Sailing along the silver road

I came to see if I enjoyed ocean sailing and got my answer – yes
We experienced crew illness, a full gale, long fast reaching under the stars
I learnt a huge amount about navigation, ocean sailing, seamanship and life!
Lin and Richard are masters of their trade, the voyage was a master class and I’m in love with Velvet Lady

Praise indeed from one of our guests on our crossing form Madeira to the Azores, but the crossing itself served as a reminder that ocean passage making needs to be taken seriously and is not always easy.

For the first time since operating Velvet Lady, we experienced a medical problem on board, not an emergency but I was worried about continuing.   We were 130 miles out of Madeira and already out of helicopter range.  Sailing back to Madeira would take us quickly back into rescue range in case she took a turn for the worse whereas continuing to the Azores into the teeth of a gale did not.  We turned back and in flat seas motored back to the marina on the west end of Madeira.  We stayed in Madeira for about 5 hours before starting out for the Azores again, this time leaving one guest ashore.

48 hours later after watching the barometer fall and fall, the wind got us, and with very very tiny sails we were sailing along at 7 knots in 45 knots of wind.  Bouncing about down below sleep was difficult to get but once the gale blew through we were rewarded with fantastic weather.

We made up the time that we had lost returning to Madeira, as Velvet Lady refused to stop, barrelling along at 8 knots in flat seas.  Full star cover gave us plenty to look at overnight, and for an hour we were even steering along the silver road cast by the moon in front of us.

Whales, dolphins, turtles and birds came out to greet us, and we arrived invigorated at the island of San Miguel.  We anchored for the night next to the Isleu de Campo, above.  We watched the sun set in the cockpit listening to the birds and admiring the inner lagoon which was too shallow for us!  We headed for Ponta Delgada on our last day and tied up in the marina late afternoon.

Velvet Lady had dealt well with the 45 knots of wind, we filled the cockpit twice and washed the Danbuoy away, apart from a few bruises there were no signs of struggle at all – we were however reminded of the power of wind and water whilst we were sitting in the bar with our welcome Gin and Tonics.  Only a mere 2 hours after we arrived, two different catamarans arrived in the marina of Ponta Delgada, one dismasted, the mast split into 4 pieces, and one with a mast lashed up with string – the forestay had broken but they had managed to keep the mast up.

A very sobering reminder that the sea should be treated with the utmost respect!  If you want to try an ocean passage why not come with us on Velvet Lady

Azores to Plymouth is full, but there are 2 spaces on our North to Norway trip, and the price has just been reduced to £1121.25 per person all inclusive on board.  Why not look at the details here