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Ocean Crossing Masterclass TOP029_10

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Ocean Crossing Spain to the Azores

This fantastic 15-day ocean crossing adventure on a world class racing yacht is a chance to explore the gorgeous islands of Madeira, Cies and the Azores get some serious ocean sailing under your belt. 

The trip combines two ocean passages, the first sailing from Vigo, Spain to the beautiful island of Madeira and then on to the volcanic archipelago of the Azores.

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.


  • The voyage counts as an RYA Ocean Yachtmaster qualifying passage
  • First class ocean tuition over two 600nm ocean passages
  • Anchor off the stunning Cíes Islands
  • Open ocean passage to Madeira, with time to explore ashore
  • Second ocean passage to the Azores & inter-island cruising

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 a sail out to the sheltered Cies Islas where you’ll get 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.

From there with 700nm of open ocean ahead  you’ll sail out into the Atlantic Ocean towards Madeira. Out here there is plenty of space and time to practice your new skills and get accustomed to life on the ocean. 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.

After a couple of days relaxing and recuperating on Madeira its time to set sail for your second ocean crossing passage to the volcanic cliffs of the Azores. There are some exciting islands in this archipelago, and as time and weather allows you’ll visit a few along the way to the final destination – Ponta Delgada.



Day 1: Joining day

Join the boat between 1200 and 2000hrs. Get your belongings packed away and relax. The physical and mental stuff will come in good time, but for now it’s time to settle in and relax!

Day 2: Sail out to the Cies Islas for initial training

It’s a short but wonderful sail to these nationally protected islands. They are truly gorgeous and a very special place to make a temporary bade while we practise all our skills and drills, getting up to speed both as individuals and as a crew.

Days 3-7: Ocean passage to Madeira

Nearly 700nm of open ocean lies ahead and it gives us the perfect opportunity to get into the rhythm of life on the open ocean. As we head out into the Atlantic, we will train on drogues, storm sails, storm board and more. You can make huge gains in your ocean going skills but there’s also plenty of time to sit and marvel at the beauty and wilderness all around. You’ll be helming and navigating on a 24 hour watch system and as the Sun drops below the horizon, the stars come out to play. Complete silence excerpt for the wind in the sails and the sound of the hull cutting through the waves. It’s magical!

Day 8: Rest and recuperation on Madeira

A short stop on the beautiful island of Madeira is the reward. Exactly ho long we get will depend on the speed of the previous passage, but we will certainly aim for 1-2 days. Warm with lots to see, we love this island.

Days 9-14: Ocean passage to the Azores & cruising

Soon enough though we’ll be headed north for our second ocean passage; destination the Azores! A second passage straight after the first is a superb way to really embed those new skills and by the time we see the fascinating volcanic mountains of the Azores rise up over the horizon, we’ll have had a superb two weeks on the ocean. If we’ve made good time, we’ll be able to spend the last couple of days cruising around these wonderful islands, before pulling into our final destination: Ponta Delgada.

Day 15:  Debriefs, clean up and goodbyes

It’s always amazing how quickly everyone has become firm friends and the boat and its routines seem so familiar. Yet it’s time to wrap it all up and head home. We’ll get the boat back to how we found it, sign logbooks, exchange emails and disembark by 1200hrs

Be ready for the challenges and rewards of ocean sailing

Ocean passages are superb adventure sailing holidays if you are an ambitious sailor, traveller or you just have a huge desire to get out on the open ocean. For some crew, it’s all about the challenge of sailing a powerful yacht from one country to another, with no land in sight for days on end. For others it may be the navigational challenge, the beauty of the wildlife you will see or even just the breathtaking solitude that the ocean provides.

Even though no experience is required, you should be confident that you’ll enjoy sailing for a prolonged period of time. These passages mean you will be at sea for 4-5 days at a time. You will be part of a watch system helping sail the ship day and night and the yacht never stops moving (unless we’re becalmed!) Even simple tasks like cooking a meal or getting in to your bunk require that bit more determination and there’s no doubt that you’re going to be tired at times!

Of course, it is these challenges that make it so hugely rewarding. The nature of the environment means you live very much in the moment. You will learn a great deal about yourself and those around you and the bonds formed can be lifelong. Edmund Hillary once said, “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” and that could just as well equate to the ocean.


More Details

Joining the boat

Join the yacht in Vigo after midday on October 28th. (Watch leaders should join by 1000 on October 27). The yacht will be moored a short taxi ride away from the airport (IATA code VGO)

Disembark in Ponta Delgada at midday on November 12. It is a short taxi ride to the airport (IATA code PDL)

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: 28 October 2017 –  12 November 2017 (Watch leader joins 27 October)


  • £1,580 crew

  • £1,730 watch leader

£400 deposit secures berth


Join the yacht in Vigo after midday on October 28th. (Watch leaders should join by 1000 on October 27). The yacht will be moored a short taxi ride away from the airport (IATA code VGO)

Disembark in Ponta Delgada at midday on November 12. It is a short taxi ride to the airport (IATA code PDL)


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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