Sailing into the Sunset

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The highlight of our trip this week was powering along at 8 knots in the moonlight with a cloudless sky full of stars.  Geoff was determined to take a photo of the dials, because not only were we doing 8 knots, but it was to windward in 23 knots of breeze.  The sea was remarkably flat and we were flying. We were on our way back from Gran Canaria and thoroughly enjoying the sailing. 

The week started with a day sail to La Graciosa, followed by our first overnight passage to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.  We left La Graciosa early afternoon and enjoyed dinner on deck whilst sailing into the sunset.  Downwind the 120 miles took us 22 hours and we arrived at lunch time.  After an afternoon siesta it was time to go ashore and explore.

After a night in Las Palmas we left the following morning and sailed along the northern coast of Gran Canaria to anchor under the cliffs in Puerto Sardinia for lunch.  We left here late evening giving us two nights at sea for the return upwind passage.  Both nights were beautiful and peaceful giving us plenty of time for silent contemplation.  On two occasions we were also joined by dolphins.

If you are new to night sailing it is fascinating.  We had plenty to look at – ships in the channel between Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura, lights and lighthouses as we passed through the channel between Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, headlands outlined in the moonlight but otherwise unlit, and finally locating a harbour entrance in the dark.  We tied alongside in Puerto Calero marina at 0100.

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Sailing for 3 nights out of the 7 is quite tiring, so our last day was spent with a leisurely breakfast, exploring Puerto Calero for a couple of hours and then a gentle 2 hour sail back to Marina Rubicon.

The experience on our adventure cruises is very different to our relaxed cruises.  We only have one left this season before we leave for Madeira – a couple of spaces still available from 16th to 23rd February.  Why not try it.

Touristy Things

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Richard’s Mum was with us last week and so as well as sailing we managed to ‘treat ourselves’ to some tourist adventures as well.  Number one on the things to do list is a visit to the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya.  We took a coach trip around the volcanoes, quite spectacular they are too and then we just had to have a ride on a camel. From our expressions you can see that we were a bit apprehensive!!
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La Geria is the area of Lanzarote where wine is produced, another place worth a visit. It is amazing that they grow vines at all here bearing in mind they are growing in ‘lava fields’. Deep circular funnels have been dug out of the black lava so that the vines can reach fertile soil with their roots.  The winegrowers have then built little walls of volcanic stone around these funnels to protect the vines from the drying wind.  The wine has a spicy dry bouquet (so the label says) and is surprisingly pleasant to drink.  It is made from the malvasia grape which fortunately thrives in low rainfall, strong sun and fertile volcanic soil.

We spent a day sailing to Arrecife and then since there was a bit too much North in the wind decided to return south and anchor off Playa Papagayo. This is a fantastic beach a mere 2 miles away from Marina Rubicon.  We took the dinghy ashore and climbed the hill in order to see the ruins of the former village of El Papagayo.

We had a fantastic time, but sadly Carolyn has now had to return back to the UK

We are back in Marina Rubicon preparing for our next trips.  After 3 weeks of very ‘relaxed cruising’ we are really looking forward to the coming ‘Adventure’ where we aim to sail a lot more miles, and visit Gran Canaria.  With the prevailing north easterly winds we should have a good ‘dash’ there and ‘thrash’ back! 

There are still a couple of spaces on our last 2 Adventures in Lanzarote 23 – 30 January and 16 – 23rd February.  Why not join us for a bit of winter sunshine!!

New Year Aboard Velvet Lady

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Happy New Year 

We welcomed in 2008 at anchor in a secluded bay off the beautiful island of La Graciosa.  After 2 days of sailing to get here we were all rather tired, and after having a BBQ on board washed down with lots of Sangria we were struggling to keep our eyes open until midnight.  We were all determined though, and at midnight we watched the fireworks.  From our anchorage we had a clear view of the north coast of Lanzarote and so as well as the fireworks on La Graciosa we could see 6 other firework displays, even ones from Arrecife above the volcanoes, quite spectacular.

The weather this week worked out ideal.  We had two days of medium winds to get to La Graciosa via Arrecife.  New Years day there was no wind at all giving us a great opportunity to explore ashore and climb the volcano.  The following day again in light breeze we sailed north from La Graciosa and circumnavigated Alegranza. We spent the evening anchored off the tiny village of San Pedro.

The wind as forecast became blustery for the last two days of the trip.  We reached along the coast from La Graciosa to Arrecife, and then had a 2 hour beat in 30 knots of wind to Puerto Calero. 

Puerto Calero this year is home and training base to the Ericsson  team entered in the next Volvo Ocean Race.  Richard and I spent some time looking at one of their race boats and its mast, all being prepared for launch next week. We talked to one of the team members, and they will be going out on sea trials from next week onwards, we hope to see them out there during our remaining sails, but since their chase boat has trouble keeping up with them, we will surely only get a quick glimpse.

Our last day we only had 12 miles to go to return to Marina Rubicon, but as it was blowing 35 knots on the nose, we had the opportunity to put Velvet Lady through her paces.  The sea was flat until we entered the strait between Lanzarote and Fuerteventura then after reefing down to very small sails, we had a good sail with lots of spray.  Exhilarating for a couple of hours, but we all agreed that we were glad we did not have far to go.  A great day for the last day of a trip.

A great way for us to welcome in 2008, and we wish you all a very happy new year with plenty of good sailing.

Lin and Richard

Christmas aboard Velvet Lady

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What a week. We lived like kings, sailed around Lanzarote, swam on Xmas day. I would like to say that I have learned to sail, but alas we have only scratched the surface this time. Lin and Richard were tremendous. Would we do it again? Where do we sign? – The Sparkes family

We have just completed our Xmas week with the Sparkes family and what a great time we had.  Iain, Alison, Tom, Dan, Phil and Grandma Anne really enjoyed themselves and they were a pleasure to have on board.  The weather was kind to us and we spent the early days sailing north up the east coast towards La Graciosa, stopping on the way in Arrecife.  The anchorage in La Graciosa was deserted and the sunshine on the beach fabulous.  We decided to stay here longer than one night and have time to explore ashore on Xmas eve.  It turned out to be a long day for some as they hiked up to the islands highest volcano.  The rest of us swam and snorkelled.  We also had a Xmas eve birthday, and with it being low water and a bit difficult landing on the beach we set up the BBQ on board and toasted Iain with lots of Sangria.

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Not many people get to spend Xmas day in a deserted lagoon, so we decided to spend another day in the glorious island of La Graciosa.  Santa found us and there were presents all round.  Books, chocolates and Scrabble for the family, a battery drill for Richard and a barometer for me – how practical Santa was this year.  We swam and sunbathed in the morning before a full Xmas dinner complete with Xmas pud and brandy butter.  In need of some after dinner exercise we then went for a walk and beach games ashore.  No Xmas is complete without a movie, so we spent the evening watching Matt Damon as Jason Bourne – a real treat for Richard and I as we never get to the movies.

Sadly, boxing day, our last day it was time to leave and sail down the west coast of Lanzarote.  We arrived back in our base at Marina Rubicon, late afternoon having circumnavigated the island of Lanzarote just in time for a last swim and one last game of scrabble before dinner.

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Tuesday morning we said goodbye – 6 more people have gone away armed with lots of leaflets and full of enthusiasm to pass on the good word.

Wow – what a great Xmas, now its time to get ready for New Year!!

Festive Greetings from Velvet Lady

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After 2 weeks of sanding, varnishing and polishing Velvet Lady now gleams ready for our festive charters.  We even had time today to put up the tree!!

We have a busy 2 weeks coming up, a family of 6 join us for Xmas week tomorrow the 20th,  and they are immediately followed by our New Year group.  We have done the shopping, bought the turkey and made the mince pies.  We’re all ready and hope that  Santa will make an appearance down the companionway steps.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our customers old and new a very Merry Xmas and Happy New Year. May fair winds follow us all in 2008

We will be announcing the December competition winner and sending our quarterly newsletter on the 7th January.

Lin and Richard

Sunny Lanzarote

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We enjoyed a fast sail from Madeira to the island of La Graciosa just north of Lanzarote.  Arriving mid morning we decided to spend the day at anchor in a secluded bay on the south west coast, and walk along the golden sandy beach.  What an ideal place for a barbeque. 

We sailed from La Graciosa to Arrecife, and spent a day exploring this capital city.  Just as we were approaching the harbour we heard a very British voice on the radio calling for the pilot – it was the QE2.  We watched her depart before heading into the port.

We are now settled in Marina Rubicon on the south coast of Lanzarote which is to be our base for the winter season.  It has not rained since we arrived; in fact Lanzarote gets the least amount of rain of any of the Canary Islands.  The weather is warm and sunny, but thankfully not too hot.  The evenings are pleasantly cool, just enough to need to wear a light jumper.  We are taking advantage of this sunny and dry weather to do some varnishing on Velvet Lady.  We have finished all the hard work of sanding and preparing and now Rich is busy with the varnish brush – it looks really glossy and lovely.

We are fully booked for Xmas and the first week of January, but there are still a few places available for New Year.  Why not bring in 2008 with us in the sunshine!