I’m Crossing the Bay of Biscay (done it now)
Sunday 14th June 2015
We were up just after 7am and the wind was blowing in the right direction to take us South. Well, blowing enough to move a feather South unsure about a 3.5ton boat. I was down below preparing breakfast while Neil and Jake released Gleda off her mooring and we motored out of Sainte Evette. It was a bit of an exodus, 6 boats leaving within minutes of each other heading different ways.
9.30am – I popped up from our cabin and we were outside the breakwater, engines off, sails up and we were moving at about 3knots. Neil and Jake had got Lewis (the self steering) going and Jake had dropped his new lures and lines into the sea to catch us something for dinner.
So now what? Lewis is steering, we are gently moving through the water and the fishing lines are out. What on earth are we going to do for next few days? I’d happily read or watch movies but Neil assures me that I was going to enjoy this sail. Mmm.
3pm – Quell surprise – I can honestly say that I am enjoying the sail. The sun is shining, the sea blue, we are moving at about 6knots and our average is up to 4.25 knots. We’ve had lunch, I’ve started and finished a book and started on the next. Neil and Jake are tatting with Lewis and the sails. I’ve learnt how to plot our course on our paper chart and helped keep a weather eye out for other vessels. All in all, a good start.
5pm – we are picking up speed, 7-8knots and we are getting some spray on the forward decks. I decided to go and prep dinner in case it’s gets too rough. As it is, the garlic and onions are not finely chopped, more like hacked from a distance from my fingers. We ate about 6pm and the sea had calmed somewhat although we are still travelling at 7ish knots. I could of waited to prep dinner but who knew.
9pm – Jake has gone to bed, Neil on first watch. I was just thinking that please, please, please let the rest of the passage be like this when its started to get bouncy again.
9.30pm – I’ve come down to bed leaving Neil on watch. Bouncing well still and wondering if I’ll sleep with the creaking. Ideally I’d like to wake up at 8am after an undisturbed night but honestly can’t see that, for the noise if nothing else. I don’t like to plug in my earphones while sailing in case I don’t hear something important!
Incidentally, Neil has just told us that we are about in 500m of water but shortly we will be over 5,000m of water. OK as long as we stay on the top of it.
Monday 15th June 2015 – Happy Birthday Lorna, sorry I can’t get message out too you.
2.30am – Neil got me up “you have to see this, quick”. I had said that if stars were phenomenol to get me up but amazingly we had Dolphins swimming with us in phosphorescence so we had luminous Dolphins swimming between the hulls at the bow. It was magical. Without the glow Jake may never of spotted them. Stunning.
6am – Neil came down after his last watch of the night. Just before dawn the wind dropped and the constant load creaking above my head eased and I fell asleep properly till Neil got in. I got up about 7.15 to keep Jake company for the final watch. About 8.30 Jake spotted Dolphins again. It’s great. I laid on the fore deck looking down between the netting and watching 8-10 Dolphins zipping around. Jake has some great footage which he’ll add to the video of the trip.
Neil said that he’d seen the glowing Dolphins again around 4am.
Seeing the Dolphins swimming with us is really special. Wild animals engaging with the boat like that, playing is an honour to see. One pair could of been a mother and calf as one was so small.
11.45 – unexpected visitor. A racing pigeon. We gave him some water and he had a big long drink. He wasn’t fussed on the French bread so decided he’s a northern pigeon. Very tame. As long as we aren’t rushing about he’s been content to sit and rest on deck. Not an animal we expected to see out here.
FYI currently slowed to 3.5knots since dawn but good 24hours and done 150miles so far, nearly half the distance.
2pm – slow going. Barely 3knots still. Our feathered friend is still with us. He’s now taken to walking around the deck exploring. Jake was asleep on deck and he woke him up by sitting on him. He’s left a few reminders of his presence as he goes!
4pm – Percy, as he is now known, is still with us and getting braver trying to get into the Pod and cabins. Wind still slight. After the great start yesterday, we have only done 15miles since 9am this morning. However blue sky, slight seas and warm sun. Another book read, on to the next. I did a couple of hours on watch while Neil and Jake got some sleep. That was until Percy woke Jake up.
9pm – Jake on first watch. Percy still here. He has found a spot in front of the pod and fluffed himself up. Wind still light.
Tuesday 16th June
7.30am – I got up to sit with Neil for the remainder of his watch. Neil had seen luminous Dolphins again about 4am and had watched them for about an hour. Percy was still here but after a brioche crumb breakfast, Neil shooed him off then swabbed the decks. There is no doubt some anxious owner waiting for him somewhere. Can probably guess he won’t have won his race by taking an 18hour break on a boat moving slower than he flies!
Wind picked up slightly earlier this morning. Doing more like 4knots at the mo. Cloudier but warm. We saw a ferry type ship to our port side that was travelling parallel with us for a while, naturally going faster. Possibly the Plymouth, Santander route. Only the second vessel I’ve seen in 24 hours.
12.30pm – this may well turn out to be a post about Dolphins. And so it should, they are welcome frequent visitors. This time there must of been 25ish or so that we saw coming over from the port bow. They were all around the boat jumping and swimming with us for about 40mins. Neil and Jake sat on the bows with their toes dangling just above them.
Wind dropped again 3ish knots. Jake has had no luck with his fishing so far. Lucky I stocked up before we left!
More Dolphins during afternoon. Three more times little groups joined us for 10 minutes or so. Hope I never get bored. They are beautiful and so fast.
Washed my hair in the Bay of Biscay. Needless to say I didn’t get in to the Bay. Jake hauled me up a bucket and I stuck my head i the bucket. Didn’t rinse with fresh water as thought it would probably give same effect as those ‘beach hair, salt spray, products which are around now and cheaper.
5.45pm – Land Ahoy. We can just see Spain on the horizon. About 50miles away so whatever we can see must be high. We have also picked up speed so may arrive in the dark. Neil has hoisted our Spanish courtesy flag and we are now panicking as our Spanish is virtually non-existent. Bring out the App.
9.15pm – still doing a good speed, 6.5knots. Just thinking of turning in. Jake gone for sleep, Neil on first watch and looking forward to setting foot in Spain tomorrow.
10.30pm – hate this. The wind and sea have picked up. It’s really choppy and we are bouncing. I’ve put all my outside gear on to lay on the bed ready for anything. I put in my headphones and tried to block out the creaks and banging and sleep if I can.
Wednesday 17th June
5.45am – Neil woke me, we were just coming into the marina. Neil and Jake tied us to a pontoon behind another British catamaran and we all hugged. We had done it, we’d crossed. After 30mins we went to bed.
10am we were up. June and Gary are on the catamaran in front of us and have been here since Monday. We had breakfast and Neil and Jake tidied the sails then we went to check in to Spain and have showers. Sun is shining and it’s warm, warm, warm. We have booked in for 7 days so can have a good break.
Up until the last 8 hours, I had enjoyed the trip. The first night I was a bit wary but the slower speed the 2nd night allowed for a quieter night and I was enjoying the sailing. Lewis, the self steering was amazing. From about 10minutes out to about 6 hours before a Coruna (fishing fleets needed navigating) Lewis steered all the way with minimum tatting required. That meant no one was tied to the helm and we could all enjoy the sail and engage with our frequent visitors. Seeing the dolphins, particularly at night was amazing. An unforgettable experience. I was disappointed I didn’t enjoy the last part and although Neil thought I’d be better off up top so I could see (despite the dark) what was happening, I knew I was better off out the way where he’d worry less about me. However all said, yes I would do it again it was a great experience and I’m pleased I stayed aboard.
Bit nervous of when Jake leaves us though as if I’m honest I’m still not interested in the sailing part of our travels but will do my bit when necessary. Neil assures me we will only do day sails till I am more confident.