Captain Hugh and the Reluctant Navigator
The Voyage of Vega

Bay Watch

We are in A Coruña, Spain. After just over 3 days of sailing we have crossed the dreaded Bay of Biscay.

We left Audierne in the rain, the town shrouded by mist, and set a course of 214 degrees, more or less straight into the wind. So of course we couldn’t really set this course, we had to tack at an angle of about 60 degrees into the wind. It wasn’t a very pleasant day, cold, damp and cloudy, but there was a good SSW wind of force 4 to 5 and we were on our way.

At night we take turns to be on watch and sleep, changing over every 2 or 3 hours. Watching out that the boat is still going in the right direction (the autohelm does most of the steering or more recently the Hydrovane, a sail-like device that maintains us at a constant direction in relation to the wind), and that we don’t collide with other boats, yachts, fishing boats, cargo ships and tankers (the plotter and radar help here). I’m not a good sleeper at the best of times and the first night at sea I hardly managed to sleep at all, and it was wet, rough, horrid. I had another of those ‘what am I doing here?’ moments. Even Hugh admitted later that he too had thought how much nicer it would be to be on the cheerfully lit up passenger ferry that passed us in the night, en route to Bilbao.

By the middle of the next morning the sun had come out, the wind had veered to the northwest, I’d managed a few hours sleep and it was a glorious day.

The next night the sky was clear and full of stars so I could start to learn to identify the stars and constellations, starting of course with Vega (the brightest star in the constellation of Lyra) which is right overhead. My watch was also spent taking a wide diversion to avoid a cluster of 20 Spanish fishing boats spread out over 10 miles directly in our path. Other than that time passes reading and listening to music (kindles and iPods are good at night).

Day 3 noon. We are practically becalmed with 4 to 5 knots of wind from behind us. Hoorah! Ideal conditions for bringing out the Cruising Chute. Rob will remember this. With strict instructions to avoid cussing and with a strategy in hand to prevent it getting entangled around the mast and spreaders, it worked… hours of good sailing.

Another clear starry night and on the 4th day I awoke to the sight of land and, joy, a mobile phone signal. The terrible deprivation of no electronic contact.

So we will be spending a few days in A Coruña with a visit to Santiago de Compostela before sailing west then south around Cabo Finisterre and the Costa de la Muerte, and stopping in some of the Rias of Galicia.



  1. Judy

    July 24, 2015 - 11:25 am

    Well done, me hearties! Glad that the dreaded Bay of Biscay is now behind you! Hope you get to say El campesino trabaja en el campo? Love and hugs x

    • annie

      July 24, 2015 - 2:41 pm

      More like Una botella de vino tinto I hope xx

  2. Steve

    July 24, 2015 - 11:42 am

    Congratulations! You will be pleased to know it is cold with heavy rain here in Bristol and I can see you sitting in the cockpit soaking up the Rays and having a lovely and well deserved rest.

    • annie

      July 24, 2015 - 2:38 pm

      If only. Sadly it’s raining here too today.

  3. Jim

    July 24, 2015 - 2:08 pm

    Congratulations – sounds great. Deportivo have an away friendly at someone called CD Lugo tomorrow night – proper season doesn’t start until 22nd Aug.

    • annie

      July 24, 2015 - 2:35 pm

      Sorry. I don’t understand.

  4. Jim

    July 24, 2015 - 2:26 pm

    a post for Hugh – the most common birds in the Bay of Biscay are Shearwaters – there are six types. Otherwise there are a couple of types of Petrel – from description it is likely to be ither of these as brown on top with varying degrees of white underneath!

    • annie

      July 24, 2015 - 2:35 pm

      Thanks Jim . I’m afraid we forgot the bird book.x

  5. Steve

    July 26, 2015 - 9:45 am

    Big gale passing thru in Bristol so we are enjoying the Sunday morning safely tucked up in bed-looking at Fitzroy forecast for southerly gale looks like you might be doing the same!

  6. annie

    July 26, 2015 - 9:07 pm

    Fitzroy? On our tea-towel that we are basing our navigation on it says Finistere. Thank you for bringing this to our attention and we will be looking around for another tea-towel. Stan…. are you trying to get us shipwrecked giving us an out of date tea towel?

  7. chriski

    July 28, 2015 - 7:59 pm

    Hey Annie the stars sound/ probably look beautiful. Chris k,
    Temporarily in Northampton for the summer.we had lashings of rain on Sunday after the wedding in Cornwall. The wedding itself was fab. We missed you.

    • annie

      July 29, 2015 - 6:27 am

      Hi Chris. The stars are stunning. It is wonderful to start to identify them. I’m missing you all too xxxx

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