Sprint to Lisbon to catch the Volvo Ocean Race

Well after cruising in Galicia there was a quick dash to do the clean up and then Lin and Rich set off on their own sprint to get to Cascais in time to watch the Volvo boats sail past the Oeiras gate on the way up to Lisbon.

Glassy coastal cruising

We are often asked what the weather is going to be like for a passage, our passage was 40 hours long and in that we had a real mixed bag – so here is a precis from our log

  • Flat calm on departing from Sanxenxo but with 5 metre left over swell it was quite  rolly polly.
  • Light airs from the north, not enough to sail but good for a bit of motor sailing.
  • These light airs shifted to the west giving us enough wind to sail slowly so motor off.
  • The light airs shifted to the south west – allowing us to create a little extra apparent wind and we started to speed up under full sail.
  • 25 knots from the due south, just as we were serving dinner and confused wind over tide sea, lots of reefing.  Velvet Lady heeled over and raced along at 7 knots, shame it was in the wrong direction
  • No wind, calm seas, sails flapping all over the place so time to start the motor again
  • Out of nowhere, great wind from the east allowing us to charge down the rhum line at 8 knots with full sail
  • as we approached Cabo de Roca, lunch time,  strong SE winds so reefing again and then a beat the last 15 miles to Cascais.
  • The only thing we didnt have was a gale

The answer to what weather can you expect on an ocean passage – anything if that was what we could have on a short 40 hour sprint!!

As well as sailing and reefing we were busy keeping a look out.  This part of the coast is famous for numerous small fishing boats that come charging towards you like bullets

All sorted – time to head out and look for the Volvo Ocean Race boats


Watch the start of the Volvo Ocean Race Leg 2 Lisbon

It’s started.  Volvo Ocean Race start in Alicante was full of drama.  We streamed it live on the Internet.   We plan to be in Lisbon for the finish of Leg 1, the in port race Leg 2 and start of Leg 2 to Cape town.   You can join us, see details here


Cruising in Galicia at the moment, and planning on a dash south to Lisbon tomorrow with just Lin and Richard on board.  Trying to catch the end of a race is much more difficult than planning to be there for a fixed date start

Hope to see you on board

Lanzarote to Madeira

Fantastic sailing last week from Lanzarote to Madeira.  A fantastic close reach for the first 200 miles and then a beat for the last 100 giving a total of 488 miles sailed.  We also had time to visit Porto Santo en route.

It was Richards Birthday the day before the trip started, and so this was the perfect chance for him to model his new birthday present – bright orange oilies!

Wear and tear and breakages on passages are a problem.  So as always we monitor exactly how the boat is being sailed and look out for chafe etc.  We can always get caught out by the unforeseen though, this week it was the stitching going (uv degradation) on the leech line of the mainsail causing it to flap a lot.

Richard made a temporary repair (I couldn’t reach)and whilst in port we have now fixed it properly, ready for the next trip.  We are just sorting the last jobs – guests arrive this evening on late flights tomorrow we will brief and get ready before setting off on Friday.

Want to join us in Norway – there are still some places see our schedule

La Palma Expedition 2017

lanzto la palma

Last week we set off on our expedition to La Palma.  We had tried this in previous years and never quite made it due to the weather.  At last, we made it after a great sail.  40 hours downwind on the way there and 62 hours upwind on the way back.  After going to so much effort to get there we spent a day and a half ashore.

Wow.  What a beautiful island.  So different to Lanzarote.  Richard and I went off on  a public bus into the mountains where we went for a walk and discovered that everthing was lush and green.  A very helpful taxi driver showed us terraces of bananas, advocados, oranges and more. We found the island far more like Madeira than Lanzarote and we would love to go back

walk in la palma

Velvet Lady was moored in the newish (2010) Calero Marina at the north end of the commercial harbour in Santa Cruz.  A word of advice for future visitors, there is an incredible swell in the marina, make sure you have plenty of mooring lines!

velvet lady in la palma

We went out for dinner on the last night in Marina Rubicon and were pleased with the feedback we got from our guests.

‘Your website is great – it describes just what to expect and you guys always deliver just what you said you would’

What a great end to a trip.  So with the first of our expeditions complete we are now getting ready for the next leg – Lanzarote to Madeira.

If you fancy the challenge of an ocean voyage there are still two places left on Madeira to the Azores – maybe we will see you on board.


A tough passage south – Kristiansund to Plymouth


Kristiansund to Plymouth this year turned into an epic.  We expected to have some wind from the south but we didn’t imagine that we would have to deal with 6 separate low pressure system bringing Force 8 and Force 9 gales!  We managed to find shelter from all of them, and enjoy some fabulous sailing in between.
Despite the gales the trip was stuffed full of memorable moments

24 hours motoring in flat calm water amongst the islands in Norway
A pod of Orcas circling the boat as we left the Norwegian Coastline
3 days of champagne sailing between Norway and Shetland
Fabulous sunrises and sunsets
2 nights and 1 day ashore exploring in Lerwick
A shimmering display of the Northern lights between Orkney and Shetland
Glassy sea around Cape Wrath
2 nights at anchor in Loch Dunvegan
Steaming down the sound of Islay at 11 knots with the tide
A night at anchor and a morning ashore in Bangor, Northern Ireland
A night at anchor in Dundalk bay on the Irish border
24 hours beam reaching along the Irish coast in flat water
Chased by a fast RIB and a routine boarding by Irish Customs off Tuscar Rock
A fast sail across the Irish Sea
A starlit passage as we tacked past Lands End
Lizard Lighthouse flashing in the gloom of the fog
Warships exercising in Plymouth Bay
Tying alongside in Mayflower Marina 36 hours later than expected
1550 miles for our log books
Celebrating in Jolly Jacks

To further describe the trip I use the words of our guests

My mind is overflowing with fabulous memories.  I cannot possibly convey how much this adventure has meant to me.  Stunning scenes of natural beauty.  Innumerable sightings of wonderful creatures. Comradeship humour and mutual support. Whatever hardships were endured were repaid a thousandfold

What an adventure. Fantastic voyage with some really great scenery.  Orcas were are ponus. The passage was a real challenge with at least 6 storms on the way all dealt with safely and professionally by Lin and Richard

Learned tons, ate tons, much fun, slept little but did not succumb to tea drinking (our French man!)

Most varied sailing, wildlife and scenery and more tacks that a cobblers bench!

Want to sample this for yourself. Our passages down to Lanzarote are all full now but there are some places on passages in the Spring.  Want to enjoy sailing in a more relaxed environment.  Once we arrive in Lanzarote we will be based there for the winter offering 7 night sailing trips around the islands.  See our Schedule

Heading South

sunset followed by moonrise

Heading south from Bodo to Kristiansund we are now starting to see the sun rise and set and are even having to get used to a bit of darkness!  Last week we had some great sunsets and even one followed immediately by a moon rising in the glow.

We had a slightly different route last week – we headed west to Traena and crossed the arctic circle before heading south and winding our way through a series of intricate islands and small harbours.

Now we are in Kristiansund and getting ready for the long passage home.