Christmas Sailing Holiday

We have just enjoyed our fourth Christmas on Velvet Lady, and after shopping and tidying we are ready again for our New Year week which starts on Wednesday.

Thankfully the snow in UK didn’t cause too much of a problem and all of our guests arrived in Lanzarote on time for their Christmas week holiday.

Our plan was to circumnavigate Lanzarote during the course of the week and spend Christmas day in La Graciosa, the tiny island at the northern tip.

Our first 2 days sailing were with a strong offshore westerly wind, fast reaching in flat seas at 8 knots. We spent a peaceful night in the marina at Puerto Calero followed by a night at anchor off the tiny fishing village of Playa Quemada.

Arrecife was our destination for the third night, and as the wind died out just after lunch we motored the last few miles and arrived early afternoon. The harbour here is a little suntrap, and soon everyone was going in for a swim. We took advantage of the early finish to set up our BBQ, and enjoyed eating on the deck just as the sun went down. With our BBQ we serve a typical Canary Island side dish – Pappas Arrugas with Mojo sauce. The potatoes (pappas) are boiled in very salty water (preferably sea water, plenty of that!) before being crisped off in the oven for half an hour. The sauce is made from a lot of garlic, coriander and olive oil served on the side.

We enjoyed a long sail up to La Graciosa on Christmas Eve arriving just as it was going dark – with one other boat in the anchorage. We went to sleep listening to the sound of the waves breaking on the reef that was protecting us.

Christmas day was special as we lay to our anchor in this secluded bay, and there was plenty of room for the third yacht which arrived just after breakfast. With the whole day to explore, the guests set off for the beach at about 11am bearing sandwiches for lunch. Tony and Stephen climbed up to the top of the Volcano whilst Fran and Marcus walked the mile into the local village. Later in the afternoon all went for a swim and sunbathe before it was time to return to the boat.

By late afternoon as the tide was rising an unexpected swell had built up in the bay which made it a bit more difficult for Richard to collect everyone in the dinghy, and it ended up taking 3 trips. One particularly nasty wave managed to catch Richard and the dinghy broadside and so he ended up totally soaked.

Like children we had waited patiently for the time to have our presents. With glass of Champagne in hand and just as the sun was setting we looked to see what Santa had left under the tree. We all did very well – with Lanzarote caps for the boys and local perfume for the girls. Dinner next – full traditional Christmas Dinner with Turkey and trimmings and Nut loaf as an alternative. Traditional flaming Christmas pudding for dessert with lashings of cream. After dinner, instead of snuggling down and watching a movie, we set about completing the crosswords and puzzles of the most recent newspaper on board.

The week flew past and in no time we were heading back through the piers of Marina Rubicon. Although we provide for all meals on board, we decided to round off the week with a meal ashore in one of the fabulous restaurants on the harbour front.
We are now in Lanzarote until March, and offering 7 night sailing holidays with an itinerary similar to this for £595 per person. Why not join us.

Holiday Hiccups

We have now arrived in Lanzarote, where the sun is shining and all of our guests have gone home, but for a short while last week I wondered if this trip might ever happen!

Our guests were due to arrive on Saturday 4 December, but early in the week we started receiving worried e mails.  Britain was on a go slow because of snow.  All of our guests were flying from Gatwick, which seemed to be the hardest hit.  Tilly and Denis knew that their Friday am flight was going to be cancelled, Peter was booked on a flight that no longer existed and Dicky was still in Dublin not sure whether he would even get back to London.  This was all extremely unusual for early December.

The question in my mind was could we afford to wait in Madeira to give the guests chance to arrive.  I spent a short while looking at the weather forecast and realised that the same system causing a build up of snow in UK, was going to be responsible for strong winds and high seas in Madeira.  According to the weather forecast we were not going to be able to leave until Tuesday afternoon at the earliest.  I also worked out that even if we didn’t leave until Wednesday afternoon we still had time to sail to Lanzarote before all the return flights on Saturday.

As soon as I could I let everyone know that we wouldn’t be leaving Madeira until Wednesday, giving everyone until the Tuesday to get here.  Tilly and Denis managed to book flights for Tuesday morning and Peter and Dicky managed to transfer airlines and get a flight on Sunday afternoon.

On Saturday night, when the guests should have arrived, Richard and I sat on board Velvet Lady listening to the wind, and shuddering as the waves broke over the breakwater and landed on the deck.  We couldn’t get ashore without fear of getting wet.  All night long the wind howled and we were glad to be the only 2 aboard.

Sunday afternoon when Denis and Peter arrived, it was clear from the swell in the harbour entrance that sailing was not going to be an option, and we were not losing out waiting for the others to arrive.  There is some great walking in Madeira, and Peter and Dicky made the most of their 2 days on land.  It was actually Tuesday night before the sea finally settled down, and we managed to leave the marina at lunch time on Wednesday.

The weather gods had not finished with us yet though.  To add to the snow in Gatwick and waves in Madeira, we spent our first night at sea surrounded by sheet lightening and accompanied by rain.  Was it never going to give up.  Well of course it was eventually and just after midnight on our first night the sky cleared giving a fantastic canopy of stars.  The wind filled in from the southwest and Velvet Lady set off sailing at 8 knots towards Lanzarote.

As we continued south the weather continued to improve, and 53 hours later we arrived in Lanzarote on a glorious beam reach with blue skies and sunshine.  Just in time to get washed and brushed up to go out for dinner on our last night.

This trip is billed as ‘an ideal introduction to passage making’ which it is but of course we can’t chose the weather.  We would usually expect trade winds and down wind sailing, but we were faced with southerly winds and close hauled sailing instead.  Velvet Lady loved it – and so it seemed did our guests.

From our guest book

Thanks so much for such a fantastic voyage.  Adventure Sailing, you weren’t joking!

A terrific introduction to sailing the big stuff!

Even the tougher parts were made bearable being so well looked after