Survived Biscay 42:07.330N 8:50.710W

Ailsa at Sea
Richard Kennedy
Wed 13 Jun 2012 21:00
Survived Biscay
To many it will have little relevance, to some a name on the shipping forecast, to some a nauseating ferry journey to Northern Spain. To sailors its reputation is well known and fully deserved partly because of its particular geographical features and partly because it is the end point of many weather systems starting in mid Atlantic. The Rally organisers quite reasonably delayed the start because of the storms that the UK experienced last week and which exerted their effects in Biscay.  Things began to look up at the weekend just gone although there were “strong winds” forecast for the southern half of Biscay. Strong winds has a specific meteorological definition but in Biscay it translates to a yachting experience akin to being in a washing machine – how did Ellen MacArthur manage???  Our strategy was to keep North and fall in the back of the “weather”. It worked to some extent although we experienced beating in to 26-30 knots westerly through Monday. Needless to say the boat managed better than the crew!
Well we arrived close the North West corner of Spain (Finnisterre) late on Tuesday evening to find the wind had gone. No matter we have an engine  - or so we thought. The Biscay sail had, it appeared, caused ingress of sea water into the fuel tank. The one bonus of this is that I have now become an expert in fuel systems and can drain a water separator filter and bleed the fuel  system blind folded with one hand in under 5 minutes, having undertaken this on some 20 occasions through Tuesday night and early Wednesday to enable us to reach Baiona under our own power.
The sunshine, welcome horn blowing from some of the crews already here as we arrived at the marina and the fact that we beat the Aussie crew (who are a particularly hospitable boat) consigned the last three days to one more experience in life’s rich tapestry.....
A couple of days off and we head on South hopefully with a solution to the fuel.
Richard and Shelley