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Ocean Sailing Spain to the Azores TOP029_5

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Ocean Sailing Spain to the Azores

Join this 15 day ocean sailing adventure and sail from Baiona, Spain to Ponta Delgada in the Azores. This trip through the Atlantic Islands is ocean sailing at its best. There is something magical about heading out on to the open Atlantic and then arriving at a gorgeous island with nothing but beautiful sea surrounding you.


  • Over 1000nm miles of ocean sailing experiencing
  • Perfect for novice sailors and those working towards Ocean Yachtmaster
  • Discover the quaint town of Baiona, Spain
  • Gain theoretical and intensive practical instruction on all aspects of ocean crossings
  • Optional celestial navigation course
  • Warm weather and long slow nights under starry skies
  • Cruise around the Azores before docking in Ponta Delgada

Your itinerary is one that sailors dream of.  Join the crew in the Baiona, a stunning little Spanish town with cobbled streets and ancient castle walls. You’ll immediately head south west toward Madeira. If you’re lucky enough to have the wind at your back, there is a great chance for a long spinnaker run as you speed through the sea.

A short stop in Madeira will be much deserved and gives you the chance to explore another lovely Spanish town. After your recuperation, it’s north again – heading for the volcanic Azores.  This leg will be the second 600nm passage and will really allow you put the lessons learned during the first passage to the test. When you’ve reached your destination, you’ll have over 1000nm of ocean sailing under your belt and plenty of time to explore these astounding islands.

When you sail in this part of the world you’ve got a great chance of finding yourself in that idyllic mix of warm sun and perfect wind. You’ll be able to play with the southern edges of Azores high and have an above average chance of finding tail winds that allow for superb downwind sailing.

This sailing adventure is open to all and no experience is required. The routes and course are both designed to be accessible to all. However, if you’re looking to build on previous experience then three RYA Ocean Qualifying watch leader positions are also available. To pass your RYA Ocean Yachtmaster, you need to have skippered or been a watch leader on an ocean passage. Your capable and professional instructors aim to teach you everything you need to know about ocean crossings including instruction on weather routing, passage planning, victualling, pre-departure tasks, international routing considerations, and so much more.

Join this group of highly qualified skippers as you increase your knowledge base and confidence on this open sea adventure. Enquire today to learn what’s covered in the course and to get a detailed course outline.


Warm weather, a mix of downwind and upwind sailing, and long nights under starry skies. Ocean passages in this part of the world have a great chance of being that idyllic mix of perfect wind and warm sun.

Begin in the beautiful walled city of Baiona

With its fortified fort and vast walls, Baiona is one of Spain’s most beguiling Atlantic outposts. Full of history, it is the perfect place for us to embark and conduct some preliminary training. The aim is to get everyone up to speed with their sailing, both as individuals and as a team. All the time we will be watching the weather, waiting for that optimum window to head south west to Madeira.

The Atlantic Islands

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. Hummingbird is one of the best ocean crossing yachts ever built and you will soon come to appreciate her qualities. As we head west, 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.

A short stop on the beautiful island of Madeira is the reward. Warm with lots to see, we love this island. But soon, 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.

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.

Experiences of a lifetime that will have a huge impact

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


  • No previous sailing experience is needed
  • Maximum of 8 crew on most trips
  • Over half the crew join the boat alone
  • Average age range is 35 – 65 yrs
  • Most crews are evenly split male & female
  • We head ashore most days
  • Everything is included – you just need to get to & from the start / finish

Travel & Joining Times

Join the yacht in Baiona before 2200hrs on November 4. Disembark from the yacht in Ponta Delgada, Azores, at 0930 hrs, November 19. The airport is close by.

The Trip

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 which is taught in London prior to the trip. Enquire for more details. Places go quickly.

Watch Leader places

Watch Leader for RYA Yachtmaster Ocean
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 yacht is a stripped-out ocean going 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.

The yacht is equipped with a full suite of navigation equipment, including paper charts, GPS, an electronic chart plotter, AIS and radar. Just as importantly we have our trusty sextant on board, and as often as possible we get everyone navigating using this type of traditional method rather than being constantly glued to the instruments.

Huge amounts of space

A large yacht, she has a great deal of space down below. The headroom is around 8’ in most areas and all crew have large amounts of personal storage space. The accommodation area is mostly open plan, with a series of bunks measuring 6’ 7” in length giving you plenty of room to yourself. There is 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.

Highest safety rating possible

Hummingbird 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.


Built in 1996, the yacht was built for the very first Clipper Round the World Race which she competed and circumnavigated three times. We estimate that she has sailed over a quarter of a million miles and has visited almost every corner of the planet.

Dates & Rates

4- 19 November 2016

£1,610: Crew place
£1,760: Watch leader place

What is included

  • Two full-time instructors on board
  • Tender, sea kayak & bike.
  • All on-board food.
  • Full foul weather kit and life-jackets
  • Small group dynamic – max. 8 paying crew.
  • RYA qualifications available.

Kit List

On-board, we provide top quality foul weather kit and life-jackets. You will need to bring the following kit:

Sleeping bag
We recommend a good 3 seasons bag that can open up fully. A silk liner can really help keep your bag clean and comfortable.

Dry bags
About 4 dry bags, ranging in size from 5 to 20 litres. These will keep your kit dry, electronics safe and such like. Maybe get ones with windows so you can see what’s inside. Pack a little silica gel pouch in each one to really keep things dry. If you don’t have dry bags, plastic shopping bags are decent alternative!

I-pod, camera, kindle etc. Put them in a waterproof cases wherever possible. Writing materials, pens etc. Each bunk has a USB charging point, so bring a lead.

Head torch
It has to have a red filter, but other than that, don’t go for anything fancy or expensive.

We like ones that are a bit waterproof and that really come down over the ears. A wide brimmed sun hat can also be a great second hat.

Have a thin woolly pair and a nice thick pair for night helming and such like. Bring more than one set, because they’ll get wet and then they’re useless! We really don’t rate most expensive sailing or skiing gloves, not least because their liners tend to pull out when wet making the glove impossible to get back on. Mittens really are ideal.

Base Layers
There really is no need to buy expensive or technical base layers. If you are on one of our colder expeditions, some woolly long-johns and a couple of long sleeved base layer tops will be your best friends.

Underwear and socks
Bring enough that you can wear a fresh set every day for up to a week. Why not?

Light weight long sleeve top
For hot sunny days and sunburn issues

1 pair long trousers for day to say sailing
There really is nothing to beat fleece-lined snowboarding trousers. Warm, weather proof and cheap. Why pay hundreds more for inferior kit?

Mid layers
These are what will keep you warm, so bring plenty. Thick fleece jackets and woolly jumpers are great. Duvet jackets are also very good, though you have to keep them dry.

Mid weight jacket
Something to wear as an outer layer that is windproof and at least shower proof. If it gets really wet, then you swap it out for our foulies!

Sailing boots
You can spend a fortune but you really don’t need to, especially if you’re just joining us for one or two legs. We’ve sailed in £30 rubber sailing boots and they are absolutely fine (and dry). We’ve also sailed in £200 ocean sailing boots and been wet. If anything, go for rubber sailing boots to start. I fyou think you’ll sail regularly the Musto HPX Ocean boots are great as are the Dubarry Ocean boots.

Other footwear
Flip flops are great once we’re ashore and a pair of cross-trainers or light hiking boots can also be invaluable for exploring ashore in muddier areas.

Sun glasses
They should be polarised and have a safety strap

Tooth brush and toothpaste; small bottle of shower gel; deodorant; SPF 15+ Sun cream (the sea reflects the sun and you will burn); towel (it doesn’t need to be a travel towel). Ear plugs can be very valuable.

Swimming gear and goggles

A knife / pliers combination
Not essential but very nice to have.

An internationally recognised credit or charge card and some local currency for when you first arrive.

Some shore clothes

What we provide

  • Top quality foul weather kit.
  • Life-jackets (please note, you are not allowed to use your own life-jacket on board, so please do not bring one)
  • A pillow for your bunk

Please pack your kit in a soft bag than can be folded away. Hard bottomed cases are very difficult to deal with on board.


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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