Milebuilding passage Lanzarote to Madeira

‘I was wondering how it is in the big sea but somehow was also afraid of it.  This trip on Velvet Lady gave me what I was looking for, adventure and safety and a marvellous opportunity to experience how it is….’

Olga and Piotr

We have just completed the first of our milebuilding passages from Lanzarote to Madeira and are sitting enjoying the sunshine preparing for the next leg.  Passage making and night sailing are held in awe by a lot of people, and this leg is one of our shortest passages which we often describe as a gentle introduction to long distance sailing.

We were joined by Olga and Piotr, Arthur who has sailed many miles before and wanted to brush up on sextant work.  Our fourth guest, Paul, is one of our regulars who aims to build himself up bit by bit to a ‘proper roughy toughy long distance trip.’

We took 68 hours for the passage from Lanzarote to Funchal, arriving just at daylight at the end of our third night at sea.  The wind was mainly ‘on our nose’ and so we sailed 404 miles to cover the rhumb line distance of 280.  The weather maps before we left had given us to expect light winds, so we were pleased to have Velvet Lady tramping along at seven knots in a good Force 5.  There were sightings of dolphins, turtles and even a whale on our last day as well as fantastic sunrises and sunsets.

There was time to look around Funchal before we continued to our final destination in Madeira at Quinta do Lorde marina.  Only 10 minutes from the airport this is an ideal place for crew changing.  As it is an easy place to hire a car, all four guests disappeared to look around the island before heading off to the airport for afternoon flights.

Our next two legs back to UK are not only milebuilding passages but they are long enough to qualify as ‘ocean passages’ for those interested in gaining a RYA Yachtmaster Ocean certificate.  They are always popular and Madeira to the Azores and Azores to Plymouth have been fully booked for over 6 months.

Whilst we are in Madeira we use the opportunity of their good wifi signal to load our Autumn programme.  I finished it this afternoon and it is now all on line and ready to book.  If you were disappointed at missing out on our spring milebuilding and ocean passages, more are now available.  Sailing across the Bay of Biscay in October and Lisbon to Lanzarote in November are two more trips that qualify as ocean passages, and the trip from Vigo to Lisbon is our next shorter passage, ideal for those who only want a taster of nightsailing and watchkeeping.

Full details on our schedule

Sunny Sailing aboard Velvet Lady

This was our last week in Lanzarote and it was definitely our hottest week. The main disadvantage of the really hot weather is that with blue skies and no clouds there is generally less wind. After the first 2 days of great wind to sail to Puerto Calero and then Arrecife, we ended up motoring to La Graciosa and then motoring most of the way back.

The advantage of the hot weather and motoring is that when you see a group of dolphins on the horizon it is easy to alter course and head towards them. We spent a fantastic half an hour with dolphins surrounding us as we motored off towards Africa!

We anchored in Graciosa in time for a perfect sunset and then as it became dark a fantastic view of the stars. We had a great view of Jupiter and Venus in the west as well as a huge full moon.

The hot weather and calm seas held for us in La Graciosa and so we ended the day with our first BBQ of the year. It goes dark here at about 19.30 and to ensure we finished our BBQ in the daylight dinner was a bit earlier than the usual 20.00. With the BBQ out and the dishes all done we had an evening of games.

First off was ‘pass the pigs’ which a few of us had never heard of, made even more interesting as the gently roll of the boat often made the pig topple over after it had landed.

We then played a game that Richard and I had learnt last year when skiing where you describe and mime famous people and hope your team can guess who they are. (The names have all been chosen and placed in the hat by all playing the game and it is interesting the characters – real or fictional, alive or dead that come out) After 3 rounds, first round where talking and miming are allowed, second round where you are allowed only 1 word along with the miming and the third round which is miming only, the girls were declared the winners.

Some of the names proved hard to describe, especially if you haven’t heard of them. I struggled with Al Capone and Lori did a sterling job with Caesar Manrique by having a ‘seizure’! As with all games, this one was accompanied by a lot of laughter (and a fair amount of wine). Where some of us struggled with our miming, others were particularly brilliant and I am not likely to forget Greg swaying his hips as Pippa Middleton or Dick on his knees as Tom Cruise!

Tuesday was Richards’ birthday, and so instead of spending the night at anchor in Papagayo we decided to spend a second night in Puerto Calero so that after dinner and birthday cake we could take him out to the pub to celebrate!

The wind came back for our last day and we sailed from Calero, around Los Lobos and back to Marina Rubicon.

All expectations were blown out of the water! The Velvet Lady was wonderful. The hosting superb, the company was simply the best and the sailing challenged all of us at times (which is a very good thing!) The only negative is that it had to end.  Many Many thanks and would love to see you for a return visit.

We always have mixed feelings when leaving Lanzarote, after being here since December it very much feels like home, but we are really looking forward to our summer in Denmark and seeing a lot of familiar faces there. We also enjoy the change now as we set off on our series of milebuilding passages and watch systems.

These trips are become increasingly popular and we are now sold out until the end of May when there are 2 spaces from Ijmuiden to Oslo. The next day sailing spaces are not until 20 June. If you are thinking of joining us for the summer why not look at our Schedule.

Dolphin spotting aboard Velvet Lady

We have been lucky enough to see dolphins on every trip so far this year.  We have seen a variety of dolphins over the weeks, common dolphins, atlantic white sided dolphins, rissos dolphins and many more that we cannot immediately identify.
These dolphins often like playing with us, and often put on an act especially for us leaping and playing in our bow wave.
Whenever this happens there is always a great rush for the cameras, and then many futile minutes of taking shots of specks on the water as the dolphin dives before the digital camera focus works.  The trick is to take the photo before you see the dolphin rise and hope!

This week we had many dolphins playing on the bow, and Stuart managed to take this photo, which is definitely the best of the season of Flipper, a bottlenosed dolphin.  It looked good on the small screen of the camera, but even better when we loaded it on the laptop.  Needless to say , with permission, I quickly bagged a copy.

We had another great week of fantastic sailing as we made our way up the east coast of Lanzarote to La Graciosa and spent 2 nights there.  Every time we visit this tiny little island with very few inhabitants we realise what a fantastic isolated and unspoilt spot it is.  The day spent ashore is often one of the highlights of the week, and so we will continue with this in next years programme.

For the second week running we had the pleasure of introducing a newcomer to sailing to the joys of cruising and exploring.  This is what she had to say.

New to sailing I needed a holiday, a new interest, new friends and to be looked after.  I found everything and more aboard Velvet Lady.  It has been a truly memorable week in a beautiful location with fascinating company.  I will be back.  Thank you Lin, Richard and fellow passengers

Our trip south from La Graciosa this week took us a bit longer than expected due to an unfavourable wind shift, it has to happen sometimes, but we were still anchored in Papagayo in time for a spectacular sunset.

The days are getting noticeably longer now, with it not going dark until nearly 19.30.  This reminds us that it is nearly time to start heading north for the summer.  We only have one week left around Lanzarote but we will be back here for Christmas and New Year and another winter of sunny sailing.  Whether beginner or experienced sailor we look forward to you joining us in the future.  Spaces are still available for the summer months in Denmark and we expect to publish the autumn programme at the end of March.  See our schedule.