Day Skipper, Flotilla Sailor – What next?

So you’ve finished your Day Skipper Theory and Day Skipper Practical courses and want to continue to sail and increase your knowledge before progressing on to the next set of courses. You may be a bit nervous of ‘chartering’ or going on flotilla for the first time especially with the added responsibility of looking after the friends and family with you.  Perhaps you feel you need just a bit more practice and experience under your belt before going it alone.

We think we can provide just that experience here at Velvet Adventure Sailing.  We offer all inclusive sailing holidays for singles or couples aboard our Oyster 55, Velvet Lady.  Lin, our skipper, has been an RYA Instructor and Examiner for nearly 20 years and although we do not run formal courses she is entirely at home coaching you along and finding new ways to teach things.

You can book a berth (or two) on board Velvet Lady and put your new found knowledge into practice with no pressure and responsibility.  No need to worry about the rest of the crew, we will keep everybody safe and you can enjoy learning more about sailing.

We do not run courses – as we don’t like to constrained by having to keep to a syllabus, we merely go sailing for fun every day.  However we are big believers in good practice and passage planning and so every day we are putting into practice all the things you are taught on any of the RYA ‘skippers’ courses.

Every morning we must look up the tides, look at the weather, chose a place to go and get there safely.  Why not learn from us by looking over our shoulders day after day.  If one day you want a day off to ‘rest’ and bask in the sunshine – no problem.  We will still go sailing.

For the winter months of 2012/2013 we are based in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.  What better place to build up your experience than in the sunshine.  Lanzarote lies in the trade wind belt, with the prevailing wind averaging NE4/5. Lanzarote lies on a NE/SW axis, so we get plenty of opportunity to consolidate the skills of beating up wind and gybing downwind.  The wind isn’t always out of the NE so we get our share of beam reaching too.

Whilst on board you can get plenty of practice in navigation, tidal heights, secondary ports, pilotage etc.  We carry all of the books and charts necessary for this and more.

As well as the paper stuff we are happy to explain and show you how all of our electronic navigation aids work.  We even encourage you to get used to using the AIS and chart plotter.

Our trips are not limited to the Canary Islands and you can join us all year round in various places.  Summer 2013 we will be in the Lofoten Islands and that is another great place to practice navigation – lots of rocks and you have to be very precise!

Read more about our different types of trip in  Is this trip for me?

Need help in choosing a trip –  why not give us a call or text on 07801627660 or e mail voyages@velvetadventuresailing.com

All Inclusive Christmas Sailing Holiday – Aboard an Oyster 55 in Lanzarote

Why not do something completely different for Christmas this year and go on an all inclusive skippered sailing holiday leaving all the festive planning and hard work to Lin and Richard, your hosts for the week.

Learn to sail in the sunshine on board our fabulous yacht Velvet Lady which will be berthed in Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote.  Velvet Lady is a large comfortable live aboard Oyster 55 sailing yacht, and the week will be spent sailing around the island of Lanzarote.  The plan is to spend Christmas Day at the peaceful island of Graciosa situated to the north of Lanzarote.

Here we will have a day off from sailing and you can spend the day swimming, snorkelling, sunbathing, walking up a volcano or joining the locals for tapas in the town before returning to the boat in the late afternoon (when it cools down) for a full traditional Christmas dinner.

During the week we will sail for 4 – 6 hours per day, allowing plenty of time ashore in the morning to look around new places and in the evening to sample the Spanish Tapas in the local bars or when we are at anchor, relax at sunset with a drink on the deck of the boat.

Sailors of all level of experience are welcome on board and encouraged to take part in sailing the boat.  We are happy for you to do as much or as little as you like.  Beginners are very welcome as either Lin or Richard are always on hand to show you the ropes.

You may book on these holidays as an individual, a couple or a group.  At the moment it is still possible to take a group booking for Christmas and if you book the whole boat you are welcome to bring the family (as long as they are over 12) with you.  Usually our minimum age is 18

Christmas week will run from 1800 Thursday 20 December to 1000 Thursday 27 December.  The cost is now reduced from £745 to £670 per person all inclusive on board but not including your flights and transfers.

Lanzarote is only 4 hours by plane from the UK, but a world away in terms of weather and daylight.  The temperature is usually about 20 degrees, and it is daylight for 11 hours. Sunset is 1800ish a perfect time for a sundowner on deck!  We do not include flights, but you can find your flights at Skyscanner

We will run the same itinerary for New Year week, including being in port in the fabulous Porto Calero on New Years eve for fireworks and festivities

New Year week will run from 1800 Saturday 29 December to 1000 Saturday 5 January.  The cost is again £670

This week long sailing itinerary also runs for weeks throughout January, February and March 2013

Full details and booking can be done through our website at or contact us by telephone or text on 07801 627660

Vendee Globe Weather?

After a few days of delightful flat water sailing in the Spanish Rias, we set off to sail further south towards  Cascais at the same time as the Vendee Globe sailors were starting their single handed race and heading across the Bay of Biscay.

The forecast looked really helpful, NW4/5 occasionally increasing 6 then backing Northerly.  Perfect for a reach down the coast.  The day started promisingly enough in sunshine and NW winds, but after 3 hours the first squalls appeared on the horizon.  It was time to reef down and prepare as the dark clouds approached, first there was the wind increase, then the wind shift, then the driving rain leaving no visibility and then it all died away to clear skies within minutes.

These squalls continued roughly 30 minutes apart and after each one the wind strength had risen a little.  By the time it was ‘Hoods up Round 24‘ with 45 knots of wind I was starting to wonder.  We were well snugged down but what on earth must it be like on the Vendee Globe boats just behind us, sailing solo, and pushing as hard as they can into their first night. We were running a watch system with 4 hours on and 4 hours off but they would be trying to catch the odd 10 minutes cat nap!

After a night of wind, rain, thunder and lightening the rain squalls stopped as suddenly as they had started and the sky was again clear and blue.  The rain stopped, and the wind as promised shifted to the North reducing back to a force 6 but leaving a 4m swell giving us a lively sail down the coast.  We were thrilled to surf down a wave at 11 knots, but what sort of speeds must the Open 60’s be making?  By the time we anchored off Peniche, a small fishing port 45 miles north of Cascais at midnight, the Vendee fleet were only 50 miles behind us, surfing down waves at 18 knots a little further offshore but parallel to the coast.

I have always had an interest in following the Vendee Globe race, and usually know someone taking part. Last race, 4 years ago, it was Steve White and you might remember my blogs about him.  This year I am routing for Mike Golding, many years ago we both worked for the Challenge Business.  This will be his 4th Vendee and I have lost count of the number of circumnavigations he already has under is belt – Go Mike Go.

I will be trying to keep up with the Vendee Globe progress as often as I can, especially when we have internet access (as we do today) I’m not sure how my data roaming charges are going to cope when I have to follow on my mobile though!!  If you are interested you can follow the Vendee Globe here

Having a break today in clear blue skies and sunshine in the Portuguese town of Nazare and setting off for Cascais tomorrow.  Weather forecast again looks promising, with no rain.

Thanks to all of you who responded to our ocean passage special offer – it is now full and we were sorry to disappoint a couple of you.  Look at our Schedule for lots of other opportunities to sail with us

Ocean Passage – discounted places for trade wind sailing, Lisbon to Lanzarote

Due to a last minute cancellation there are now 2 places available for the 650 mile passage from Lisbon to Lanzarote

This passage was £1050, and has now been discounted by 20% to £840

Join us in Cascais Marina, Lisbon at 1800 on Thursday 22 November, Depart from Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote 1000 Sunday 2 December

Flights are available from many UK airports to Lisbon, and as Sundays are package tour days there are plenty of flights available to get you home from Lanzarote

Today, 7 November, the cheapest flight to Lisbon is from Luton at £65

The cheapest flight home from Lanzarote is £64, again to Luton airport see

This is a 9 day sailing trip, and is plenty of time to complete the trip including a familiarisation day at the beginning. Should we make a fast passage we will also have the opportunity of visiting La Graciosa, the tiny little island north of Lanzarote

We are happy to take sailors of any level on this trip but if you are already and experienced sailor this passage can be used as a qualifying passage towards your Ocean Yachtmaster if you let us know in advance

For full details and a sample itinerary please see our website here

Hope to see you aboard.

Spanish Delights

Whilst Hurricane Sandy was causing devastation in the US, and Britain prepared for its coldest November on record, those of us on board Velvet Lady were basking in the sunshine in the Spanish Rias.  It is not surprising that at this time of year we head south towards the tropics for the warmer weather and winter sunshine.

We had a fabulous week sailing in the Spanish Rias, sailing 128nm and as well as revisiting some favourite haunts, we included two more new places on our itinerary.  The best thing this week was that we had dolphins with us every day.  It was hard to put down the camera.

We include all the food on board on our trips, and like to try and eat some local specialities as well as good old English Nosh.  Here in Spain, Tapas is a favourite and so we had a Tapas night this week.  Along with a selection of Spanish meats, cheeses and Canary Potatoes I decided to add a Galician speciality, Pimiento Padron so bought a big bag in the supermarket.

First of all I had to learn to cook them, so with the guests ashore in the dinghy I practised with a few.  Very simple, throw them in to the hot oil and wait until they go soft and turn blackish, then add some salt.  They turned out to be very popular so I will have to try them again if I can find them further south.

We head south for Lisbon next week and then on to Lanzarote for December.

We have just reduced the cost of our Christmas week to £670 per person, all included except for flights.

Why not join us there for sun, sailing and some local specialities!