MADEIRA – abandoned

madeira abandoned

It is 680 miles from Vigo to Madeira. The routing charts show that there should be wind from the northern sector for most of the passage down the coast of Spain and Portugal and added to that there is even half a knot of Portuguese current. So being pessimistic, even at a slow and steady speed of 5.5 knots we would expect this passage to take us 5 days. Just in case of bad weather we make the overall trip 10 nights to give us plenty of time. Well not this time. Strong south winds were forecast at the beginning of the trip so we spent 2 days sailing in the Rias. When we left Bueu, the forecast was for Westerly 5 or 6 becoming NW 4 overnight and for the rest of the passage. Sounded perfect, all we had to do was head south in the westerly and wait for the shift after the cold front. Well we are still waiting – we had southerly or contrary winds for the whole of the trip and Mick came up with the most apt description in his RYA logbook.


Velvet Lady – 8th – 18th November – 10 days on board – 32 night hours

Vigo – Bayona – Bay of Bueu – Madeira (abandoned) – Vilamoura, Portugal instead

678 nm, Max wind force 9, crew member.


With the wind always on the nose – and huge seas pushing us sideways it was slow progress. After 5 days we were only just south of Lisbon and it was clear we would not make it to Madeira in time for the flights back to the UK. It was time to be practical and look for an alternative destination where we could still get home from. Vilamoura on the Algarve coast of Portugal was the obvious solution. Only 160 miles away when we altered course and with a busy airport close by at FARO it would solve all our problems.


As soon as we made the decision and altered course downwind the motion eased and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.   It was easy to move around the boat again. The sun came out for the first time in 6 days and Tom managed to get his sextant sights. It was even possible to have a shower. Turned out to be a good decision as the wind continued to blow from the south until we got to Vilamoura and has only just gone around to the north today!!


So what happens when we have to make a major change like this to our itinerary. We stress in our terms and conditions that all of our trips are subject to the weather and so it may be necessary to change destination. That said, this can happen but not very often. This is the first time in 8 years of operation that we have had to make such a large change It is also a condition of booking that you have travel insurance. We recommend using Topsail insurance because they specialise in sailing. They cover all the costs involved in getting home when you end up at the wrong destination or getting there when you have to join the boat in a different port.


Once we were in Vilamoura it was time to get on the phone to the insurance company, to the airlines and also to next weeks guests to start organising contingency plans. Two of our guests were going to fly straight back to UK, and 2 of our guests were going to fly to Madeira to finish their holiday as they had already booked hotels there.

When all that was done it was time to relax with a gin and tonic and Gerry did a fantastic job of volunteering to be barman!

gerry the gordons barman

Turns out it was a really good idea for us to abandon going to Madeira as the weather there continued to be awful. I feel very sorry for our two chaps who flew to Funchal on Tuesday afternoon as the plane had to abandon its landing and return to Lisbon. Madeira abandoned – twice!’



Spanish Rias – an Atlantic Experience

spanish rias map plus route

Here, in the north west corner of Spain are the Rias Baixas, our cruising ground for October and November.

The word cruising can often give the wrong impression.  Whilst on the great days we have smooth sailing on sparkling blue water under clear blue skies we have to be prepared to have our share of rainy days, limited visibility and uncomfortable boat motion.  Here in the Rias – just on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean we expect to have a mixture of both and this last week was no exception. Its all part of the adventure.

We had a great first day sail from Vigo to Bayona – flat sea and enough wind for us to cream along at 8 knots.  We arrived in Bayona under a fantastic clear sky and our guests enjoyed an evening ashore.beautiful eevening in bayonaWith not enough wind to sail, the next day we motored to the Islas Cies – and despite the lack of wind the swell made the anchorage uncomfortable so we opted to keep going and anchor for the night at Bueu.  We took the dinghy ashore in the early evening and as is our practice returned to Velvet Lady before it went dark.

our anchorage at beuWe left the anchorage to head further north and as soon as we were clear of the shelter of the Ria de Pontevedra the wind increased to Force 7 with a 3 metre Atlantic swell.  Great sailing weather and Velvet Lady loved it.   The beauty of sailing in the Rias is that these inlets are protected from the Atlantic by the islands at the entrance and so once inside any swell disappears. Once we were far enough north and inside the shelter of the Ria de Arousa the sea flattened off and we had a great afternoon sailing beam reaching in sunshine.

We looked at the weather forecast and knew we would have to start heading south again with strong wind forecast for the end of the week. We headed south to Sanxenxo – another day in the sunshine.

This was to be our last day of sun – it rained as we set off from Sanxenxo – good job we provide excellent oilies – all the way to San Simon and it rained again on our last day as we made our way back to Vigo – I guess that is why Galicia is so green.

huddled against the weather

We love seeing dolphins and especially on the grey days – they seem to brighten the day!

Common Dolphin (Group of 3)

Another 146 miles for the Velvet Lady log book.  Next up 650 miles from Vigo to Madeira