Saturday, 17 August 2013

Crossing The Bay of Biscay

Waiting for a weather window in Kinsale has been fun. Vincent is a genius for finding sessions. After one night at the Silent Banjo we joined another session at Kitty O'Sheas where there was a superb fiddler who was very welcoming. Our American friends Rocky and Molly Dunn who we had met at lunch in a lovely pub called the Spaniard turned up and joined us.  Rocky was of Irish descent and had turned up for a wedding in Killarney

On  Friday 9 August I managed to keep the crew busy by drying out against the harbour wall, then pressure hosing the hull and recoating her with anti fouling . Colin donated a large tin of Joton to the boat which apparently the fishermen use and is powerful stuff. The boat slowly settled on her keel and with Clive's help we were able to get just the right angle of heel by cranking on the mainsail halliard to allow the boat to lie against the harbour wall.
On the slipway, Kinsale.
The Skipper gives a brief demonstration of how it's done

...and rapidly retreats to leave the crew to their toil!

Saturday the 10August dawned and after a final look at the Grib files I decided to leave in the afternoon. Clive who has the faster boat will leave on Sunday morning. In the morning we went with Dermot Ryan on a walking tour of the town.  Kinsale was the site of a terrible battle where the Irish and the earls of Ireland tried to rebel against the English by ganging up with the Spanish who planned to land in the North . Unfortunately due to bad weather they arrived in Kinsale where the local population and the Spanish were reduced to eating Cats and Dogs to survive while besieged by English artillery. When Chief O'Neiill finally marched down from Ulster to relieve the town a terrible battle ensued in which the English lost 9 men and the Irish 1500.  The subsequent flight of the Earls to Spain deprived Ireland of its Leadership and marked the beginning of settling the North with Lowland Scots
The battles result still resonates today throughout Ireland.

a lingering look back to Kinsale as we head for Spain

We left Kinsale at 15:00 hours and after initial troubles with the malfunctioning Raymarine Chart plotter and AIS things settled down. I cooked up a curry on starboard tack, the new galley strap worked OK and prevented me from falling all over the place. The wind gradually came round to the west to put us on a comfortable beam reach for Cape Finnistaire as we settle into night watches. At present Vin and James are doubling up with Colin and I on 4 hour watches to give them a bit more confidence, the wind is moderate,the temperature warm, schools of dolphins have been chasing us and the night stars are brilliantly clear, even the boat is going faster after its bottom scrub and the Aries wind vane is doing a sterling job.  We're a happy ship.
(Note by Colin.... It is now 11.30 on Sunday morning, Jon,Vin and James are testing the patience of Colin by practicing fiddle, flute and saxophone in the cockpit. Thought I saw a dolphin or two just then but me thinks the music is playing havoc with their sonar! Jon encourages the crew with "the music is coming along lads, I'm improving", and I'm thinking " only one year and fifty weeks to go! "

Jon is all smiles

Vince is a happy man

James on the saxophone

Colin with ear plugs firmly in place

We have seen a number of very large whales, one surfaced just behind the boat with a great spout of water from its blowhole which gave Vin who was on watch quite a shock.  It is wonderful that these mysterious leviathans of whom we know so little are here in such large numbers.

Wow! it's much larger than Kika!

Dolphins often play about the boat . Three of them lolled around the bow of the boat making comments on the foredeck crews attempts to hoist the parasail. At night they create little stars of phosphorescence .
We have adjusted to life at sea. Seasickness has receded and when we come off watch we are able to sleep at a moments notice despite the rolling of the boat and engine noise and we eat well.

When we reached the centre of the high pressure zone on Tuesday the wind eased to 5 knots not even the parasail could keep us going and we motored most of the day at 1800 Revs and 4.2knots which was very comfortable and the engine felt good.  Sephina overtook us at great speed 6.7knots and we had a whole orchestra assembled on deck to greet them with Sax( James), Flute(Vin),Colin (singing) and me on the fiddle playing the beach boys on the sloop John B.

all together now!

The wind has picked up to 15 knots . We are comfortable with one reef in the main and a slightly furled Genoa . We pan to arrive at daybreak on Thursday and wonder if Sephina will make it before nightfall tonight. If we are early we plan to heave to and wait for dawn.
 We are 100 Nautical miles North of La Coruna where we plan landfall as the wind off Cabo Finnistaire remains strong on the Grib files we downloaded on the SSB radio.
We finally arrived at La Coruna at 5am on Thursday after four and a half days at sea.. During the night the wind blew up to 25 knots.
Colin and James had to go to windward to avoid a large fishing vessel and at the same time the chart plotter and AI S went off. I got up to find them bumping about trying to identify lighthouses.  We got sorted found our position and turned downwind for La Coruna .The approach was well lit, we tied up had a glass of Laphroig to celebrate and slept like babies till 11am.  We are surrounded by long distance boats many of whom are off to the ARC across the Atlantic.
Sephina approaches at a rate of knots and we have music at the ready
Early landfall, Spain

Sunset at sea
ready for night watch

Clive in Sephina had a tough time with engine failure due to Fibreglass scarf from a faulty fuel line instillation for the generator. He had to sail into La Coruna anchored in the bay and motored gingerly over to the marina on Thursday morning.


  1. Blimey Osborne, it all sounds fantastic so far! I shall be monitoring this closely, and I am thinking of your poor shipmates; sounds like. The catering is going w ell, so I regret I shall be. Redundant; good luck on the fiddle, clearly short on numbers on that score, Squire; what were the wales? Sounds like the others are proficient on the instruments, including my old mate Colin; looking forward to keeping in touch, Pugwash; don't worry Colin, e very day is a day closer to home; hope. You make it, mate, but don't forget my kind offer; Clifford.

  2. a whale !!! fantastic !