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The Voyage of 'S/V Röde Orm' - Sweden
Come on board and take part in our adventures while exploring the world at the slow pace of a sailing boat. We left in June 2009, heading south to escape the northern winter... to start with. Currently in Algarve/Portugal taking it one day at a time.
The Bay of Biscay - with Speed and a Smile
08/30/2009, Ria Ribadeo N 43, 32 W 07,02 Spain

The Spell of motoring is over at last! We sailed every cablelength of this 300 miles passage. Starting at 4PM (yup, we were a bit slooow this morning) in a very light breeze we were close hauled all nigtht long in a Force 5 gusting to 6 from W. Needless to say, quite uncomfortable given the short and steep nature of the waves here.

The Bay of Biscay has a very bad reputation among sailors, which in a large portion is not because of worse weather than elsewhere - but the fact that the Atlantic with a depth of 4000 meters 'hits' the continental shelf (150 m deep) in just a couple of miles. Naturally this is resulting in dangerous sea state (Tsunami style) in rough conditions.

Thus, the not so comfortable seastate we experienced, due to the fact that we had 60 miles to go before leaving the continental shelf behind and reaching safer (yes, actually!) water where the depth plunges to 4 km.

I wonder how long it would take for something thrown overboard to travel all the way to the bottom ?

Anyway the sailing was awesome. We reached the deep atlantic water early in the morning which made our depth sounder announce 'zero feet' when it became out of range. The wind veered to NW during the early stage of the night, accordingly to the forecast, and it was very nice to ease the sheets a bit. Now fore-reaching instead of sailing hard on the wind. We made the first 150 miles in 19 hours which is the fastest passage I ever made in Röde Orm and very good for a heavy 32 feet cruising boat.

The wind decreased, still perfectly 'following' our forecast, and at Force 2-3 kept us moving on nicely during the day, when the swell came down from 2-2,5 meter successively. By now they were looong and nice though they made the lookout difficult. Since the boat is equipped with a radar, we mostly kept watches with the radar as it made them easier and safer too. Actually it 'sees' a lot better than the most active crew member on a small boat given that from it's height it 'sees' a lot longer. The radar, that sits at spreader hight in the mizzen mast on Röde Orm, gave us a perfect 'view' of up to 12 miles. I was positively surprised at how well it worked dispite the waves.

The last 90 miles became a new 'race' now with the wind on the beam, since it had veered to N and then further to NE and again gusting to force 6, before we entered Ria Ribadeo at 4AM on the 30th of August. 300 miles in 60 hours giving an average of 5 knots. Not bad at all.

Ria Ribadeo is the most Easterly of the 'HIgh Rias' of Galicia. Approximately 70 miles E of La Coruna. We choose it primarily because we realized early on that we would arrive at night, some 8 hours earlier than expected. Otherwise the original plan was to make landfall at Ria Vivero, 33 M to westward.

The entrance hear is wide and guarded by two conspicuous light-houses on each side of the entrance. It was pitch black when we slowly 'feeled' our way into the anchorage area marked on the chart. We dropped the hook in 18 feet of water, between high and low tide. The tidal range here, now at neap, is a 'modest' 2 meters so no big deal ;-)


No problems/ no worries. All is well with both the boat and the crew.

From here on we intend to do 30-40 mile 'jumps' along the coast using the tidal stream to our advantage most of the way down to LIsboa. Staying as long as we like to and moving along when the wind is favourable. (Northeasterlies are predominant here so that shouldn't be too difficult)

No time schedule whatsoever now, except we want to be in LIsboa before the end of September. Given that i'ts not more than 350 miles to go it's not exactly stressful.


BTW - 'RIA' is a spanish word that perhaps should be explained. The breton expression is 'Aber' as in l'Aber Wrach where we spent a couple of days. A river estuary, created by the tidal action of the sea and surrounded by a mountaineous landscape. At least this as I have understood the word.

As another aside, it's too bad we were delayed almost a month from leaving Falsterbo. Because of this we discarded our original plan to sail via Scotland and Ireland. If so, we would by now have ended a nice 'kelt' roundabout, with our 5 weeks in Bretagne and now Galicia, another part of the Celtic regions. So much more interesting since Isabelle is Bretonnne and was very involved in the folk music and dancing when she grew up. For me, I guess it's mostly a matter of enjoying the music heritage.

The Belle Isle 'Thriathlon' - cruiser style!
08/26/2009, Le Palais,Belle Isle

First - 2 miles rowing the dinghy in a F 5 headwind right after breakfast

Second - 2,5 km walk with backpacks to town

Third - Some 40 km of biking with backpacks mostly against the wind. Up and down steep hills

Fourth - Dinner with wine in the town after returning the bikes

Fifth - repeating the second, but in drizzling rain and nighfall

Sixth - rowing back to the boat in the anchorage in rain and complete darkness att 10 PM


Outcome?

Great boost for the moral of the entire (!) crew. Add to this that it did wonders for our legs and cardiovascular system after weeks of sitting in the cockpit plus all the good food and wine in France.

By the way - the weather forecast is simply splendid for the next six (!) days, so tomorrow we'll steer to Galicia- Espana!


To this brief description, we found the Island to be immensely beautiful with stunning sceneries together with piqturesque little towns. Belle Isle got our strongest recommendations, see the pics... (unfortunately it's very hard to capture the sheer mightyness of the rocks and the ruggedness of the landscape of the western shoreline; the windward side.)

To Le Palais
08/25/2009

Dispite the rolling, or because of it?, we slept long and moved closer to Le Palais and re-anchored. Here the swell came on the steern and was more comfortable for the time being. After lunch, we rowed ashore to explore and to find a wifi spot. Our antenna couldn't fin a single wireless net here, probably due to the high and rocky shoreline just between us and the town.

A Perfect Morning - and then to the Beautiful Island
08/24/2009, Belle Isle N 47,20 W 3,09

Cloudy in teh morning and no wind (!) so we rowed to shore, armed with a screw driver and plastic bags. Why? To 'hunt' wild oysters and Berniques (no idea what they are called in English or even in swedish, but there's a photo of them in the gallery) on the rocks at low tide. This went well. Within half an hour I had a good dozen of oysters and couple of pounds of berniques in tha bags. OF course we bought a fresh baguette at the local baker in the little town on our way back and enjoyed this for lunch on board

By then it was 2PM and wind had picked up, obviously from where we were going, so we had to motor again to Belle Isle. Our batteries are well topped up by now. We anchored in a bay a mile and a half south of 'Le Palais' , the main harbour (fishing harbour) and one of few towns on the island. The anchorage was very uncomfortable due to the swell that came from an angle of 90 degees to the wind, making all 9 boats roll quite badly.

To 'Houat' - flying the Spinnaker
08/23/2009, Houat (The Duck) N 47,23 W 02,57

At last we felt we had to leave the tranquil life in this river. It's fascinating how fast one changes one's mindset. After just a couple of days in a new place, when you've figured out where to shop etc, you start to feel SO comfortable there. Then after a few days more you start to question your ability to ever get going again and leave...

I call that adaptability, the # 1 human asset to succeed as a species. It is also callled, in this particular context among sailors, - 'Harbour Rot'-.

The intersting thing is that, at least for us, just a few days after starting to question our ability and willingness to ever leave, the decision to do so, just pops up by itself. A couple hours later, we are ready to take off, t least mentally.

Adaptability. Interesting.

We had planned to leave Arzal at 8AM when the bridge opens and the tide turns toward ebb. When the alarm on my cellpjhone played it's weird little tune at 6.30 it was still dark.... and very dense fog. So dense in fact that we couldn't see the shore some 35 meters away. After a quick breakfast we took a little nap again to aim for the 9AM opening.

By 8.15, the fog had lifted just about enough for us to 'feel 'our way at idle speed from bouy to bouy and from pontoon to pontoon via the marina to the lock. We were a number of boats leaving in these conditons, among them around twenty catamaarans the same size as Hobie Cat, with an inflatable towing them in a long row to a race somewhere. Dead calm. The forecast was force 2-3 so we motored along, waiting for the wind to sweep the fog away.

It did after a couple of hours, and we just about made steerage with the spinnaker for about an hour, when the wind died out completely again. Sunny and warm and yes, we ended up motoring most of the 28 miles to the pretty little island of Houat (the Duck) with its smaller companion, 'Hoédic' (The Duckling) a few miles to SE.


We anvchored here among some 150 other boats opposite to the town and a marvellous sandy beach.


Tomorrow we'll go on to Belle Isle (The beautiful Island) some 11 miles to W and the outpost from where we hope to cross the Bay of Biscay within a few days.


24 August

A Perfect Morning - and then to the Beautiful Island

Cloudy in teh morning and no wind (!) so we rowed to shore, armed with a screw driver and plastic bags. Why? To 'hunt' wild oysters and Berniques (no idea what they are called in English or even in swedish, but there's a photo of them in the gallery) on the rocks at low tide. This went well. Within half an hour I had a good dozen of oysters and couple of pounds of berniques in tha bags. OF course we bought a fresh baguette at the local baker in the little town on our way back and enjoyed this for lunch on board

By then it was 2PM and wind had picked up, obviously from where we were going, so we had to motor again to Belle Isle. Our batteries are well topped up by now. We anchored in a bay a mile and a half south of 'Le Palais' , the main harbour (fishing harbour) and one of few towns on the island. The anchorage was very uncomfortable due to the swell that came from an angle of 90 degees to the wind, making all 9 boats roll quite badly.

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Who: Magnus & Isabelle
Port: Falsterbo -Sweden
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