Tag: sailing holiday

A Guide to Sailing in the Algarve

Algarve Portugal

Searching for an all inclusive holiday to Portugal? Why not try something new with a fully skippered sailing holiday in the Algarve. With around 200 kilometers of breathtakingly beautiful coastline, azure blue waters and warm winds, a skippered sailing holiday in the Algarve allows you to experience true, authentic Portugal. For those who have yet to be tempted, read on to find out more;

The natural beauty of the Algarve
From gentle golden cliffs sheltering sea caves to striking red rock formations and sand dunes, the coastline is ever-changing here and is best absorbed under sail. A tall ship sailing holiday in this region means you can soak in the natural beauty of the Portuguese coastline at all times, from dining alfresco, sunbathing on deck, or even using onboard kayaks to explore the coast.

The sheltered coastline and warm sailing winds create the perfect sailing area for beginners or old hands, and if you’ve been wanting to learn to sail on a traditional boat in warmer climates, Portugal may be the place for you. Historic tall ship Maybe offers taster sailing trips, perfect for a short break getaway from Portimão. Adventure travellers will love joining tall ship Blue Clipper for a longer open sea voyage around the Spanish and Portuguese coast. 

Beautiful Algarve Beaches
With miles of secluded coastline it’s little wonder that the beaches here are renowned for being some of the most beautiful in the world, with the region regularly voted the best beach destination in Europe. With gentle, secluded coves hugged by whitewashed pretty fishing villages, vast stretches of golden sands and white soft shores along the islands, variety is guaranteed. And the best way to discover as many as possible? By boat of course! Offering an adventurous twist on a typical Portuguese beach holiday, a sailing holiday in Portugal means you’re sure to find the best hidden beaches in the Algarve (and after a morning learning to sail a traditional tall ship, there’s no better way to relax!)

Ancient History

The history of the Algarve is extensive to say the least. The Algarve was once occupied by the Arabs and the name ‘Algarve’ actually arose from the Arab word ‘Al-Gharb’, which means ‘The West’. The Romans then settled here until their fall in the 5th Century which saw the region occupied by roman Visigoths. In 1755 Portugal experienced a huge earthquake which destroyed much of the Algarve’s then-infrastructure as the epicenter was close to Lagos. There is still plenty to see, including the Castelo de Tavira which dates back to the neolithic period, the Faro archaeological museum and Roman ruins in Vilamoura. A skippered sailing holiday with traditionally rigged tall ship Blue Clipper or historic ketch Maybe offers you the opportunity to experience Portugal as explorers would have done hundreds of years ago. Make the most of the warm winds at sea and ancient history on shore. 

The beauty of the sailing winds in this area means there’s plenty of time to explore ashore, with new destinations ready to be explored nearly every day.  Get a taste for authentic Portuguese culture, splitting your time between cultural highlights and hidden gems away from the tourist hustle and bustle. 

Fabulous Food

After a busy day at sea learning the ropes under the watch of the professional crew, you’ll be sure to work up an appetite. It would be impossible to talk about the Algarve without mentioning the incredible cuisine. An eclectic mix of seafood and meat dishes, both influenced by the Arabian and Portuguese ruling throughout the years, the local delicacies are a real highlight of this area. Although both Blue Clipper and Maybe offer all inclusive holidays in the Algarve, with an onboard chef ready to prepare delicious meals, there is still plenty of opportunity to experience the local delicacies ashore! 

Whales and Dolphins

Over 26 species of cetaceans pass through the Algarve waters with 5 calling the area home. Sailing in the Algarve provides an incredible opportunity to observe common, bottlenose, risso dolphins and even minke whales. It’s no secret that marine wildlife is best spotted from the water, and there’s no better place to watch than the deck of a tall ship. Channel your inner explorer with a sailing holiday and be ready to spot killer whales, pilot whales, humpback whales and schools of tuna. 

Explore Gibraltar and North Africa

The Algarve is a great starting point for those wanting to sail the Southern coast of Spain, or even venture down to Gibraltar. Sail with us down to the ancient port of Cadiz in Southern Spain to soak up over 3000 years of maritime history. Head to Gibraltar to experience the melting pot of English, North African, and Spanish cultures, before crossing the Gibraltar strait to visit Ceuta. Sailing holidays from the Algarve are able to reach some interesting destinations, with some breathtaking landscapes along the way.

With all this and so much more, sailing in the Algarve is the best way to experience this phenomenal region. Why not try it for yourself on board tall ship Blue Clipper. Take a break from the grey skies, soak up some winter sun and fall in love with a new destination!?

Discovering the Isle of Skye on the West Coast of Scotland

Skye

At fifty miles in length, the Isle of Skye is the largest of the inner Hebrides and the second largest island in Scotland. Although connected to the north-west Scottish mainland by bridge, the island remains remote, rugged and seemingly untouched by the modern advances and with approximately 30% of the local population speaking Gaelic, it is easy to forget you are just moments from the British mainland. The best way to discover this part of Scotland certainly has to be a sailing holiday in Skye.

A sailing holiday in Scotland is an utter joy as we are among some of the finest sailing waters in the world. If weather permits, you may visit one of the lochs, in particular Loch Scavaig and Loch Coruisk deemed to be ‘the wildest scene in the Highlands’ Nestled on the southern half of the islands, at the foot of the often mist-shrouded Black and Skye Cuillin, the waters here are almost completely enclosed and said to be home to kelpies. Anchoring on Loch Scavaig, at the mouth of Loch Coruisk is utterly breath taking and perhaps one of the most awesome anchorages in the world. Step ashore to uncover another world, exploring foothills, untamed landscapes and the dark granite cliffs. Adding a little life to this often eerily quiet and still setting is the resident seal colony as well as the occasional playful dolphins who accompany vessels across the waters, dancing in and out of the bow waves.

IS THE ISLE OF SKYE GOOD FOR WILDLIFE WATCHING?

Wildlife watching in Scotland is exceptional and nature lovers will delight in the numerous opportunities to observe the plethora of animal species in their natural habitats on Skye. These who venture across the island may be rewarded with Red Deer, Otters, Sea Eagles, Hen Harriers and the Pine Marten. Out at sea, the waters almost throb with marine life with sea-farers often spotting seals, dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks and a variety of whales. On a sailing adventure in this wildlife haven it’s best to keep cameras at the ready to capture memorable moments, you won’t be disappointed.

THE HISTORY OF SKYE

The beauty and history of Skye has longed lured filmmakers with the island featuring in many a Hollywood film including King Arthur, Transformers and the Legend of the Sword. Its wide and varied history can be seen in the seven castles that are located across the island, some are ruined remains whilst others stand tall and statuesque but each point to Skye’s tumultuous past, one of clan feuds and violent battles. Each of our ventures to Skye allow time to explore the island so it is worth speaking with the crew who will be able to assist with any land arrangements to ensure your sailing holiday adventure is as you wish.

The Isle of Skye is Scotland’s most second visited destinations after Edinburgh and is home to some of Scotland’s most iconic landscapes. It is a land of fairy pools, velvet moors and towering sea cliffs. Of mist shrouded jagged mountains, folklore and wonder. Barren and windswept, sailing holidays to Skye are thrilling and there is no denying that this enchanting, majestic island will hold visitors under its spell long after departing.

View our Isle of Skye sailing schedule

Why should you choose a skippered sailing holiday charter in Greece?

Zorba greece Saronic island sailing

Adventure travellers Sarah and Matt explain why they those chose a stress-free all-inclusive skippered sailing holiday to enjoy the very best of Greece’s blue water sailing in the Saronic Gulf.

“The aeroplane doors opened in Athens and we were bathed by wall of Greek heat. After two years of limited travel options, we couldn’t wait for our skippered sailing holiday in Greece to begin. 

After a short taxi ride, we jumped on a ferry from the bustling port of Piraeus’ to meet sailing yacht Zorba on the island of Aegina; the heart of the Saronic Gulf. Skippers Aga and Greg were waiting to meet us on the harbour front with beaming smiles and open arms. They were as happy to see us as we were to see them. Their love for sailing in Greece was clear to see from the moment we exchanged pleasantries and had a quick tour of the boat and we were already beginning to see why they come back here year after year. 

Offering fully catered, skippered charters in Greece is something a little different from the iconic flotilla charter that it is known for but Aga and Greg are passionate about showing their guests the true authentic Greece and sharing their local knowledge – something you just don’t get from bareboat hire or a group flotilla. From finding deserted desert islands with only wild deer and peacocks for residents to the relationships they’ve forged with the locals and traditional tavernas; their passion for the culture and lifestyle is infectious. 

Polish couple Aga and Greg make the voyage. A sailing couple for over six years, they own and sail Zorba, a beneteau Cyclades 50.5 and spend their summers living aboard while they sail and explore the Saronic Islands and the lesser Cyclades with guests. With four double cabins, a twin bunk and generous saloon area, sailing yacht Zorba was the perfect floating base for us to explore Greece. She has a great space on deck for dining alfresco lunches under sail, sunbathing on deck or the option for full shade under the cockpit. A swim ladder and transom shower were perfectly positioned for the multiple swims throughout the day in a variety of azure blue anchorages.

For those wanting to learn more about sailing a modern yacht in Greece under the guidance of a professional skipper and instructor, we couldn’t have asked to be in better hands than with Greg. Having spent many years sail racing in the Baltic, he traded his fast paced corporate life, bought a boat, headed for Greece and has remained sailing here ever since. He quips that ”at the point in the year I have to wear socks – this is a disaster for me“.

Aga, a film producer turned sailor, cannot do enough for guests. Appearing every morning with a beaming smile and an enormous bowl of fresh fruits, yoghurts and nuts, she would then ring ahead to ensure we were booked into the best local taverna at each anchorage. It’s clear to see why Aga and Greg have a loyal following of returning customers – there really is nothing they won’t do for their guests.

We spent a lot of time researching the sail area in Greece and looking at our options for hiring a boat ourselves. Having done a small amount of local coastal sailing over the years, we just couldn’t get our heads around the idea of being responsible for an entire boat ourselves, route planning, weather watching and catering for ourselves while still trying to enjoy the scenery and making time to relax.

 

Sailing and island hopping in the Saronic islands, we were pretty much guaranteed good sailing with the meltimi winds making Greece one of the best warm weather sailing destinations in the world. With the consistant winds and small tidal range, exploring the Greek islands by boat makes for safe sailing. That being said, it gets shallow quickly, everything is done on a who-you-know not what you know basis in Greece and with harbouring to stern being the norm in most ports – we just couldn’t imagine being responsible for our own boat and still being able to completely relax.

Choosing a fully catered and skippered yacht charter in Greece meant we were able to get the perfect balance of learning the ropes and sailing holiday relaxation without the responsibility of our own boat.

Greece is well known for its sunshine sailing in the travel industry and boat world. But VentureSail Holidays are offering something a little different with their fully catered, skippered charter sailing holidays. Staying away from the flotilla towns and tourist hotspots, sailing with Zorba in the Saronic islands and the Cyclades offers so much more than just a bareboat charter. A safe, stress-free environment to learn the ropes under the guidance of a professional skipper mixed with the local knowledge of the best anchorages, swim spots and traditional Tavernas really pays testament to Aga and Greg’s years of accumulated knowledge and easily answers the question of why a skippered yacht charter is the best way to sail in Greece.”

When Is The Best Time For A Sailing Holiday In The Canaries?

Twister from afar sailing in the canary islands

If you have been considering a sailing holiday to the Canaries, aboard a luxury yacht charter then weighing up the best time to sail is a great place to start. With its consistently high year-round temperatures and limited rainfall, June, July and August offer an average of 9 – 10 hours of sunshine a day. 

Warm weather island hopping on a chartered yacht

Between them, the seven islands of the Canaries provide a surplus of destinations, each bringing their own traditional nautical culture, climate and appeal to the sailing experience, making the Canaries a popular choice for seafaring visitors. 

Best time to sail to Lanzarote

Boasting some of the finest beaches in the archipelago, Lanzarote is a popular choice for visiting mariners with its many marinas and excellent anchoring. Its two mountain ranges disrupt the flow of north easterlies, meaning that most of the rain falls before it reaches the west and southern regions of the island, making these areas arid and less windy. Lanzarote’s proximity to the Sahara and Morocco makes it the hottest of all the Canaries, and an ideal year-round sailing destination.

Best time to sail to Tenerife

Tenerife enjoys relatively consistent weather and predictable temperatures thanks to the northeasterly winds that hit its shores from the Atlantic.

Dormant volcano Mount Teide divides the island into two distinctive halves, the north subject to a slightly wetter, cooler climate than the south due to the cloud cover. With more tourists seeking sunshine, the south coast is typically busier and also less windy.

Best time to sail to La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma

The most Western of the Canary Islands, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma are typically lush and a contrast to the drier landscape found on Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. You can sail all year round in this region.

Best time to sail to Fuerteventura

The island of Fuerteventura’s northern coast is sheltered by the weather in Lanzarote, fewer than 10 miles to the north. While the northern coasts of the Canary Islands are generally where the rain falls, much of Fuerteventura is used up by Lanzarote. What there is of it falls mostly in the months of December and January. 

Best time to sail to Gran Canaria

Despite being in the Atlantic, the island of Gran Canaria sees minimal annual rainfall. Summer sees the ‘calima’ drive up temperatures as it travels over the Sahara. Cooled by a pretty constant, refreshing breeze, it makes for a pleasant summer sailing destination with its warm winds.

Best time to sail to La Graciosa

A short sail across the water from Lanzarote, La Graciosa is a UNESCO marine reserve. With only 700 inhabitants, here you can arrive at beautiful secluded beaches with little influx of visitors.

Best time to sail to La Gomera

Steeped in history, La Gomera is typically quiet and green. Columbus set sail from the island back in 1942 on his way to discover the New World. Known as the ‘most Canarian’ of the islands, it offers a warm and friendly welcome and is teaming with wildlife.

Which of the Canaries is your favourite? 

Why limit yourself to one, when you can get a taste for them all when you book a sailing holiday in the Canary Islands. All seven Canary Islands are within an easy distance of each one another, so you can experience many of them all within a single sailing holiday.

Why A Classic Yacht Charter Offers The Perfect Holiday Opportunity in 2021

Pellew classic pilot cutter sailing Cornwall

With the promise of package holidays very much still up in the air, and restrictive quarantine laws imposed for an ever-increasing list of countries, 2021 has so far been a waiting game full of pent-up anticipation for travellers.

With safety, isolation and new experiences all high on the priority list, a classic yacht charter holiday is a hugely attractive option for travellers looking to holiday before the year is out.

Immerse yourself

Connecting with our environment is high on the holiday agenda right now, and there is no better to do this, than at sea. With a focus on slow-paced activities brimming with meaning, investing time in the truly wild experience that classic yacht charter sailing offers lets you unhurriedly explore new countries and cultures, observe wildlife you would never previously encountered, reflect and reconnect.

Pause and ponder

Surrounded by clear expanse of glistening water and your friends or family for company, classic yacht charter sailing gives you the chance to experience maritime travel at its origin. Choosing to take the finest and not the fastest route is something that we rarely took time to do, pre-Covid. Taking it slowly, doesn’t come naturally to us. Getting swept along in the frenzied pace of life was the norm for many of us, accelerated by technology, convenience and constant connection.

Avoid the traffic chaos

When the gates are lifted the nation will flock to the sunshine and popular destinations will be packed with people. Sailing aboard a classic yacht charter is incredibly private, secluded and means you will only rub shoulders with the people you intended to.

Bubble-up safely

Booking a classic yacht charter with your nearest and dearest means that holidaying exclusively with your household or extended household ‘bubble’ is entirely possible. With rigorous testing onboard for clients and crew, alongside frequent sanitising of the ship means that classic yacht charters are proving themselves to be one of the safest holiday options available in 2021.

Sail near or far

Whether you feel safer adventuring close to home or you’re ready to sail away to a far flung destination, a classic yacht charter offers an entirely different way to discover your surroundings. Compared to many countries in Europe and America, the Caribbean hasn’t experienced high levels of Covid. And the UK coastline stretches for some 6,000 miles and is abundant with geographical marvels that many have never witnessed from the ocean.

Tempted to try?

If you have a love of the sea, a spirit for adventure and a desire to sail away from it all, our classic yacht charters tick all the boxes. With a choice of beautiful, fully-crewed boats and worldwide destinations to choose from, we can tailor the ultimate chartered sailing holiday experience for you and guests, sooner than you think.

Give our team a call on 01872 487288 or email us to discuss your 2021 holiday plans.

Sailing in Corfu

Circe stern on anchor

The perfect destination for family yacht charters and beginner sailing holidays.

Known as the ‘Queen of the Ionian Sea’, Corfu combines breath-taking natural beauty, traditional Greek charm and intriguing coastlines, making it the ideal destination for a beginner’s sailing holiday and an adventure at sea the whole family will enjoy.

Sailing in Corfu offers an exciting mix of sheltered coastal coves and miles and miles of crystal-clear open waters to enjoy.

Nicknamed ‘Emerald Island’, thanks to its lush green landscapes, Corfu is a feast for the eyes. Bright turquoise waters and swathes of pine trees, olive groves and vineyards line the island’s coast and mountain tops, offering up one of Europe’s most beautiful sailing backdrops.

Life at sea in Corfu offers you freedom and flexibility to do what suits you and your family, whether that’s adventures and activities, or some much needed rest and relaxation, or both. Sailing in Corfu makes for an unforgettable family adventure.

Swimming and snorkelling

The warm, inviting waters of the Ionian Sea are perfect for swimming. On board our luxury Ionian charter boat Circe, our admiralty ladder is a firm favourite with guests of all ages – the perfect place to jump into the turquoise sea and climb back on board with ease. Hours of fun and an experience no-one will forget.

Corfu is just as beautiful below the water as it is above. It’s considered to be one of Europe’s undiscovered snorkelling gems. The peaceful, clear waters are ideal for family snorkelling and our boat provides snorkelling gear for our guests to enjoy at their leisure. Circe also has inflatable kayaks and fishing gear available to make the most of the beautiful waters below you.

Have an adventure

Sailing in Corfu is all about making discoveries and enjoying an adventure. Steer clear of crowded tourist hotspots and uncover the real Corfu under sail.

Corfu and its surrounding islands are peppered with pebbled coves, vast olive groves and stunning stretches of golden sandy beaches, ready to be explored.  Your voyage route to explore beyond Corfu will depend entirely on which way the wind is blowing, adding to the excitement and sense of adventure.

North or south sailing, you will enjoy breath-taking scenery and islands with true Grecian charm.

To the north of Corfu is the Diapontia Islands of Othonoi, Eirkoussa and Mathraki. These peaceful islands offer tranquil stretches of golden sands, quaint fishing villages and traditional tavernas with delicious local produce, particularly seafood.

To the south, there are the beautiful Paxi Islands of Paxos and Antipaxos, famous for its fine wines and stunning sandy beaches. The west coasts of the islands remain untouched, offering a perfect place to explore centuries old olive groves and unspoilt coves.

For some extra adventure at sea, our charter boat Circe even has authentic ship hammocks for an exhilarating night beneath the stars.

Soak it all in

Corfu has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and soaking up the sun with a cool drink on board your own luxury private charter yacht has to be one of the best ways to experience it. It is certainly a holiday where you can leave it all behind and escape to paradise.

Sailing in Corfu for beginners

Our sailing holidays in Corfu are ideal for beginners. Our boats are fully crewed, and you don’t need any sailing experience to get involved. From hoisting the sails to taking the helm, chart reading or even having a go at splicing some rope, there is always something interesting happening on board if you want to join in.

Of course, you may prefer to sit back, relax and let your experienced skipper expertly guide you across the seas to discover the next hidden gem Corfu has to offer.

Either way, sailing in Corfu is sure to capture your family’s heart and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Take a look at our sailing schedule and start planning your trip to paradise now.

Why you should choose a sailing holiday in Norway

Norway Fjord Stranda

With over 1000Nm of unbelievably stunning coastline, Norway is one of our best adventure sailing destinations with so much to offer for both the Salty seadog and the first time sailor.

Steep green fjords and Arctic tundra make for stunning landscapes, but it’s also the clarity of light and the feeling of freedom at sea that makes revisiting this unique country a fresh experience every time.

Skipper Nikki shares her love for sailing in Norway with some of her best coastal towns to visit.

Lysefjord and Pulpit rock
Traditional white wooden houses line the streets of Stavanger where the narrow and majestic Lysefjord begins. The sheer silvery rockface rises from the mysterious deep blue and it is Pulpit rock that has made this fjord so famous.  Looking up, rising high above us from the deck, you can just make out the figures of brave souls standing perilously on the high rock taking in the majestic view.  Such is the vastness of the landscape here, it makes this one of my favourite places to sail in all of Norway.  

Bergen
Bryggen is one of the most beautiful waterfronts in the world. It is everything you imagine Scandinavia to be with painted pine-log houses fronting onto the sea against a pine forest backdrop. Streets twist between old merchant houses reformed into cosy candlelit cafes drawing you in with smells of rich coffee mingled with scents of pine resin.

It is nearly essential to arrive into Bergen by sea as maritime skill and tradition run thick through the veins of many who live here. 200 years ago, so important was the trade and shipbuilding to the town, they named a type of vessel, Hardangar Jakt after the strong and seaworthy cargo vessels that traded from here throughout Europe.

Sailing in from the coast,  the sprinkling of rocky islets topped off with tiny red and white painted cabins, transforms into a wide-open bay surrounded by this idyllic town.  Bergen is the perfect stop off after a good day of sailing so do take time to explore for yourself this charming place. The outdoor market in the summer has everything from fresh berries to locally caught fish and wonderful cheeses.  Make sure you try the Fiskebolle soup, a fine traditional hearty soup made from local cod and potato.

Lofoten
Above the arctic circle lies a real gem that is definitely on my bucket list to explore. Lofoten is a chain of islands lying close to the coastline of Norway offering some of the best sailing holidays in Norway. Our expedition vessel Narwhal will be visiting here this summer.

These islands are so fairytale-like, you somehow expect trolls and goblins to inhabit this place. Realistically, the islands are home long lines of fishing families, working a trade that has sustained the islands for centuries due to the rich waters. Throughout Europe and Africa, Stockfisk, a dry, salted cod, became an important staple diet and Lofoten’s position in the cod trade rose to create charming villages and harbours. 

With such a dramatic landscape from uninhabited islands to sheer cliffs to mountains, you can’t help but be excited. Wildlife is in abundance here with moose, otter, whales and eagles very much part of the landscape so take the time to explore every hidden part. 

For me, one of my favourite pastimes while sailing in Norway is fishing for cod during the warm summer nights when the sun never sets but perches elegantly on the horizon. What better way to end a day of sailing than to hop into the dinghy with a line and hook. No phones, no noise just drifting on the tide, soaking up the peace and wondering at this incredible landscape, you nearly have to pinch yourself to see if it is real!

Food
Norway mixes traditional recipes focused on utilising local ingredients. The land is rich in wild food and the locals are certainly resourceful with their gathering. Berries and wild mushrooms grow abundantly in the early autumn and small coastal farms produce wonderful cheeses and flavoursome lamb. The seas are rich in wonderful fish and shellfish with fresh produce available to buy in all the coastal towns.  My top foodie things to try are Brunost, a rich, slightly sweet soft cheese; Fiskebolle Soup, a creamy fish soup with white fish balls; and of course as in all of Scandanavia everyone must try Herring with Schnapps.

Stop dreaming and start planning!
Take a look at our sailing schedule and start planning your sailing holiday in Norway today, and get one step closer to ticking it off your bucket list.

Sailing adventures and foodie experiences in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland

Scotland Isle of Bute

The owner, Dónal Boyle, of Crofters’ Music Bar & Bistro on the Isle of Arran, has taken his bistro concept afloat on tall ship Lady of Avenel to offer guests a gourmet sailing holiday experience on the West coast of Scotland in the Hebrides.

Dónal moved from the North of England to the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde in 1986 at the age of 14. His father’s family being Irish, he quickly adapted to life on a Scottish Island and became immersed in the culture, which included smallholding, sailing and music; all of which, he developed a passion for. Read why Dónal loves to live, work and sail on the Firth of Clyde.

Lady of Avenel Donal Boyle Crofters
Dónal Boyle

“A sailing holiday in the Firth of Clyde really does have a little bit of everything; stunning islands and lochs, with plenty of deep water anchorages and harbours, fishing villages & Victorian holiday towns.

There are breweries, famous distilleries and plenty of live music in pubs and festivals throughout the year. On my home island of Arran, situated in the Lochranza Bay, the Lochranza Distillery is famous for its Scottish whisky and is well worth a visit.

Along with sailing this beautiful part of Scotland, I love the music life here. Celtic music is in our roots and I really try to capture this within my Bistro on the Isle of Arran. I am really looking forward to bringing the hospitality and music of my Bistro onboard Lady of Avenel with my Crofters’ Cruises.

Lady of Avenel anchored in Scotland

We are really lucky with the wildlife in the Firth of Clyde. It’s a nature lovers’ dream with massive diversity. From dolphins swimming in the wake of Lady of Avenel’s bow to common seals basking in the sun, we also have spottings of humpback and killer whales!

From a practical sailing point of view, there are very few tidal constraints in the Clyde and most importantly for novices, it is well sheltered from the Atlantic. There is always somewhere to explore and enjoy, amongst the islands and lochs, even in bad weather. Pilotage is straightforward and there’s relatively little commercial traffic, so it makes for a really relaxing, enjoyable cruising holiday.”

Lady of Avenel Crofters food table
Crofters’ Gourmet Sailing Holidays

Crofters’ Cruises on the Lady of Avenel are the fulfilment of Dónal’s ambition to combine all three of his passions into an extraordinary project, made possible by Stefan Fritz, owner of Lady of Avenel, with whom Dónal has sailed extensively and run a very successful first Crofters’ Cruise from Oban to Donegal last summer.

Lady of Avenel scotland sailing
Lady of Avenel tall ship
Lady of Avenel bunks
Lady of Avenel berths
Lady of Avenel saloon eating
Lady of Avenel saloon

First time Sailing in Devon

Escape sails up

Adam recounts his sea tales from his first time sailing experience on Escape exploring the South Devon Coast.

Having never sailed before I was expectant of my first sailing experience but not really sure what for! A fully crewed Devon sailing holiday seemed the perfect start to my non-existent experience.

The full English breakfast from the Sloping deck in Dartmouth, had done little to settle the nervous energy in my stomach. We were standing on the edge of the harbour wall in Devon when we first caught sight of what would become our floating home for the next three nights; Escape, a stunning Norwegian classic wooden yacht.

With everyone and their luggage safely aboard, introductions were made and safety briefings given. The plan, according to the Skipper Andy, was to sail southwest, stop off in Salcombe to explore and continue onto Yealm before heading back to Dartmouth. Once the bunks had been settled and everyone had familiarised themselves with the boat and her rigging, we were off.

Fortunately, we were blessed with one of the best weekends of sunshine this year so shorts, t-shirts and plenty of sun cream were the order of the day.

We had soon rounded Dartmouth castle, clear of the mouth of the River Dart and were now out in the ocean making for Salcombe, my nervous energy and the harbour left behind us. Not knowing how I would fair at sea, and not knowing the least about ropes, sails and charts was something I needn’t have concerned myself with. Andy was our laid-back guide on this fully chartered boat and with his help, I was soon hoisting sails and ‘making off’ ropes.

We gently bobbed toward Salcombe taking in the views of Devon from the sea. As the water ebbed away, so did the time, with the phrase ‘lost’ at sea beginning to take on a new meaning. Over the next few days, this feeling became more profound and the checking of digital gadgets gave way to the intriguing sights provided by the binoculars; wildlife, mesmerising scenery, and the other ‘sailors’ travelling through the lenses.

Tacking and jibing up and down the Devon coastline for the first time was equally as fun as it was enlightening. When we had used up all of the available wind, sails were dropped, ropes were tidied and we entered into Salcombe town via the mouth of the Kingsbridge estuary.

Devon Coast gorse

Salcombe was incredibly picturesque, with a relaxed and carefree spirit reminiscent of being back home in certain towns of Cornwall. Only to be reminded of the difference when the cream teas were brought up on deck and the debate over cream or jam first ensued!

Anchoring at dusk in the tranquillity of Yealm we were welcomed by the clearest of skies to observe the stars. Being woken by the gentle lull of the hull in the morning, I was now familiar with the smell of warm pastries and coffee simmering throughout the saloon and climbing above deck to appreciate our totally unspoiled surroundings, has to be the best way to wake up!

The final stretch of our day sail back up the coast allowed us more time to relax, sample more cooked on-board delicacies (including full English breakfast), and for me to learn some more about sailing aboard this Classic yacht. Andy happily fielded all of my questions and took the time to show me some basic chart reading and navigation.

It was during this stretch back up the coast we were joined by an inquisitive pod of Dolphins playfully ducking and diving under the bow of the boat. With the final highlight for me, helming the boat back into Dartmouth harbour affording me the opportunity to revel in the pride of piloting such a vessel. Something I had never expected to do on my first sailing holiday in Devon.

After a night in Dartmouth, the usual selection of pastries, cereals, yoghurts and fruit followed in the morning and with heavy hearts, we packed our bags and made our way above deck to say our final goodbyes.

Setting foot back on dry land and searching for what day and time it was confirmed we had in fact only been aboard for three nights. It certainly felt longer; confirming my suspicions that she isn’t just Escape by name, but also by nature.

Sailing Devon’s beautiful creeks & bays

Devon coast

Nikki Alford, skipper of Bessie Ellen and co-owner of Venturesail gives her insight into her favourite sailing grounds around the beautiful South Devon Coast.

If there is one goal for 2020 it should be getting out on the water for a long weekend right here at home in the UK. Even if you have never sailed or stepped foot on a boat, there is just so much to explore along our shores and rivers that will delight and inspire you no matter what the weather. And the best thing is – you don’t even have to know how to sail.

I’m going to take you on a tour of the South Devon coast, exploring secret coves, bustling harbours and quiet estuaries on board our fleet of Devon-based traditional craft. Along with their welcoming and knowledgable, the captains and crew are there to give you the very best of times, both onboard and whilst exploring the shore and feeding you wonderful food!

DEVON CREEKS AND BAYS

Protected on both shores by two dominating castles is the historic merchant port of Dartmouth is by far the most picturesque in the whole of Devon. The old town overlooks the Rover Dart, tumbling picturesque timber-framed houses line narrow cobbled street housing delightful; independent shops and galleries. The wide River Dart winds through rural Devon farms and woodland before arriving at the very hip town of Totnes. If you are joining Escape or Our Daddy in Dartmouth, it is well worth starting in Totnes (better parking and train links) and taking the River Ferry down the River Dart. Both boats run coastal exploration weekends and day sails from Dartmouth so it is worth taking time to wander the streets to discover some 600 years of history.

I prefer to anchor than berth overnight in the harbour. It’s a real chance to “get away from it all” and Devon has two of my favourite beaches to drop anchor. The long sweep of the golden beach at Blackpool Sands is a perfect backdrop to watch the sunset with the boat murmuring at her anchor. Further up the coast to the South of Berry Head is St Mary’s Bay and no doubt a favourite of our third Devon-based boat, traditional trawler Pilgrim of Brixham. With clear waters of crystal blue, St Mary’s is a marvellous spot to dive over the side and explore ashore.

As always the British summer is never always sunshine and sparkling seas, but what we do have are sheltered secret places away from rougher seas. Our Devon harbours, rivers and creeks just scream “Explore me”, with each bend opening to another seemingly new world to discover. Old oaks bow down to the river’s edge, Herons like statues stare in dark water while families of ducks and swans cruise in the tranquillity of river life. Even as a beginner to boats, it’s a wonderful feeling to take the tiller, gently potter along under sail and enjoy the calm and quiet.

Of course with all this activity and fresh air, food is an absolute high point and what better county in England produces such fine fare. Sharpham, up the River Dart, produces some outstanding cheeses of course best washed down with local apple juice or ciders from nearby villages. Stoke Gabriel is surrounded by organic orchards and of course, must absolutely finish with a Devon Cream Tea.

Whichever boat you choose, whether sailing up the River or out to sea, this coast really is perfect for those wanting to try something new or simply see Devon from a different view.

View our Devon sailing experiences >

10 Reasons to sail in the Caribbean

St Lucia Caribbean Marigot bay unsplash

The Caribbean is regarded by many as the Best Place in the World to holiday. Home to thousands of islands and perfect sailing winds (out of hurricane season of course!) we would have to agree with this… Forget the all inclusive Caribbean resorts and head for an authentic Caribbean adventure on an all inclusive sailing holiday! Sailing trips to the Caribbean should be on everyone’s bucket list, and if you’re still not convinced then here are our top ten reasons for choosing a sailing holiday in the Caribbean!

1. Warm Weather
Temperatures in the Caribbean sit between 23ºC to 30ºC all year long both day and night – so you can ditch those woolly jumpers but don’t forget the suncream! Whilst there’s plenty of time to be spent ashore sunbathing on the beach, one of the best things about yachting in the Caribbean is the gentle ocean breeze as you relax on the deck of the boat.

2. Perfect Sailing Winds
We obviously make sure that our holidays occur outside of the hurricane season! The Caribbean has constant trade winds, averagely blowing at about 15 – 25 knots from the East, most of the year. Dream sailing conditions making island hopping a dream to navigate for our skippers on Eye of the Wind, Chronos, Rhea, Blue Clipper and Skyelark. So whether you’re joining us on a 5* luxury yacht, or on a traditional tall ship, the warm winds make sailing a breeze..

3. Beautiful Beaches
We have all seen the photos of the pure white beaches hugging the islands providing the perfect holiday backdrop. Whilst typical Caribbean beach resorts are brimming with tourist hustle and bustle, our boats can take you to so many “off the beaten track” beaches you won’t know where to look! So whether it’s beaches overlooked by the volcanic mountains of St Lucia, or tropical beach destinations hidden along the shores of Antigua, find your favourite hidden gem beach in the Caribbean (and be sure to let us know!).

4. Wonderful Wildlife
From flamingoes to Sea Turtles, Marmut Monkeys to rare butterflies, the Caribbean is home to a rich and diverse abundance of fascinating wildlife and rare species. One of the benefits of a sailing holiday in the Caribbean is the proximity to marine wildlife. From our boats, you can swim with dolphins and sea turtles, snorkel with tropical fish in beautiful coral bays or even rent a diving suit at a local village and explore the shipwrecks. Whatever island you visit, rest assured you won’t be short of wildlife spotting opportunities.

5. Crystal Clear Waters
Low water density and lack of industry make for fantastically clear waters so swimming and snorkelling are top of the list for activities! And not only are they crystal clear but the average water temperature is also 27ºC – it’s like swimming in a lovely bath! Many of our voyages are able to take in the world class snorkelling destinations in the Caribbean, including the reef-lined Bequia Island or the under-water world of Tobago Cays.

6. Thousands of Islands
The Caribbean is made up of thousands of islands and with so much to explore, you’ll be longing to return for more from the moment you arrive. A skippered sailing holiday is the best way to experience as many islands as possible, with each mainland wonderfully culturally different from the next.

7. Fabulous Food
Traditional Caribbean food is a fabulous fusion between African, European, East Indian and Chinese cuisine. Your all inclusive Caribbean vacation starts with our on board chefs, who will certainly make sure that they are hopping ashore to grab the local delicacies to cook up a feast for your dinner. The seafood is especially fresh and the spices available will be like nothing you have tasted before. And of course, you must try the Caribbean rum!

8. Colourful Caribbean Culture
From the beautiful timber buildings to the local festivals to the wildlife, there are so many ways in which the Caribbean is full of colour. It would be impossible to choose the best Caribbean islands to visit, with each having its own unique community and culture. A sailing holiday in the Caribbean allows you to soak in as much culture as possible on your tropical vacation! The festivals reflect the rich and cultural diversity of the islands and if you catch one, you will be in for a once in a lifetime experience!

9. Interesting History
The Caribbean is steeped in colonial history with each island seemingly worlds apart from the next. The BVI is home to many pirate stories and shipwrecks while the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda are full of historical and archaeological places of interest for those who love to sniff out a bit of history. A skippered sailing holiday to the Caribbean means you have built in tour guides in the form of our experienced crew who will be more than happy to make recommendations on all the top sights and hidden gems.

10. The Caribbean People
Whatever island you visit, you will find the (majority!) of locals to be friendly, happy-go-lucky and amazingly laid back. As you anchor from one port to the next be sure to befriend the locals, as they know all the best hidden gems of the area. They really do make your Caribbean sailing holiday experience a relaxed one!

Take a look at our sailing holidays in the beautiful Caribbean.

Delightful Devon Sailing

ESCAPE dartmouth

Naomi from the VentureSail booking team discovers the delights of sailing in Devon .

Growing up in Cornwall I thought coastlines couldn’t get any better. I’ve travelled a lot internationally and always came home to the Cornish Coast with a sigh of relief. Then I went sailing along the Devon coast and realised, perhaps, just quite how bias I had been! I am not saying they are “better” (loyally Cornish!) but I would say a happy extension of the Cornish coastline and more dramatic. Higher cliff lines loom, with a lot more greenery, gently giving way to quaint inlets and harbour towns, with crystal blue waters – almost like the Scillies. There are many more coastal features here than in Cornwall with arches and stacks forming fascinating headlands.

Brixham itself is such a dear little harbour town. With its colourful houses and quaint cottages, it’s definitely a scene for a postcard! I had a wander here before I boarded and all the locals are really friendly. There is a sense of “lost-in-time’ here, a relaxed atmosphere that seems to be getting lost in this increasingly modern world.

Sailing alongside Berry Head near Brixham sees a dramatic limestone headland which has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural beauty. With my binoculars at the ready, I couldn’t believe the birdlife that called these sheer cliffs home! Colonies of kittiwakes are something I’d been dying to see and I was certainly not disappointed. I had read that the Lighthouse on Berry Head was on one of the highest points on the British Isles; I was not prepared for the size and scale of this cliff line – totally breathtaking.

Sailing into Dartmouth and Kingsbridge you are greeted with the silhouettes of their Castles marking each side of the river mouth. Totally picturesque on both sides of the river, each town spills down onto the waterfront, dotted with colourful houses. We stopped in Dartmouth for the night and what a lovely town it is. We walked through with the skipper and had a drink at the yacht club, before going onto have a cream tea in a 16th-century building now cafe – The Sloping Deck.

Next we were headed for Salcombe. Dolphins swam with us for a good hour or so as we continued our sailing down the coast and we were lucky with good weather so it made for perfect sailing! Arriving into Salcombe was really stunning. The town is tucked in and around the inlet, with local fishing boats lining the shore. This little inlet was a paradise for “life on the water” from SUP’s to children practising in dingy, kayaking to classic boats.
Everyone’s waves and sails by beaming from ear to ear – a really great atmosphere. We stayed here for another night before heading back up the coast the next day. There wasn’t as much wind on this day but it made for the perfect opportunity to learn how to read charts and plot positions. Andy the Skipper is a great guide who has a lot of experience!

With a tiny taste of what the Devon coast has to offer from the sea, I will be sure to return for a longer sailing passage with hope to stop at more the beautiful anchorages. My trip was aboard Escape, but Our Daddy and Pilgrim of Brixham also sail around these waters.

Take a look at our sailing breaks in Devon >