Ocean Passage from Azores to Plymouth

Welcomed home by a submarine!

Beautiful, just beautiful.  1307 nautical miles in 9 days.  We have just had a fantastic trip home to Plymouth from the Azores.  A good mix of wind direction, sunshine, moonshine, starry nights, and occasional rain.  The sailing was varied, close hauled, close reaching, beam reaching,broad reaching and some motor sailing.  Whales, dolphins, birds, the occasional turtle and even a squid joined us on our journey.  Fantastic sunrises and sunsets in the early part of the trip, dramatic clouds in the second part. We saw  a few fishing boats, lots of ships, 2 yachts, 2 naval vessels and even on arrival in Plymouth a submarine.  What an adventure.

After the gales and big winds of our passage home last year, and also the passage from Madeira to the Azores we had watched the weather forecast with interest.  Where was the Azores High, in fact, would there be an Azores High.

The guys in the marina in Ponta Delgada informed me that it was the worst winter they have ever had with never ending wind and rain. Sure enough,  the weather maps suggested that the first 3 days of our trip would be 6m waves and high winds.  It didnt take much to decide that we were not going to leave until after the very low pressure of 949 had passed.  We waited 3 days in port, a great chance for our ocean yachtmaster candidated to find their way thoroughly around the boat and also have time to hire a car and visit some of the sights of the island.  It was bright and sunny when we left and little did we know that our main worry on this trip would be making sure we had enough diesel to get to Plymouth.  Yes, the Azores High was finally here, we were in the centre of it, and it moved with us towards the English Channel..

We allow extra days on all of our trips to be certain that we do not have to go in a bad weather forecast – and also to allow for bad weather during or at the end of a trip.  We also have to set a minimum speed in light airs to make sure that we reach our destination on time – or very close.  When we decided to wait out the gales, we were all aware that this might make us late back in Plymouth.  Better safe and late though than being caught out in horrid weather.  As it happened, once we left there was no more horrid weather and we were perfectly on time after spending 2 days motoring in light winds.  After fantastic hot showers in Mayflower Marina, Jolly Jacks was a perfect venue for a welcome drink and meal to celebrate.

Now we are in Plymouth preparing for our milebuilding trip north to Oban on route to Norway, 2 spaces available if you fancy a sail up through the Irish Sea – should be fun.  Only a few places left in Norway, so if you want to join us book soon.

An Opportunity to sail in the Pacific – World ARC 2014

Looking to expand your cruising ground and take part in the World ARC?

Skyelark of London, is a Skye 51, owned and operated by Emily and Dan.  Like us they take 6 guests together with a skipper and mate on sailing holidays.

After 5 years of sailing and racing on the Atlantic circuit they are heading for  new adventures and island paradises, by participating in the World ARC beginning in January 2014.  As part of an organised event everyone on board benefits from the camaraderie of sharing this unique adventure with around 30 other yachts. Included in the rally are many shoreside activities, tours and parties and of course the organisers know all the best anchorages and places to visit.

One day, maybe, we will do something like this on Velvet Lady, but not in the next few years.  Emily was a colleague of mine at the Challenge Business and so we have agreed to help them out by letting you know of this opportunity to venture into the Pacific.  The rest is up to them.  If you require more detailed information please see their website and use their contact page to contact them.

Interested? – When enquiring please mention you heard about them from us at Velvet Adventure Sailing.

The trip across the Pacific has been broken down into 7 legs, each lasting around a month- see below for detailed breakdown. Some are more cruising orientated, with shorter mileages to cover, others have a combination of longer passages mixed in with shorter cruises. Leg 3 is a full ocean passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas.

9 January 2014 – 3 February 2014

Saint Lucia, San Blas Islands, Panama Canal, Las Perlas

1225nm, 26 days, £3300

5 February – 26 February

Las Perlas to Galapagos

895nm, 22 days, £ 3300

28 Feb – 24 March

Galapagos – Marquesas

2980nm, 25 days £3300

28 March – 23 April

Marquesas, Tuamotus, Tahiti

830nm, 24 days, £3300

3rd June – 30th June

Tonga to Fiji

580nm, 28days, £3300

3 July – 8th August

Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, New Zealand or Australia TBC

1650nm, 36 days, £3850

All look very tempting don’t they!  Dream away.

If these are not for you don’t worry, Velvet Lady will continue to operate her usual schedule in the Canaries from January to April 2014 and the Lofoten Islands June to August 2014

For 2013,  there are now very few places left for the Lofoten Islands, so if you are thinking of coming book soon!

Ocean Passages in April – What the guests say when it is windy!

Well what can I say?  We made it to Ponta Delgada after the most difficult passage we have ever done between Madeira and the Azores.  We certainly got more than we bargained for.  We knew that we were in for a beat, with the wind forecast to be from the west and on the nose, but we did not anticipate we would be in for a beating.  The weather forecast indicated westerly 5 to 6 with 7 at the end.  We actually got a good dose of 8, 9 and 10 thrown in for good measure.

We allow a long passage time just in case of these conditions, usually giving us bonus days to go to Santa Maria, not this time, we used up all the time taking 7 days and 850 miles to reach San Miguel – 2 days just sailing slowly dealing with the waves.

Thank you Velvet Lady for looking after us so well, our safe haven in a storm.

It is hard to be a mind reader in these conditions so here is what the others wrote about it

It is difficult now to sum up and remember the intensity of experiencing a F10 Atlantic Storm and little point in trying to explain it to someone who has not been there.  We all have and are bound together by it.  We crew got on, did our watches, the log and Tarja was the heroine in the galley – rustling up a memorable corned beef hash in very bad weather and baking bread later in a F7

Sometimes quiet and afeard we supported each other and Lin and Richard who alone were capable to helm in the strong winds and high seas of 50 or so hours Carol and I were hot bunking from night 2 as forward was impossible to sleep in.  Mikko got his fixes sorted before the bad weather and always woke me sympathetically.

Velvet Lady performed impeccably the fourth tough lady on the voyage.  I got by.

We held it together and made it safe and sound to San Miguel

Here endeth the lesson! – Paul

I came wanting an adventure and we certainly had one.  Trips always have their tales to tell so here is the passage from Madeira to Azores.

Wind, rain,hail, sun, rainbows, stormy and dreary, lightening and thunder, gusts up to force 10. We kept to our watches although 4 hours sleep seemed too short sitting in the cockpit and avoiding the breaking waves.  Here we are a week later laughing and reminiscing of our week.  Lin and Richard are superb skipper and mate and Velvet Lady did herself proud and delivered us safely to the Azores.  Great value for money, 850 miles instead of the original 540 thank you both so much for bringing us through safely! – Carol

Incredible passage

All expectation exceeded even in terms of weather force.  We are safely in Ponta Delgada thanks to Lin Richard and Velvet Lady.  So many learnings to take home.  Add all the friendliness to the professional running of the passage you can not get more an experience of a lifetime

Thank you again  – Mikko and Tarja

Ocean Passages – not to be taken lightly by anyone at any time.  We are always well prepared in a tough boat with a good experienced crew.  We are always aware that anything can happen and plans may need to change.  Make sure you are too!