Biscay a Breeze



Biscay was a breeze – with the odd force 5 or 6 as well.
Is how our guest Patrick described our recent trip across the Bay of Biscay


Unusually for this time of year, the bay was flat calm for nearly ¾ of the way across.  When the wind finally came it was from the NE giving us a very fast broad reach to Finisterre.

We had many fabulous sunrises and sunsets, and on our last morning the glow of the sun on the hills made a fantastic sight just as we rounded Finisterre. The wind eventually died away in the lee of the land and the temperature rose into the 20’s as we approached our destination Bayona. 

Chris had brought with him an underwater camera and after a small amount of fiddling it was mounted on a pole so we could take underwater shots of Velvet Lady sailing.  Unfortunately at times were going too fast for Chris to be able to hold the pole, so most footage was shot when motoring at low revs. We have photos of the rudder, prop, anodes and bow wave all from an unusual angle. 

We had many visits from playful dolphins during the trip, and finally Chris managed to capture some great underwater footage of the dolphins playing at the bow.  I am waiting for the edited version of the dolphins and will then figure out how to load them on my blog!

Whilst the guests were enjoying themselves in the sunshine on the deck, learning about the boat, helming and navigating, Richard and I were trying to get to grips with our new cooker.  It really is fantastic with all sorts of bells and whistles – electronic ignition on all the rings and a proper thermostatically contolled oven.  It is much easier to operate especially with the boat tossing around but we are constantly having to refer to Delia and Jamie for timings.  No longer do we just put something in the oven as high as it goes and wait!  Luckily on ocean passages we don’t tend to cook food that is crucial on timings – and now we think we have learnt enough to co-ordinate having dinner ready on time.  We are even getting bold now and thinking of having a go at making meringue.

Our fast passage across Biscay, gave us 3 days to cruise around the Rias – a little taster for next week.  The weather was glorious, blue sky, no cloud and temperatures in the 20’s.  We anchored every night next to white sandy beaches and ventured ashore in the dinghy to find little bars serving very cold beer. 

The great thing about these little places in Galicia are there are not so many locals who speak English and I am having to practice my Spanish.  Thankfully it is coming back to me quite quickly – uno vino blanco y una cerveza por favour – There you are, not very difficult at all

Hasta la proxima semana (until next week)
Salud (cheers)

If you are quick there are still a couple of places on the Rias trip starting Saturday, and another chance to visit both the Rias and the southern part of Spain starting 17th October
Check out our website

The all important cooker!

cooker photo


We have just spent two  very busy weeks in Plymouth, tidying up from our Norway season and preparing for our winter season in the Canaries.  We have been so busy that I have only  just found time to write a blog.

On our trip south from Dunstaffnage we again had strong winds, and although we had to shelter for two days in port we sailed 501 miles and visited the Isle of Man and Ireland, as well as the Isle of Mull.  There was plenty of night sailing and watchkeeping helped along by endless cups of tea and coffee.   

On this trip as on many others we were asked about how we keep up with the maintenance as we run such a busy sailing schedule, and Velvet Lady is in such good condition for her 23 years. 

We purposely build maintenance periods into our schedule, and our regular 2 week stops in Plymouth in May and September provide our best opportunity to stock up with bits we may need for maintenance jobs in the future. We keep a close eye on our sails and rig, our engine and generator, our winches and all other bits that we need to sail – and stock up on spare parts for all of these which are easier to get in UK because we speak the language. 

We also have a programme for improvements and this September we  decided to replace one vital piece of equipment.  I have thought about it often and one of the most used pieces of equipment on Velvet Lady over the past 3 years must be the cooker.  As Richard and I live on board the boat – the cooker is in use 365 days of the year.   When we have guests on board it is in constant use for the numerous cups of tea we serve up along with the many meals. 

We ordered our brand new cooker, 2 months ago,  for delivery the day after we arrived in Plymouth.  After much chasing it finally arrived this afternoon,  3 hours before the guests were due!  Chris had arrived early for the trip, and willingly helped us with the installation.  As always there is never a simple 5 minute job on a boat – even though we had bought exactly the same model as we previously had.  We were well pleased that within 2 hours of the cooker arriving on a palette in the car park, it was fitted and working, boiling the kettle for the first round of tea as the new guests arrived at 6 o clock. Whew.. 

Its the Bay of Biscay next, and fully prepared with our new cooker and stash of English tea bags to last 8 months away we are ready for anything – although the weather forecast predicts a gentle crossing. 

More from Spain – why not join us in the Spanish Rias in October, now reduced to £695.  Flights are still available to either Santiago from Stansted or to Vigo via Madrid from many UK airports.