Crossing Biscay

Weighing anchor by moonlight
We crept out of Crookhaven under the light of the full moon. We set sail at dawn in 10-12 knots of wind out of the W, ideal conditions for setting out into the Celtic Sea. The sunrise was lovely and bright, and just as promised, the wind had started to fill in. On a heading of 186 degrees M, we were doing 8 knots - 505 MTG and 75 hours at this speed, not that we expected it to last. Dolphins feeding came by to see us off.

Heading out as the day dawns

The beauty of not being on a schedule is that you can afford to wait for the right conditions. We had our first 200+ mile day -- 202 mi in the 24 hours since 6 am. Dawn arrived and the night had rushed past. On my first 4-hour watch, we were doing 9.5-10.5 knots the entire time under reefed main. Yeehaw!

Adjusting the Monitor windvane
It was like Aleria had been chomping at the bit to break out of the gate and run free. We hadn't done serous blue miles for a couple of years.  It felt like she had turned green with envy as we hadn't allowed her to fly across the seas much. After all, she is a white seahorse and needs to stretch her legs and wings from time to time. She was galloping at full tilt.

There's the sun...good morning world. 
It was cool and cloudy. The night was a bit squally but with a little assist from us on trim of the main sail, Jolly Mon, our self-steering Monitor wind vane, and Aleria were a good team.

The next night we were 2/3 of the way there already. It was very dark when I came on watch, but shortly I looked up and saw the Big Dipper. The, the still full moon broke through the clouds and lit a silvery trail to our midships. I tried to take pictures but all three cameras failed to capture the magic.

Glorious conditions across the Celtic Sea 
Jolly Mon held a true course for 4 hours straight - good man. We were on a beam reach, Aleria's favourite point of sail. The AIS alarm sounded briefly and I was alert but couldn't sight any ships. Alex had seen two the night before. For the Bay of Biscay, these were pretty good conditions. The last time we made this trip, we had been hammered by unpredicted storms and big seas.

A little damp and boisterous in the Bay of Biscay

After Alex took the watch, the wind shifted South and we were on a course for A Coruna. We had to decide, keep sailing and make landfall there or furl the headsail and motorsail to Finisterre. We chose the latter. Fog closed in around us as we approached the shipping separation zones. It was great to have AIS. Several ships passed exactly 3 miles astern. The radar was on for corroboration and to pick up any vessels without AIS. The seas got a little more boisterous and every once in a while a big wave crashed over us and things got a mite damp.

Ship passing astern

Fishing vessel trawling

Making our way among the fishing fleet close to Spain

It got noticeably warmer as we approached Spain. Things were going well, so instead of stopping in Finisterre or Corcubion, we elected to continue on to Portosin in the Ria Muros y Noia. I had the final watch approaching the Ria just before dawn. I spotted a fishing boat with no AIS on and managed to figure out that the strobe lights I was seeing were marking a giant net he was trawling with. Just then he turned on his AIS and I was able to discern which way he was heading -- directly across our path. I turned hard to port to avoid the net. He kept the AIS on until we were clear, then turned it off again. I wondered why.

Moonlight over the yard arm

Space invaders 

As we turned into the Ria, it seemed the entire fishing fleet was coming in with us. On AIS it looked like we were being attacked by an intergalatic invading force. We dropped anchor just outside the breakwater, took a shower and had a lovely breakfast. Invigorated, I didn't want a nap any more, I wanted shore leave in Spain.

Before heading ashore, Alex decided to check one more time to see if he could get the fridge working. He lifted the floorboards and the entire underbelly was covered in thick greasy soot. Some time in the final few hours, the exhaust had clearly failed. Our idyllic cruise in Spain was starting off with a bang.
Land ho! 

Uh oh, it's disappearing. Radar on.

Getting a little better and lighter inside the Ria. 
Fog is lifting, day is dawning, and we spot Portosin. 

The breakwater at Portosin. 

Dropped anchor at 6 am, 3 days exactly after departing Ireland.

Where we anchored. 

Pretty day after all. 

At the marina in Portosin. 

The ICC and OCC RC burgees. Spanish courtesy flag up. 


Popular posts from this blog

Top 30+ Sailing Movies

Top Ten Books about Sailing (non-fiction)

Top Ten+ Novels Based on Sailing (fiction)