When an orange is not simply an orange!


We have been running our on line competition for nearly 2 years now.  When you register and sign up for our newsletter you automatically enter a draw to win £200 off any sailing adventure.  We draw this quarterly, at the end of March, June, September and December. 

Our March 2008 winner Mike used his prize to join us last week on the passage from Madeira to Lanzarote.  We had a full complement of 6 on board with the numbers being made up by Mike’s son Darren, John who had recently recinded his place on the Clipper round the world race, Richards brother Dan and of course Richard and Lin.

The distance from Madeira to Lanzarote is 270 nm providing an ideal opportunity to get a taste of ocean and overnight sailing – but not for too long.  We spent two nights at sea, and were about to enter the third as we anchored off a deserted beach in La Graciosa just when the sun went down.

For our first day we sailed along the coastline of Madeira from Quinto da Lorde marina in the east to the vibrant capital Funchal.  We had plenty of wind for this first sail and amongst the ocean spray spotted a whale spout.  We sailed in company with a blue whale for about an hour before he disappeared.  What a great start!

The passage was just long enough to cover the basics of astro navigation and get the sextant out.  Although the sun was often covered by a layer of cloud we still managed a noon sight and a few stars and planets in the evenings.  Using the sextant is the easy bit it is the ‘complicated maths’ which are often the most puzzling.  Although the sums for a noon sight are the easiest, it is often difficult to figure out why it works.  Not being a genius with paper, pencil and 3 D diagrams I find it easier to explain by drawing diagrams on an orange – or more than one.  Our fruit bowl is now full of celestial spheres not oranges!!


Ocean passages no matter how long,  are tiring, as the body gets used to a disrupted sleep pattern.  As soon as you stop, the adrenaline stops and the body asks for a rest.  We decided to land on the deserted beach and walk amongst the sand dunes to the tiny town of La Sociedad on Graciosa – a shop, a ferry terminal and a pub, just what we needed.  Relaxing with a beer in the sunshine is a pleasure to look forward to after any passage. We spent the last day surfing down waves as we sailed from Graciosa to our base in Marina Rubicon at speeds up to 10 knots.  We were joined by a huge school of dolphins.  All too soon it was over, time to pack away the sails and prepare the mooring lines.

Velvet Lady was due to come out of the water and in preparation for that we needed to drop the headsails in  a conventional manner instead of furling them up.  The sails were dropped on to the deck smartly but with 20 knots of wind gusting they proved quite difficult to ‘stuff’ into their bags.

I’m a little bit late in posting this blog, as soon as we arrived in Marina Rubicon we hurtled straight into the jobs we needed to do to have the boat lifted
Velvet Lady was lifted out of the water at 1400 today Friday, and this is our first night living on board on ‘the hard’.  There is lots of scrubbing, polishing and painting to do in the next week as we get on with the annual out of the water jobs and prepare for Christmas and New Year weeks. 

Mike – our competition winner – says in our guest book

Well thought out cruise, excellent in every way!  Many thanks for a brilliant week, special thanks to Lin and Richard for taking the time to teach me the fundamentals of Astro Navigation, I will never look at an orange again in the same light!  Will recommend Velvet Sailing to all and hope to return soon

Why not sign up for our newsletter now – and you could be sailing with us as our next prize winner soon.  The next draw will be end of December and as we are at sea then, the winner will be announced on the 6 January.