Departure: Glénan Islands, July 23 Arrival: Bélon (Rivière deBélonn), July 23 Nautical miles: 10
Ever been fooled by the forecast? Bet you have, we’ve many times, but our departure from the Glénan is probably one of the worst. We knew bad weather was coming up, but according to the forecast we should have had plenty of times to get out of the archipelago in the morning. Boy were we wrong! We ended up motoring out of the archipelago against wind (’cause of course that had also switched directions) caught between the reefs and a minefield of fishing buoys as the thunderstorm came in over our heads and lightning stroke down around us. We considered turning back, but a) we were halfway through and going back would carry more or less the same risks as trying to push through and b) if we made it, we would be caught in the lagoon indefinitely (and we had a dinner party to attend in Bélon).
Those 14 miles became some of the longest of our journey, the thunderstorm thankfully only lasted about half an hour, but the seas stayed a bit rough and we scrambled to sail to the Bélon river before the tides turned and thereby making the river mouth to shallow to enter. This was not the experience you wanna have right before setting off on the biggest passage you’d ever done – and across the infamous Biscay no less.
We made it in time to attend the lovely house party in Bélon, which flowed with delicious homemade pizzas, amazing wines and enlightening conversations. Maybe we had a bit too much of a good time, as we had to prepare for our Biscay crossing the next day with some significant hangovers.
Departure: Bélon (Rivière deBélonn), July 25 7 am Arrival: Cedeira, July 27 8 pm Nautical miles: 327,6
*average speed 5,4 knots, 6 hours of motor sailing in the end.
For us inexperienced newbies, the thought of spending 2-3 nights on sea was indeed scary and stressful. Perhaps also a deciding factor for any future longer adventure. But we did plan well and found a good weather window, although prepared as always last minute. We had many unknown factors that added to the stress, will we be able to sleep enough? Will we get seasick? How is Kai going to cope with his business? The key is adaptability and a bit of luck. Adaptability is evolution’s greatest achievement. So we all adapted, our brains and bodies and captain Kai to the new short normal.
We set sail and ‘Olaf’ our autopilot did the rest like a charm. We slept, probably too much, eat and enjoyed nature’s greatest show. At least 15 pods of dolphins come by and swam a good portion of the way along us, even whales showed interest in us, sometimes hunting together with the dolphin. Distant blowouts provided evidence of even further whales, perhaps too busy or shy to say hello.
We did get more then enough sleep, all 3 of us. There where of course some shorter moments in which we felt a bit uncomfortable, with the wind on our nose and confused seas, but same didn’t last too long and the moods swang fast.
Overall it was 330nm and 60hours of very unique and positive experiences for us all. Kai managed to get 2-3 deck walks every day, balancing on 3 legs and marking the vast territory of the Biscay, while spending the rest of the day with cuddling one of us on the port tack couch.
Ps. We are so overwhelmed by nature’s beauty, but sadly over 1000 dolphins wash ashore in the beaches of Biscay yearly due to bycatch – we written an article about this issue here. We can and should do better and help nature perish, then perhaps we can do whale watching around Europe’s front garden.
Nerdy epilogue on electric consumption: Having no generator nor win turbine made this passage a bit tricky for our energy budget and our relatively small 300amp AGM battery bank. Nevertheless, we managed pretty well, even though our autopilot (Raymarine EV200 linear drive) was operating non stop as we are lazy to steer and can’t afford a windvane. So how did we manage? Key was energy saving and planning, but here are also some other small tips and tricks in case you are interested:
- Defrost your fridge some days earlier for maximum efficient.
- Charge your devices beforehand.
- Use power banks over night, charge during the day.
- Switch off anything unnecessary (echo sounder, inverter, pumps, lights)
- Change your autopilots sensitivity to minimum and adjust your sails well to take off steering stress.
- Use manual water pump, if an option.
Doing so, we were able to stay sufficient for the entire trip. Note we switched off our echo sounder and GPS, and relied solely on our tablet for navigation, our AIS and radio stayed on the entire trip.
Let us know if you have any great tips.