Reflections on a Biscay Crossing

Fri 21 Jun 2013 20:31
Position 43.22.082N 008.23.714W

After spending 10 days in Plymouth everyone was eager for the adventure to
start. Plymouth may have a wonderful history and a few buildings along the
Barbican of historical interest but on the whole it's a bit of a hole.
Fortunately the Queen Anne's Battery Marina was blessed with a little
restaurant that served one of the best sirloin steaks we've tasted in a long
time but one can only eat so much meat. So when three different weather
sources predicted reasonable weather in Biscay and studying grib files from
a further three confirmed this it seemed time to go.

There was an air of excitement about the boat on Monday evening, the
decision had been made we were leaving.

Tuesday morning dawned, mooring fees paid, the boat and crew were ready. A
brief stop to top up our 1300 litre fuel tanks and we were off motoring in
pleasant sunshine out Plymouth Sound, passing the breakwater on the western
side and out into the channel. The winds freshened slightly, mainsail and
genoa were raised (so easy with hydraulics and powered winches) the engine
was shut off and we gently sailed on. Rob a Dutch angler of some renown
insisted on readying the rods for the bountiful catch he assured me he would
fill the freezer with. As we passed the famous Eddystone Lighthouse we were
buzzed by a jet fighter. Obviously on some sort of exercise he decided to
use Pamarzi as the enemy. The day progressed the winds died and we motor
sailed on (still fishless). Although dolphins playing in our bow wake were
as amusing and fascinating as ever.

Ryan took the first watch and from our aft cabin Lynn and I heard the sails
being raised and felt the boat stiffen to the wind as we passed Guernsey far
to the East of us. Six hours on as I took the watch we were passing Brest
negotiating shipping but with a good breeze filling our main & genoa. Rob
was on the helm as we entered the Bay and the wind freshened to 32 knots
from the North North West. Throughout the day the wind continued to
strengthen but most uncomfortable was the big swell coming from the West ,
taking us on the beam and creating an uncomfortable rolling yaw. These
conditions continued into Wednesday night when 45 knots of true wind was
noted. During the night a pair of hopelessly lost racing pigeons desperately
sort relief from the gales on our deck trying again and again to land on the
heaving structure that was our boat. One managed a brief period of relief on
the foredeck but was eventually swept off by the wind and spray.

Thursday dawned and the wind backed to the West at 30 knots plus as we
reached further in to the Bay under main and staysail. As the day progressed
the wind backed further to the South and we beat into 40 knots of wind and
a big sea. We reefed down further. So it continued hour after hour
throughout the day and we were glad of Rob's extensive offshore experience
as our wonderful boat continued to power through the aggressive seas, the
South Westerly making Coruna our landfall of choice.

By 02.00 on Friday morning as I handed the watch over to Ryan the South
Westerly was moderating and the last hundred miles or so into La Coruna were
relatively gentle as we made our way through the fishing fleets to arrive in
the Royal Club Nautico Marina around 09.00 local time.

Bacon and eggs were never tastier Followed by a relatively relaxed day of
boat cleaning, relaxing in the sun and exploring the town.

The weather will dictate the timing of the next part of our passage around
the notorious Cape Finnistere and on to Baiona.

Roger , Lynn, Rob and Ryan

The crew of Pamarzi