The End of the Earth

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Sat 28 Jun 2014 10:37
Today we rounded Finisterra 42:52.83N 9:16.33W, the end of the Earth!

Cabo Finisterre

Kath Steering Caramor between a rock and a hard place, off Cabo Finisterre

This is the mythical Finisterre, as was of the shipping forecast, the area has now been renamed FitzRoy (Captain of the Beagle, the ship which took Charles Darwin round the world and enabled him to understand 'the Origin of Species') in recognition of his weather forecasting work.

For a good read, try 'Sextant' by David Barrie.

When I first moved to the UK, to Norwich, I had never heard of the shipping forecast. I quickly discovered Radio 4 and the strange broadcast in the early hours of the morning "Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger", there was a certain rhythm to it or maybe it was sleep deprivation trying to finish off essays for the following morning "Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight". Moving to Wales and taking up sea kayaking brought home the importance of this crazy poem "Biscay, Finisterre, Sole, Fastnet" as we gathered round the radio listening for that all important "Irish Sea".  

Broadcast four times a day on long wave, sometimes it is the only forecast a mariner can pick up. A few years ago I decided to kayak round the coast of Wales solo. I set off from Swansea and paddled out the bay which was littered with surfers. As I passed them, many went down on their knees and told me how brave I was. Puzzled I pushed on. It took a long time to get to the breakers by which time I had worked out that if they were that big that far out, then they were truly huge! I got as far as the Gower peninsula, waited three days and still the wind didn't drop. Every morning I would set the alarm for 0532 to listen to the shipping forecast, then one day nothing, no news, I felt bereft. Eventually I gave up on my journey and went home by bus, it was the windiest May on record! The Radio 4 programmer had moved the Shipping Forecast from 0535 to 0515 - 20 minutes earlier! without informing or consulting. I complained to Radio 4 about the change of time and received the following response: "The Shipping Forecast is in no way intended for professional or recreational use at sea". No, clearly, it is purely to keep insomniacs from counting sheep!

Sailing round Finisterre, to me, is like adding an important piece to a Shipping Forecast jigsaw. We were particularly lucky to round the cape in calm seas, bright sunshine with a fine breeze on the beam and are now peacefully at anchor off the 'Bay of Sardine Fisherman’.

Anchorage at Ensenada de Sardineiro 

Grain store at Sardineiro