Biscay Joy

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Sat 2 Jun 2007 19:23

Hello from Biscay.


Current position is 47.35N: 07.04W, It’s 1835 on Saturday evening. Lily Allen purring away in the background, dinner in the oven just like any other Saturday night. Well perhaps not quite.

Contrary to the missive from yesterday, we had a rather lumpy, wet night, with the wind up to 30knts on the nose for most of the night, with waves to match. Made sleep virtually impossible.


This morning I awoke to leaden skies, pewter coloured seas, thick fog, and man was it damp and cold. (See attached picture for a flavour). So much for the Bluewater dream.


The weather has remained that way all day, and it looks like more of the same tonight, except that the wind is a mere 18 knots on the nose. All of that said we have made rapid progress, with 187 nm in our first 24 hours, thanks’ to the sterling work by the crew, assisted by the Iron Maiden, aka the 135HP Perkins diesel. Mind you it will be interesting to see what the fuel consumption will be with all the extra stores on board. It is just over 600nm to Bayona from Dartmouth as the crow flies, and we have, in theory 100 hours of motoring fuel. But I hope not to have to put that to the test!


The latest grib files from Saildocs (more of which anon), indicated that the wind will go around to the west then north west and even north east. All in a predicted period of 24 hours. So, fingers crossed we will be able to give the faithful Perkins a rest tomorrow.  


I mentioned Saildocs. For the sailors amongst you, you might be interested to hear that I spent quite a bit of the last 36 hours “playing” with the various new “toys” that were installed on the boat this spring.


The most notable is the SSB radio (Icom801E), and Pactor modem. This comes with e-mail software and a brilliant module that enables you to specify weather grib files for a specific area. You can also tell it your planned course and speed, and the period you expect to be at sea, say 4 days. You can then down load these files and import them into Maxsea with the weather routing module. It is then possible to run a weather “movie”, superimposed over your passage chart. You can step this hour by hour, or day by day, or any interval in between. This then allows you to plan your route, to take best advantage of the predicted weather. The truly wonderful part of this is that the subscription for this is only 20 USD a month. It sure as hell beats the £1.50 per minute for the Satphone modem downlink! Fantastic bit of kit.


Next the Hydrovane wind vane self steering. We already have autohelm on the boat. But this is power hunger on passage and if it were to fail on a long passage would leave Jennie and I having to hand steer for days on end. Not ideal!. Tried it out today for the first time. It is also indispensable. So easy and so accurate, even when motor sailing. Be interesting to test it with downwind sailing tomorrow.  


Now here is where we need your help………………………Jennie and I have a habit of giving pet names to inanimate objects (and children).  We have been unable to decide on the pet names for the autohelm (pilot) and the Hydrovane.  Favourites so far are (for the Autopilot)  “Clive”(ie Clive pilot has a ring about it) and for the Hydrovane self steering “Hydie”.(the Hydorovane ) The big issue (as ever) is one of gender. So please join in the debate and drop us an e-mail on the address.


Got to go now, the Sheppard’s Pie beckons.


JPEG image