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Ocean Sailing from the Azores to Northwest Europe

Ocean Sailing from the Azores to Northwest Europe

Sailing: Azores to NW Europe



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Open ocean sailing from the Azores to the northwest coast of Europe

A magical sailing experience as you head out into the vast expanse of the eastern Atlantic Ocean for the 1000nm journey to the western edge of the European continent. Starting from the volcanic archipelago of the Azores, you will soon be hundreds of miles out to sea, helming, trimming sails and navigating as you work within the ocean environment. The famous Atlantic rollers, dead calms, stronger winds - you can expect just about everything. You will be sailing on one of our incredible 60' ocean going yachts and, with two top class instructors to guide you, you will experience life on the high seas in all its majesty. This is two weeks of sailing, training and exploring. Two weeks full of challenges, exhilaration, excitement and wonder. Get ready for open ocean sailing from the Azores to northwest Europe.


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This is a typical itinerary. However, what makes an adventure holiday so special is that there can be no fixed itinerary and no part of this is guaranteed. The wind and the weather ultimately shape what’s possible each day but everything is very flexible within that.

Day 1: Joining day

Join the boat between 1200 and 2000hrs (the closer to 1200 the better but we know flights and such like don’t always work like that, so don’t worry!) Get your belongings packed away and relax. There’s plenty of things to do in the future but right now it’s about relaxing, finding your way around the boat and enjoying the surroundings. The Azores are such a famous location for sailors and you will likely meet many others bound for all different parts of the world.

Days 2-3: Briefings, training and exploring Horta, Pico and Terceira

Today is all about getting up to speed with the boat. Whether you are a complete novice or more experienced sailor, everyone benefits from detailed introductions, safety briefings and training sessions. You will have two highly experienced instructors guide you through every aspect that you need to know to have a great ocean sailing holiday. By lunchtime we should be casting off the lines, hoisting the sails and working through all the key sailing manoeuvres such as tacking and gybing, reefing and knot tying! By the end of the day everyone on board should feel comfortable with the basics – even though there’s more to learn and practice every day. We may make it to the lovely island of Pico if the weather conditions are right and even on to Terceira. These are wonderful islands to sail to and explore.

Day 4: Preparation and planning for the ocean passage

With over 700nm of open ocean sailing ahead of us, we’ll be making detailed passage plans, preparations and victualling the boat with all sorts of lovely food and meals. It’s fantastic training for everyone and we’ll be checking sails, storm sail, drogues and all the other equipment needed for this type of voyage. All the time we’ll also be checking the weather, looking for the ideal window for the passage.

Days 5-9: Passage to northwest Spain

As soon as the weather is right, we will cast off the lines and set out into the Atlantic Ocean bound for the European mainland and the Galician region of Spain. We have around 700nm to go, so we can expect to be at sea for the next five days and nights, although of course the actual time needed will depend entirely on the weather. You will quickly settle into a 24-hour watch system and the general rhythm of life at sea. Days will be filled with navigating, helming and trimming sails, galley duty and cooking up a hearty meal for the crew. There’s whales and dolphins to be spotted, celestial navigation to be tried and still plenty of time just to gaze out over the ocean and muse!

Days 10-11: Arrival and rest in Baiona, Spain

Our exact landfall will very much depend on the weather conditions at the time. However around the end of our fifth day at sea we should be pulling into the wonderful fortified town of Baiona. It has a superb fort, quaint fishing harbour and narrow, corridor like streets with typical Galician terraced houses lining them. We’ll spend a good 24 hours here to eat ashore, have some beers, sample the amazing sea food and catch up on any sleep after the ocean passage.

Days 12-15: Cruising the coast of Galicia to Coruña

If the weather has been kind to us, we hope to have the last three to four days cruising this wonderful coast. We may have had to wait in the Azores for weather or the weather in Spain may not be favourable, so no promises here! All going well, there are the wonderful Rias, the beautiful Isles de Cies to anchor off and explore, a sail to Cabo Finisterre, Europe’s most westerly point and finally a rounding of the headland to Coruña itself.

Day 16: Debriefs, clean up and goodbyes

It’s always amazing how quickly everyone has become firm friends and the boat and its routines seem so familiar. Yet it’s time to wrap it all up and head home. We’ll get the boat back to how we found it, sign logbooks, exchange emails and disembark by 1200hrs (we prefer if you don’t, but if you need to catch a ferry or flight, you can leave as early as you need to on the last day).

We can often find long haul flights at cheap prices. Ask us!

You should join the boat in Horta after 1200 hrs on the start date. (Watch leaders see below). It is good if you can join us as close as possible to 1200 hrs but if your flight or ferry gets in later than this on the start day, that is fine. We will ask you closer to the time to let us know your travel details. The marina is a short walk or taxi ride from the airport. You will disembark the boat in Vigo, Spain at 1200 hrs on the end date.


Horta airport (IATA code: HOR) is well served by Easyjet, TAP, Ryanair and others. You will usually have to fly via Lisbon or Ponta Delgada. If you need advice, please do contact us.
Vigo airport (IATA code: VGO) is served by Vueling, TAP, Iberia and others.

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Rubicon 3 runs expedition yachts to remote locations and on serious ocean passages. They are tremendous fun to sail and the skipper and mate are real experts from whom you will learn a huge amount. The routes themselves are adventurous, unusual and, for the most part, far from the beaten track. You will be joining the yacht for a couple of weeks at some point on it’s 11 month long voyage. It is important that you understand that this is true ocean and expedition adventure sailing, not a sanitised charter sailing holiday. You will be a full part of the crew, helming, navigating, trimming sails and more. You will also be fully involved in cooking and keeping the boat clean as we go. If the weather is strong you will be living life at an angle and may have waves landing on you while you work on deck. Our foulies will keep you dry as much as possible and the boat is always warm down below. Conversely, in hot regions, you may be trying to keep cool and wishing for that wave! Adventure sailing and life at sea is far more basic than life at home. It is amazing, extraordinary and life affirming but you will be living in close quarters with the rest of the crew. You need to be able to deal with the occasional discomfort or mishaps that inevitably come with being on the sea or in remote regions and should come with a ‘can do’ attitude. The boat itself is on a long voyage far from home and will always have certain jobs, maintenance and repairs being done on it. This is the reality of adventure sailing. The rewards, though, are beyond what you can imagine and you will have experiences, memories and new friendships that will last a lifetime.


These adventure sailing holidays are open to everyone aged 18 years and over. If you are aged 70 or over, or have any concerns about your health, we ask that you get a doctor’s note before booking. This is just to make as certain as possible that you will be okay out on the water.



We provide the foul weather clothing, life-jackets and all other technical equipment you will need. We really urge you not to spend any extra money unless you are sure you want to! You need to bring a sleeping bag and some waterproof boots.

See more information and the full kit list here


We are committed to helping as many people as possible have an amazing sailing holiday and experience the magic of the sea. Our skippers and mates have medical training and the boats have some medical supplies and equipment on board. However, the reality is that once on board access to professional medical assistance is going to be slower than if you were on land. If we are offshore it may be some days. For this reason we ask you to check through the medical disclosure form below before you book. If you answer yes to any of the questions, you should get in touch with us before you book. It will probably still be fine but it’s good to make sure. You will be asked to submit the form electronically 14 days before the start date, ensuring that we have the most up to date information.

See the Medical Declaration here


  • It is essential that you have adequate travel insurance in place for your sailing holiday.
  • We strongly recommend that you arrange insurance that covers you for any medical mishaps in the build up to your holiday so that should you have to cancel, you can reclaim your fees.
  • Please note we cannot refund your money or cancel your invoice due to medical issues.
  • For our latest guidance on travel insurance, please read here.


  • Top quality foul weather clothing to keep you dry in any conditions.
  • Fladen immersion suits. These will keep you warm in even the coldest, windiest conditions.
  • Ocean-spec lifejackets. These are the best on the market.
  • All on-board food and snacks.
  • Daily sailing lessons and tuition from two highly experienced instructors.
  • RYA sailing qualifications where applicable.


  • Your travel to and from the start and end points.
  • Travel insurance (see our travel insurance page here)
  • Any alcohol – but feel free to bring your own or buy some along the route.
  • Any meals you eat ashore.


Everything’s included except for flights, travel insurance, a sleeping bag and some waterproof boots. There are no hidden extras.

  • These expeditions have small numbers of people on board. When you book, you are committing to being a part of the crew.
  • These are genuine adventure sailing holidays and you will be helping sail the boat, planning where we go, navigating, cooking and keeping the boat clean and tidy.
  • When you book, the deposit is non refundable. It is possible to cancel subsequently, however you may still be liable for the balance of the invoice, depending on how close you are to the start date when you cancel.
  • Please ensure you  have read and agreed to the T&Cs before booking.

    Terms & Conditions


    • To be a watch leader on a Rubicon 3 ocean passage, we require you to have sufficient skills and experience to be able to approach the role meaningfully. This means you should have a minimum of RYA Coastal Skipper practical and theory. We accept international equivalents. After booking, you will be asked to provide evidence of your qualifications.
    • On arrival, we will ask you to complete a short theory test to ensure that you are at the required level. If you are able to complete RYA Yachtmaster Coastal theory questions, you will be fine. If you are not at the required standard, we will downgrade you to a standard crew member.


    • On booking, you will receive a copy of the Rubicon 3 Watch Leader’s training manual. This is an invaluable resource and you should try to read as much of it as you can before joining.
    • You should arrive at the boat the day before the advertised start time, being ready to start studying at 1000 hrs. You will spend a full day learning about passage planning, the yacht and helping prepare the yacht. You will be able to stay on the boat that night
    • There is an additional fee of £150 to cover these extra training costs.


    No. All of our trips are designed to be accessible by anyone, whatever their previous sailing background. We will train you in all the key skills you need, allowing you to be an active member of the crew from Day 1.


    Almost everyone comes alone. Couples and groups are very welcome and we do get them. On the whole, however, most crew join solo and so if you are coming alone, you will be one of the crowd!


    Except in exceptional circumstances, we limit the crew size to nine (except for Atlantic crossings) plus two instructors. This means that there are enough people to sail the boat safely, but you will still have lots of time helming, navigating, trimming sails and such like.


    Absolutely. First and foremost, we are here to ensure everyone has an amazing time. Sailing is about having fun, experiencing nature at its most majestic and gently pushing yourself to try and learn new things. Rubicon 3 voyages are a unique mix of sailing and training, and you will get far more involvement and training than on any other sailing holiday you may try!


    We have a remarkably similar group of people who join all our trips. They come from all over the world, are an even mix of men and women and with an average age of 35-65. As we said above, most come alone and experience varies from none at all to Yachtmaster. Most of the crew would describe themselves as having a rusty Day Skipper.


    Go the ‘BOOK NOW’ button near the top of the page. This will take you through to our booking system, and it will ask you for a deposit. As soon as this is paid, your place is reserved. The balance of the trip must be paid by 60 days before departure.