Stirred But Not Shaken
Carol and Jon returned as planned from N Ireland on Wednesday 7th to rejoin Arnamentia in Plymouth. Bob had worked tirelessly with a couple of agencies to get the VHF radio sorted and Andy Anderson joined us as planned on the morning of Thursday 8th. Carol’s sister, brother-in-law and niece (Pen, John and Alys respectively) drove down from Pembrokeshire to see us off and we all we all hooked up for lunch with Andy and Fiona Bristow who were aboard their yacht, Atlantis, in Plymouth harbour whilst Andy was on a quick break from the joys of Kabul.
The weather was fine and sunny, wind SW Force 4 but the forecast was distinctly unusual. We hauled down a large number of GRIB files (detailed diagrams showing anticipated wind directions and strengths). The picture was clearly that over the next few days life was going to get pretty exciting in the English Channel but that the Bay of Biscay was to become a haven of serenity. Andy Bristow and Jon discussed this pretty counter-intuitive situation over lunch and came to the conclusion that this was as good as it gets and that crossing the Bay should be a doddle. It ought to be recorded (so, it is) that Peter Bruce’s clear advice by e-mail was that, as far as sailing was concerned, the next few days represented an excellent opportunity to catch up with land-based friends or see those films you’d always meant to see. But, honestly, what would he know? So, off we set, despite the minor irritation that, although the VHF radio and antenna had been replaced, the cockpit VHF handset was still faulty.
The wind was SW Force 4 or 5 to begin with. Then it backed to S and gradually
eased. By lunchtime on Friday we
As Saturday morning dawned, we were about 150 NM SW of Brest and a couple of things became apparent. First, we’d lost a liferaft in the boisterous seas of the previous night. For complex reasons, we had been carrying two liferafts and had had to re-site our 4 man raft from its stowage forward of the companionway to a bracket on the pushpit. It had been secured with the standard lashing straps in the normal way in which such straps are rigged. The loss of the raft was a rather expensive way of re-learning the lesson that no amount of sales blather will prevent what looks like an unseamanlike lash up from being one.
The second problem was that the French meteorological
authorities reported on Navtex that Hurricane Katia had decided to go
‘extra-tropical’ and embark on rather more of a walk-about than had been
expected. The previously predicted
S Force 2 in Biscay was now to be replaced by a SW gale Force 8 or severe gale
Force 9. We apparently had until
sometime that evening to do whatever we were going to do about it. That couldn’t involve making for a safe
Around midnight on Sunday the wind eased to a very manageable Force
4-5. Monday dawned clear and bright
and we put up some decent sized sails.
A secondary low pressure system and associated trough passed through on
Monday afternoon, serving up a series of squalls. But it was pretty much business as usual
and thoroughly enjoyable sailing along the stunning coastline of northern
Yeah, yeah, we know we said we were going for Bayona originally. But, that plan had been blown away somewhere mid Biscay. But, hey, we’ve sharpened up our heavy weather procedures and our confidence in Arnamentia’s ability to take the tough stuff in her stride has been further boosted. Were she a horse, you’d certainly describe her as honest.