Challenging Sailing and peaceful anchorages – you can have both in the Spanish Rias

Where would you like to go for your sailing holiday and what do you want out of it?

A question that is sometimes hard to answer, because you haven’t really thought further than wanting great sailing, a nice relaxing time, nice weather!

It is often easier to answer with what you don’t want – crowded anchorages, mad dash at 3pm to get a marina berth, hot and sticky weather, no wind until late afternoon, limited choice of places to go…  Where then might you fancy – Why not Galicia

On the northwest corner of Spain is Galicia, home to the region known as The Spanish Rias.  Starting from Baiona in the southwest to Ribeira in the north east, the 160 miles of coastline is home to a fantastic and spectacular cruising ground.  

These Rias are easier to imagine if you think of Scottish Loughs or Norwegian Fjords, deep, wide inlets that stretch far inshore providing long stretches of sheltered water.  Once inside each Ria, natural bays with golden sandy beaches provide sheltered anchorages, and as fishing is a way of life here there are many colourful fishing ports to visit too.

You could spend days sailing in one Ria visiting quaint little places and eating tapas ashore or you can enjoy more challenging sailing by moving from Ria to Ria – let the weather forecast help you decide!

Never forget, once out of the shelter of the Rias this is the Atlantic Ocean. The coastline is wild and rugged, and that same headland which gives shelter to the Ria can often be a challenge to round. This can be proper sailing in oilies and boots, but ever so rewarding.

Don’t expect to be sailing between fancy marinas full of shore facilities, do expect peaceful anchorages and friendly locals, not too many tourists here so you may also have to practice your Spanish.

The temperatures in Galicia are in the mid twenties in summer – pleasantly warm without being hot and sticky and the wind generally a pleasant force 4 sailing breeze.  June, July and August this year you can join a Skippered Charter on board Velvet Lady and visit these fabulous Rias.

We will be doing ​​​3 one way trips, giving you the chance to experience the Rias in the north and the south and also to round Cap Finisterre. See our schedule for full details

Sailing holidays for individuals in the Spanish Sunshine this summer

Not able to find enough people for a bareboat charter? Don’t want the responsibility of being the skipper? Done a couple of courses and are looking for something different? Want to find out what it is like sailing on a bigger boat?

Skippered charter could be your answer.  Pay for your berth and join a group of like minded people on board – we take the responsibility of finding the other people and we won’t cancel even if we don’t fill all the spaces. The boat is an Oyster 55, Velvet Lady. Oyster is a design world renowned for its sailing ability, spaciousness, comfort and safety. Velvet Lady is MCA coded and certificated to Category 0 – so she carries all the equipment you need to sail anywhere in the world, and her skipper and mate both hold Yachtmaster Ocean Certificates

This summer we will be based in Spain. Starting Easter weekend we will be based on the south coast until mid May and then the Galician coast in June and July.  In late May you can join us on a passage up the Portuguese coast as we swap cruising areas.

We are in southern Spain already, doing refit at the moment and although it cools down in the evenings we wear t shirts during the day. It can only get warmer!

Easter Sailing along the Andalucian coast, Rota (fly to Seville) to La Linea (fly to Gibraltar)
Date: 9th – 17th April 2020
Price: £925.00

April Sailing in the Atlantic, Gibraltar Strait and Med
Date: 22nd – 30th April 2020
Price: £925.00

Andalucia and the Algarve – Gibraltar to Vilamoura
Date: 6th – 14th May 2020
Price: £925.00

Atlantic Portugal – Vilamoura to Lisbon
Date: 19th – 27th May 2020
Price: £925.00

Galicia Northbound – explore from Vigo to La Coruna
Date: 5th June – 15th June 2020
Price: £1,195.00

Galicia Southbound – explore from La Coruna to Vigo
Date: 20th June – 30th June 2020
Price: £1,195.00

Galicia Northbound Again – explore from Vigo to La Coruna
Date: 7th July – 17th July 2020
Price: £1,195.00

Explore the north coast of Spain – La Coruna to Gijon
Date: 22nd July – 30th July 2020
Price: £925.00

Our prices are per person are all inclusive on board.  We provide all food on board – and better still there is no cooking, we only expect you to help with the washing up.  We provide all safety equipment and oilies (no boots, please bring your own) and all bedding, pillows and towels.  There are no hidden extras like mooring or diesel.  All of our cabins are twins with bunk beds and we will ensure that you share a cabin with a member of the same sex.

The only things not included are travel to the boat, travel insurance (which is mandatory) alcoholic drinks (you are welcome to bring your own on board) and anything you spend ashore.

Beginners are welcome on any of our trips as well as more experienced sailors. We do not run courses but we are happy to answer questions and coach as we go along – everyone can move along at their own pace.

A couple of things about life onboard you also need to know.

  • This is a non smoking boat
  • We wear lifejackets all of the time when at sea
  • There is no wifi on board so have plenty of data on your phone –
  • Alcohol and sailing don’t mix, so no alcohol whilst sailing or at lunchtime if we are sailing in the afternoon.

If you want more information please do not hesitate to contact us

Call Lin on 07801 627660 or email us

If you know you want to book, follow the link to our schedule and make your booking online

We hope to see you on board.

Happy Sailing

Lin and Richard on Velvet Lady.

Summer 2020

At the moment we are sitting in the Spanish Rias about to head to Rota in southern Spain, where we plan to spend 3 months varnishing!  Monday the wind is due to shift to the north so we’ll be off again but the last week full of gales has given us time to get around to writing that all important 2020 sailing schedule.

Easter is a traditional time to dig out the sailing gear and get started – so that seems like a good time to start – and where better than Spain and in the sunshine.

This will be our 14th summer of sailing, and for the first time we’re not heading north to the Arctic but exploring the Iberian peninsula instead.  We come here often in October, and love it – we just expect it to be warmer.

Full details are on the Schedule page of our website

Just a few extra notes about the trips

Rota to Gibraltar – 9th to 17th April 2020 – 8 nights – £925 per person
on the website we call this trip Seville to Gibraltar as the nearest airport is Seville and a lot of people don’t know where Rota is! Fly to Seville and take the bus.

Gibraltar to Gibraltar – 22nd April to 30th April – 8 nights – £925 per person
It is often difficult to get a space in Gibraltar harbour so we will more likely be based in La Linea marina right next to the runway at Gibraltar airport.

Gibraltar to Vilamoura – 6th to 14th May – 8 nights – £925 per person
Day sailing, a hop to Morocco and then an overnight to the Algarve – Fly home from Faro airport – 20 mins from Vilamoura

Vilamoura to Lisbon – 19th – 27th May – 8 nights – £925 per person
Day sail along the Algarve coast and then a long hop along the Atlantic coast to Lisbon with a visit to Sines weather permitting.  Fly to Faro to join us in Vilamoura. Our base in Lisbon will be Cascais

June and July there are 4 trips in the Spanish Rias one of our favourite cruising grounds
There are not many direct flights from UK to Galicia, but you can fly to Vigo and La Coruna via Madrid/Barcelona.  In the past guests have found flying to Oporto and then taking the airport bus to Vigo or La Coruna the most economic option

Galicia Northbound Vigo to La Coruna – 5th to 15th June – 10 nights – £1195 per person

Galicia Southbound La Coruna to Vigo – 20th  to 30th June – 10 nights – £1195 per person

Galicia Northbound again Vigo to La Coruna 7th to 17th July – 10 nights – £1195 per person

Galicia – La  Coruna to Gijon.  The Rias extend east from La Coruna and we’ve never explored these so this will be new to us as well as you!  22nd July to 30th July – 8 nights – £925 per person

Biscay – get in touch with us if you would be interested in sailing across the Bay of Biscay in August

Velvet Lady looking great in Plymouth after the out of the water part of her refit.  It is hard to believe that we have been going for 14 years, and this is the first winter we have spend not sailing.  Really looking forward to meeting many of you again on  board in summer 2020. 
We have big plans for the future, we aim to set off in October 2020 on a South American tour.  Hear more about it when you are on board.

Ready to head South

We’ve spent the past 8 weeks in Plymouth having some major time consuming refit work done on Velvet Lady. That is all finished now and we are ready to head south, we are just waiting for a gap in the weather. We’re going to spend the next few months in Rota on the south coast of Spain and do some more internal work, mainly painting and varnishing and will be ready to start trips again in the Spring.

So, the refit in pictures

Hire a big crane to lift the rig

Lift out and blast off the antifouling

Woodwork in the sunshine for the new heating
Move into a shed because of the weather
Epoxy and antifoul on the underwater hull
Polish the topsides
Service on all stern gear and propeller
Heating fitted in the Lazarette
Ready to launch
Mast stripped, painted and new standing/running rigging
Rig redressed before hoisting
Hire a big crane to put the rig back in
Sun protection – new sprayhood and bimini
Finally, Velvet Lady looking lovely and ready to go

Thank you to All Spars Rigging, Nathan Bone Yacht Repair, Blaster Master, Mountbatten Boathouse, Ocean Canvas Ltd and Watts Marine, you’ve done us proud.

Norway, Shetland, Fair Isle, Orkney, Scotland.

3 weeks ago we left Norway, and we are now at anchor in Broad Bay, just around the corner from Stornoway before heading in tomorrow. The past 560 miles have sometimes felt like a dash from one sheltered harbour to another, but we have found some hidden gems on the way.

We’ve carefully watched the weather and first picked a gap to sail downwind all the way from Norway, around the top of Shetland and on to Scalloway. We arrived there 24 hours before the first gale and we spent 3 nights at anchor waiting for it to abate.

Strong wind is so often followed by calm and so we had a long but pleasant motor to Fair Isle. We have sailed past this tiny island for the last 10 years always with the thought of stopping if the weather worked, well this time it did. The harbour is tiny and shallow and whilst it was great in the south wind I really would not like to be there with any north in the wind.

What a beautiful spot, we walked all the way around the island, met some very friendly locals and saw lots of sheep.

We sailed from Fair Isle to Sanday and then from there to Inganess Bay around the corner from Kirkwall. A spectacular bay with a glorious sandy beach and we anchored not far from the wreck of the Juniata.

After another 2 nights sitting out the next gale we motored round into Kirkwall harbour and found a space in their small but pleasant marina.

The tourist office told us that with limited time in the Orkneys, Scara Brae would be the best place to visit so off we went on the bus.

Skara Brae is a stone-built Neolithic settlement, located on the Bay of Skaill on the west coast of Mainland. Consisting of eight clustered houses, it was occupied from roughly 3180 BC to about 2500 BC and is Europe’s most complete Neolithic village After our visit here, next stop was a more modern experience – shopping in Tescos for the rest of the trip!

You have to get the tide right in the Orkneys and we set off for our overnight sail to Scotland at just the right time – 11 knots over the ground had us clear of the islands in no time and on route to Loch Eriboll

Another gale was forecast and we were tucked up nicely in the Loch before it started. Good job too, the most wind we saw was 57 knots! It was no surprise when a 90 metre coaster joined us in the ‘shelter’ of the Loch.

After studying the weather again we left Loch Eriboll early evening for an overnight sail to Broad Bay to get there before the next gale. Yesterday there were 37 knots of wind in the bay and today it is flat calm an foggy – tomorrow we hope the sun comes out for our final leg into Stornoway harbour.

The gales we have been avoiding have all been from the south or the south west as we encountered low pressure after low pressure giving us wind always on the nose. We’ve 2 weeks left now before we are due in Plymouth, surely this time it will blow from the north. Watch this space