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Date: 28 Jul 2014 14:25:26
Title: The Mad Hatter's dormouse and us have much in common! 46:59.69 N, 007:03.07W

Well dear family and friends, here we are rolling along in the Biscay swell. I can tell you the seas are different, here we are riding the ridges of water that approach from our stern, lifting us up and accelerating us forward on a wall of surf, so much fun a pod or is it school of dolphins came to join us earlier today. They rode in our bow wave, criss crossing our track for ages, such effortless grace and speed I just love to watch them.
These seas are very different to those of the channel, where they seem once away from coastal features to be short steep waves. Leaving Dartmouth in the last of the evening sun on Saturday 26th July, 2014, with fair weather and good winds forecast, we set sails for a reach (point of sail,) for Start Point, then turning towards our navigation point at the beginning of the Ushant traffic separation zone off the French Coast. As darkness falls you might imagine total nothingness, imagine instead the M25 in slow motion, all vessels carry lights at night so it is possible to identify their size and heading and whether they are engaged in fishing, towing or carrying dangerous cargoes. Out in the channel it is busy, night watches are spent keeping watch both at the console for AIS info, (here we can see vessels on the GPS screen, with heading, speed and vessel type,) and keeping a look out for vessels not transmitting an AIS signal like ourselves. Staying outside of the Ushant traffic separation zone, where easterly and westerly traffic have distinct sea lanes, we have joined a steady stream of commercial vessels moving to and from the NW corner of Spain.

Our Channel crossing was fast making 7-8 knots, but those short steep seas make for a lively ride, dropping into the troughs with a bang. Trying to sleep indeed finding a place to wedge yourself can be a challenge, giving up on the forward cabin where you can experience momentary weightlessness on our new mattress, for the saloon and latterly a rear quarter cabin when I finally came off watch at 6am, this was my first chance to sleep and I must have been dog tired, I don’t think Alan and Derek got that much sleep either. It is an art form to get comfortable for sleep, like the Mad Hatter’s dormouse I am asleep at every opportunity day or night.

We are each on a 3 hour watch system giving a variation each day as to which hours we keep control of sail trim, direction and watch for other shipping. This gives us 2 watches one day and 3 the next, occadian rhythms of night and night are subsumed in the rhythm of boat life, eat, sleep, watch…..I Spy doesn’t take up much time, there are only so many things that begin with S!

We started crossing the Bay of Biscay in the early hours on Monday 28th July, I was cool with this until Alan unfolded the chart, imagine my joy at 300 miles or so of rolling swell and this is only a baby journey when compared with those yet to come. At least when we plot our 3 hour positions on the chart we have a sense of how far we have come and how much nearer we are, (glass half full!) and we are making good time. We hope to reach northern Spanish waters by Tuesday evening/night (29th July) although it will be a little longer to make La Corruna, our port of entry.

The sailing has been exciting and at times challenging for me as downwind sailing is more tricky to get right, seeing the phosphorescence in the spume of our wake was a first, dolphins at dawn magical, not feeling under the weather today is good, (yes we can all surcome to sea sickness if any of the culprits apply, cold tired or hungry.)

I am especially thinking of Rebecca and Josh, looking forward to catching up with you when we are in signal range, love to you all

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