Inside story by a member of the Red Watch - Part 2

We officially reached the Azores on Sunday, May 14, sailing swiftly past Faial island, our ultimate destination, at a speed of 11 knots. We landed at Terceira island Monday morning, an unplanned bonus stop for us because we had reached the Azores five days early. The second week was as fine as the first with respect to weather and the Captain and officers did exemplary work in planning and executing our weather strategy. The bonus stop in Terceira gave us a full day to explore that beautiful island.

We had very strong winds with lite rain on the 13th and 14th, achieving our highest 24-hour run of 257 nautical miles on Sunday. The ship really loves to sprint in strong winds. During those two days we had winds of 35-40 knots with periods of sustained winds above 45 knots. Exhilarating!

Heavy seas

For the first time passengers I have some suggestions for sailing on the clipper in strong wind and heavy seas:

Keep your hands out of your pockets when moving around. One hand should be holding on to a safety line or rail while the other gropes for another hand hold. Be careful not to grope a lady passenger or crew member while doing this.
Walk with your knees slightly flexed to be ready for any dip, lunge, or wicked wave slamming that the ship may try to do to surprise you. The creaking and screaming that you hear is not the rigging singing, it is the ship laughing at you.
Do not walk around with your mouth agape while looking at the high waves. You might bite your tongue if the ship lurches suddenly. Keep your teeth clenched at all times.
Check with the watch before showering to ensure you can anticipate sudden changes in the ship's heel. If you absolutely must shower in heavy weather, use one hand for the soap and one for the ship.
The chair in your cabin is chained to the deck for a reason. It is evil. It would just as soon launch you across the cabin as look at you. Lie down in your bunk when tying your shoe laces.


For those of you who want to "psych-up" for an adventurous sailing voyage on the Clipper Stad Amsterdam I would like to recommend two books. The first is The Clipper Ship Era by Arthur H. Clark, first published about a hundred years ago when clipper captains were still alive to tell their stories. It is generally available as a reprint. The second book is Modern Marine Weather by David Burch. To understand marine weather is to understand the day to day decisions that the Captain must make to realize a successful voyage.


As this adventure comes to a close I must confess that I am looking forward to sailing again on the Clipper Stad Amsterdam. We have all had a most interesting and at times exciting experience. It was good to see old friends among the crew and passengers and I am sure that I will see many of you again in the future. Sailing on the clipper is addictive. Truly.

Oh, and not to boast (too much) but Red Watch came in first in the mileage competition, beating Blue Watch by 4.8 miles over the entire 3,000 nautical miles of the voyage. White Watch was a distant third.

(Photo: Van Ristau, Fleur Nooteboom)

about the author

Mr. Van Ristau - Guest and member of the Red Watch on board Clipper Stad Amsterdam

I grew up on the Gulf Coast of the USA in the 1950's, worked in the offshore oil industry, served on a submarine, and as a civilian have consulted on submarine projects for the navies of several countries. While home ported at Submarine Base New London years ago I would often see the beautiful US Coast Guard barque Eagle across the river at the US Coast Guard Academy and envy their sea time in the wind versus ours below the water. It was not until I saw the Stad Amsterdam in St Maarten a few years ago that I discovered that it was possible to book passage on a tall ship for adventure sailing. It was worth the wait!