March 07 - 24, 2018
Starts in Azores
Ends in Portsmouth, UK
£400 deposit secures berth
£150 supplement watch leader
Prepare for limited resources & fewer creature comforts
Intensive tuition. Make rapid gains in your seamanship.
A gentle introduction to start
As with all our expeditions, the first day is a very gentle introduction to the yacht and to some basic sailing skills and drills. Whether you're an experienced sailor or a complete novice, everyone benefits from a really gentle, patient introduction to what's what! Individually and as a crew, we can then get properly up to speed.
Explore the Azores
There may well be time to explore a little of the Azores, stopping at a port or two and anchoring in a bay overnight. All the time though we will be monitoring the weather and watching those forecasts, with the anticipation building...
Out into the open ocean, sailing under the sun and stars
When the wind looks favourable, we will then head off east, out into the wide open expanses of the Atlantic Ocean. There is something uniquely special about being alone in the ocean and we will quickly settle into the rhythm of watches. Sunrise and sunset are always special times at sea and there is nothing quite like helming under a starry sky.
We will use the sextant to navigate, along with many other traditional navigation methods. This gives you a much greater involvement with the environment than simply watching a GPS monitor. To use the sextant you will need to have been on a course prior to joining.
Cross the Bay of Biscay and head for home
After many days at sea, we now approach the infamous Bay of Biscay. With no stops planned, we will cross it in the weather we find it. This can be anything from mighty windy and bouncy to glorious sunshine, spinnakers and whales. We've had it all! Before we know it, we will be passing by Ushant and Brest: such famous staging points to any sailor, then up into the Channel and along to Portsmouth.
The Ocean Crossing Masterclass
This trip is run as an Ocean Crossing Masterclass. That means there is loads of tuition for those who want and a structured syllabus to work though. However, if that's not your thing and you just want to sail - that's fine too. Just let us know!
Ocean sailing is incredibly rewarding and exciting - but you are out in the depths of the ocean where the weather may be more challenging and life is a little tougher. You will also be in a 24 hour watch system and this can leave you feeling tired.
On non ocean passages, the maximum number of crew is 8.
This gives an instructor - crew ration of 4:1 which is ideal. It also means you will have plenty of time on the helm, navigating and improving your sail trim. For ocean passages, we increase the crew size to 9 which makes the watch system far more comfortable and means you can get better rest.
Men and women
Our expeditions are usually pretty evenly split between men and women with, if anything, a slight bias toward women. Of course, some expeditions can vary from this balance, but it is unusual. It would be very unlikely indeed that you were the only man or the woman amongst the crew.
Anyone joining us must be 18 years or over, but there is no upper age limit. Indeed, we've had a 75 year old novice sail with us up into the Arctic and he coped superbly. There's a full range of ages on board with the majority being between 30 - 60. We find age immaterial on board as it's a mindset that draws people on to these expeditions and you will be with some fun and inspiring fellow crew.
Our most common crew profile would be - "I've sailed a bit in the past and got my Day Skipper, but I'm very rusty". Everyone thinks they're unique in that but they're not! That said, we also get complete novices on most expeditions along with one or two more experienced crew members. the point is - don't worry. If you're new to sailing, we'll work with you from the first steps and if you're much more experienced, we can help you develop some advanced concepts and techniques.
Couples or singles
The vast majority of our crew come alone, although couples or groups are absolutely welcome. Being an ex race boat, the accommodation is open plan and we cannot give individual cabins.
Am I right for this?
Probably the most common question we get. The best answer is to have a look at all the photos, here and on our Facebook site. You will see hundreds of ordinary men and woman, from all walks of life, coming together for some fun and adventure. It's a mindset - nothing physical. If you want to do something that's real, huge fun, challenging at times but completely manageable - these expeditions are for you.
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. See the info box below. Places go quickly.
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.
This ocean passage is the perfect opportunity to navigate using just a sextant, compass and other traditional methods.
If you want to use the sextant underway, it's important that you have done some form of training beforehand: it's not something we will be able to teach from scratch once we've left the dock. Whether you are new to celestial or have done a course before and need a refresher, this is the course that will enable you to navigate using just the sun, stars and planets! You will need a basic understanding of standard navigational techniques. Course includes Rubicon 3's exclusive workbook.
If you're coming ocean sailing with us, we highly recommend you take this two day course!
Join the boat in Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel
Join the boat in Marina Ponta Delgada, on 07 March 2018 between 1200hrs & 2000hrs. If you cannot arrive before 2000hrs please let us know in advance.
Disembark in Gosport at 1200hrs on 24 March 2018
The nearest airport is Southampton airport, which is about an hour away on the train.
Portsmouth rail station is a short 2 minute ferry ride away from Gosport
Disembark in Gosport, UK
Fly to Ponta Delgada (PDL) airport, which is served by TAP.
From the airport take a short taxi ride to the marina.
Before booking, you need to be sure that you are medically fit to head to sea. The week before embarkation you will be asked to complete the following form online. If you are in any way unsure as to your fitness to sail, you should consult a doctor. We are very happy to accommodate a wide range of medical issues on board but reserve the right to insist on a doctor's certificate if we are at all concerned about your fitness to sail.
in the last two years, have you received or been referred for any treatment surgery, investigations or follow-ups at any hospital, surgery or clinic for any of the following medical conditions:
if you have answered yes to any of the questions above please provide further details
Ensuring adequate cover
Most travel insurance already has a provision for yachting up to 12nm offshore. On an expedition rated ‘Explore’ you are very unlikely to need coverage that extends further offshore than this. For expeditions rated ‘Adventure’ or ‘Intrepid’ you may need some extra coverage as you could be in more challenging areas and further offshore. You should check with your insurance provider if you are at all unsure. We are always happy to provide you with details about your expedition but unfortunately Rubicon 3 cannot advise you on whether you have the correct insurance.
We do not recommend any provider but for your convenience have worked with Travel & General to ensure there is appropriate insurance cover available for the expeditions. There is a link to the specific insurance on below. If you are a non-UK citizen, Travel & General may not cover you. We have found that IMG are happy to cover US citizens and again there is a link on the trip page to their insurance.
The coverage available to US citizens often seems to vary hugely from that available to EU citizens and for that reason we no longer specify minimum requirements. However, bear in mind that medical costs abroad can be significant, especially if emergency medical repatriation is required. If possible, your policy should cover you for at least £2,000,000 in repatriation fees and associated expenses. Unfortunately, this appears to be all but impossible with US policies, with the figure often only reaching $50,000 USD. We accept that this may be the best you can get. Your insurance requirements are covered in section 7 of the Terms & Conditions.
The EHIC card
If you are an EU citizen you should ensure you have your EHIC card with you. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can be used to cover any necessary medical treatment due to either an accident or illness within the European Economic Area (EEA). The EHIC entitles the holder to state-provided medical treatment within the country they are visiting and the service provided will be the same as received by a person covered by the country’s ‘insured’ medical scheme.
On-board, we provide top quality foul weather kit and life-jackets. You will need to bring the following kit:
We recommend a good 3 seasons bag that can open up fully. A silk liner can really help keep your bag clean and comfortable.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
Breakfast time. One day it may be bacon and eggs, another day toast, cereal and fruit
The boat is ready to go, the engine checks are done and all the lines are rigged. Our navigator for the day has planned our route and it's time to slip lines
Sailing along under full main and yankee one, taking a bearing on the lighthouse as the snow capped fjords of Norway or maybe the bustling, sweltering cities of north Africa glide by. It's a time for practising navigation, helming and just enjoying the sensation of sailing this fast, powerful yacht.
The crew may have used to the sextant to take a sun sight at noon to help fix our position. The chef for the day will have made a hearty chicken salad, maybe with some fresh bread to go along with it and we'll usually eat up on deck, either underway or we may anchor is a lovely bay.
After lunch is always a good time to have a more formal lesson. It could be working on weather routing, sail trim or getting everyone to helm a man overboard exercise under sail. We shape the training to the needs of the day, but with everyone assured of big gains in seamanship during the expedition.
This is always a good time to be looking to stop for the day, and almost every day we will stop somewhere for the night, either at anchor or in a port. On the longer range expeditions there will be more opportunity for sailing through the night, possibly for consecutive days.
There's a often a cold beer to be found as we relax after another day's sailing. There's the sea kayak to explore the local coast, a bike to cycle around town and since we're always in a new place, plenty to explore.
We'll always have a good, hot dinner and we pride ourselves at Rubicon 3 on the quality of our food. No pasta and sauce here; you're more likely to be eating roast lamb or freshly caught fish, always with lots of fresh veg to go with it.
While some people may be ashore having a drink or taking a shower, others can settle down in the saloon to watch one of the 50 or so movies that we carry on board. It's a chance for a gin and tonic, a chat and some serious relaxation with new found friends.
It's important that you've read the terms and conditions before you make your booking. you can download a copy here.
The trip notes give you detailed information about what to expect on board, passport and visa requirements and such like. It is important that you have read them before booking.