second installment (f)

Fri 11 Aug 2006 17:57
Looks like we have finally fixed the problem with the site so to
continue.Left Morgat on Monday 7th headed for Bayona, nearly 400 miles,
across Biscay and around the westernmost tip of Spain, cape Finistaire. The
forcast was not too good for that last bit, sea area Fitzroy, a cancelled
gale warning but warnings of high winds in the area. We were not too
bothered as it was blowing in the direction we intended to go. First across
the Rade de Duornanay and through the Raz de Sein, thats a very evil looking
place, like ancient castles built on rocks out to sea with tide roaring
around it like I have never seen before, bit like crossing a raging river,
and that was only on a neap tide. The first 100 miles was not bad, sorting
out the boat and testing different rigs to cope with the wind slowly gaining
strength on the starboard quarter which is always a bit awkward as the
mainsail blankets the foresail (for the nonsailors). As usual, dramas always
wait till the dead of night. Alex asleep below and me on watch, needing to
hang on a bit by now as the wind was piping up and we were doing sevens and
eights down the face of big waves. Very exciting but bit queasy making
still, a sudden ripping sound and the boom came away at the goose neck
(where it joins the mast, apologies to sailors). ripping the luff of the
sail at the bottom. Fortunately, Thisbe has a fixed gas kicker for the
reefing system so it only went forward and jammed across between the mast
and a
shroud. The next hour was hell, clipped on to the mast and the two of us
looking back at the boat which looked very small against the waves in the
background, Alex just out of a warm bunk as well. We actually managed to
find a bolt amongst the junk I keep on the boat, which went through the
hole, though a very sloppy fit. We lashed the boom back as best we could and
bolted it back in place. Ever had that feeling of a very dry mouth? its
called fear! we both felt very dry! I wanted to get under the douvet. Alex
is great in a crisis, quite calm and making sure we had everything in our
pockets so we wouldnt have to go up
twice. I would have certainly forgotten half the stuff we decided we needed.
The Aries winvane is a gift from God, so reliabe under any conditions, it
kept us steering straight down the waves the whole time, we would have been
in big trouble without it and I cant praise
the Nic 32 enough, what a great boat.
The wind increased steadily as we got
nearer and nearer to Spain during the next couple of days. The nights were a
wonderful experience though, standing or lying on deck listening to the boat
hissing down the face of the waves and watching shooting stars flashing
through the clear sky, I saw one so big it left a plume of smoke haloed
round the moon. We also had our ipods going and listened to some
great music, all very spiritual stuff I can tell you.
Philosophical thoughts about the state of humanity and nations come into
your head when you see the stark beauty of the moon appearing from behind a
cloud and lighting up the violent ocean.The sight of little sea birds
flitting through the moonbeams hundreds of miles from land can spear you to
the core. During a slight lull,
(Biscay is very strange, one minute you can be in a washing machine the next
in a very ordered and predictable sea), must be something to do with the
underwater terrain, we decided to try out the twistle rig (twin headsails
flown together) big mistake, though the speed increased dramatically! Not
long after, about 75 miles from the spanish
coast, all hell broke loose, so much so that we decided to switch to our
secondary port which was La Corunia, problem was we had to change our
heading and take the waves on the beam, everything down below immediately
changed sides, and we
had a major struggle to get the rig down again, not very experienced with it
I have to say. By this time we had our sea legs and felt great clambering
all over the boat and shouting instructions to each other.Managed it in the
end and also dropped the main, the inboom reefing system is a load of junk,
we lashed most of the sail to the boom in the end as its impossible to get
it down while going downwind and there was no way I was going to turn around
in that. Suffice to say the Spanish cliffs looming out of the evening mist
is the stuff of horror films, we approached LC harbour in the dark but thats
another story, and dropped anchor behind the breakwater at 1am Thursday
10th, got straight
under the douvet. Very impressed with La Corunia, wonderful historic city
and very beautiful, nice looking people too. We had fun but you wouldnt
think so reading this.

Cheers. Manny