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The Bay of Biscay

30th July 2006


The Biscay lived up to its reputation. We were glad to leave Falmouth Marina which was so narrow that we witnessed at least 5 accidents, including a bump on our boat without any damage. We also had to face the harbourmaster early in the morning falsely accusing us of damaging another boat.  But mostly all three of us were hungry for the Biscay! On the leaving day the wind was blowing strong and raining, the sun only came out by the evening.  The night shifts started at six with Kai , Graham  taking over at mid night and I did the graveyard shift from three until six in the morning. But in theory, whoever was least tired ended up covering into the next persons shift so this way everybody had the chance to rest.


The first three days were a fight against headwinds and we could not get the course to steer. The fight was also against tiredness and living onboard: cooking was not easy although nobody felt hungry. Only on day two I braved the galley and boiled some potatoes. We saw storms coming and going quickly and with each storm we were thinking that the worst was over. Then more storms came our way giving us no breaks. The sea state was confused and sometimes waves were reaching four metres. 

After crossing the continental shelf, the echo sounder ceased to give reading as we reached deeper waters the sea calmed down a little and we knew that better times are ahead of us. Dolphins appeared around the bow of the boat, lifting our spirits. The wind swung around to a Westerly and now we could make course to South Spain. Finally we all managed to have a shower and feel human again, Graham was the only one that could face a can of beer.

With the constant traffic around these busy waters, night shifts were challenging. During day time not a single boat could be seen but at night time fishing vessels appeared from nowhere and always seemed that they were heading for us or coming as close as less than a mile. We even saw two yachts.  With no moon on the sky the nights were as pitch dark and the radar was our eyes.  However with the complete darkness constellations were flourishing in the sky and for the first time we spotted Ryan’s Belt.

Unfortunately, the westerly winds only lasted a day, before it backed to South-westerly bringing the hard beat back to our lives. But by now we have gained some mileage towards the destination and Spain was not far. La Coruna, the destination was 10 hours away; however with the wind shift, it was almost impossible to steer to.  Being tired and giving up fight, I went down below to have a look at options and Ria de Cedeira just shone out of the chart onto my face, only five miles away, a nice sheltered bay from all wind directions.  Giving up fight, the engine went on and we headed in for shelter. And rounding the corner, indeed a nice bay emerged slowly into our view.  However this by no means was the end of it, since just before anchoring the engine started splattering and failing due to dirty fuel. Six fuel filters later slowly we are getting on top of it. But cleaning the fuel tank is a job for next week. As soon as the anchor was firmly on the ground, it was beer time but after one can we felt the exhaustion falling on us and no energy to go ashore.  After so many days of rough movement onboard, we all slept like babies.

One night was not enough to cure the sleep deprivation but we still made it to shore .Quaint  Cedeira, known as the Crystal city, due to the glass balconies on buidings has a nice sandy beach and it is very pleasant. After a little walk we had some well-deserved tapas and a siesta, this was a rest day!

Now the work was waiting for us. The estimated one hour job on the engine turned out to be a five hour job, numerous calls to England and our engineer, Clive. It was nerve wrecking since the engine would not start and sitting in an anchorage with a failing engine is not good.    But with good sense Graham fixed the problem and we could leave the following day

Boats are called "she" for a good reason. They have a mind of their own regardless of crew's plan. It wasn't our day to leave, this time the anchor was the problem. Overnight it has shifted and entangled either in rocks or a cable. A few attempts later and we were no better. Graham jumped in the water to attempt a 6 metre free dive, not so easy.  Slowly frustration was setting in when we saw a diving club at the marina, I went over and begged for a diver to help us. Without hesitation the diver came to our help and thirty minutes later we were free. We offered money, a bottle of Magno  but the reply we received was “Somos amigos”, which means we are friends  and then the diver left. Unfortunately in the haste we forgot to ask his name, but big thanks for the unknown diver of Cedeira!