‘Spanish Castle to White Night’

Sounds like a complicated move in a chess game but actually it is the title of the beautiful book that ‘Santa Ann’ gave us for Christmas.  It is the story of the 2008/2009 Volvo Ocean race and it is full of fabulous pictures, bringing back fond memories of the southern ocean and beyond! 


It even felt just like being back in the southern ocean as a vicious low pressure centred to the north west of the Canaries gave us unexpectedly strong southerly winds on Christmas Day – and so with the weather proving unsuitable for anchoring, Velvet Lady was safely tied up for the day in Puerto Calero marina in Lanzarote. Despite the wind and waves breaking over the breakwater it was a sunny and warm day and we decided that what was needed was a party and a sacrifice to the wind gods to ensure a return of better weather for boxing day! 

We started at 5pm, with cocktails and canapés – laid out with heaps of presents under the Christmas tree.  As well as our fabulous book, there were buckets and spades, candles and flowers, chocolates and wine, and even a catapult.  We nibbled away at the canapés whilst a full traditional Christmas dinner was cooking in the galley, ready to be served at 7pm.  After 2 hours of concentrated eating, drinking and even more washing up we retired to the cockpit to cool down and enjoy the stars whilst Richard converted the saloon into a dance hall and organised the music.  He has always enjoyed being a DJ, and this year was no different. We never realised the sound system in Velvet Lady was so good and as the music got louder our singing and dancing improved no end!  We eventually crawled to bed at about 1 pm.  Our sacrifice to the wind gods – the corks from many bottles of champagne, cava, wine, port and brandy.  Many thanks to the elves who tidied away the bottles.

Our plan worked, we rose on boxing day to glorious sunshine and a reasonable breeze from the west, giving us a fast sail and time to anchor for lunch off the sand dunes of Fuerteventura before returning to Marina Rubicon.  After lunch we even had time for a quick dip in the sea before returning to home base.  As often happens in the evenings here  the wind died off at about 5 pm, and we motored for the last hour to just get in before dark.

Tucked inside the back of our beautiful book was a 2 and a half hour DVD of the highlights of the Volvo Ocean Race, although we only have a very short turn around before our new guests arrive for New Year week we are hoping to squeeze in time to watch a beat or two.

Until next year

All the best
Lin and Richard.

New Milebuilding passages now on line

I have just added two exciting new trips to our schedule for August 2010

Norwegian Coastal Cruise – Bodo to Bergen – 11 nights £1250 – route as above

Milebuilding Passage – Bergen, Norway to Plymouth, England – 15 nights £1295 – route below

Both trips are ideal for milebuilding, challenging sailing and practicing navigation towards your yachtmaster certificate.  Not only that, we will be sailing past some fantastic scenery and on the coastal trip from Bodo to Bergen have the opportunity to visit the Svartisen Glacier.

Don’t miss out – Why not check them out over the Christmas period!

Velvet Lady’s new mainsail


Velvet Lady had an early Christmas present last week!  We had ordered a new mainsail and it was finally delivered to Benalmadena in the Mediterranean the day before we set sail to Madeira.  With too many other things to do the day before guests arrive, we stowed the sail safely in the sail locker. 

We need a day with very little wind to change the mainsail.  As it is a roller reefing sail this involves completely unrolling the old sail, undoing the halyard and lowering the sail to the deck, then removing the sail from the boom.  This is not too bad as gravity helps!  Feeding the new sail into the track on the mast before hoisting is the most tricky bit and involves Richard balancing on the boom.  Luckily for us there was a perfectly calm and still day the day after our guests left and we set to replacing the sail.  It took us about 3 hours, but the result was well worth it and with the sail looking great we were eager to try it out on our passage from Madeira to Lanzarote.

We were full on our passage to Lanzarote, Rick and Julie had sailed with us before and were looking for their first night sailing experience, Tom and Sue were on their first sailing trip for 20 years! 

The mainsail looked great and unrolled without catching in the mast like the old one!  It is slightly bigger than the last one, which was great for last week as there were many light wind days.  In a reasonable breeze we appear to have gained 0.5 knot in speed, as we happily reached along at above 8 knots. 

Our passage time to Lanzarote was quite quick at 54 hours.  The nights at sea were perfect and cloudless, with millions of stars lighting up the sky and a bright half moon shining after midnight.  It is an eerie feeling watching your first moon rise in the middle of the night, it looks like an alien space ship appearing over the horizon. 

We are now back in Marina Rubicon in Lanzarote, ready for another winter season sailing in the sunshine. Why not book now to escape the wintry weather!
We’ll just take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and Great Sailing in 2010 

Lin and Rich

Atlantic Crossing

Luke and Charlotte were looking for an Atlantic crossing.  Chris wanted a passage long enough to count for his YM ocean and practice with the sextant.  Dan was returning for the fourth time.  Our destination was Madeira

Madeira is a little gem of an island situated in the Atlantic Ocean 550 nm from Gibraltar.  As with any long passage the weather was mixed.  Although we never had too much wind it came from all directions, forcing us to weave a zig zag course and sail 711 nm across the ocean.  Not quite as far as the ARC but an Atlantic crossing never the less, enough to get a taste and want more.

The mileage satisfied the RYA requirements for an ocean passage (600nm by the log) and Chris was there with the sextant whenever the sun shone.

We made good time on our passage, and made landfall at the tiny island of Porto Santo, 25nm north east of Madeira.  Here the sun was shining and after a quick visit to the Christopher Columbus museum our hardy sailors turned mountaineers and walked to the top of the 500m peak to look at the view.

Our guest book from last week reads

“Just really, really good.  I want to come back for more.  Thanks for all the help with the sights and plotting”

“An adventure of a lifetime, a thrill, an education and a test. Dodging cargo ships, spotting whales and just hanging on for dear life. We had a truly wonderful time”

“When can I come again”

Next we are on our way to Lanzarote to spend the winter in the sunshine.  With Xmas and New Year already fully booked we are looking forward to a busy time.

Our trips for 2010 are starting to full up fast, and I will shortly be adding 3 more trips to our schedule.   We are trying a new route home for August 2010.  Starting with a 10 day adventure along the coastline of Norway from Bodo to Bergen, and then a 10 day adventure from Bergen to Oban via the Shetland Islands. We have chosen Bergen as it is easy to get to with direct flights from London Gatwick or via Oslo from your regional airport.