|We have met the crews of several Tallships that operate in the South Pacific waters. These magnificent vessels offer a range of possibilities for cruising the remote South Pacific islands as the explorers did 200 years ago.|
The first ship is Alvei. She is a steel boat almost 100 years old. She was originally a cargo vessel but she was purchased about 10 years ago by Captain Evan and he began a long, involved refit which transformed her into a 3 masted square rig schooner. She still carries her original 2 cylinder engine but she has been completely refitted inside and out to accommodate up to 20 crew.
Alvei takes crew not as paying passengers but as volunteers that share expenses. The cost is $700 US a month which includes food onboard and a share of operating expenses. It is very reasonable and the food is hearty but this is definitely not a luxury cruise.
Everyone is expected to pull their weight which includes deck watch day and night, dishes, cleaning and even dowsing sail from the yardarms in the rigging. You wouldn't get me up there. Alvei is beautiful but it is basic. There is no refrigeration, hot water, showers or even flush toilets. Bathing is done on deck with saltwater and a bucket. The toilet is a drum with a seat that drains overboard and is flushed with a bucket.
Alvei is best suited for a young (or young at heart), fit and adventurous person who would like a unique experience for 1 to 3 months or more. It is very reasonably priced. Don't expect too much and you won't be disappointed.
One thing we have noticed is that they seem to spend a good deal of time in the major ports which means that you don't see a lot of out of the way anchorages but you would have time to get off the boat and explore. Learn more at www.c-wave.com/alvei//.
The Soren Larsen is probably the most well known tallship sailing these southern waters. She is a magnificent wooden schooner built in the early part of the century as an inter-island trading ship in the eastern Danish waters. In the late seventies she was purchased by 2 brothers and converted to her present sailing rig for use as a movie set. She appeared in The French Lieutenant's Woman and Shackleton and was the set for the BBC series The Onedin Line.
In 1982 she began an overseas voyage which has never really stopped. Captain Tony Davies bought out his brother and he now sails, mostly in the South Pacific and between New Zealand and Australia, with a small crew and paying passengers who get to participate in all aspect of the vessel's operations. My mother sailed aboard the Soren Larsen and she was a little put off when they asked her to do the dishes but she did speak with pride about her participation in the sailing of this classic.
Prices are pretty reasonable the experience is hard to match. For more information check out http://www.sorenlarsen.co.nz
The La Violante is the only vessel of the 3 that was purpose built as a passenger sailboat. She was built in Holland in 1922 for a French Count. She has only had 4 owners since and the present owners maintain her is pristine condition.
She also has a movie resume including Queen Emma of the South Pacific and Return to the Blue Lagoon. Now she divides her time between Sydney in the summer for day cruises and Fiji and Vanuatu for the winter chartering season.
La Violante is the cushiest way to sail the high seas on a tallship.
You hosts, Fred and Christiana, will transit you safely between islands and provide excellent food and refreshments along the way. They will guide you on their favorite dives and take you to their out of the way beaches. You won't be pulling dish duty while onboard.
You may schedule for a crossing between island groups or just plan for a relaxing trip amongst the islands within Fiji or Vanuatu. They are at their best in Vanuatu where they have spent most of their time. Their knowledge of the local language and their familiarity with people on almost all of the islands ensures that you will be treated like returning family wherever you visit.
It is still not exactly like a cruise ship. They will take up to 6 guests and they usually only have their son and one other crew member so you have to look after yourself and shouldn't expect to be served drinks or snacks between meals. As long as you can get your own beer and banana you mind. Christiana is a very good cook so you won't go hungry.
We didn't get an idea of price but I am sure it is more than than the Soren Larsen. But for the personal service and emphasis on diving it should be very reasonable in perspective. For more information check out laviolant.com (Update: We understand that La Violante was damaged in a storm and may no longer be operating. We hope this is only temporary. We would like an update if someone has one. email@example.com )
Here is a modern tallship. Ripple is actually a mega-yacht. We have been meeting them in anchorages since the Marquises and have become friends with the owner and crew. You can't buy a ride on her but she is for sale for $5.5 million US. She is a 100 foot aluminum sloop with everything you would expect on such a craft. She is blazingly fast and the pinnacle of luxury. The owner is wanting to step down a little in size to around 80 feet. If this is for you then send us an e-mail and we will get you in touch.