Thursday, 18 August 2011

Biscay

We left Plymouth on an overcast Sunday morning, slipping our lines at 6.30 am and trying not to wake our neighbours. As we left the breakwater in Plymouth Sound there was a mood of excitment tinged with anxiety at the prospect of sailing for three days and nights accross the notorious Bay of Biscay. However we had done all our preparation - safety briefings, man overboard drill, fitting jackstays and gybe preventers and now it was time to leave the dock and point Juno's bows south.

We had invested in a private weather routing service from Chris Tibbs, who has circumnavigated the globe on several occasions, and each day we emailed him our posiiton on our sat phone and he gave us a daily weather forecast and routing advice. His forecasts turned out to be uncannily accurate and as predicted for the first day we had wind from the west which allowed us to reach accross the channel, clocking up 10 knots through the water with full mainsail and large genoa.


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As we passed Eddistone lighthouse We made our first entry in our log book, a fiftieth birthday present from Andrew and Jeanette, and crossing the busy shipping lanes we marvelled at the AIS  system on board which showed us details of all the nearby vessels on our electronic chart plotter and sounded a loud and persistent alarm if any ships came within 2 miles of our position.


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Our first night at sea was tiring as we found our sea legs and struggled to settle into the watch keeping system, but by day two the wind had dropped and once we rounded the French coast at Ouissant we had to start the engine to maintain our boat speed. As we crossed the continental shelf and into Biscay itself the wind died completely with long atlantic rollers pushing us south and when we marked our positon on our paper chart we realised that we were in fact sailing in 5,000 metres of water with over three miles of sea
beneath us.

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Dawn brought large pods of dolphins playing in our wake and zig zagging accross our bows, and as the day wore on the sun shone and we even had time for a game of Bananagram in the cockpit.

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Darkness fell on our last night at sea and as we took our watches we were all excited at the prospect of landfall. The morning of our arrival dawned damp and foggy with a grey sea mist hanging in the air and we used our instruments to navigate between the rocky outcrops that surround the Ria of Vigo and lead into the Bay of Baiona. As we entered the marina of the Club de Yates Monterreal the sun had begun to burn off the morning mist and as we tied off our docklines the clouds cleared and a beautiful cloudles sky emerged from the misty dawn.

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As we eat breakfast in the cockpit in the warm Spanish sun with Paul and Consuelo we felt tired but happy to have reached our destination with no dramas and with great confidence in Juno as a powerful ocean going vessel but also as a comfortable home for the next stage of our adventure.

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