Biscay Crossing in Lady Drake by Tereza

Lady Drake
Peter Drake
Mon 3 Jul 2006 02:37

Lady Drake – Holding out for a Hero



By Tereza Wondrackova



ere we go. Starting signal at 9 o’clock 04.06.2006 made a start of 12th year of Rally Portugal. We were in Plymouth and first half an hour we did a good progress. But the wind dropped and we were swinging in the sea making about 3 knots. The sun was shining and we had a good time. There was nothing to be hurry we thought. So we were fishing enjoying a relaxing day after we had been very busy last month. The first day run quickly and we got ready for the night shifts. 4 hours each group of two (me & Pete; Christian & Si) as I was sleeping a longer time I was on the watch whole next day. We were fishing and we caught 2 mackerel. We had our cruising chute up and I though what a wonderful day. During the night we made a very big jump and in the morning we weren’t so far from other yachts from Rally. The next day was busier as we were close to the channel for big vessels and we had to watch out for them. The cruising chute was on the same place as the previous day and we were doing 7.5 – 9 knots SOG. In the evening we decided to put the genoa out as it started to be windier and also because is hard to control cruising chute during the night. Me and Pete we did the first shift and we went to bed. Unfortunately we were in the middle of that channel. The other guys weren’t sure about one vessel if it was going to cross our way or whether was only going parallel to us. They woke up Peter and he stayed there longer because the hell in Biscay started after crossing that channel. I was in the galley thinking about what should happen and to be honest few times during the night I thought we are not going to make it and that we would be a good dish for fish. Peter wasn’t sleeping whole night. In the morning I could see everything. I have never seen such big waves. For me it was really bad as I come from the Czech Republic and as you know we have no sea only lakes and it might be a hard job to make small waves on them. I think I’m the first Czech in Rally Portugal ever. I’m sailing about one year and since I’ve started I think I’ve made a big jump. Still can’t really believe that the boat wouldn’t normally go up side down. I did my Day Skipper course when in Solent was force 8 and I was few times afraid but compared to Biscay it was rubbish. The biggest problem was that Peter wasn’t sleeping more than 24 hours and none of us had experiences in such a bad weather conditions so he had decided to go to the closest marina (it was still 85 nm). Suddenly the storm stopped and we saw huge group of dolphins (20 or 30). I had an impression that they were all that time with us during that storm and that they wanted to know whether all of us were O.K. It was really amazing. I heard that morning a strange noise (never heard it before) and we realised that probably a whale did it. Late in the evening we finally saw a land (such a great feeling). Anyway the waves were still big and there was a strong tide as well. We went to Ria de Viveiro, which is in Spain above the corner of La Coruna. We went to bed after midnight.  Pete and I had some bad news in the morning when the other crew members told us they had to go. We thought that we would continue next day to Bayona, but  as we were short handed and still very tired so we decided to go next day. We went on Friday and during the day and night we did about 140 nm. In the morning we were in Finestere and we could hear on our VHF safety calls about the weather. It was bad. We tried to tack but the wind and waves were on our nose and during 4 hours we moved about 3 miles. We decided to go to the closest marina again, so we could wait until the wind wasn’t so strong. In the morning we got up before 6 am and at 7 am we were on the way to Bayona again. It was a lovely day and you couldn’t imagine how happy we were when we heard Ishy from the Rally Portugal Team on the VHF. All of the people from the Rally were waiting on the pontoon. It was  really a very nice feeling and I will never forget it. We got a bottle of champagne from Vagari (another boat from the Rally). As soon as we arrived the prize giving evening started, so we had to rush for another event. We were very tired, but happy that finally we managed to join  the Rally and that we could be a part of the others. Everybody was talking to us about how was it and that they were really worried about us. That evening we got a prize for being the very last boat  to arrive at Bayona. It was a jug of Sangria (because we missed the Sangria party which take place on Friday).