Merry Christmas

Those of you expecting to see us in sailing trousers and fleeces may not recognise us as the two very smart people in the photo above!

This year for Christmas, instead of sailing around Lanzarote we flew home to UK for Richard’s brother Daniel’s wedding which was on Christmas Eve.

When we wrote our winter schedule, we fully intended to offer a sailing holiday around Lanzarote for Christmas and one for New Year as we have done the previous 4 years.  When Daniel announced his intended wedding date, we decided that it would be nice to spend Christmas with family for a change, and as we had no one booked on for the Christmas or New Year trip yet we  would not be letting anyone down by not running them.

Cancelled is a word we don’t like to see, especially on our web site as our policy is always to run trips no matter how many people book , so we looked for an alternative solution.  We opted for calling the trips Fully Booked, which meant no one could book and also let us continue to let people know that we offer sailing at Chrismas and New Year.  We will be back in Lanzarote in the sunshine for Christmas 2012, and you will be able to sail with us.  We apologise to anyone who had their hopes up for last minute places this year and hope you might still want to come next year.

The wedding was beautiful on Christmas Eve in a hotel in Bedford, and the whole family stayed overnight to be together for Xmas Dinner the following day.  On Velvet Lady the thing we miss at Christmas time is the excitement and expectation of young children, but this year we made up for it, between us Richard and I have 14 nieces and nephews!  Santa left loads of presents under the tree for everyone.

With Christmas over now, we are enjoying a little quiet before heading up to Scotland to see my Mum and Dad, and then the big gap in the sailing programme in January is so that Richard and I can go skiing again.  This year it is Bardoneccia in Italy, and we enjoyed our experience in a chalet so much last year in Selva we are going in a chalet again.

We’ll be back in Lanzarote on 15th January, and after a week or so to do some little jobs on Velvet Lady we will be sailing again. If you fancy joining us check out the schedule on our website

HAPPY NEW YEAR, FAIR WINDS AND SAFE SAILING IN 2012

Lin and Richard

Winter Sailing Holidays around Lanzarote

Our winter season of seven night sailing holidays around Lanzarote got off to a great start last week. The warm wind from the east made it a little cloudier than expected but the temperature remained in the twenties. There was often a slight yellow haze in the air caused by the Sahara dust brought all the way from Africa. Despite the cloud the sun was warm and often peeked out into patches of clear blue sky, enough to warrant plenty of sun tan lotion and giving us the opportunity to wear shorts and t shirts.

We were joined this week by Mo and Andy from UK and Heather and Tony from Luxembourg. All had sailed before but as often happens had varied levels of experience and different reasons for being away. As usual we all got on well and had great fun sailing around Lanzarote, logging a total of 181 miles in 6 days!

The wind was varied, giving us a great opportunity to experience Velvet Lady at her best, 8 knots upwind in flat seas and 9 knots on a close reach. We also sailed beam reaches, broad reaches and downwind in fluky wind in the narrow channel between Lanzarote and La Graciosa.

We are often asked in advance of a sailing holiday what will it be like and where will we go? We try and answer these questions as best as we can on the itinerary page of the website, and again on the first night where we outline our plans for the week. Our aim is to provide a sailing holiday with enough time to explore the places that we get to. With a mix of short days, long days and one full day ashore. The best idea we can give of what it might be like is what we have done in the past.

So, this is how last week went:

Sunday our guests arrived on board at intervals during the day.
Charter Flights into Lanzarote arrive frequently, and it is a relatively short transfer of about 45 minutes from the airport. Our official joining time is 1800, to give all day to travel if it is needed. Inevitably it is impossible to get a flight that arrives bang on time, and we are happy for our guests to drop by and leave their bags on board before going off to explore the local area. There is plenty to do around Marina Rubicon and Playa Blanca before returning to the boat for tea and biscuits at 1800.
The first evening is a great opportunity to settle in and get to know each other. It doesn’t take long before the conversation gets around to the weather and likely route which is best discussed looking at a chart. Dinner is served on board at 2000 with a glass or two of local wine, and by the time dessert is finished there is always a good level of camaraderie and laughter.

Monday, after breakfast, we started with a safety brief.
We want all of our guests to understand how to stay safe on board, but we also want them to enjoy their holiday and feel comfortable on board. As well as talking about winches and lifejackets we also talk about making tea and helping yourself to goodies from the cupboard.
After the safety briefing there is enough time for a quick walk ashore and we set off from the marina just after noon. The forecast was E4/5 and with a prospect of a longish beat we decided to go to the marina in Puerto Calero. Although only 16 miles in a straight line, after quite a few tacks we sailed a total distance of 29 miles in 5 hours.

To see a Google Map of the route please click here

Tuesday morning it was time for a leisurely help yourself breakfast between 8.30 and 9.30 and a stroll around the marina. Late morning we left to sail further along the coast to Arrecife. East force 4/5 again and more tacking so it was 1630 before we picked up a mooring buoy in the old harbour. After tea and cake in the cockpit nobody felt like going ashore and were more inclined to head off for an afternoon nap. Tony and Heather had brought us some Luxembourg wine to sample which having been chilled in the freezer was perfect for a pre dinner cocktail

Wednesday, immediately after breakfast, we left preparing ourselves for a long sail up to La Graciosa. E4/5 becoming SE 5 gave us a beat for 2 hours followed by a fast reach up the coast and a surf downwind through the gap between Lanzarote and La Graciosa. The wind shifted to the south earlier than we expected, and we sailed the 40 miles to Graciosa in record time anchoring in the bay at 1600. Mo and Andy swam around the boat before sunset.

Thursday, a day ashore in Graciosa
Graciosa is a lovely island only reached by boat. It would be an awful shame to sail all the way here and not have enough time to explore, so our itinerary allows for a day ashore. There are all kinds of things to do, walk up the volcano, swim, snorkel, walk to the village for tapas or have a picnic on the beach. These all sounded attractive and Richard ran everyone to the beach in the dinghy at 11am. It starts to go a bit chilly after 4, and so we collect every one from the beach then and bring them back on board. Sunset is about 1800, and this week we watched it with a glass of Sangria in hand.

Friday
We made a prompt start after breakfast 10am and sailed back along the west coast of Lanzarote to complete our circumnavigation and anchor in Playa Papagayo at 1800, 50 miles later. We didn’t see any dolphins this week but we did see lots of turtles.

Saturday
Papagayo beach is only 3 miles from Marina Rubicon, but a great setting to wake up to. This week there was some form of photo shoot going on on the beach, looked like some form of Bridal wear. Being so close to home gave us the chance to spend our last day enjoying sailing without worrying about having a specific distance to cover. We set off on a broad reach to circumnavigate the island of Lobos, just off Fuerteventura. Richard served hamburgers when we were in the lee of the island before we spent the rest of the afternoon beating back. Velvet Lady’s secret weapon is the staysail, no use when the wind is abaft the beam, but for going to windward it adds at least a knot to the boat speed. It also means that every time we tack we have to use all 6 winches in the cockpit which keeps everyone on their toes! By now a well oiled team we tacked every 20 minutes or so, just for fun and arrived back in the marina at 1600 in time for a bit of trinket shopping.
Dinner on board at 2000, Richard spoilt us with Lasagne, Garlic Bread and Salad followed by Tiramisu and cream, all cooked whilst we were tacking!

And, what better way to end the week than with a quick after dinner trip to the Jazz bar!

Why not join us next year – see here for dates

Sailing Holidays in Lanzarote

We made it!  We are now enjoying the sunshine in shorts and T shirts in Lanzarote.  Completely blue sky, nice sailing breeze, warm weather in the twenties, cheap gin and tonics, warm water to swim in ….
We are getting ready for our first seven day sailing holiday next week and although it is now too late to book on this trip, we will be continuing to offer similar itineraries all through January February and March.  Our aim will be to circumnavigate the island of Lanzarote, sailing 3 to 5 hours a day and including a day visit to the tiny island of Graciosa off the north coast, all of this of course will be weather permitting.  There will also be plenty of time to drink in the Spanish culture in the Tapas bars ashore.  Christmas and New Year are already full but there are plenty of dates in our Schedule for January, February and March.  There are still places available for individuals, couples and groups!

We are exceptionally pleased to be here, it always feels like returning home.  The marina staff are friendly and helpful and we meet lots of old friends (Lanzarote Liveaboards) who are eager to hear tales of our summer adventures.  This year we could tell them how it seemed harder than usual to get here with the weather never seeming to be on our side.  We have had a large amount of southerly winds ever since we left UK at the beginning of October.  A good job that we leave plenty of time in each of our itineraries for inclement weather.

Our most recent trip from Cascais, Lisbon in Portugal to Lanzarote was again held up by inhospitable winds.  After listening to the forecast for 40 knots of southerly winds and seven metre seas we decided it was in our best interests to wait in harbour for a few days before heading out in to the Atlantic Ocean.  Cascais is a really nice place but after a 48 hour stint of waiting we were really looking forward to leaving and welcomed our long passage.  Once the wind shifted back to the traditional trade winds, we were off, and sailed the 725 miles downwind in moderately big seas only filling the cockpit once when a rogue wave got us.

There was no moon during the night for this trip which gave us a perfect opportunity to gaze up at a sky full of stars, the odd satellite and a few airplanes.  Dolphins visited us occasionally, Lin saw a whale blowing and one afternoon we sailed through a group of turtles.  We saw many ships and quite a few yachts all heading South to the sun.  We have AIS on board as well as radar and so it was good practice to look at all the information about the ships and where they were going to, often to places I have never heard of.

This passage was long enough to count as a qualifying passage towards RYA Yachtmaster Ocean and as usual the sextant was out and the saloon table covered in books and mathematical formula.  Keith decided it was much easier to use the GPS!

Land was sighted just after nightfall with a dull glow on the horizon that gradually grew and grew.  Although there were plenty of lights, there are not many lighthouses and you have to be quite close to the land to see them.  Luckily it is very deep and there are no offlying dangers.  We got used to hearing the navigation warning on the radio warning us of volcanic activity within 4 miles of the island of El Hierro and we were glad that we were not sailing that far west.

We arrived at the south end of the island just as it was becoming daylight and were safely tucked up inside Marina Rubicon just after breakfast.  A few things have changed inside the marina, and a new jazz bar has opened just opposite our berth – well we had to give it a try didn’t we!

Why not join us for some winter sailing and sunshine early next year!