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.