Finisterre to Guernsey - Farewell

Brian Bonniwell and Claudine
Thu 1 Oct 2009 17:47

49 17.18N 002 56.93W

We had a good night out ‘on the town’ to celebrate Peter’s birthday (anyone who has been to Muros will know that such is not possible, but we did have a great meal at the local restaurant!)


The next day we said our farewells to Neil who was scheduled to make his way to the airport at Santiago da Compostella and we headed into Biscay with the forecast F8 gale downgraded to a NE Force 6 occasionally 7 near the Cape (Finisterre).  We passed the Cape in idyllic conditions and had our customary lunch at the cockpit table in sunshine!  We suspected that this might be the last for a few days!  How right we were!  After clearing the Capes the wind and seas began to build until we were sailing due North fully reefed and in a very uncomfortable sea.  Our desired course was North East so after 150 miles we tacked East for 65 miles before continuing North for another 100 miles.  During this time the waves were confused and uncomfortable with the boat slamming into some and submarining others! During these manoeuvres we crossed the Finisterre to Ushant shipping lanes requiring constant vigilance to avoid the procession of ships heading North and South. Needless to say the crew (and skipper) were feeling a little fragile, some more than others.  Yes Claire, before you ask, there was some of ‘it’ about!  In fact Peter concluded that boat’s toilets are called ‘heads’ because that was where he kept his for a lot of the time!  Sorry Peter!  A wrapped backstay around the front of the mast required the skipper to be hoisted up the mast (not the idiot who caused it (she shall remain anonymous!) but the only idiot to volunteer!).  Neil (who had departed earlier) had left his ‘duty’ meal in the fridge, and this excellent sweet chili was ideal sustenance for two days.  No-one felt like serious galley duties!  Thanks Neil!

A slight shift in the wind allowed us to tack East again with a chance of laying our Brittany waypoint.   As we progressed East the wind and seas abated a little, and the crew began to feel a little more normal.  Their attitude changed from ‘what on earth am I doing here’ to ‘I’ve survived and perhaps things can only get better’!  They did.  Morale was further restored by a prolonged display from dozens of dolphins playing in the wake of the boat – the best of the trip.

Every day Brian has been downloading reams of facsimile weather charts and at last the wind began to back to the North as he had falsely promised for days!  Last night (Wednesday 30 Sept) we had the most amazing sail with the boat’s autopilot set to steer close to the wind.  As if by magic the wind direction changed continuously causing Wishanger II to keep to the desired track, clearing the large ship traffic separation zone offshore of Ushant, before setting a course for Guernsey.  All this at 7-8 knots and just beating the imminent and adverse tidal current. 


We are now approaching Guernsey, the wind has dropped and we are in brilliant sunshine.  I am signing off, but before doing so, must thank most sincerely, all those who have joined Wishanger II since 30 May.  You have combined to make the trip not only possible, but for me at least, the opportunity to share numerous highlights and experiences with so many friends (old and new) and family. I remain amazed how ‘at the end of the day’ each of the 28 individual arrangements slotted together without a hitch.  I hope you have enjoyed your time on board Wishanger II, just as much.


For those who couldn’t join us, I hope this blog has been of interest and that you have been able, in a very small way, to have shared some of the experiences to which I refer.  Thanks too, to all the contributors – volunteered and press ganged, alike!


Before transmission, the returning crew have asked to add a few ‘unedited’ words


As the crew of the final leg we would like to thank Captain Bonniwell for his patience and generosity. The trip from Sicily has been a myriad of new experiences, places and sights, and wildlife. We can’t believe we have done so much in such a relatively short time.  The sailing has been great fun – varied and sometimes challenging! We take away lasting memories. Thanks again to Brian and Wishanger II


Brian, Caroline, Gareth and Peter