Thursday, August 4, 2016

Setting a course to Spain

We left Dingle mid-morning. It didn't matter as we had about 4 days at sea if we were lucky. If we were really lucky, the wind would hold out the entire way. First out of the west, then moving to the northwest. It could be ideal for a southerly passage.

We'll have to come back to visit the Skelligs soon. This day we barely could see them in the fog. Despite the fog, we flew through at 9-10 knots, holding on to our hats and clipping in for dear life. The wind was blowing across Aleria's beam and she was very very happy.

We were hand steering through the islands and decided we'd set the Monitor self-steering wind vane as soon as we cleared them as we would have a direct course straight down. Only 544 miles and the Time to Go was registering just over 3 days. Now that would be something. Crossing the Bay of Biscay in decent wind and no real threat of storm activity would be really nice.

Alex took the first watch -- 4 to 8 pm. I went below to try to rest. The miles were ticking off at record speed. I actually started to nod off wedged into the berth. Suddenly, I heard a thud on the deck. I jumped out and climbed out on deck. Alex was aft looking at the Monitor. "I think it broke," he said.

I got my foulies on and climbed back out. We were 50 miles off the Fastnet Rock. We had 3-4 days to go to Spain. Hand steering short handed across Biscay was not something we should do if we could avoid it. No matter how much we wanted warm weather, it was not wise. We'd have to come back that way, too.

When Alex had a chance to really check it out, he determined that the shaft had sheared off at a weld. This was not fixable, Our Raymarine autopilot packed it in a few days before. Raymarine were not helpful and that was not an easy fix. We opted to turn back.

We arrived at Bantry Bay, the closest inlet with good shelter, at midnight in pitch black darkness, as if a pillow was smothering the earth.  We parked by braille in the first spot we could find on the charts, just behind a lit mark and well out of the channel, We put one tie on each of the sails and collapsed into bed.  Tomorrow would be another day. Today, we had made it to safety.

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