Sprint to Lisbon to catch the Volvo Ocean Race

Well after cruising in Galicia there was a quick dash to do the clean up and then Lin and Rich set off on their own sprint to get to Cascais in time to watch the Volvo boats sail past the Oeiras gate on the way up to Lisbon.

Glassy coastal cruising

We are often asked what the weather is going to be like for a passage, our passage was 40 hours long and in that we had a real mixed bag – so here is a precis from our log

  • Flat calm on departing from Sanxenxo but with 5 metre left over swell it was quite  rolly polly.
  • Light airs from the north, not enough to sail but good for a bit of motor sailing.
  • These light airs shifted to the west giving us enough wind to sail slowly so motor off.
  • The light airs shifted to the south west – allowing us to create a little extra apparent wind and we started to speed up under full sail.
  • 25 knots from the due south, just as we were serving dinner and confused wind over tide sea, lots of reefing.  Velvet Lady heeled over and raced along at 7 knots, shame it was in the wrong direction
  • No wind, calm seas, sails flapping all over the place so time to start the motor again
  • Out of nowhere, great wind from the east allowing us to charge down the rhum line at 8 knots with full sail
  • as we approached Cabo de Roca, lunch time,  strong SE winds so reefing again and then a beat the last 15 miles to Cascais.
  • The only thing we didnt have was a gale

The answer to what weather can you expect on an ocean passage – anything if that was what we could have on a short 40 hour sprint!!

As well as sailing and reefing we were busy keeping a look out.  This part of the coast is famous for numerous small fishing boats that come charging towards you like bullets

All sorted – time to head out and look for the Volvo Ocean Race boats


Lanzarote to Madeira

Fantastic sailing last week from Lanzarote to Madeira.  A fantastic close reach for the first 200 miles and then a beat for the last 100 giving a total of 488 miles sailed.  We also had time to visit Porto Santo en route.

It was Richards Birthday the day before the trip started, and so this was the perfect chance for him to model his new birthday present – bright orange oilies!

Wear and tear and breakages on passages are a problem.  So as always we monitor exactly how the boat is being sailed and look out for chafe etc.  We can always get caught out by the unforeseen though, this week it was the stitching going (uv degradation) on the leech line of the mainsail causing it to flap a lot.

Richard made a temporary repair (I couldn’t reach)and whilst in port we have now fixed it properly, ready for the next trip.  We are just sorting the last jobs – guests arrive this evening on late flights tomorrow we will brief and get ready before setting off on Friday.

Want to join us in Norway – there are still some places see our schedule

La Palma Expedition 2017

lanzto la palma

Last week we set off on our expedition to La Palma.  We had tried this in previous years and never quite made it due to the weather.  At last, we made it after a great sail.  40 hours downwind on the way there and 62 hours upwind on the way back.  After going to so much effort to get there we spent a day and a half ashore.

Wow.  What a beautiful island.  So different to Lanzarote.  Richard and I went off on  a public bus into the mountains where we went for a walk and discovered that everthing was lush and green.  A very helpful taxi driver showed us terraces of bananas, advocados, oranges and more. We found the island far more like Madeira than Lanzarote and we would love to go back

walk in la palma

Velvet Lady was moored in the newish (2010) Calero Marina at the north end of the commercial harbour in Santa Cruz.  A word of advice for future visitors, there is an incredible swell in the marina, make sure you have plenty of mooring lines!

velvet lady in la palma

We went out for dinner on the last night in Marina Rubicon and were pleased with the feedback we got from our guests.

‘Your website is great – it describes just what to expect and you guys always deliver just what you said you would’

What a great end to a trip.  So with the first of our expeditions complete we are now getting ready for the next leg – Lanzarote to Madeira.

If you fancy the challenge of an ocean voyage there are still two places left on Madeira to the Azores – maybe we will see you on board.


A tough passage south – Kristiansund to Plymouth


Kristiansund to Plymouth this year turned into an epic.  We expected to have some wind from the south but we didn’t imagine that we would have to deal with 6 separate low pressure system bringing Force 8 and Force 9 gales!  We managed to find shelter from all of them, and enjoy some fabulous sailing in between.
Despite the gales the trip was stuffed full of memorable moments

24 hours motoring in flat calm water amongst the islands in Norway
A pod of Orcas circling the boat as we left the Norwegian Coastline
3 days of champagne sailing between Norway and Shetland
Fabulous sunrises and sunsets
2 nights and 1 day ashore exploring in Lerwick
A shimmering display of the Northern lights between Orkney and Shetland
Glassy sea around Cape Wrath
2 nights at anchor in Loch Dunvegan
Steaming down the sound of Islay at 11 knots with the tide
A night at anchor and a morning ashore in Bangor, Northern Ireland
A night at anchor in Dundalk bay on the Irish border
24 hours beam reaching along the Irish coast in flat water
Chased by a fast RIB and a routine boarding by Irish Customs off Tuscar Rock
A fast sail across the Irish Sea
A starlit passage as we tacked past Lands End
Lizard Lighthouse flashing in the gloom of the fog
Warships exercising in Plymouth Bay
Tying alongside in Mayflower Marina 36 hours later than expected
1550 miles for our log books
Celebrating in Jolly Jacks

To further describe the trip I use the words of our guests

My mind is overflowing with fabulous memories.  I cannot possibly convey how much this adventure has meant to me.  Stunning scenes of natural beauty.  Innumerable sightings of wonderful creatures. Comradeship humour and mutual support. Whatever hardships were endured were repaid a thousandfold

What an adventure. Fantastic voyage with some really great scenery.  Orcas were are ponus. The passage was a real challenge with at least 6 storms on the way all dealt with safely and professionally by Lin and Richard

Learned tons, ate tons, much fun, slept little but did not succumb to tea drinking (our French man!)

Most varied sailing, wildlife and scenery and more tacks that a cobblers bench!

Want to sample this for yourself. Our passages down to Lanzarote are all full now but there are some places on passages in the Spring.  Want to enjoy sailing in a more relaxed environment.  Once we arrive in Lanzarote we will be based there for the winter offering 7 night sailing trips around the islands.  See our Schedule

Spaces available due to cancellation on Spanish Milebuilding holiday

spanish rias

Add miles to your log book on this one way trip from La Coruna to Vigo.
We currently have 3 spaces.  1 male space to share a cabin with a solo male who has already booked and 2 places in a separate cabin.  You may book this cabin for 2 people to share, book on your own and we will find a member of the same sex to share with you or you may wish to have a cabin to yourself in which case you would only pay 50% of the berth fee for the second person.

The Galician coastline is home to a spectacular cruising ground, the Spanish Rias.  These long narrow inlets start with rugged capes that jut out into the ocean and penetrate far inland to beautiful ports and spectacular white sandy beaches.  This makes a fantastic cruising ground with a huge variety of anchorages and harbours to visit.

velvet Lady in Bayona at sunset Lins island sunrise over finisterre2 dolphins on the bow
There are 2 main areas,  the Rias Altas in the North and the Rias Bajas in the south.  They are separated by Cape Finisterre – a headland with a fierce reputation in bad weather but with hidden beauty.  Just behind Cabo Finisterre, in the lee of this rugged headland is a small and pretty fishing village of the same name. We aim to anchor here as long as the weather holds and walk to the lighthouse!
We will mainly be coastal sailing by day and expect to stop each evening, as most of the harbours are 25 – 30 miles apart, but as we are reliant on the weather we have to be happy to be out in the dark too!  The evenings will be spent either in marinas, unspoilt anchorages or little fishing villages. There is often time to wonder ashore before dinner and sample some local Spanish tapas!
We start in the bustling town of La Coruna, north of Finisterre and finish in historic Vigo at the head of the Ria of the same name.  Getting there is easy, there are airports in La Coruna, Vigo, Oporto and Santiago with good transport links.
This trip has gained the AAA rating because it involves sailing along the edges of the Bay of Biscay and around Cape Finisterre.  If we are unfortunate enough to have a lot of bad weather then we may not make as fast progress as we would like and the harbours either side of Finisterre may become inaccessible.
This would mean that we may have to do a longer sail to get around Finisterre from one safe haven to another and it may take 24/36 hours to get as far south as we need.   We are happy to take people of all levels of experience with us on this trip – but, because of the possibility of an overnight we do recommend that you have done a bit of sailing before.

Full details and to book see


Milebuilding and Passages


From the middle of August we stop offering relaxing holidays and move on to the more intense Milebuilding and Passagemaking trips as we start to head south to the Canaries.  If you are interested in feeling the wind in your hair, the waves under your feet and adding miles to your log book whilst enjoying the peace on the ocean why not take a look at one of these trips

1 place available due to cancellation – Kristiansund to Plymouth
Date: 27th August to 11 September 2016
Price: £1,395.00

Bay of Biscay crossing: Plymouth, Falmouth, Camaret, La Coruna
Date: 30th Sept- 10th October 2016
Price: £1,095.00 – 2 places left

Explore the Spectacular coastline of Galicia – Coruna to Vigo
Date: 15th – 25th October 2016
Price: £1,095.00 – 1 place left for a male guest

Milebuilding Blue Water Crossing – Madeira to Lanzarote and more
Date: 14th – 22nd November 2016
Price: £795.00 – 3 spaces

NEW Milebuilding trip in the Canary Islands
Date: 1st -11th December 2016
Price: £995.00 – 6 spaces