Windy Lanzarote

vl for blog

Whilst the boats in the Volvo Ocean Race have been struggling with light winds in the Doldrums, here in Lanzarote we have been experiencing gale force winds and 4 – 6 metre seas – unusual for this time of year.  On 3 out of 6 days this week it was too windy to go sailing so we had to find other things to occupy us.

There were plenty of things to do as despite the wind the sun was shining with clear blue skies.  A trip to the volcano at Timanfaya, and a trip along the coast to El Golfo on day one.  A walk to the lighthouse then an afternoon on the beach at Playa Blanca on day two.   A cycle ride to Punta Papagayo on the last day, where pedalling was not required as there was enough wind to blow the bikes along ‘under bare poles’!

The wind never totally went away, but died down to a manageable Force 6 and we were able to sail for 3 of the days. We had a lively beat up the coast to Puerto Calero followed by another lively beat to Arrecife.  The final day was then a sleigh ride home, surfing down the waves between Arrecife and Marina Rubicon and a joy to be joined by dolphins.

Whilst we were in Arrecife we were tied next to ‘Pirate Ship’ La Grace who were meant to be on a trip between Tenerife and Gibraltar, the strong northerly winds had forced them off course and to seek refuge in Lanzarote.

pirate ship la grace comp

The skies were clear and so there was also plenty of time for star gazing in the evenings, one spectacular night we saw Venus, Mars and the Moon just as it was going dark.  In the photo the moon is obvious, Venus is the very bright planet and just up and to the right is Mars.  Not so easy to see here (try tipping your laptop screen forward a bit) but with the binoculars there was a clear red glow coming from the planet.

zoomed in planets feb 20Despite the lack of wind a norfolk farmer writes in our guest book …..after an absence of 5 years from sailing it was an absolute joy to be back on the water again – with great hosts, wonderful company and a good wind!  Would I do it again?  Definitely (one of the main reasons I love sailing is cos I cant see any fields!)

lava landscapeLanzarotes very special lava landscape

Fingers crossed for better wind next week!

We are full now until we return to UK in May.  See our Schedule for dates and spaces after that.  Our trips from October to December will be added very soon.

Pilot Whales in Lanzarote – what a treat. Another sailing holiday in the Canary Islands

pilot whales in lanzarote

We are used to seeing dolphins when we are sailing in the waters around Lanzarote, and this week was no different – we saw dolphins on 3 separate occasions.  Well so we thought, but on a closer look the third time, the splashes were not dolphins but a pod of 9 or 10 pilot whales.  With the binoculars it looked like there was also a baby.  They appeared in the distance just at lunch time so we hove too and gently drifted down towards them.  What a fabulous experience sitting and watching them – we have seen this in Norway but this was a first for Lanzarote.

The weather this week was the complete opposite of last week, with 3 days of really light winds followed by 3 days of blustery winds.  Nevertheless we still managed 145 miles for the log books and to circumnavigate the islands of Lanzarote and Lobos with a stop at La Graciosa and a walk to the top of the volcano.

3  more trips to do here in Lanzarote before we set off on our travels north.  These are all fully booked, but do not despair we will be returning to Lanzarote for more sailing holidays inn the Canary Islands in December this year.  Meanwhile we are about to start our series of milebuilding passages and have one space left to sail from Madeira to the Azores.

lanzarote to azores2comp

Feel the Atantic Ocean swell beneath your feet, the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. Experience fabulous sunrises and sunsets.  Join us as we cross the 500 miles of Atlantic ocean between Madeira and the Azores Archipelago and find out what ocean sailing is all about.

You will gain miles for your log book and experience taking part in a watch system.  You will find out about on board maintenenace schedules, long distance catering, weather forecasting etc. We are happy to teach the wonders of navigating by the stars, use of a sextant and  how the GPS works!.
If you are planning on becoming an Ocean Yachtmaster in the future a milebuilding trip also provides  the ideal opportunity to learn the practicalities without the responsibility.


An Independent review

crew selfie

It is not often that you get the opportunity to read a totally independent review of life aboard Velvet Lady.  Last week travelling with us were Sharon and Stuart from Australia.  Sharon took a year off work to travel in 2011, and is still travelling and blogging about her travels in her blog ‘Never ending gap year’

Sharon and Stuart joined us in Lanzarote for a weeks relaxed sailing holiday and she has now posted her blog

Circumnavigating Lanzarote on Velvet Lady: Dolphins! Sunshine! Sailing!
She gives great descriptions of life on board – talks about things I would not think of mentioning and the photos are fantastic too.  Why not have a read for a participants view on life aboard Velvet Lady.
more crashing nwaves dolphin watch crashing waves lookout graciosa beach

Silent Communication

velvet lady graciosa 2015 It is really important on a sailing boat to be able to communicate effectively, especially when it’s windy and the instructions are important. If instructions are not being heard because of the wind or because the person you are talking to has their back to you, a quick tap on the shoulder helps to get their attention. Hand signals also work, especially to communicate with the foredeck.

We had plenty of practice at this type of communication this week because – I LOST MY VOICE! In fact it still isn’t back yet but at least I can croak out short answers to questions now. For a good part of the week I would tap Richard on the shoulder and then make some ‘mad’ gestures for him to interpret and pass instructions for me. Ranging from simple things like – who wants a cup of tea, to more important things like how to deal with the running backstay when we are tacking. Even at dinner, if someone asked me a question, I had to point at Richard to get him to answer. It was hard I tell you, I kept trying to speak but nothing came out. Luckily, having sailed together for so long, Richard and I already have a good system of silent communication, we can almost read each others minds. We do 6 milebuilding passages a year, and in the middle of the night in the dark it is good to know what the other is thinking!

lin hand signals

So, my lack of voice did not hamper our sailing. We had great wind all week, mainly from the NE and Force 5/6. For the first time in 4 trips we managed to circumnavigate Lanzarote and spend a day ashore in La Graciosa. The north easterly wind gave us 3 days of beating as we headed north with stops in Puerto Calero and Arrecife. We anchored in Playa Francesca with 100 miles of sailing already under our belt.  We were also lucky enough to have dolphins swimming with us every day.

dolphins lanz

After landing the dinghy on the beach our guests headed off to climb the highest volcano on the island. After a tapas lunch in the village the day was rounded off with a swim in the ocean before returning to Velvet Lady. The evening entertainment was a game of ‘Speed’ Scrabble.

Downwind for our 5th day to the anchorage in Playa Papagayo to complete the circumnavigation of Lanzarote.

On the last morning we were worried that we were going to be short on wind so we waited for the sea breeze to kick in – which gave us enough wind to complete the smaller circumnavigation of Islas Lobos.

A fantastic week and I quote from our guest book

Lin, you asked if the week met our expectations – well, given the exciting sailing, gorgeous anchorages, fine food, entertaining company and surfeit of marine mammals to exclaim over your more than exceeded!

We are running 4 more of these sailing weeks in Lanzarote which are all now full – but no need to worry, we will be back in Lanzarote in December 2015 for another series of 7 night relaxed sailing holidays.  Sign up for our newsletter and you will get the dates just as soon as we know them.

If you are looking for a last minute spring sailing holiday you can still join us. From March until June we offer a series of milebuilding passages as we head northwards to Norway. We are happy to take sailors of all levels of experience on these and still sell all berths on an individual basis. These trips sell up fast but spaces are available as follows:

Lanzarote – Madeira : FULL

Madeira – Azores : 1 space

Azores – Plymouth : FULL

Plymouth – Oban: 5 spaces

Oban – Bodo, Norway: 3 spaces

Bodo, Norway – Kristiansund, Norway: 6 spaces

Feel the Atlantic Ocean swell beneath your feet, the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. Experience fabulous sunrises and sunsets. These trips are all about enjoying sailing and the beauty of being at sea.