Crossing the Bay of Biscay

Wed 14 Jul 2021 13:38
42:07.35N 08:50.73W

Since our last post we moved from the Mayflower marina to one final night at Sutton Marina in Plymouth, before departing for crossing Biscay. On leaving Mayflower marina we topped up with diesel and for all my lovely prior colleagues at Hytek, they had a 15 year old Pumptronics pump with Hytek nozzle.

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We decided to sail directly from Plymouth to Bayona, 550 nautical miles taking the shortest route and wind direction permitting. Departing just gone midday on Thursday 8th July, we were through the marina lock and starting our adventure. Before we were even out of Plymouth habour, the shackle on the jib sail tack broke and a replacement duly fitted, just glad it happened in light wind and daylight.

A lovely first day of our Biscay crossing, fully sailed and dolphin sightings just three hours in. The early hours of the morning got interesting with avoiding fishing vessels and having to change the gas bottle - an easy job in port but more difficult at sea.

Day two and a front came in but helpfully moved the wind a little East - double reefed and going well before a problem with the auto-helm (self-steering). Fortunately something we had previously experienced so we knew how to fix it. We then battled with southerlies at 20+ knots. Into the early hours of day three and the wind fell away before steadying into a nice 9-10 knots from the northwest, giving us a direct heading to Bayona, with plenty of tide to help us.

Crossing the bay of Biscay shelf was very uneventful other than the depth sounder could no longer find the sea bottom and continued to show the last recorded depth.

So many dolphins coming to say hello was very special and watching them through the window below deck when they tucked in alongside the boat was like you’re own personal aquarium - awesome. They seem to like swimming under the depth (echo) sounder making it read as low as 0.2 metres depth - a bit scary next time we checked the instruments as the sea should have been 1000+ metres deep!

The following morning we had three snubby nosed and bulbous headed visitors, which we initially thought were dolphins but now believe were pilot whales. Overnight saw two reefs and lots of wind and we were very glad when daylight arrived. Very rolly and took a flyer down below while trying to make coffee. Only real damage done was the wasted half a jar of Dowe Egberts - fortunately another eight refill bags in stock.

As we made progress towards Finisterre, the rolling continued necessitating a gybe preventor (save either of us getting knocked out by the boom swinging across) and plenty more fishing vessels to avoid, passing the Cies islands at dawn.

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We arrived at the Monte Real de Yates marina at 9:05 on July 13th after 117 hours at sea and 582 nautical miles sailed.

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Following nice hot showers we celebrated with some fizz (big thank you to Nigel and Janet) followed by an exceptionally good nights sleep.

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Waking up to the sun shining, a perfect opportunity to get the laundry done with a homemade peg-less line rigged up in the saloon.

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Staying here for a few nights before heading south….