Nazare – Port of Refuge

Nazare is a quaint little fishing port situated on the west coast of Portugal about 65 miles north of Lisbon.  It is noted in the pilot book for its ease of access and protection from all wind directions.  Well we certainly put that to the test.  For the past 3 weeks the wind has relentlessly blown from the south – instead of the more usual north and with more forecast it was definitely going to hinder our progress south!

We spent 3 lovely days sailing around the well sheltered Spanish Rias enjoying the sunshine before it was time to set off down the coast of Portugal.  One of our guests sadly had too leave us in Bayona having hurt her back and with the weather due to come it was prudent to not risk more damage.  A good decision and she managed to take this lovely photo of us hoisting the main!

With the wind already a southerly 5-6, our progress was slow and the guests got a lot more night sailing than they had bargained for.  The original plan was to make a couple of stops between Bayona at the south end of the Spanish Rias and Lisbon,  but in strong winds and big swell the entrances to many of the harbours along this coastline become extremely dangerous and close.  Our only option was to head straight for Nazare, 150 miles away.  40 knots of wind,  torrential rain, thunder, lightening, 2 large waves filling the cockpit and more – 60 hard hours later we arrived to find that the pilot book was absolutely accurate and once inside this well protected little harbour there was flat calm water and a warm, ‘dry’ welcome.

The friendly and helpful harbour master, quickly nicknamed Captain Haddock, told us what a good decision we had made coming here as in the strongest winds last week it was the only harbour to remain open on the whole west facing coast!

As usual after a long passage we all sleep very well.  After a late breakfast and with yet more southerly winds in the forecast we decided to take time out and explore the region.  There is a funicular up the side of a very dramatic cliff and from the top there were great views of Nazare and the monstrous waves breaking on the shore.  Mike was nearly blown off his feet in the 50 knot winds.

The wind still continued from the south, and so our lovely guests, Jackie, Mike, David and Margy  have agreed to stay dry and relaxed and take the bus from here to the airport and have their day in Lisbon on the way rather than to battle it out for another 30 hours.  As Murphys law would have it, Tuesdays forecast is perfect, for light northerly winds and Richard and I are due to sail the boat down on our own in readiness for our next trip.

Michael and Jackie have provided the photos for this blog – can you see why we decided to stay in!

Good news for the guys on the Lisbon to Lanzarote trip, the Azores high has moved back into place and the northerly winds are now forecast to be back all of next week.  I’ve got all fingers and toes crossed in anticipation.

As a little addendum, Richard and I are now in Cascais, after arriving at 2300 Tuesday evening, the forecast was wrong, we still had headwinds  up till about 1700 and then motored the rest of the way in no wind but big sea!  All safe and sound now and enjoying a G and T in the bar!

Skippered Charter in the Sunny Canary Islands

Richard and I are getting ready now for our sail south to Lisbon starting on Saturday.  Once again we are looking forward to getting further south where the days are longer and the sun shines more often!  We are now full for the leg to Lisbon and the following leg to Lanzarote, but there are 2 places left on the week 4 – 11 December to get in a bit of winter sunshine before Christmas.

I was asked by one of the sailing magazines this week to describe what Skippered Charter is and describe how sailing aboard Velvet Lady is different.  It made me realise, that as there are two qualified people on board, Lin and Richard we are quite different to other charter companies  who also offer skippered charter but only provide a skipper.   Most of what I wrote is adapted from our website,  but if you are thinking about sailing with us in the future and are not sure yourself and whether it is the right holiday for you take a look:

The opportunity to do some hands on sailing on a luxury boat without the luxury price!  For something different and a chance to sail aboard a prestigious Oyster yacht why not try a skippered charter sailing holiday.

Velvet Adventure Sailing is owned and run by Lin Parker and Richard Andrew who are both passionate about sailing and exploring new places. They have now been operating sailing holidays aboard their Oyster 55 Velvet Lady for 5 years and are keen to share her with you.  There are 6 guest berths on Velvet Lady and Lin and Richard specialise in holidays for couples or individuals.  Come along and join a group of other like minded people.  Lin and Richard, the skipper and mate, are both extremely well qualified sailors and are not only there to look after you on the deck whilst sailing but also to keep you well fed, watered and looked after for the duration of your holiday.

A new addition to their programme for Summer 2012 is sailing in Southern Scandinavia.  With holidays starting in Oslo, Copenhagen and Arhus they provide the opportunity to cruise the spectacular coastlines of Norway, Sweden and Denmark including the hundreds of islands in the Danish Archipelago.  To make the most of the sailing time many of the holidays are ‘one way’ enabling you to see more of the coastline without doubling back on yourself.

On offer are a range of 7 night, 10 night and 11 night holidays.  All of the trips are fully inclusive on board – however travel to and from the yacht is not included.  As well as providing all food, soft drinks and snacks, Velvet Adventure Sailing also include bedding, duvets, pillows, towels, use of safety equipment and use of breathable waterproofs in the price.  For Summer 2012 the fully inclusive cost of a 10 night holiday in Scandinavia is £1350

To be sure you are in safe hands all sailing holidays are led by round the world yachtswoman Lin Parker. (BT Global Challenge 2000/2001) With 25 years experience she is well accomplished at both introducing the new comer and coaching the more experienced.  Although Velvet Adventure Sailing do not run RYA courses, Lin has been an RYA Instructor and Examiner for many years, and is happy to include instruction as part of your holiday.  Velvet Lady is also fully equipped to MCA Category 0.

At Velvet Adventure Sailing our ethos is to provide fun filled active sailing adventures in a comfortable and safe environment.  The destinations we choose are often secluded bays and small fishing ports, rather than modern developed marinas. We’ll be dropping the anchor and taking the dinghy ashore.  Sample itineraries are provided on our website for each trip, to give you a flavour but are not rigidly adhered to!  With guests now returning for their 4th trips we know we have the mix right, and promise a great holiday wherever we stop.

For more information and to book on line see our website, or e mail us

Telephone 07801 627660

We hope that this will be used sometime in the New Year which is why we talk about our summer sailing programme, but before then we still have plenty of places on offer for sailing in the Sunny Canary Islands in January, February and March, we look forward to seeing you.