Ocean Passages and Milebuilding

Feel the Atlantic Ocean swell beneath your feet, the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. Experience fabulous sunrises and sunsets. Watch dolphins at play. Milebuilding trips are all about enjoying sailing and the beauty of being at sea without being on a course. Roller furling and electric winches mean life on board is not quite as tiring as it is for the sailors in the Volvo Ocean Race, but sea conditions are often the same. If you fancy a taste of real open water ocean sailing why not sign up for a passage aboard Velvet Lady.

Our shorter milebuilding trips rated AAAA are suitable for anyone with at least 10 days of basic sailing experience.  They are a good step up for practiced Day Skippers and Flotilla sailors to see if you like it and a useful preparation for more experienced sailors wishing to take their Yachtmaster Coastal or Yachtmaster Offshore practical examinations.  Our longer milebuilding trips rated AAAAA are for those with at least 20 days of sailing experience including at least 2 consecutive nights of watchkeeping.

Primarily delivery trips, you will not be a passenger – you will be expected to take a full part in the watch system.  We do not use the autopilot so you will develop good helming skills.  As well as gaining miles for your log book you will also find out about on board maintenance schedules, long distance catering, weather forecasting etc. We are happy to teach the wonders of navigating by the stars, use of a sextant and how the GPS works!.

If you are planning on becoming an Ocean Yachtmaster in the future a milebuilding trip also provides  the ideal opportunity to learn the practicalities without the responsibility.  Lin is both an instructor and examiner for this qualification and happy to share with you her knowledge gained through years of experience.

If you are interested in using one of our longer trips as the 600 mile qualifying passage towards your Yachtmaster Ocean certificate please contact us in advance.

Each year we offer the following trips
March: Lanzarote – Madeira, 300 nm AAAA
April: Madeira – Azores, 550nm AAAAA
April: Azores – Plymouth, 1200nm AAAAA**
May: Plymouth – Oban, 460nm AAAA
June: Oban – Bodo (via Shetland Island) 1000nm AAAAA
August: Bodo – Kristiansund, 500nm AAAA
September: Kristiansund – Plymouth, 1200nm AAAAA
October: Bay of Biscay, 550nm AAAA
November: Vigo – Madeira, 650nm AAAAA
November: Madeira – Lanzarote, 300 nm AAAA
Read more about our trip ratings here

These longer passages and milebuilding trips are in effect deliveries as we move Velvet Lady from one location to another. These trips, as with all of our others, are dependent on the weather – we will not set out into the teeth of a gale, but as forecasting is only really reliable for the first 4 days, once we have been at sea for more that 5 days we have to just take what comes!  It can be cold, windy, wet, challenging and a bit scary at times or warm, calm, balmy and rather less challenging. We regularly get a mixture of both.  

Often our trip dates seem quite long. With changing weather patterns it is sometimes difficult to predict the time it will take to complete a long passage.  We have to give ourselves the best chance of reaching our destination, so our trip lengths have been decided using an average speed of 4 knots.   That is 4 knots made good to our destination – which takes into account the fact we might be beating to windward.   If it is flat calm and our speed drops below this we will need to motor,
We will constantly keep an eye on our progress, and the average speed required.  All ‘extra time’ will be used to explore new places, we will not simply ‘arrive’ at our destination early.

It would be wrong to set off straight away out into the open ocean with people who are new to the boat so we always do a training day first.  We have to be sure that everyone is up to speed with the boat before we set off.  Sometimes we will also do a second drills and skills day before the passage.  Once we set off on the passage we settle immediately into a watch routine. We run a 2 watch system with half the boat on duty and half the boat off duty at any one time. This watch routine will result that you are on duty for 12 hours in 24, and off duty for 12 hours in 24. Usually in 6 hour watches during the day and 4 hour watches during the night. Duties include steering, navigating, filling in the log book, keeping a look out, trimming sails, cooking, washing up, cleaning etc
We carry a sextant and all the publications you need to learn to take sights and turn the results into a position on the chart. We are also happy to teach you how to use all of our electronic equipment.


If you have any questions about ocean passage making please do not hesitate to ask.


Visitors comments from a recent ocean passage
'An absolutely splendid way to make a first passage. Great sailing in a wonderfully secure boat and well looked after by Lin and Richard, Thanks'
'A great experience.  Thanks to you both for the free lessons on astro and ships electronics - much appreciated.  If ever a boat was built for passage making it is Velvet Lady.  Thanks again'


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