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!

Majestic Madeira

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With no one signed up for our Trade winds ocean passage between Vilamoura and Lanzarote we decided to set off south a little earlier than planned to give us more time to explore Madeira on the way past.  The open 60’s in the TJV race last week all reported light winds between Europe and Africa, not so us, we raced along at 7 and 8 knots, making landfall on Madeira in just over 3 days.

With the wind in the south east we decided to sail past Porto Santo, Madeira’s little sister, 25nm to the north east, and take the opportunity of exploring the north coast of Madeira whilst in the lee of the southerly winds.   This northern coastline is exceptionally high and green, with many waterfalls. There are numerous small colourful villages, perched on the edge of the steep cliffs accessed by a maze of winding mountain roads. 

We spent the first night at anchor off the tiny village of Porto da Cruz, one of the islands oldest settlements.  We sailed further along the coastline and spent our second night at anchor under a water fall in the Baia de Seixal, where nearly every building has a garden bursting with vines.  It was a Sunday morning and with the weather completely still we could hear the church service from the boat.

We continued around the island to Funchal. We were so enchanted with this capital city, its narrow pebbled streets and colourful market that we spent 2 more days exploring here before continuing along the coast.  You can take the cable car up to the mountain village of Monte high above the bay and look out over the ocean before making a visit to one of the many gardens.

 

We spent another night at anchor in the incredibly remote but beautiful Baia de Abra at the eastern end of the island and we are now just making our final preparations before departure south to Lanzarote and our winter season.

This colourful spectacular island fits well within our ethos of sailing to interesting places that are not on the usual tourist track, and we are looking forward to coming back here with Velvet Lady in March 2008.

See our Madeira page for further information on visiting this emerald island of the Atlantic

Wind and Sun in the Algarve

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We have now been on this Algarve/Andalucia coastline for 2 weeks.  It has been sunny every day with the temperature reaching about 24 degrees early afternoon.  The mornings have been generally flat, with a wonderful sea breeze building up by lunchtime.  We have had some wonderful sails, and anchored in some amazing bays.  It makes a great change sailing in shorts, t shirts and sandals. 

We are currently exploring the many ports in the  Bay of Cadiz, and enjoying the Spanish culture.  I am even managing to practise my Spanish – I am hoping to improve greatly over the winter. 

Our preparations are now underway for our departure south to the Canary Islands.  There are still places on the Trade Winds Ocean passage – an opportunity to gain miles in the sunshine, and visit Madeira on route.  See full details on our website.

We are very excited as we have taken 8 bookings this week for our winter season.  The bookings are already coming in for Iceland next year.  Looks like Velvet Lady is going to be kept busy!  Full details of our Schedule are on our website

Crossing the Bay of Biscay

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We have now arrived in Vilamoura in Portugal after a fantastic sail from UK.  We logged 1000.01 nautical miles in 9 days, and although we often had very light winds, we arrived on the Algarve coast early enough that we could spend one night at anchor under the spectacular cliffs at Cap St Vincent.  The final day of our voyage was spent sailing downwind along the stunning coastline.

After our safety briefing and an hour of sail familiarisation in Plymouth sound, we set our course towards the small island of Ushant off the French coast.  It never ceases to amaze me how many ships you see crossing the English Channel, and although we were motoring in light winds our concentration on the first night was spotting the lights and avoiding the ships in the traffic lanes.  We rounded Ushant at first light, and found a small amount of breeze to sail

We had what can best be described as a peaceful crossing of Biscay, with a mix of weather.  After studying the 5 day weather maps before departure, it was clear that we were going to be under the influence of High pressure systems for the first few days, and it would be unlikely that we would have much wind.  When planning this passage we had been aware that there was a likelihood of October gales, but none were showing on the latest weather faxes.  We beat to windward in lightish south winds, making nothing on either tack, and waited patiently for the wind to shift to the north west.  The wind stayed a long time in the south west and we took a long tack deep into the centre of the bay, it seemed like we were sailing directly along the line of the cold front, we kept getting the rain squalls, but no shift.  Eventually our patience paid off, when the shift came, we had the most glorious sail, reaching at 7 knots under clear skies towards Finisterre.

We approached the northern coast of Spain in the dark, with the many lighthouses glinting away.  After scanning the chart and counting the light characteristics of the lights, there is always a huge feeling of achievement when you see your position is where you expected to be. 

We continued down the coast of Spain and Portugal, sailing in some fantastic wind pockets, and motoring whenever the speed was less than 3.8.  Night after night we had clear sky, and a good view of all the stars.  Each night the moon grew, and seemed like a giant spotlight in the sky.  dolphins_1.jpg

Ocean passage making regardless of the weather is never uneventful.  As we tacked one night in the wind in Biscay, there was a loud crack, followed by an unnerving rattle (in the dark of course) we found the torch and discovered the fitting on the outhaul car which  had sheared off completely.  Half hour of jury rig later we were at full sail again, the damaged fitting a reminder of how much load is on the ropes and rigging.

Our guests, John and Brian, were thoroughly enjoying themselves, never having been on a long passage and so experiencing watch systems for the first time.  The sextant was out a lot, and many sights were taken.  Stars, Sun, Moon and Venus all helped to reveal our position on the chart.

As well as the clear skies at night, the sky during the day was blue and cloudless.  The warmth of the sun increasing the further south we went.  Just about every day on this passage we were visited by dolphins, perhaps they were going south at the same speed as we were.  They came to play with us and often spent an hour or more jostling for position under our bows.  Brian managed to take some fantastic photos and video.  I am just trying to figure out how to load video on the blog!

We anchored late afternoon under the fort at Cap St Vincent.  What more perfect way to end a passage than to sit on the deck with a beer and watch the sun disappear behind the cliffs.  There was enough light and warmth for us to enjoy our dinner in the cockpit before retiring to bed very early!

The sun and wind did not disappoint us on our last days sail as we set off to cover the final 40 miles.  We sailed downwind at 5 to 6 knots and even tried goose winging for a while.  We arrived in Vilamoura, late in the evening, with enough time to enjoy a night ashore after dinner.
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We now have two trips coming up to continue exploring this coastline, and still have a couple of spaces on the Algarve and Andalucia trip.

At the end of November there is another chance to experience Ocean Passage Making in our Trade Winds Ocean passage as we head south from Portugal to The Canary Islands via Madeira.  Why not join us in the sunshine!
 

Ready to sail the Bay of Biscay

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We have spent the last 2 weeks in Plymouth preparing for this next trip, across the Bay of Biscay, and down the coast of Spain and Portugal, finishing in Vilamoura.  We are due to leave tomorrow and since the Bay of Biscay has such a reputation for bad weather we have been studying the forecasts with interest.  There is currently a big high pressure sitting over the English Channel and Bay of Biscay, so although it is October we are looking forward to medium winds and sunshine at least for the start of the trip- hope I haven’t spoken too soon.  In 10 days time we expect to be sitting sipping Port in Vilamoura!  We will then be cruising the Algarve for a short time, and still have some places available.  Why not take a look at the Schedule on our website.

Happy Customers

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I have just been flicking through our guest book and though you might like to see a selection of what people have had to say during the past 5 months. 

‘…what a magnificent adventure….


….for those that like to combine sailing and wild life there is nothing to beat this ‘Arctic Sea’ adventure holiday……
…..These 10 days exceeded all my expectations and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I cant wait to sail with you again…..

….A wonderful variety of sights and sailing experiences coupled with excellent food and accommodation. A delight…

…Keep on with the enthusiasm, hospitality and gourmet cuisine,  Looking forward to coming on board again…..

….This trip was a combinaton of fun, adventure, learning and sightseeing all wrapped up into your gorgeous boat….

….The sea in all its many forms from glassy to rough- from deep green to black – all amazing.  Thank you for a wonderful time……