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Ocean Crossing Madeira to Azores TOP029_2

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Ocean Crossing Madeira to Azores

This 14-day ocean crossing adventure on a world class racing yacht is a chance to explore the gorgeous islands of Madeira and Azores get some serious ocean sailing under your belt. 

Suitable for both experienced and novice sailors, this exciting and rewarding voyage between the two islands offers stunning sailing under blue skies, beautiful islands and the chance to spot lots of marine wildlife from whales, to sea turtles and dolphins. Roll up your sleeves and set sail for the horizon!


  • Be a crew member of a 600nm open ocean passage
  • The voyage counts as an RYA Ocean Yachtmaster qualifying passage
  • Discover the fabulous beaches and nature reserve at Porto Santo
  • Explore the island of Madeira with its idyllic beaches, vineyards, and towering cliffs
  • Sail with the whales under a balmy sun and starry skies
  • End the adventure with the volcanic Azores – one of the most stunning places on Earth

If you’re an more experienced sailor looking get your RYA Ocean Yachtmaster then there is the chance take up one of the limited ‘Watch Leader’ places. Make the most of structured tuition from expert instructors and sail a qualifying Yachtmaster passage.

The voyage begins with an easy introduction to the vessel and the basic sailing skills that you’ll be using. The professional crew will run you through some simple drills so that whether you’re a novice or have some experience under your belt, everyone can be on the same page as the adventure begins. You’ll find the crew patient and eager to teach you everything they know.

You’ll sail along the coast of Madeira with a possible stop at Porto Santo, a nature reserve with wonderful beaches. Because the gulf stream keeps the waters calm and warm here, it’s a wildlife paradise. Sail with whales, sea turtles, and dolphins before setting out into the wide open ocean.

Heading north across the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll soon realise that there is something special about the solitude afforded on a voyage like this. You and your fellow crew will quickly fall into the rhythm of the waves and the watches. Sunrise and sunset will likely find everyone on deck lost in the peaceful wonder of it all. When it’s your turn to take a night watch, you’ll fall in love with helming a yacht under starry skies.

The adventure ends with an exploration of the volcanic cliffs of the Azores. There are some exciting islands in this archipelago, and as time allows you’ll visit as many as possible based on the wind and weather conditions when you arrive. This is your chance to sink into a different way of life – life at sea.


A gentle introduction to start

As with all our expeditions, the first day is a very gentle introduction to the yacht and to some basic sailing skills and drills. Whether you’re an experienced sailor or a complete novice, everyone benefits from a really gentle, patient introduction to what’s what! Individually and as a crew, we can then get properly up to speed.

Explore the coast of Madeira

We will then set sail along the coast of Madeira, possibly stopping at the beautiful nature reserve of Porto Santo, with its long beaches and huge variety of wildlife. The gulf stream sends warm water to Madeira and creates a wildlife paradise. It is one of the best places in the world to sail with dolphins, whales and even sea turtles.

Out into the open ocean, sailing under the sun and stars

When the wind looks favourable, we will then head off north, out into the wide open expanses of the Atlantic Ocean. There is something uniquely special about being alone in the ocean and we will quickly settle into the rhythm of watches. Sunrise and sunset are always special times at sea and there is nothing quite like helming under a starry sky.

Traditional navigation

We will use the sextant to navigate, along with many other traditional navigation methods. This gives you a much greater involvement with the environment than simply watching a GPS monitor. To use the sextant you will need to have been on a course prior to joining.

Explore the Azores

Finally, after around four days at sea, the vast volcanic cliffs of the Azores will appear over the horizon. We will head past our final destination and use the spare time to explore some of these really exciting islands. We can choose which ones we get to once we have assessed the wind and weather.

The Ocean Crossing Masterclass

This trip is run as an Ocean Crossing Masterclass. That means there is loads of tuition for those who want and a structured syllabus to work though. However, if that’s not your thing and you just want to sail – that’s fine too. Just let us know!

Ocean sailing

Ocean sailing is incredibly rewarding and exciting – but you are out in the depths of the ocean where the weather may be more challenging and life is a little tougher. You will also be in a 24 hour watch system and this can leave you feeling tired.

More Details

Join the boat in Lanzarote

Join the boat in Quinta do Lorde marina, Madeira on March 01 2017 between 1200hrs & 2000hrs. If you cannot arrive before 2000hrs please let us know in advance.

Disembark in Ponta Delgada, Azores at 1200hrs on March 15 2017.

Crew size

On non ocean passages, the maximum number of crew is 8.

This gives an instructor – crew ration of 4:1 which is ideal. It also means you will have plenty of time on the helm, navigating and improving your sail trim. For ocean passages, we increase the crew size to 9 which makes the watch system far more comfortable and means you can get better rest.

Men and women

Our expeditions are usually pretty evenly split between men and women with, if anything, a slight bias toward women. Of course, some expeditions can vary from this balance, but it is unusual. It would be very unlikely indeed that you were the only man or the woman amongst the crew.


Anyone joining us must be 18 years or over, but there is no upper age limit. Indeed, we’ve had a 75 year old novice sail with us up into the Arctic and he coped superbly. There’s a full range of ages on board with the majority being between 30 – 60. We find age immaterial on board as it’s a mindset that draws people on to these expeditions and you will be with some fun and inspiring fellow crew.

Sailing background

Our most common crew profile would be – “I’ve sailed a bit in the past and got my Day Skipper, but I’m very rusty”. Everyone thinks they’re unique in that but they’re not! That said, we also get complete novices on most expeditions along with one or two more experienced crew members. the point is – don’t worry. If you’re new to sailing, we’ll work with you from the first steps and if you’re much more experienced, we can help you develop some advanced concepts and techniques.

Couples or singles

The vast majority of our crew come alone, although couples or groups are absolutely welcome. Being an ex race boat, the accommodation is open plan and we cannot give individual cabins.

Am I right for this?

Probably the most common question we get. The best answer is to have a look at all the photos, here and on our Facebook site. You will see hundreds of ordinary men and woman, from all walks of life, coming together for some fun and adventure. It’s a mindset – nothing physical. If you want to do something that’s real, huge fun, challenging at times but completely manageable – these expeditions are for you.

The Ocean Crossing Masterclass

Whichever qualifications you have, skippering a yacht offshore or internationally is quite a step up and not something to be undertaken lightly. There are much greater weather routing issues and international regulations to deal with. You are going to be in amongst heavy commercial shipping, interacting with foreign port controls and coming across unfamiliar situations on an almost constant basis. On top of that, away from land, your crew and yacht are entirely reliant on you to keep things moving along successfully. It can be stressful, tiring and difficult. It is also one of the most rewarding types of passage making you will have as a skipper. There is nothing quite like pulling in to a foreign port, having crossed a sea on a yacht that you skippered.

Your current qualifications may not have given you what you expected

If you’re like almost every other client of ours, you’ll have got your Day Skipper or Yachtmaster, with the expectation that afterwards you would be free to roam the seas and head off to all corners of the world. The reality is that you are probably not ready to do that. Even the Yachtmaster is really a ‘licence to learn’ – the equivalent of passing your driving test. As we all know, it’s only once a new driver is let loose at the wheel that their education really begins!

What a new ocean-going skipper needs

Getting offshore sailing experience is often tricky, even more so if it needs to be an RYA ocean qualifying passage. It often involves just jumping on a long-distance yacht delivery and making the best of it. But let’s be honest – anyone can head off to sea and have a successful voyage. That doesn’t necessarily make the skipper competent or safe. It just means that nothing went wrong that time.  To be competent and safe, a developing skipper needs to experience offshore and international passage-making in a controlled environment. Able to plan the routes and make the decisions but with expert backup and advice at every stage. This is the very best learning environment. No theoretical exercises. This is a real ocean passage, dealing with real situations at every stage.

What you get on the Masterclass

Every Ocean Crossing Masterclass has two highly experienced instructors on board. While you victual, plan and execute the passage, they will constantly feedback, teach you more and demonstrate further techniques. It is quite different from crewing for a delivery skipper; with this expert tuition your skills and experience will improve rapidly.

Get some training in celestial navigation

A ocean passage is a superb opportunity to use a sextant and navigate your way using just the Sun, Moon, planets and stars. If you would like to use the sextant on-board, you must have prior training. Look to come on our intensive two day celestial navigation course in London prior to the voyage. Ask for full details. Places go quickly.

Watch Leader Places

This qualification is the highest certificate in the RYA scheme, coming as it does after the Yachtmaster offshore. It is an internationally recognised qualification that allows the skipper to head an unlimited distance offshore. The qualifying passage must be a minimum non-stop distance of 600 miles run by the log. The yacht must have been at sea continuously for at least 96 hours and the yacht must have been more than 50 miles from land or charted objects while sailing a distance of at least 200 miles. This route qualifies as an ocean passage.

Pre-requisites to be a watch leader

We require our watch leaders to be of a suitable standard. You must be at RYA coastal skipper level (or international equivalent) and you must have completed your RYA Ocean Yachtmaster theory (or have equivalent knowledge). This means you should  have a good grounding in celestial navigation.

What we expect from you

We understand that even with your skill level and experience, unless you can get out sailing regularly, things can get rusty. That’s not a problem but we do need you to have polished up your basic navigation skills and colregs – at least back to the level they were when you passed your Yachtmaster theory. Once underway, we will expect you to show the enthusiasm, energy and motivational skills expected of a watch leader.

Extra tuition for watch leaders

If you sign up as a Watch Leader, you will be automatically enrolled in our  Watch Leader training program – the premier course of its kind. You will be sent a copy of our Ocean Watch Leader: Training Manual which you will need to have read and studied prior to arrival. You will need to arrive at midday, the day before the trip start date. You will then have intensive tuition until the official trip start date. This will cover passage planning for ocean routes, watch leader skills on larger yachts and celestial navigation. This will enable you to be in a position where you can properly run a watch during the ocean passage.

Being signed off as a watch leader

So long as you turn up with the required skill level to start with and fully commit yourself once underway, you will have no worries. However, be warned! Turn up unprepared or fail to act as a good watch leader when underway – and we will not sign you off. If you want a ‘gimme’ you are in the wrong place!


There is a £150 extra charge and you must turn up 24 hours before the start date.

The Boat

60′ expedition sailing yacht

The boat is a powerful expedition yacht designed with safety and simplicity in mind. Originally built for the Clipper round the world yacht race, she has more than proved her seaworthiness with three successful circumnavigations of the globe. Her long fin keel means she has exceptional stability and the cutter rig gives a versatile sail plan that can be quickly matched to conditions as they change.

Highest safety rating possible

The yacht has the MCA’s top rating: Category 0. This means that they have designated her and her equipment fit to sail unlimited distances off shore for any period of time. This rating requires the top rated life rafts, an EPIRB, advanced medical kit, satellite communications, three different watertight compartments and more. There is no higher standard for such a yacht. Most sailing schools will be using Cat 2 rated yachts, limited to no more than 60nm offshore. These expeditions are true adventures, often heading far out to sea and to remote shores, but safety remains at the centre of everything we do.

A true expedition feel

The boat is not a cabin cruiser! Built to race and now converted for expeditions, she retains much of the look and feel of her early days. Crew accommodation remains as it was in her racing days. It is open plan, divided up into two cabins of 4-5 people each. The camaraderie down below is superb and this arrangement is far preferable to being in a small cramped cabin with someone you don’t know! One of our clients described as being like a mountain hut but on the water, and that’s probably not such a bad description!

Warm and comfortable

You will never be anything other than warm and dry down below. The headroom is around 8’ in most areas and all crew have large amounts of personal storage space. Bunks measure 6’ 7” in length with high lee cloths giving you plenty of room to yourself. There is powerful heating throughout to keep us warm, while a well equipped galley allows us to make some great meals underway, often with freshly caught fish. The saloon has books, a TV & DVD player, games and a selection of films.


Dates & Rates

Dates: 01 – 15 March 2017


  • 1,350 GBP for a Crew place
  • 1,500 GBP for Watch Leader place


We love this sailing company’s ethos – to help people do three things: sail, train and explore. They are passionate about enabling people to experience life out on the open ocean, building sailing skills and exploring some beautiful countries. After years of training people to become professional sailors, and having covered thousands of miles between them, the company Founders realised that so many people had dreamt of setting off across an ocean, but hadn’t the skills, the boat or crew to make those dreams come true.

The company now runs expeditions on a specialised 60’ yacht to some of the most exciting places out there – often largely inaccessible from land. With no previous sailing experience required, the two instructors will guide you every step of the way as you develop your sailing skills, maybe even earning an RYA qualification during the week. Exploring on land as they go is just as important and the bikes and a kayak mean you can head off and enjoy everything there is to see along the route.  

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