We have now arrived in Lanzarote, where the sun is shining and all of our guests have gone home, but for a short while last week I wondered if this trip might ever happen!
Our guests were due to arrive on Saturday 4 December, but early in the week we started receiving worried e mails. Britain was on a go slow because of snow. All of our guests were flying from Gatwick, which seemed to be the hardest hit. Tilly and Denis knew that their Friday am flight was going to be cancelled, Peter was booked on a flight that no longer existed and Dicky was still in Dublin not sure whether he would even get back to London. This was all extremely unusual for early December.
The question in my mind was could we afford to wait in Madeira to give the guests chance to arrive. I spent a short while looking at the weather forecast and realised that the same system causing a build up of snow in UK, was going to be responsible for strong winds and high seas in Madeira. According to the weather forecast we were not going to be able to leave until Tuesday afternoon at the earliest. I also worked out that even if we didn’t leave until Wednesday afternoon we still had time to sail to Lanzarote before all the return flights on Saturday.
As soon as I could I let everyone know that we wouldn’t be leaving Madeira until Wednesday, giving everyone until the Tuesday to get here. Tilly and Denis managed to book flights for Tuesday morning and Peter and Dicky managed to transfer airlines and get a flight on Sunday afternoon.
On Saturday night, when the guests should have arrived, Richard and I sat on board Velvet Lady listening to the wind, and shuddering as the waves broke over the breakwater and landed on the deck. We couldn’t get ashore without fear of getting wet. All night long the wind howled and we were glad to be the only 2 aboard.
Sunday afternoon when Denis and Peter arrived, it was clear from the swell in the harbour entrance that sailing was not going to be an option, and we were not losing out waiting for the others to arrive. There is some great walking in Madeira, and Peter and Dicky made the most of their 2 days on land. It was actually Tuesday night before the sea finally settled down, and we managed to leave the marina at lunch time on Wednesday.
The weather gods had not finished with us yet though. To add to the snow in Gatwick and waves in Madeira, we spent our first night at sea surrounded by sheet lightening and accompanied by rain. Was it never going to give up. Well of course it was eventually and just after midnight on our first night the sky cleared giving a fantastic canopy of stars. The wind filled in from the southwest and Velvet Lady set off sailing at 8 knots towards Lanzarote.
As we continued south the weather continued to improve, and 53 hours later we arrived in Lanzarote on a glorious beam reach with blue skies and sunshine. Just in time to get washed and brushed up to go out for dinner on our last night.
This trip is billed as ‘an ideal introduction to passage making’ which it is but of course we can’t chose the weather. We would usually expect trade winds and down wind sailing, but we were faced with southerly winds and close hauled sailing instead. Velvet Lady loved it – and so it seemed did our guests.
From our guest book
Thanks so much for such a fantastic voyage. Adventure Sailing, you weren’t joking!
A terrific introduction to sailing the big stuff!
Even the tougher parts were made bearable being so well looked after