2 nd to 7 th of July 2017 - Crossing Biscay
|Andy and Helen
|Biscay (1), Biscay (2) and Gijon.
After checking the weather forecast, it looked as though we had a weather window to get across the Bay of Biscay at last. The GRIB files suggested it would start off with north west winds, then we would have no wind in the middle followed by easterly winds as we got closer to Spain. This proved to be the case!
We slipped our berth at 0930 and headed out of the bay, motoring into the wind and tide for the first 2 hours. Once we got past the northern end of the Ile de Nourmantier we were able to alter course to the south west, heading directly for our next waypoint 251 miles away. With northwest winds we sailed along all day at between 5 and 7 knots. It was slightly bumpy, but nothing the two of us and Speedwell couldn't handle. We had a big supper of Andy's chilli before starting our watch system of 3 hours on and 3 hours off. It remained grey with grey skies and sea all day and into the night. However, we had some light from the moon, albeit hidden behind the clouds, so had a horizon until it set around 0200. As the sun set the wind increased so we took the mainsail down and sailed through the night under just our mizzen sail and Genoa.
We had the occasional pod of dolphins and I was treated to my first sight of phosphorescence in our wake. As the night drew on the wind died so and by 0500 on Monday we started motor sailing. Our depth sounder had given up the ghost as we were now in more then 4000 metres, having left the security of the continental shelf. During Monday the seas were very flat and there was little wind. Occasionally we had some respite from the engine and sailed slowly at 3 knots. Eventually, again as forecast, the wind started to fill in from the east and we were able to sail gently, giving us an opportunity to cook pasta and fresh vegetables in the pressure cooker. The cloud started to clear as the winds increased. By 1800 we were making 5 knots under Genoa and mizzen which suited us as we didn't want to arrive in Gijon before dawn. Soon after this the wind picked up and sea state became more bumpy. The swell wasn't too much but the waves were coming from our beam, being disturbed by the increasing wind strength and hitting us a bit awkwardly. The forecast was now for Force 6 as we headed south west and Force 7 toward A Coruna.
The wind picked up to Force 5 and then 6 so we reefed the Genoa to second reef and then reefed the mizzen for the first time ever. We were still making between 5 and 6 knots, increasing 6 to 7 knots at times. At 2200, as the sun set we got a view of distant mountains. This was incredible as they will have been more than 80 miles away and we didn't get to see land again until we were within 5 miles of Gijon.
Overnight it was very tiring and the sea felt quite rough, making it quite gruelling and difficult to sleep. However, we knew Speedwell would look after us. We were slightly worried about the entrance to Gijon as the wind and swell were coming from the north east and the harbour was quite open in their direction. However it was a deep harbour and as we headed in, the wind died somewhat, though it was still quite choppy. We waited until we were in the shelter of the marina to prepare our fenders and warps and put up our courtesy flag. There we were met by some young men who showed us where to berth and rushed Andy to the port office in their boat with passports and ships papers to check us in. After a good sleep, we went ashore in search of Tapas and found some cider as well. The ritual of drinking the cider involved pouring it from a great height to ensure it is frothy. It was a very dry and appley cider which we would highly recommend. We planned to stay 4 nights in Gijon.
We spent the time starting to acclimatise to the Spanish timetable. Our ability to communicate in Spanish is not as good as our French which left a lot to be desired as it was. However, we are determined to learn. It will also take us some time to get used to times of eating. On the evening we decided to eat more than tapas, we had to wait until 8pm for the restaurants to open. By the time we looked at a menu we were starving. Inevitably we ordered far too much and didn't sleep well that night. We spent a few days exploring Gijon on bus, bike and foot.
BOTANIC GARDENS GIJON.
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