Baltimore to A Cornuna
The adventures of Chili III
Peter & Belinda Vernon
Sun 22 Jul 2018 15:00
Having checked every forecast the weather looked promising for a westerly veering northerly with nothing stronger than a 4 or 5. The weather risk was more a lack of wind than too much. We weighed anchor at 1230 and headed off under full main and genoa in bright sunshine with the boat sailing along happily at 7 knots and Ed in particular clearly pleased to be underway. As we settled down and Ireland became more distant I thought of all the work we had done over last winter to get the boat ready to go cruising longer distances and, a last, here we are embarking on a 500 mile passage pretty confident that the boat was in good order. Its a great feeling. The navigation was very straight forward. Sail 175 degrees to a waypoint just west of La Coruna, look out for the magnificent roman Torre de Hercules and follow the leading marks in.
The rhythm of these trips is set by watch keeping. Normally Belinda and I do 2 hours on, 2 hours off, 24 hours a day. This is fine but becomes quite tiring at night especially if we need to do things between watches like reef the sails. With Ed on-board we decided to keep this pattern for the first 24 hours with Ed joining one of our watches to "train him up" and then move to a 3 hour cycle with the wonderful prospect of 6 hours sleep when off watch. At night the person finishing a watch always makes tea for the victim that has to drag themselves out of bed.
This all went according to plan with Ed proving himself an excellent watch keeper keeping an accurate log and plotting our position on the chart with great precision. The only issues we had a night were shipping, in particular fishing boats. On one occasion we came across a fleet of 10 Spanish fishing vessels 150 miles north of the Spanish coast all within a mile of so of each other - quite hard to dodge without a major detour. AIS is a great benefit in these situations, giving a lot of detail on every vessel within 15 miles.
Food becomes a major event on these passages and with Ed eating as much as the 2 of us put together we were well stocked up. Cottage pie with cabbage followed by apple crumble on the first night, eaten down below with the essential non-slip table mats making a civilized dinner perfectly possible despite being healed over in a reasonable swell - this went down very well!
The highlight of this voyage was undoubtedly two whale sightings - my first ever despite so many days at sea. "There she blows" - a group of 4 all surfacing together and blowing huge spouts 20 - 30 feet in the air. They came within 200 yards and we had a great view of one of these majestic animals as it rolled over just behind us. The second sighting was a similar sized group, this time further away but also very exciting.
The winds were as expected with a westerly 4 giving us great boat speed for the first 24 hours. The northerly was a more awkward point of sail slowing us down a bit and with some very uncomfortable seas as we crossed the continental shelf, a wind shift bringing a bid swell from 2 directions simultaneously. We ended up needing about 24 hours of motoring.
We arrived in La Coruna beating into a force 6 and tied up in the Marina Nautico in the heart of the City with booming rock music on the dock for a Red Bull event that was just kicking off - a suitable arrival we thought.
Distance run 501NM. 76 Hours. Average speed 6.6 KTS