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Ocean Sailing Across the Bay of Biscay
Leave the UK behind and head out onto the Atlantic toward Spain across the Bay of Biscay on this fantastic ocean sailing challenge combining adventure with expert sailing tuition. Designed as an ocean crossing masterclass, there are nine spots available on this adventure which will take your ocean sailing to the next level.
- Sail out under Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge
- Undertake a warm up voyage over to Ireland or Wales
- Sail across the Bay of Biscay towards the sunny shores of north west Spain
- Develop your skills in weather routing and offshore passage planning
- Become a competent and safe skipper
- Enjoy fresh caught octopus and Galician wine in Galician Rias
There is something a bit magical about setting sail from the UK with its rich maritime history. As you sail into the Atlantic and head for Spain you’ll settle into the rhythm of the open ocean and settle into your expedition sailing yacht, home for the next 14 days.
There is lots of learn and a lot of fun to be had on this ocean crossing across the Bay of Biscay. Sailing by the stars, watching the sun rise and surfing on waves with dolphins riding the bow wave are some of the privileges the ocean sailor enjoys. The two experienced instructors on board are passionate about providing expert tuition and will demonstrate techniques and give you helpful feedback as you go. You’ll be at sea for 4-5 days at a time and part of a watch system, sailing the yacht day and night. Expect to be tired but happy!
If you’re an experienced sailor and keen to get your RYA Yachtmaster Ocean then consider joining in one of the RYA Ocean Qualifying watch leader positions. This sail is an intensive theoretical and practical instruction that covers all aspects of ocean crossing. You’ll expand your skills in weather routing, international routing, and passage planning.
Stunningly dramatic, the Galician Rias are a fantastic cruising ground once we’ve arrived in Spain. Our final destination Baiona itself is a beautiful old town with small winding back streets and some great restaurants, the perfect way to end this ocean crossing.
Enquire today to learn more.
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 under the Clifton Suspension Bridge
Starting in the heart of Bristol we’ll begin by working on the core skills. There will be intensive training in the first few days to ensure that everyone is up to speed with the basics. From Man Overboard Recovery to reefing drills there’s lots to cover, but we don’t assume any prior knowledge and will be starting from the beginning. We’ll likely stop in Cardiff for the night
Days 3-5: Initial training and preparation as we head to Wales or Ireland
Our first port of call will depend on the weather, but ideally we’ll start with a warm up voyage across the Irish Sea to somewhere such as Waterford, or across the Bristol Channel to Wales. Then we’ll take a day to regroup and plan our passage across Biscay, looking for a good window to cross the notorious continental shelf. We’ll train with the storm sails, launch and recover different types of drogues, discuss heavy weather tactics and more. Once it’s a go, we’ll slip lines and head out into the Atlantic proper.
Days 6-11: The the big one: crossing Biscay. The adventure gets serious
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’ll be part of a watch system, sailing the yacht day and night. 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. Of course, it is these challenges that make it so rewarding. The nature of the environment means you live very much in the moment. Edmund Hillary once said, “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves” and that could just as well equate to the sea.
Develop superb blue water sailing skills from top instructors
You’ll be surprised how quickly you get in to the rhythm set by the sea. Sailing by the stars, watching the sun rise and surfing on waves with dolphins riding the bow wave are some of the privileges the ocean sailor enjoys. Ultimately our aim is to furnish you with the skills and knowledge you need for blue water sailing, so from boat preparation to weather forecasting there’ll lots of training en-route. Our skilled instructors are on hand to answer questions, discuss sail trim techniques and help you improve your helming.
Days 12-13 Explore NW Spain’s hidden gem: the Galician Rias
Dramatic and beautiful, the Galician Rias are a brilliant cruising ground once we’ve arrived in Spain and with any luck we’ll have several days here before finishing the trip in Vigo.
Day 14: 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
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE EXACT STRUCTURE OF THE TRIP WILL BE WEATHER DEPENDANT
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 an ocean 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 can be 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. You will be 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.
Other people will offer you a 7 or 10 day package, designed to get you though your required passage as quickly as possible. It’s usually a glorified delivery and the learning at the end of it can be pretty dubious. The Ocean Crossing Masterclass lasts a full two weeks, This gives you far more time and experience to reach the level at which you can start skippering such a voyage yourself. During the two weeks, your instructors will take you through a detailed syllabus with formal lessons every day.
60′ expedition sailing yacht
The yact 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
The boat 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 and 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.
13 – 26 October, 2017 (14 days)
- £1,690 crew
- £1,840 watch leader
Join the yacht on October 12th after midday, in the heart of Bristol right next to the Arnol Fini centre. (Watch leaders should join by 1000hrs on October 11th
Disembark from the yacht in Vigo at midday on October 25th.
It is a short taxi ride from there to Vigo airport and you should look for a flight leaving after 1500 hrs.
- 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. 9 paying crew.
- RYA qualifications available.
- You can earn RYA Competent Crew on this route
- You can earn RYA Watch Leader on this route
- You can get your RYA Yachtmaster Ocean qualifying passage on this route.
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 Rachael and Bruce 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.
Ocean Sailing Across the Bay of Biscay
- Trip Code: AWA327
- Dates: 13 – 26 October, 2017
- Price: 1,690 GBP
- Depart: Bristol, UK
- Arrive: Vigo, Spain
- Length: 14 days
- Adventure: A fantastic ocean sailing challenge combining adventure with expert sailing tuition