The Bay of Biscay




The first day out

So then we are off. Our first longer passage as a family has started. 550 nm to Baiona in Spain should take us 4 - 5 days at sea. A long time for anyone especially a 6 year old boy. Must say I am quite excited about how this is going to work. As we set off this morning the weather was fine. A bit foggy at first so we tied onto a buoy in the river and waited for it to lift before we set off south. Winds are down and the sun is up something that makes for fine motoring. With renewed confidence in our engine after changing the fuel system we are heading south to the sun. The weather forecast promises good motoring today, light wind sailing tomorrow and a bit of a beat on Tuesday. Winds will then go to SE - SW and up to 20 knots. For us that is too much to be pleasant. We'll see when we get there.

Just a couple of hours out of Falmouth we spotted dolphins. They where not very playful however. Probably just busy feeding. The one lot most likely was porpoises while the other lot where bigger dolphins. Later a whole family of Dolphins came speeding towards us to play. They swam around the bow of the boat talking and looking at us looking at them. Great fun for the kids and for us. Must be a good sign!

It is very hard to take pictures of Dolphins. Here are our best..... But look at the joy in the kids faces.

The first night has begun. Everyone is sleeping. The sky is the most amazing collection of purple, red and pinks. The sea is like glass apart from the large Atlantic swell. It must have been blowing quite a bit somewhere to make all these large waves.  Noravind sets up a radio net between the four boats. We call in every 6 hours with positions, weather info and general chat. Adds to the feeling of security.

Day two and ....

We are making good progress. Motoring at about 6 knots. The night has been uneventful weather wise but made exciting by playful dolphins. They seemed to hear us from some distance and set off towards us to play. Odd that they find it so amusing that they are willing to spend all this energy catching up with us. One school/pack of dolphins stayed with us for over one hour playing(how do you actually say this  It is a school of fish but Dolphins?..) . The kids where ecstatic when the Dolphins looked at us and talked to us. Having a nap in the forepeak I actually got woken up by Dolphin chatter.

The winds are light today. But the wind direction is right so up comes the spinnaker. We can see Lille Blå, Hurra and Noravind to the leeward of us all with their cruising chutes up. Hoisting the spinnaker for the first time takes a bit of organising. Sheets and guys are to be put in place. The spinnaker pole hoisted and strapped down. When the spinnaker finally made it out of the bag for the first time it  looked spectacular. It is multicoloured with red, yellow, blues, green and orange. The big sail pulls us along nicely and the feeling of sailing again after motoring all this way is unbelievable. Coconut glides along quietly smoothly through the Atlantic ocean. This is how it is meant to be....But as the sun goes down we are taking the spinnaker down and roll out the Genoa.

Ria de Vivero

The wind kept increasing and turning to the south west. Before we knew it we where battling south against a SW force 6 increasing to 7. Not nice at all. Lesley's back was hurting her, it was hard to sleep for the kids and Dave was seasick - everybody was more or less. A force 7 does toss you around quite a bit.

Dave at the helm through the gale

I decided to turn more easterly and ease off. The weather forecast said the wind was to turn to the north. This did not happen however. We where stuck in the lower right hand quadrant of the low and followed it eastwards. In retrospect the smartest thing would probably have been to keep on sailing west. But it felt so wrong psychologically to slowly drift north and make no headway south. So we sailed eastwards and had the gale for 24 hours before reaching the cost of Spain. By this time we had given up the idea of reaching Bayona, 150 nm to the south west. We also dropped beating hard to windward towards La Corona and instead aimed for Ria De Vivero. Never heard of the place but looked ok on the chart. When we arrived it turned out to be a wonderful place. Tall green mountains, sandy beaches and a charming little medieval town. Sailing into smooth waters into the "fjord" was incredible. We made it across the Biscay in 3 days and 7 hours. Quite good for a 450 nm journey in a 41 footer. Upon arrival we got messages from the other boats. Lille Blå and Hurra arrived in La Corona about 2 hours before us. Noravind had another 3 hours to go. They all choose a slightly different strategy and motored against the wind the last bit. Uncomfortable, but they did get there.

We are in sight of land and the wind eases off

Camilla and Dave gradually becoming much happier

Sailing hard to the wind is a huge strain on the boat as well as the crew. Mast, sail and ropes are pushed hard. The rudder is fighting the forces of the waves. Water rolling over the deck find it's way down to the cabin through screw holes the minutes cracks and closed vents. On arrival everything was a bit damp down below. I had left my sail bag open and right under the forward hatch. That was not a good idea. It was all wet.  So we all felt that we deserved a night in a hotel. Unlimited hot water and dry clean sheets! And a soft comfortable bed for Lesley's hard tested back. She has not recovered from her back pain and the gale really messed her back up. She is brave but obviously in a lot of agony. 

Vivero turned out to be a good stop for us. Sun was shining, it was hot and we got some rest. I took the kids to the beach. A large white sandy beach surrounded by dunes. It was a bit windy but very enjoyable all the same. At last we had some decent temperatures. For two months now we have been waiting for something resembling summer temperatures.



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This site was last updated 19-10-2005 17:50:50