Tue 5 Sep 2006 11:37
As I am writing this email, we are almost precisely in the middle of crossing the Bay of  Biscay.  We have covered 150 nm since leaving Camaret on Monday at 1500 and have 175 nm to La Coruna.  Angus McIntosh, Tim House and James Watson joined me on Sunday to fly out to Brest from Southampton and we found Free Spirit as we left her - very comfortable in the best berth in town.  The restauranteurs of Camaret obviously take the 35 hour week directive very seriously as we were turned away from all but one (rather seedy) establishment for both dinner and lunch ashore.  It may have been something to do with keeping stubbornly to BST rather then French summer time in order to stay in tune with the tide timetables.  Apart from spending 3 hours trying to unlock the cockpit locker padlocks which were seized with salt from the Guernsey to L'Aber Wrach experience (we eventually had to resort to the hacksaw) preparations for our departure went very smoothly.  Angus and Tim provisioned the boat magnificently, the weather forecast was benign (or so we thought) and we left on schedule to catch slack water in the Raz de Sein.
An hour after we left Camaret, we hit dense fog caused by the high pressure over the area.  Visibility dropped to under 100 meters for most of the passage through Raz de Sein and then stayed very poor (i.e. less than a quarter of a mile) for the next 16 hours!  I have never seen fog like it.  We travelled 125 miles with only an hour of decent viz. at midnight last night.  I have no idea what it must be like without a radar but we spent the entire night staring blindly into the mist and praying that the radar was working effectively.  It was a long night.....However, the fog has now lifted, we are under sail at last and the sun is trying to break through the low cloud.  We are all hoping for the normal symptoms of a high - sun, shorts and sunglasses.
These emails are now coming from the sat phone so I will try to send one smallish photo and see how long it takes.  Stay tuned for more updates...