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Enjoy the seas at sail s pace
Stephen Scourfield,The West Australian Star Clipper: Guests enjoy the chance to help sail the ship, though the hard work can be down by electric winches.

Captain Sergey Utitsyn says a sailing ship is like a doctor - "Every day you stay on board you feel better and better and better."

His ship is a particularly interesting one as he is the captain of Star Clipper, a four-masted, 115m barquentine cruise ship with 3500sqm of working sail area. The ship can carry up to 170 passengers and has 77 crew of 15 nationalities on this voyage.

And there are few better men to sail it than Captain Utitsyn, who trained in square riggers for 13 years on the Russian tall ship Kruzenshtern and has been with Star Clipper for 13 years.

I have joined the ship for a seven-night sail through the Greek islands - from Athens to the Turkish coast, then the Northern Cyclades islands of Patmos, Amorgos, Mykonos, back to the Greek coast at Monemvasia, and then returning to Athens. It is an interestingly varied and cleverly paced cruise which starts at $2725 per person, with a mid- range cabin at $3705 each.

There are many other itineraries in the Mediterranean between May and October and, throughout the year, the ship and her twin sister, Star Flyer, and their bigger sibling, the five-masted square rigger Royal Clipper, ply the Caribbean, Costa Rica and South America, and the Panama Canal.

And it is under sails that we cross the Aegean Sea on the first day, from Athens to the Turkish coast.

It is a good day to get used to the ship, which has the easier, more sure-footed motion of a sailing ship, and to start to meet others aboard.

On this, Captain Utitsyn says: "I have one Golden Rule on the ship. No politics. Only sails."

There are guests from all over the world on this cruise - from WA and other parts of Australia, from the UK and the US, Scandinavia, Germany, France and many other parts of Europe, though English is the dominant language.

And so it is that we start to explore the Greek islands together. No politics. Just good conversation, fair winds - and sails.

FACT FILE

• For Star Clipper reservations, contact a travel agent or Star Clippers on 1300 362 599 or starclippers@creativecruising.com.au. Visit www.starclippers.com.

• Fly to Athens with Emirates - it's only four hours direct from Dubai. Visit www.emirates.com/au or travel agents.

Stephen Scourfield travelled courtesy of Star Clippers and Emirates.