A trip of firsts


Last week , after our Oban to Norway trip, one of our guests described the trip as ‘a trip of firsts’.

  • My first proper sea crossing (after a milebuilding trip on Velvet Lady last year from Plymouth to Oban)
  • My first proper seasickness!
  • First time in Norway
  • First time crossing the Arctic circle
  • First walk to a Glacier
  • First Oil rigs seen at sea
  • First time hailed in the face whilst helming
  • First time shower aboard a boat

We sailed 1100 miles to get from Oban to Bodo, with various stops in the Hebrides as well as a few special places on the Norwegian coast. The weather was a bit of a mixed bag – with calm then gales, rain then sun, cold then warm all to be expected on an ocean crossing.

We will be returning from Kristiansund to Plymouth (via the Hebrides) in September, and if you fancy a trip of firsts and 1100 miles for your log book, there are still a few spaces.  This will be the last of our 1000 mile plus trips, as next year, we are breaking all of the milebuilding trips into ‘shorter chunks!’

Full details of this and all of our trips – including the new look 2019 Schedule are available on the Schedule page of our website.

Velvet Lady in Bodo harbour


The tide was with us!

After much planning and deliberation about what time to leave to get the best tides we set off from Fowey at 0600.  We arrived at the Lizard just as the westward tide started and carried this right the way to Lands End to catch the north going tide for another 6 hours.  The tide was against us in the slack bit and then another huge boost from the tide had us surging past the Smalls and Tuscar Rock.  We were about to make the fastest trip to Dunlaoghaire so far, until the wind shifted and the final 12 hours were a beat in a typical Irish Sea gale.  Still arrived in Dunlaoghaire in time for an afternoon ashore in Dublin and a meal out.

Another huge boost from the tide gave us a fast trip up the Irish Sea to Campbeltown where we managed a trip to the distillery.   Yet another boost from the tide took us all the way from the Mull of Kintyre, into the sound of Islay and out the other end to  Loch Tarbert before it turned.

In all we gained 38 miles of help from the tide.  Great sunrises and sunsets added to the enjoyment as well as being accompanied by Dolphins.  In the north channel we were shadowed (radar target with no lights) for 4 hours, was it a submarine!  We’ll never know.

Ready for Norway now, the sun is shining and the wind is forecast to be with us for the first few days.  Great, now to work out the tide for the Kyles!

Cascais to UK via Spanish Rias

Dawn at Finisterre

If you look at the routing chart for the north Atlantic, which is based on 100 years of historical data it appears that to avoid headwinds the obvious way to go is head north west from Madeira  to the Azores, then jump on the westerly wind/gulf sream conveyor belt and sail downwind to Plymouth.  Longer but faster.  Not any more!

On our previous trip, due to weather we abandoned the Azores to go to Cascais instead, and had a great fast trip.  Sitting in Cascais I wondered if it would be a struggle north to Plymouth, but no, we had a great trip with plenty of exploring time in the Spanish Rias as well as completing an ocean passage and taking the required sights too. We constantly watched the weather and as the waves reached 12 metres mid Atlantic, congratulated ourselves on our choices

Getting ready now for the next adventure, Plymouth to Oban.

Wild and windy in north Atlantic

Very deep low pressures have been zooming across the Atlantic this spring causing high winds and big seas.  Last week we gave up trying to sail from Madeira to the Azores when we realised that we would be facing Gale force winds and 12 metre seas.  we decided to divert to Cascais marina just outside Lisbon instead.  This put a smile on everyones faces.  Alfredo thanked us as he had not wanted to end the trip ‘hating the ocean’, it is a holiday after all!  We still saw lots of big waves but none of them had white breaking crests. We were totally reminded never to underestimate the power of the ocean.

Our guests managed to change their flights and fly home and today our new guests are joining us here in Lisbon to sail back to the UK.  Looking at the weather maps that is just as well as yet again the Azores are going to be at the centre of another deep depression with strong winds and big waves.

We are due back in Plymouth in 2 weeks time which gives us plenty of time to sit out any bad weather and choose a weather window  for a really nice sail.  Lets hope the sun shines too so that we can get the sextant out.

Long and Salty trip – Lanzarote to Madeira – 518 miles with the wind on the nose

Whilst UK was struggling with yet another spell of unseasonal snow, we were faced with headwinds on our way from Lanzarote to Madeira.   518 miles with the wind on the nose. Good job today was a great drying day!

Our guests who were all new to ocean sailing found that the waves were bigger than they had seen before – and the wind stronger than they had ever sailed in – not at all like the Mediterranean. With the boat leaping around everything was harder to do than expected. They commented that whilst the trip had taken them out of their comfort zone Velvet Lady made them feel safe and they were taking home some fantastic memories. In particular steering at night with only the stars for company.

This was the start of our series of long passages which will take us back to Plymouth and then up to Norway for the summer before heading south again in the Autumn.

For details of all of our trips see our Schedule

Gusty wind in Lanzarote

Whilst UK was struggling with unseasonal snow last week, Lanzarote was struggling with unseasonal gale force winds from the south west.  This presented us with a bit of a challenge for our expedition to La Gomera and plans had to change.

Once the wind died off to a steady force 6, we set off for our overnight sail to round Alegranza, La Graciosa and Lanzarote.  The wind was still gusty and the sea had not died down too much – a baptism of fire really for our guests on their first night sail.  After a particularly large gust we burst a seam on our mainsail and promptly reefed.  By the time we had returned to port under smaller canvas the wind had eased and the sky was blue – perfect conditions to change to our spare and set off sailing again.  after 5 days of gale conditions we were rewarded with 3 days of champagne sailing to round off the trip.

We change up a gear next week as we start on our passages north to Madeira, UK and Norway.