Yachtmaster Ocean

Qualifying Passage

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Madeira to the Azores

Volcanic islands, soaring seascapes & brilliant winter sun

 

February 19 - March 04, 2018

Starts in Madeira

Ends in Azores

£400 deposit secures berth

 

£1,890 crew

£150 supplement watch leader

 

An offshore classic between Atlantic Islands

 

Explore Madeira then set off on a stunning 600nm open ocean passage and experience the true magic of warm ocean sailing to the Azores

Expedition Rating

Intrepid rated

Prepare for limited resources & few creature comforts

Instruction Intensity

Intensive tuition

Intensive tuition. Make rapid gains in your seamanship.

Expedition Highlights

 

  • Explore the towering cliffs, vineyards and beaches of the idyllic island of Madeira.

 

  • Sail to the nature reserve and beaches of Porto Santo

 

  • Crew on a 4 day, 600nm open ocean passage as we head north to the Azores. (This would count as an RYA Ocean Yachtmaster qualifying passage for those looking to take this exam) - select the 'watch leader' option when booking

 

  • Sail alongside whales under warm sun and incredible night-time stars

 

  • Arrive in the stunning, volcanic Azores - the most beautiful island chain imaginable
Sail | Train | Explore logo
More About the Route
Our Ethos
Crew Info
The Masterclass
Watch Leaders

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 coast of Madeira

We will then set sail along the coast of Madeira, possibly stopping at the beautiful nature reserve of Porto Santo, with its long beaches and huge variety of wildlife. The gulf stream sends warm water to Madeira and creates a wildlife paradise. It is one of the best places in the world to sail with dolphins, whales and even sea turtles.

 

Out into the open ocean, sailing under the sun and stars

When the wind looks favourable, we will then head off north, 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.

 

Traditional navigation

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.

 

Explore the Azores

Finally, after around four days at sea, the vast volcanic cliffs of the Azores will appear over the horizon. We will head past our final destination and use the spare time to explore some of these really exciting islands. We can choose which ones we get to once we have assessed the wind and weather.

 

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

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.

Our ethos
Crew on the Sailing Yacht Hummingbird

Crew size

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.

 

Age

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.

 

Sailing background

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.

Ocean sailing masterclass

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 leaders

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!

 

Logistics

There is a £150 extra charge and you must turn up 24 hours before the start date.

Celestial Navigation: Two Day Theory Course

 

£275 - taught in London, Bristol & Birmingham

 

This ocean passage is the perfect opportunity to navigate using just a sextant, compass and other traditional methods.

Don't miss your opportunity to join in!

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!

Celestial navigation at sea
Find out more here
  • Connecting Travel & Flights

    Join the boat in Madeira

    Join the boat in Quinta do Lorde marina on February 19 2018 between 1200hrs & 2000hrs. If you cannot arrive before 2000hrs please let us know in advance. Watch leaders must join the day before, ready to start at 1000hrs.

    Disembark in Ponta Delgada  at 1200hrs on March 04 2018

    Fly out from Ponta Delgada airport (PDL)

    The airport is a short taxi ride away

    Disembark in Ponta Delgada, Azores

    Fly to Funchal airport (FNC), which is served by various airlines

    From the airport take a 30 minute taxi to the marina, costing about €30.

    Crew
    Travel
    Connecting travel
    Travel
    Connecting travel
  • Medical check list

    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.

     

    Health check

    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:

    • asthma requiring inpatient treatment
    • bronchitis or any other lung or respiratory condition
    • cancer or any growth or form of malignancy
    • diabetes mellitus or any blood sugar disorders
    • kidney or bladder disorder
    • have you been or are you being treated for any mental psychological or nervous problems
    • any other medical condition that is ongoing or for which you have received inpatient treatment
    • have you ever had cardiovascular problems or other heart conditions hypertension or any cerebrovascular problems
    • have you ever been diagnosed with a terminal condition
    • do you have any allergies or are you allergic to any medication
    • do you have or have you ever had an alcohol or drug addiction
    • do you have any other conditions or have you had any medical treatment or operations which you feel may hinder your ability to live and work on an ocean-going yacht
    • do you have any allergies or intolerances that will affect what you will be able to eat onboard

     

    if you have answered yes to any of the questions above please provide further details

     

  • Trip insurance

    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.

     

  • Kit you need to bring

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

     

    Sleeping bag

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

     

    Dry bags

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

     

    Media

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

     

    Head torch

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

     

    Hat

    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.

     

    Gloves

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

     

    Base Layers

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

     

    Underwear and socks

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

     

    Light weight long sleeve top

    For hot sunny days and sunburn issues

     

    1 pair long trousers for day to say sailing

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

     

    Mid layers

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

     

    Mid weight jacket

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

     

    Sailing boots

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

     

    Other footwear

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

     

    Sun glasses

    They should be polarised and have a safety strap

     

    Toiletries

    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.

     

    Money

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

     

    Some shore clothes

    Please...

     

    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.

  • A day in the life....

    0800 hrs

    Breakfast time. One day it may be bacon and eggs, another day toast, cereal and fruit

     

    0900 hrs

    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

     

    1100 hrs

    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.

     

    1230 hrs

    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.

     

    1400 hrs

    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.

     

    1600 hrs

    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.

     

    1700 hrs

    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.

     

    1900 hrs

    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.

     

    2100 hrs

    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.

     

  • Terms & Conditions

    It's important that you've read the terms and conditions before you make your booking. you can download a copy here.

    Download
  • Trip notes

    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.

    Download
Holiday sailing routes

Do have a look at our Facebook page. We post as often as we can from each expedition. It's the best way to see where we go, who goes on these expeditions and what daily life is like. The photos page in particular will give you a great feel for it all!

Strictly no smoking on board. E-cigs are fine.

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WZ Limited, trading as Rubicon 3. Registered office is International House, 124 Cromwell Road, Kensington, London SW7 4ET, United Kingdom. Company number 086601873. VAT number 166844768. ABTOT Bond and Membership - number 5278. The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT) provides financial protection under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 for WZ Limited, and in the event of their insolvency, protection is provided for the following:1. non-flight packages commencing in and returning to the UK; 2. non-flight packages commencing and returning to a country other than the UK; and 3. flight inclusive packages that commence outside of the UK, which are sold to customers outside of the UK.1, 2 and 3 provides for a refund in the event you have not yet travelled.  1 and 3 provides for repatriation.  Please note that bookings made outside the UK are only protected by ABTOT when purchased directly with WZ Limited