Position Update

Wild Carol does Australia
John and Fiona Fraser
Mon 20 Jun 2011 12:00
45:33.7N 4:09.13W
Noon, 20th June
We left Loctudy and sailed (yes, sailed!) past the Iles de Glenan where there is a famous sailing school. The wind had howled furiously all the time we were in harbour and this was the first opportunity to get away.  The forecast looked reasonably favourable with talk of a high pressure ridge building in Biscay.  However it wasn't long before our constant companion, the 25 knot Sou'westerly returned to play. Before long we could no longer sail our course so we rolled up the jib and started the engine.  We are certainly doing our bit for oil company profits on this trip.  Then we took in first one reef, then another, gave the engine some more revs and settled down to let Wild Carol bash her way through the building seas. At one point during the night we were seeing wind speeds of 35-40 knots and Wild Carol was doing a reasonable impression of a submarine.  The bow nav light came adrift and Graham foolishly volunteered to go forward and tie it to the rail with some cable ties before it smashed itself to pieces - just as well he bought those new waterproofs in Falmouth!  He was just itching to give them a proper workout and they came through with flying colours (yellow and black topped off with a red cap).
We plugged on through the night making painfully slow progress (as little as 3.5 knots). Eventually as dawn broke we reached the Biscay drop-off and started to cross.  As soon as we did we were again joined by a pod of large dolphins then by some small ones a few hours later.  As I write we are in 4000m of water depth.  The wind did eventually ease to about 20 knots and the seas calmed down (a bit, it's all relative!).  We unrolled some jib and throttled back the engine to save fuel and set a course broadly to the south as I got the French shipping forecast by satphone and it is suggesting the SW winds will pick up again in the afternoon in the north so we are heading south where we hope to find better conditions for motoring (and some sun!). 
On the positive side, we have made some considerable progress, Max served up a wonderful chilli last night and the sea temperature is steadily rising (16.1C).  It is actually quite warm out of the wind.  Oh...and those wonderful dolphins, they really do raise the spirits when they come to play with the boat.
That's all for now, I'm not going to guess when we'll be in La Coruna.  I'll post another update tomorrow.
PS just stopped the engine...hooray. The wind has come round a bit and we can sail. Quite bright & warm too although still overcast.