Wednesday, May the 20th – 12:30 – Baiona/Spain

Yesterday was the best day so far. We have been surfing up to 4 meter big following waves for 12 hours in a run from Camariñas to Baiona. It was a sunny day and real “blue water sailing”. Matilda being a long (-ish) keel yacht could not have behaved better providing a great sense of safety. The autopilot had little to do, most of the time the steering wheel did not move. Only when bigger waves were lifting and pushing her stern aside to much, the autopilot had to do a heftier correction.

20150519 Waves 3

20150519 Waves 1

20150519 Waves 2

At 22:45 yesterday we arrived in Baiona. The approach was impressive with all the lighthouses cardinal buoys directional and sector lights blinking and flashing in green white or red all around the area.

20150519 Baiona HarbourMatilda in Baiona harbour

We decided to stay for a day and explore the area.

Tomorrow’s destination is Viana do Castelo.

Tuesday, May the 20th – 11:00 – Baiona / Spain

It is done. The first Biscay crossing for everyone of the crew is accomplished. This area is known for bad weather and difficult conditions. Our crossing in a few words below:

Friday, May the 15th
We motored out of Rade de Brest in order to fill our batteries (mains power supply was cut off last night before the departure and the batteries were only half full). It is recommended to make some way west first when leaving Brest and not directly head to La Coruña or the Spanish NW corner for the case the weather deteriorates. Doing so, the chance to keep clear from the continental shelf where huge waves can break in bad conditions is higher if needed.

20150515 Leaving Rade de Brest 1Leaving Brest and heading into the Bay of Biscay

20150515 Crew Patrick

20150515 Crew Moritz

20150515 Crew EvanEnjoying the sunny afternoon

Saturday, May the 16th
The wind backed (turned anticlockwise) in the night and we had to alter our course to S. Although the Bay of Biscay had been very kind to us till now with wind forces not exceeding F4, the old swell running in from the Atlantic was massive and the night was gray and cold as usually with one crew member suffering from sea sickness. Nevertheless, a nice constant breeze F4 had been pushing us all through the night. We passed the continental shelf at about 10:00 MEZ. From now on, it is “blue water sailing”, we have more than 3000m saltwater under the keel. Early in the afternoon the wind died away and we started the engine.

Sunday, May the 17th
Temperature 12°C, humidity 80%, the night was… (I am not going to repeat this…). In the morning a fresh northeasterly breeze started to blow and we hoisted the sails again. The sky was completely covered by clouds and it was drizzling. Many dolphins came along and raced at the bow for a long time. At about 12:00 we saw another sailing yacht in the distance overtaking us. Visibility was poor and the sails of the overtaking yacht could only hardly be made out against the gray sky. It was more “gray” than “blue water sailing” like in the English Channel.
Later in the day the sky cleared and the sun came out. The sea turned deep blue. A northeasterly wind F4 was pushing us towards Spain and Cap Finisterre. We turned on the FM Radio and tuned to Radio 3. Spanish music and the warm afternoon sun laid a holiday atmosphere over the scene. We are almost in Spain.

Monday, May the 18th
The night was clear most of the time with the sky covered in stars but the Biscay couldn’t let us go without giving us an idea of how bad the conditions could be in this area. It was blowing a northeast F5 (only…). The Atlantic swell mixed with the reflected waves in the bay and the wind waves now coming from NE and created a very chaotic sea with waves ranging up to 4 meters. In conditions like these relaxing between the shifts in the night is almost impossible. At about midday Patrick reported “Land in sight!” The landmasses of NW Spain became apparent at the horizon. Because of a near gale warning and the expected bigger swell, we decided not to round Cap Finisterre this night but to make landfall to Camariñas.

20150517 Dolphin BiscayaDolphins visited Matilda many times all along the crossing

20150517 Sunset BiscayaOur first and only sunset in the Bay of Biscay

20150517 TSS BiscayaContainer carrier following the traffic separation scheme

20150518 Arriving Camarinas 1Landfall in Camariñas

20150518 Arriving Camarinas 2Entering Ria de Camariñas

20150518 Camarinas HarbourCamariñas harbour – Not really nice but safe

Tuesday May the 19th – 10:00 – Camariñas / Spain

After a safe crossing of the Biscay, we arrived in Camariñas / Spain yesterday at about 19:00 in a downpour and gusting winds up to F7 (I love maneuvering in a harbour at F7…). The rain only started when we arrived in Camariñas. It was quite nice and sunny until 18:00. Preparing to leave for Baiona now. Forecast is F6 north and waves about 3m. More details on the crossing with pictures as well as the trip to Baiona will follow later in the evening today.

Friday May the 15th – 11:00 – Preparing for the Biscay Crossing

We are almost ready for the crossing. Fuel and water are filled in, the batteries are loaded, the engine is checked… Crossing the Biscay is offshore sailing and since we are doing this first time we want to be careful.

The Weather situation seems to be quite comfortable. The wind is not expected to exceed F6. We are hoping for a nice and smooth crossing. Departure is going to be this afternoon. We estimate our crossing time to 4 days.

Next blog entry will be 19th or 20th of May from Spain.

015

039

066

Thursday, May the 14th – 22:30 – Brest

The English Channel crew has left, the Biscay crew has arrived. Today was a very rainy day with a lot of wind which was forecasted some days ago. The next week is dominated by a high pressure area forming over the Azores providing relatively light winds for the crossing of the Biscay.

Yesterday morning, the wind instrument started to work again (!?). Despite of the heavy downpour it is still working properly. Also, when I wanted to demonstrate the problem I have with the heating (which turns off automatically 5 minutes after normal operation) I realized that it had also magically repaired itself. I had tried so many things over the past 6 months but couldn’t get it working… This afternoon, as if nothing had been wrong with it in the past, it did provide warmth for 2 hours continuously until I switched it off. It is great this thing is working again now where I am heading into warmer climates and won’t need it anymore.

20150514 Rainy Day in BrestRainy day in Brest – Moulin Blanc marina

20150514 Boat dry in BrestFalling dry. I suppose they know exactly what they are doing but would you do that to your boat??

Tuesday, May the 12th – 20:45 – Brest

May the 12th …or maybe April the 12th? It has been quite cold and wet with thick fog and no wind all the way through the night. Temperatures ranging at about 10°C, humidity 85% and visibility almost zero. The Radar provided some sense of safety locating fishing boats operating without AIS (Automatic Identification System). The only dangerous objects that couldn’t be seen were the lobster cage buoys which are spread all along the Brittany coast. Such a buoy with its rope produces a distinct noise that you won’t forget easily again and forces the engine to stop immediately when caught and wrapped around the spinning propeller. Without any wind, your vessel is not under control anymore and drifting with the tide. Nothing you would like to experience in these waters.

Anyway, at about 8:00 in the morning the wind was suddenly switched on by someone. The fog was gone and it started blowing with F5. It took a while for the sun to clear up the sky and the day finally turned into what we had been waiting for from the beginning of the voyage.

The Atlantic Ocean seas, big but smooth like hills, were running in from the west. The boat adapted to the conditions steadily sailing its course. Everything felt lighter such as Matilda had broken free from the lines holding her in the gray wet and cold English Channel. A feeling of freedom came up.

It is time to head south into warmer climates.

20150512 The Morning after the cold and foggy nightThe morning after the cold and foggy night

20150512 The Wind is backThe wind is back

20150512 Heading south in the Chenal Du FourHeading south through the Chenal du Four

20150512 10NM west of BrestBrest fisher

20150512 Passing Pointe du Petit Minou on the way into Rade de BrestPassing Pointe du Petit Minou on the way into Rade de Brest

Monday, May the 11th – 12:45 – Guernsey

We arrived yesterday after a great sailing from Cherbourg through the Alderney Race. Wind was about 4 Bft from south. Although the Sailing Almanac says “Avoid any wind over tide situation” it was a very smooth and pleasant ride (what does “any” mean? more than Force 6??? ).
The crew is out exploring Guernsey. Plan for today and tomorrow is to sail to Brest.

We will be leaving Guernsey at about 15:00 local time.

Next blog entry in Brest.

20150510 Dolphins1

20150510 Dolphins2Dolphins came along and accompanied us for a while

20150510 SailingGreat sailing on the way to “Little Russel”

20150510 Guernsay FlagGuernsey we are coming!

20150510 Guernsay EnteringEntering Saint Peter Port

20150510 Guernsay PubA nice pint of John Smith’s finally. Cheers!

Sunday, May the 10th – 00:48 – Cherbourg

There is always something to repair on a boat. This time, the wind instrument refused to do what it should. No wind speed and no direction indication. Not only because Benno is the lightest member of the crew, but also because he has done this job many times in the past was he lifted up the mast to check the newly installed wind sensor. The connector was showing some evidence of corrosion (!!!!???). It was cleaned with WD40 and reconnected. Now the wind speed indication works again but the direction is still faulty…

20150509 Masttop

Friday, May the 8th – 21:30 – Cherbourg

We left Boulogne on Thursday at 07:00 in the morning. It was still blowing with 6-7 Bft and the sea state was quite rough. We had the second reef in the main and the headsail half rolled away.

20150507 Breaking WavesWaves on Boulogne breakwater

20150507 Leaving BoulogneI think I have to secure that outboarder with a rope before it goes overboard…

20150507 Dirk Evan

20150507 Felix Benno

After 8 hours trying to make way west (we only managed to do 16 miles in 8 hours), we decided to start the engine. A few hours later the wind died away completely and the sea calmed down which was a great relief for one of the crewmembers who was suffering from severe seasickness.
We arrived in Cherbourg Friday in the morning just before the turn of the tide after 24 hours of motoring.