Crossing Biscay

The Biscay crossing took us three and a half days in total.  We left Falmouth at about 7am on the Tuesday morning with two of our friends Kat and Rich as crew.  Coming out of the Bay we had porpoise playing around the boat which was amazing!  Five pods in total…it was as if they were escorting us!  We definitly took it as a sign of good luck.  Losing sight of land didn’t freak me out at all as I thought it would 🙂
We averaged around 6 kts but a lot of it we were flying at 7-8 kts in 10-15 kts of wind, which is great for our heavy old boat.
The second day there was much less wind so we had to motor sail a bit, and we put the spinnaker up when going downwind, which was the first time using it on Bora Bora.  It worked great for the most part, and is a bit like flying a slightly unpredictable oversized kite, but got horribly tangled when we changed tack and it got caught in the lee of the mainsail!
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We saw lots of whale blow holes far off, then one came up right near the boat!  Totally cool to see a real whale in its own environment…Ben got a bit edgy as if they have calves with them they can get aggressive, but I think it was just curious.  We also had many pods of dolphins/porpoise throughout, just amazing.  There was also phosphorescence in the water from algae which I was mesmerised by, especially when I flushed the loo in the dark and it glowed green…I felt like a child again!
We ended up hand steering for a lot of the way as the autopilot seemed to be over working, making hundreds of tiny adjustments that Ben worried would burn out the pump.  It’s always been a bit like that (even though it’s new!) so Ben decided to change the pump selection setting thinking it might be set to the wrong one.  It also makes a hell of a noise if either of us were sleeping in the aft cabin.  This however meant it re set itself entirely, we then had to re calibrate the compass which means going in circles.  I think we did this three times, each time in increasing swell!  To be honest it was easier staying awake on night watches if you had steering to concentrate on.
We did shifts of one person on watch for 4 hour slots throughout the day, then from 9pm to 9am it was two people together for 3 hour slots.  Getting up every 3 hours through the night wasn’t that fun, so you end up sleeping on and off most of the daytimes.
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The sun shone pretty much the whole way, until the last day when we got closer to Spain.  The wind gradually increased up to 30-35 kts, the swell was only around 3 metres but they were big ocean sized lumps of water and because we were coming up over the continental shelf the waves got short and sharp.  We knew it was forecast and wasn’t going to get any worse so made it easier to deal with…it was actually better in the dark because you couldn’t see what was coming at you!  We had two reefs in the main sail (Ben wishes he had rigged a third reefing point) we took the mizzen down and rolled two thirds of the genoa away.  Many of the waves were breaking over the boat and we were leant over on about a 35-40° angle so it was quite uncomfortable, noone got much sleep.  In the cockpit you could have your feet on one seat, and your shoulders on the opposite and be almost upright!   There was a point at around 4am when Kat and I were on watch and we just cracked up laughing, I think we were a bit delirious at that point.  The boat handled it all so well, that’s what she’s built for after all, and felt safe and solid the whole time.  I actually really enjoyed the whole experience!
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Dry land!
We got into A Coruna marina around 4pm Friday.  The staff spoke perfect English, phew, we had showers and headed into town for a well deserved Cerveza!  The Tall Ships race was in town and there was a big party in the centre with crews from all over the world, a great atmosphere with the Tall Ships all blowing their horns and live music.  We had a Paella dinner and wandered around the packed back streets.  Kat and Rich flew home the next day, Ben and I cleaned the boat as it was caked in salt both inside and out and general detritus.  A couple of things had got broken in the bad weather (including the toilet seat when Kat tried in vain to go to the loo whilst being thrown around haha!).  Ben had some bad news on arrival from his mum, his Grandad had died.  We have debated back and forth about him flying back for the funeral but decided we really can’t afford it with flights and having to keep the boat at a marina for 3-4 days.  We’re going to get some big fireworks and a bottle of gin (two of Spencer’s favourite things!) and do our own send off for him from here.
All in all a fantastic crossing, now we’re looking forward to getting out of the marina and exploring free anchorages for the onward journey.

 

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