relatively easy to answer. Try it. If your search was anything like mine, you found a confusing collection of partial answers, none of them correct!

Take the Library of Congress’ Science facts page entitled “Everyday Mysteries.”

“Not all geographers agree on this list of seven, believing that the seven seas reference will be different depending upon the part of the world and the time period in question.

Some geographers point to the Age of Discovery and suggest that the seven seas represent the Atlantic, Pacific, Arctic, and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico.” [1]

Now if we’re worth our salt, we know the difference between an Ocean and a Sea, right?

The Seven Seas are referred to in the literature of the ancient Hindus, Chinese, Persians, Romans and other nations. In each case, the term simply referred to different bodies of water. Sometimes it even referred to mythical seas. To the Persians, the Seven Seas were the streams forming the Oxus River; the Hindus used the term for the bodies of water in the Punjab. There is a group of salt-water lagoons that separated Venice, Italy from the open sea, that the Romans called septem maria, the Latin phrase for Seven Seas.

Still the debate continues. Even the renowned Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution got it wrong, as I found on their website,[2]

“To the ancients, ‘seven’ often meant ‘many,’ and before the fifteenth century, the many seas of the world were:

  1. the Red Sea
  2. the Mediterranean Sea
  3. the Persian Gulf
  4. the Black Sea
  5. the Adriatic Sea
  6. the Caspian Sea
  7. the Indian Ocean

Historical Fact:

The Portuguese were actually the first European power to come into contact with India when Vasco de Gama sailed into Calcutta in 1498. After that date, Portuguese ships would frequently return to Europe laden with spices and commodities that would fetch fabulous prices. Other European powers looked enviously at this stream of exotica coming from the Orient. Portugal managed to hold on to its preeminent position largely in part to the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494. This treaty had been created to divide the New Worlds between the Catholic countries of Portugal and Spain. In effect they had carved up these New Worlds with Spain receiving a monopoly of power in most of South America and Portugal in the Indies. Working together, the two Catholic countries were able to maintain an effective blockade of these new markets for the majority of the sixteenth century.

Ships would always prove to be a more economically viable way of trading with India. And, as the English could not directly trade with India, its sailors resorted to buccaneering and piracy of the Portuguese ships as they headed to Europe with their valuable cargoes. It was with the era of Drake and Cavendish looting and shooting their way around the world that the first cracks appeared in the Catholic monopoly. In fact, it was Drake’s victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 that really opened the floodgates. The Navies of the Catholic countries were no longer strong enough to ensure an effective blockade of their New Worlds. English and Dutch ships began to pass the Cape of Good Hope in increasing numbers. Both nations quickly established Chartered companies to exploit the commercial possibilities presented to them. The English East India Company was established in 1600. The EIC would lead the vanguard for British political power in India. The EIC sent many a clipper ship across the “Tea Route” to China and back.

According to Peter Freuchen, in Book of the Seven Seas, “The Seven Seas” is a very old phrase and a very new one, too. In between nobody tried to count. The Ancients of the Mediterranean world knew seven large bodies of water, so they thought these were all the seas of the world. For a long time people were content with this, but when the age of exploration began, they learned that the Ancients had made a little mistake. There was not only a lot more water than they believed, but men were going out and finding great new seas all the time, and giving them names. So the expression “Seven Seas” dropped out of use for many centuries.

It came back in 1896. That year Rudyard Kipling was looking for a title for a new volumn of his poems. He selected The Seven Seas, and because he was a great man, and a popular man, the world had to make his words good.  So the geographers figured out a way to divide the ocean into seven parts. It isn’t a very good way, but we get along with it even if few of us can remember what the seven are. The whole thing is a triumph of poetry over reality.[3]

The Seven Seas

In Antiquity Today

Mediterranean                               Arctic

Red                                                 Antarctic

China                                             North Atlantic

West African                                    South Atlantic

East African                                     North Pacific

Indian Ocean                                   South Pacific

Persian Gulf                                     Indian

So the phrase was popularized by Rudyard Kipling who used it as the title of a volume of poems first published in 1896. Kipling himself said the term might be regarded as referring to the seven oceans (named above) even though it was a very old figurative name for all the waters of the world.

It follows then, that the notion of an “Old Salt” is one who “has survived the Seven Seas” was coined to describe just such a sailor: One who sailed with the East India Company for more than a few voyages.

So, to settle this debate, I put forth that The Seven Seas are, and always have been…
1. The South China Sea
2. The Celebes Sea
3. The Timor Sea
4. The Banda Sea
5. The Flores Sea
6. The Java Sea
7. The Sulu Sea

Any old salt who had “sailed the Seven Seas” proved he had been on the old “Clipper Ship” tea route from, China to England, which was the longest trade route under sail and which took the Clippers through any or all of those Seven Seas.

Now, aren’t you glad that we straightened that out?

Of course, it is of no real consequence these days. Take The Seven Seas Cruising Association… one can join even if you’re not sailing an old clipper ship. For over 50 years, SSCA has recognized the major sailing accomplishments of regular folk like you and me and reward such. Members who cross major bodies of water (oceans) may receive the “Trans-Ocean Award.” Those who complete one, may receive the “Circumnavigation Award.” The SSCA is the oldest Association of its kind in the world, and still the largest. Its’ members are from all over the globe. All are welcome!

Just like in the days of yore, SSCA recognizes that becoming an accomplished sailor has its merit. So, whether you’ve sailed the Seven Seas, have just cruised the Caribbean for a few seasons or are planning to someday, you will be among the proud, if not salty, group of time-honored sailors when you join the Seven Seas Cruising Association. For more information about membership and to join, visit www.ssca.org or call: 954/771-5660.


[3] Book of the Seven Seas by Peter Freuchen, with David Loth

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A little history…

Growing up sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, I often got the “best” spot on the bow as rail meat! Under the excellent tutelage of my Uncle George, I learned the hard way – while racing in yacht club events. He wanted to win, and I wanted to do well, so I did what I was told and soon discovered that I actually enjoyed all the excitement. And once the stomachache went away, it was, well- fun!

As a young adult living across the country in Northern California, I would often walk the dock on weekend mornings ready to beg my way onto a boat. Before too long, I met fellow sailors who owned boats that I could crew on. I leap at those opportunities, which sometimes wasn’t so smart. I clearly recall getting onboard a boat with a young man who, as it turned out, didn’t have a clue. When the wind picked up, (as we all know can happen often on the San Francisco Bay) we were blown way out across the Bay and had to claw our way back to the Wharf, arriving late into the night – cold and tired. It was a sail I would not soon repeat!

Although I did sail with others who had less experience, it often afforded me the chance to run the boat, set the sails, steer and make lunch too!

Some 25 years later I took that great leap and joined a boat in the Baja Ha Ha Rally as crew. There I met my first mate and together we have sailed all the way to Florida, cruising for five years initially. Now we are in between boats, replenishing the cruising kitty and planning our next adventure.

I am among the fortunate few who has put their cruising experience to work for them. As a writer and editor, I can now get paid to sail. My Blog will include these trips as well as lessons learned while voyaging. When we once again head off into the Blue, I’ll be sharing our stories to help any who care to sail in our wake.

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