Departure day, Guernsey to Lanzarote

Stravaig'n the Blue
Thu 8 Oct 2020 15:30
Thursday 8 October 2020  15:30 BST (UTC+1)
Position: 49.27.342N 2.32.083W (Saint Peter Port, Guernsey)
Distance to destination (Arrecife): 1368 NM
We always knew that finding a weather window to cross the Bay of Biscay would be a challenge and so it has proved to be.

With the expectation that we’d set off in early September, Linda has been monitoring the weather since mid August, making a daily note of the weather forecast seven days ahead at three points along our route - half way across Biscay, half way down the Iberian peninsula and mid way between the SW tip of Portugal and the Canaries - and then comparing the seven day forecasts to the weather on the day. The forecasts have been remarkably accurate which is reassuring. And the winds along the Atlantic coasts of Spain, Portugal and Morocco have more often than not been perfect, with a large element of north in them.  However, the wind in Biscay has rarely been from the right direction. For a comfortable crossing the wind needs to have an element of north or an element of east or, better still, both and both have been lacking. Then I made things all the more difficult by requiring a spot of keyhole surgery late in September which meant pushing back our departure into October when the weather in Biscay deteriorates further.

Things started to look up about a week ago when we started to see northerlies being forecast from the English Channel all of the way to the Canaries.  The screen shot from shows the weather forecast for tomorrow at 1pm.  The high pressure system (H 1033) is delivering the northerly winds to Biscay and points south. Usually, this high pressure system would be sitting much further south, over the Azores (level with Gibraltar), and a low pressure system like the one just north of Newfoundland (L 965) would be dominating the British and French weather bringing wet and windy westerlies. An opportunity not to be missed.

Our departure date has oscillated between today and Saturday but we eventually settled on this evening when the wind first swings round to the north. It was blowing 40 knots with driving rain from the south west at breakfast but it has just dropped and started to go round, exactly as forecast. So now we are waiting for the tide to come back in so that we can leave the marina. That will be at 20:30 by which time the rain should have eased.