The first leg of our transatlantic voyage with an offshore sailing across the challenging Bay of Biscay from La Rochelle to Lisbon. The voyage is an excellent mile-building and training opportunity in tidal waters, very useful if you plan to take RYA examinations in the future.
Galicia and Portugal's coast
The start and end dates are fixed.
Whole trip (9 days) per person:
- 900 Euro for a bunk. Deposit (50% of the balance) to be paid within one week of booking, the rest 35 days before the start date.
- 150 Euro (15 Euro / day) for consumables. Collected during the joining day for all food consumed onboard, harbour fees and diesel. This is a realistic estimation. Any remainder will be refunded at the end of the trip.
The trip is non-commercial and runs in a friends-sailing manner. The contribution per person is fixed no matter how many people have booked the trip. The trip will run regardless of the number of participants.
What is not included:
- Optional expenses like rental vehicles or food & beverages consumed ashore
- Travel to and from the boat
- Personal travel insurance (highly recommended) - you can find some recommendations in the FAQ
- Personal laundry (some ports have facilities to do laundry if you need it)
- Standard foam lifejackets will be provided, but you need to bring your own Automatic life jacket, min. ISO 165 N (example + lifeline/tether with 3 self-locking hooks). You can pack it in your checked-in luggage on the plane. Just don’t forget to unscrew the gas cylinder to avoid self-activation. Airlines, accept up to to cylinders in a single check-in luggage.
How much to bring in addition?
Generally, you won’t need anything in addition, but this will depend on how much you want to eat in restaurants and spend on other things like souvenirs and tourist attractions. Some people prefer to eat only on the boat and don’t spend anything on restaurants and some prefer to eat outside whenever we are on land. This is very individual.
Who can join
You should have at least 1 week of sea sailing experience on board a sailing yacht to join this trip. If you are new to ocean sailing, this is a great opportunity for you to get into it.
You will become an active member of the crew. You are not just a passenger. During the voyage, you will assist with helming, sail trimming and all the normal duties of a crew member whilst having the opportunity to learn about weather, routing, navigation, boat handling and many more according to your interests and experience. Above all, it should be fun and recreational for everyone.
If English is not your native language, and you don’t know the English sailing terms, don’t worry. You will learn the necessary vocabulary in no time while on board.
- Start: La Rochelle – Île de Ré Airport (LRH) is located 5 km from the city and offers flights from within France and from some European locations. It is also easy and fast to get to La Rochelle by fast trains from all major cities like Paris using TGV, Intercité or TER.
- Finish: Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS) is the main international gateway to Portugal. The airport is located within the city limits and only a few kilometres away from the Doca de Alcântara Marina.
Try the following websites to find the best flight connections:
Let us know, we can help you find the best connections!
Marcin Wojtyczka: RYA Yachtmaster Ocean commercially endorsed, RYA Yachtmaster Cruising Instructor
What should you pack
You can download a complete checklist here.
The most important items:
- head torch for night sailing
- boat shoes with a good grip that don’t leave marks on the deck
- foul weather gear (if you have one), otherwise waterproof jacket
- waterproof boots with a good grip (normal rubber wellies are fine as long as they don’t leave marks on deck)
- some warmer clothes for the night
- insurance policy
- payment/credit cards
- phone with charger
- sleeping bag
The trip will be focused on milebulding and training. In total, we should log around 750 nautical miles and 160h in tidal waters.
La Rochelle (France) - La Coruña (Spain) - Baiona / Vigo (Spain) - Lisbon (Portugal)
We will be maintaining a watch system to ensure everyone is well rested and meals are prepared on time and maintenance is undertaken when necessary.
We will try to stick to the planned route, but the final itinerary will be decided in association with you, the crew, in light of the weather and crew conditions at the time.
Oceanis 40.1 (2023) First Line ("Madelon")
Follow the boat on Marine Traffic (MMSI: 347025490).
She will be a new boat directly from the boatyard in La Rochelle. A new hull design makes her astonishingly stable while reducing resistance to forward motion. She is the sportier First Line edition with an extra-long mast and keel offering exceptional performance.
She will be fully equipped for ocean sailing with bluewater gear like watermaker, satellite communication, solar panels, sextant etc. We will inspect the boat thoroughly before we set the sails to ensure that every bit of equipment is absolutely ship-shaped.
- Year: 2023
- Type: sailing
- CE design category: A – Ocean
- Hull: monohull
- Length (LOA): 12.87 m (42.3 ft)
- Waterline length (LWL): 11.70 m (38.5 ft)
- Hull speed: 8.3kt
- Berths (Bunks): 6
- Cabins: 3
- WC / Shower: 2
- Beam: 4.18 m
- Draught: 2.27 m - performance draft
- Air draft: 18.78 m - performance mast
- Engine: 45 HP
- Fuel capacity: 195 L (Diesel)
- Water capacity: 330 L
- Batteries: 230 AH for service, 120 Ah for engine
- Displacement: 7985 kg
- Performance running rigging
- Cascading backstay
- Twin rudder
- 2 composite steering wheels
- Sails: full-batten mainsail 43.2 m2, Furling genoa (105%) 36.5 m2, Code-0 61.1 m2, Storm Jib 9 m2
- Plastimo drogue
- Solar panels
- Whisker pole
- Lee cloth in the saloon
- DSC VHF radio
- Power inverter from 12V DC to 230V AC
- Handheld VHF DSC radio
- AIS class B transponder (Transponder/Receiver)
- Radar reflector
- Chart plotter with GPS and digital chartography charts
- Sextant Astra IIIB Deluxe
- Iridium satellite terminal (getting weather forecasts and contacting family offshore - available for the whole crew)
- PredictWind Offshore app (satellite-enabled license) - Ocean Racing proven, highest resolution marine forecasts
- Complete set of pilot books, almanacs and charts
- Pillows, bedlinen and towels for each crew member
Average weather conditions:
During the day in the Bay of Biscay, you can expect on average a temperature of 14° C and 10° C at night. The weather should be improving as we progress towards Portugal where you can expect a pleasant temperature of 19° C during the day and 12° C at night with less possibility of rain.
Seawater at the beginning of November is still relatively warm with an average of 18° C, but going steeply down towards the end of the month.
Wind and sea state
The average wind speed along the anticipated route is 5-6 Bft.
The sailing area is influenced by North Atlantic low-pressure systems. In November, fronts and occasionally secondary depressions may cross the area. Winds are variable but those from northwest and southwest are more common. The north-western tip of Spain, Cabo Ortegal and Finisterre are famous for strong winds at any time of the year. Wind accelerations along the Portugal coast are also common due to the high cliffs of the Iberian Peninsula. Challenging sailing area and a fantastic opportunity to practice weather routing.
The sea state is expected to be moderate to rough. Atlantic swell is common along the whole of the coast because of the continental plate which runs close to the shoreline.
The favourable current flows southwards year-round and should add an extra 0.5 kt to our speed.
The route is divided into several long passages with night sailing. You will receive a certificate of passage to prove your sea time for sailing licenses. You will be an active member of the crew, and we will provide practical training on board to ensure safety and improve your sailing skills.
We give a great amount of responsibility to each crew member in running the ship so that you can gain a good experience and learn new skills as much or as little as you want. The skipper is an instructor and will find it difficult not to teach or coach anyone who shows the slightest bit of interest.
RYA qualifying passages
If you are an aspiring Skipper or Yachtmaster, it will be an excellent opportunity to gain bluewater miles, practice navigation, pilotage and COLREG skills so that you can be more confident and comfortable when taking a boat out to sea on your own.
The opportunity will also be there to act as a skipper (with guidance if needed from the skipper) for your RYA Yachtmaster Coastal or RYA Yachtmaster Offshore qualifying 60M passages.
Main topics that you can learn or brush up:
- Maneuvering under sails & engine: berthing, hoisting and lowering sails, reefing, tacking, gybing, sail trim
- Safety: use of liferaft, lifejacket, EPIRB, PLB, AIS beacons, managing emergencies
- Equipment: use of Autopilot, AIS, VHF, Satellite communication
- Weather forecasts and weather routing
- Ocean & coastal navigation: digital and traditional (including astronavigation - weather permitting)
- Night navigation
- Pilotage and passage planning
- Use of Code 0 sail
- Use of whisker pole for downwind sailing
- Storm tactics and the use of storm jib
- Use of a drogue
- Life on board: organization of watches, nutrition, sleep management
4 November: Joining day - La Rochelle
We will spend the first day preparing and victualling the yacht, going over the safety routines and practices, getting up to speed with the boat and learning or refreshing all the basic sailing skills before we embark on the journey. Once we slip the lines there will be plenty of occasions to practice tacking, gybing, reefing, boat handling under the engine and all the other key skills we must have.
La Rochelle is the largest sailing yachting hub in the world. 70% of sailing yachts are produced within a radius of 150 km. It has the largest marina in Europe - 4800 masts!!! A huge number of workshops in the yachting industry. The largest suppliers of spare parts and materials locate their warehouses here.
All year La Rochelle moves at the same pace as its sporting events. With an important place in international sailing competitions, La Rochelle is part of one the busiest bodies of water in Europe with more than 120 events and regattas a year. It is the port of call and port of departure for the most distinguished offshore races like Velux 5 Oceans or Solitaire du Figaro.
Besides yachting, La Rochelle is known for its rich history and an abundance of historical sites. Everyone, especially yachtsmen, will be interested in visiting Maritime Museum, which is in the open air. There are many great classic yachts lovingly restored as well as several large vessels.
La Coruña (~360 NM / 3 days of sailing)
Situated beside the Atlantic Ocean, La Coruña is a historic city of northern Galicia whose history has maintained close links with its old fishing and commercial port. The old city is picturesque with narrow paved streets, houses with characteristic glassed-in balconies and numerous small restaurants.
Tower of Hercules lighthouse
The peninsula on which the Old City stands also contains the Tower of Hercules, the oldest functioning lighthouse in the world!
Baiona / Vigo (~130 NM / 1 day of sailing)
Baiona is easily approached by day or night and is an excellent port of call. It offers the chance to relax, wait out inclement weather and re-provision. Vigo is also easily reachable by bus.
Islas Cies on the approaches to Baiona and Vigo
The Baiona town is attractive and thriving as a tourist resort, with well-protected beaches and a secure place in history as Columbus' first mainland landfall in 1493 after returning from the New World. This is commemorated by a replica of the Pinta permanently berthed in the harbour. Medieval walls surround the harbour and there are pleasant walks in the pine forest.
Lisbon (~230 NM / 2 days of sailing)
Lisbon is the capital and largest city of Portugal. It is an ancient city remarkable for its beauty and maritime past. Lisboa is among the top tourist preferences in Europe. The city enjoys a Mediterranean climate and is a mix of character and charm with 20 centuries of history.
Cabo de Roca lighthouse on the approaches to Lisbon
Perhaps the most memorable parts of Lisbon are in the Belem area close to the Marina Doca de Alcantara where we will finish the trip. These include the Torre de Bellem monument and the impressive Jeronimos Monastery. Vasco da Gama and his crew spent their last night in Portugal in prayer here before leaving for India and their historic voyage.
12 November: Finishing day, Lisbon (Marina Doca de Alcantara)
We will finish the leg in Lisbon. It's always a strange feeling to pack up, say farewell to new friends and prepare to head back home.
Lisbon characteristic streets
If you want to continue the journey join the next transatlantic leg to sail from Lisbon to Madeira and Tenerife.