logo Lady Stardust Faro-Portugal to Barcelona - 2010
Date: 04 Aug 2009 16:51:09
Title: Crossing Biscay (By Kathy)

Tuesday 28th/Wednesday 29th July
Tuesday morning started with rain and the day stayed that way throughout - varying only in degrees of heaviness.  Thick clouds overhead made it very dark and the wind was chilly - more like an autumn day than the height of summer.  Having decided on a midnight departure we needed to swap positions with the boat rafted next to us and as we also needed to get fuel for the journey we set off at 3pm to visit the diesel station situated on the other side of the marina. The rain beat down on us, the wind got stronger and I could hardly see to steer because visibility was so poor. When we got to the station another boat was on the pontoon so we had to raft up to it which meant that I needed to be ready to jump on with a line as we approached it but the wood I was standing on was so slippery I hesitated and missed the chance so I had to hold us off from the other boat until Paul could get on to cleat the line - not the best of starts. After getting the fuel we had a coffee to warm us up before returning to our berth.  Earlier in the day we'd been out to get more provisions and on our list was a hot water bottle and some wellington boots but nowhere in the town sold wellies and one shop had actually sold out of hot water bottles!  Definitely time to get on with journeying south.
Back at our berth we put the heaters on to dry our things and I made a big pot of vegetable stew with produce bought from the Kinsale farmers' market. After dinner we stowed things away and prepared the boat for the midnight departure.
We set off at about 11 30 and having agreed that Paul would do the first midnight until 4 am watch I went below to get some sleep in the bunk we'd set up for the passage.  Lee cloths ensure that we can sleep without rolling off when the sea gets rough, and cocooned securely by these and wrapped in a duvet, the bunk is really cosy especially after a long cold watch.  At 4am I put my outdoor gear on and took over from Paul.  The windvane - known to us as Harriet - was steering by now and she can be quite tricky to keep on course.  In the past I've been convinced she waits until it's my watch to start veering drastically off course and I have to frantically pull her strings left and right to get us back on track.  An alarm goes off on the chartplotter if we stray off the highway so I was kept busy ensuring that Paul wasn't woken by it. It got colder as the hours went on but it was lovely to see the sun edging its way up on the horizon at about 5 30.  Sadly, it was soon obscured by clouds and as the sea got steadily choppier I began to feel light-headed and slightly nauseous because the boat was 'switchbacking' through the waves as they got higher.
When Paul got up he also felt queasy and this nausea stayed with us for the next 24 hours along with a debilitating tiredness and lack of energy which affected me more than Paul. All I wanted to do was stay completely still or doze off and then I felt guilty because I couldn't do all the things I normally do to help.  Sleeping helped and we felt better on waking but it always came back and during the day the wind and waves got stronger so that conditions above became too unpleasant to stay in the cockpit for long.  By evening we'd all but abandoned the watch system and were both below - checking outside every half an hour in case any boats were around.  The autohelm - known to us as Simon - was steering and he does a grand job of keeping us on course and is much easier to control than Harriet (for me anyway).  We both felt well enough by 9pm to eat a small amount of vegetable stew but shortly afterwards we began to wish we hadn't as the nausea returned.  The movement of the boat was creating the same 'somersaulting' sensation in the tummy as when a car goes over a hump-backed bridge - but constantly as the boat ploughed through the increasingly high waves.  Optimists that we are, though we both felt sure that our sea legs would return - all we needed was some time to adjust, and anyway it would all be worth it to get to Spain and Portugal.
Thursday 30th July
Last night I was woken a few times by the noise of the boat slamming down into the water after it had been lifted up by particularly high waves. I had a couple of drowsy conversations with Paul as he lay on the floor of the cabin or on the opposite bunk inbetween lookouts while I continued to lie on my bunk like a frail drama queen on a chaise lounge.  He assured me that I was doing the best thing to cure sea-sickness but I still felt so guilty about being unable to summon the energy to lend a hand. At 7 this morning the sea state had calmed down a bit and the wind speed had dropped but I still felt too sleepy and lethargic to move and continued to sleep until midday.  When I woke up the sun was shining, the nausea had gone and all my energy had returned. All that was needed were some dolphins leaping by the bow to complete the transformation. We've both managed to eat some light snacks (ritz crackers and some fruit) and to drink some coffee without suffering further bouts of nausea so hopefully our sea legs are indeed back now.  Paul says it will probably be late Sunday or early Monday before we get to a port, which will either be Porto Sin or the nearer one, Camarinas depending on the weather and conditions. 
This evening, much to Paul's relief, we finished up the last of the stew which I thinned down to make a tasty soup. All our meals on passage are eaten out of plastic dog bowls which are high-sided enough to prevent losing the contents when conditions are as choppy as they have been this trip. To celebrate feeling better we also had a glass of red wine each and a Mars Bar for dessert.

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