Weather Routing – making the most of the wind shifts between Lanzarote and Madeira

lanz to maderia

Lanzarote to Madeira – 385 miles for the log books, 300 miles in open ocean – all on one tack!! This is how our guests summed it up.

‘My first trip out of sight of land for so long and first in the Atlantic. I was pretty apprehensive but Lin and Richard calmly instil complete confidence. Lovely boat, fantatic food, good company’

‘We started in sunshine and ended in sunshine. We made Madeira in one tack so I now walk funny. Super boat – great trip

‘I didn’t really know what to expect but Lin and Richard soon settled us in instilling complete trust in their ability and experience. Velvet Lady is a great boat and our bash to Madeira was a true ocean experience’

‘What a treat to be joined by dolphins as we were cruising along and catch a glimpse of whales too’

We allow a 7 night trip for this short passage to give us plenty of options of working with the weather forecasts. At the start of this week the forecast was for NW winds slowly veering to N and then NE by the end. What’s the course to Madeira – NW!

It made sense to wait a while for the passage and set off towards Madeira once the wind was in the N and starting to shift NE.

It didn’t change our plans too much as we never set off in open water on the first day – we like to go for a day sail so guests can find their sea legs. The NW wind was ideal for that as we reached along the coastline to Puerto Calero. Our second day was a beat around the coast of Lanzarote up to Graciosa. A good opportunity to experience bashing in big waves knowing there was some rest coming at the end!

After a night and morning at anchor, we finally managed to set off on our passage – not sailing by the compass but steering by the wind – keeping the wind angle at a kind 55 degrees to the bow to stop slamming and allow sleep!

We were betting that the wind would shift as predicted and in the end we would lay Madeira – take a look at the chart plot above, it worked! We made Madeira on one tack, sailing close by the Desertas Islands and spent a peaceful night at anchor in Baia de Abra.

After a passage you are often more tired than you think. Our attitude at the end of a trip is once stopped to let you sleep until you wake up and recharge your batteries. Breakfast is either help yourself or when everyone is up. After breakfast with everyone refreshed is the time to decide the plan for the day. We were anchored in a beautiful bay in the sunshine and we decided to just stay there – no need to go for another sail – and enjoy the sunshine and a picnic lunch. There is quite a popular walk along the cliff tops overlooking our bay and we could see all the walkers looking down on us in envy. What more could we want!

Lanzarote to Madeira (300nm) is the shortest of the passages that we offer – a great way to try ocean sailing and find out if you like it. We sail the same circuit each year and so there are always more opportunities coming up. Our next short passages will be from Madeira to Lanzarote 300nm in November and Lanzarote to Madeira 300nm in March 2016 – dates available at the end of April.

For now we move on to our longer passages Madeira to Azores (550nm) and then Azores to Plymouth (1200nm). These are both full but we do have spaces on Plymouth to Oban (with stops – 550nm in total) and Oban to Norway (1000nm)

As usual keep an eye on our schedule for dates and prices and sign up for our newsletter to be sure to know the new dates as soon as they are available




Beaked Whale in Lanzarote

sowerby beaked whale lanzarote

For the past few weeks we have had occasional sightings of what seemed to be rather large dolphins acting in a whale like manner. This week we got a little closer and could see that in actual fact what we were looking at was a whale and not a dolphin. After a lot of looking on line and also in the books on the boat, I have concluded that we must have seen a Sowerby’s beaked whale. I have found references to them being seen here before and the whale we saw was a lot blacker than a Cuviers beaked whale. I also found this document that gives greater detail of the whales and dolphins you might expect to see around Lanzarote – I certainly had no idea there were so many so why not take time to have a read.

cetaceos-ingles whales lanzarote

We saw the whales on our last sailing day as we were heading south along the west coast of Lanzarote. 3 of them together that looked like 2 adults and a young one. This week we did manage our circumnavigation of Lanzarote and a day in Graciosa. A lively beat took us up the east coast to first Calero and then Arrecife before a 9 hour epic to reach Graciosa. The day off was well deserved and everyone had a great time ashore. To me one of the beauties of sailing with a small group is how 7 people start as strangers at the beginning of the week and become firm friends by the end. here we are enjoying Cava and nibbles before dinner in the cockpit

cava in cockpit

Looking forward to our last week here in Lanzarote now, with three old friends (people who have been before) and 2 new. We’ll be back in December for more of the same so keep your eye on our schedule and join us for fun in the sun.