Yup, still here... Tuning in on Spain and trying to refresh the spanish from school. Takes a while I am afraid.
We haven't done anything much worth telling here, just relaxing and talking to a couple of other sailors in tha marina. Particularly a french gentleman who has spent most of the summer beating to windward along the Portuguese caost, in small steps. Statistically there is Northerly winds along the coast most of the time. It's even known as the Portuguese Trtade. He spent four years on Corsica/Corse and is now going home to Brittany where his chosen lady is waiting for him.
Going through the canals of France, Canal du Midi, to Bordeaux was not possible fo him since his boat has a draught of 1,80 and the maximum dredged depth of a part of the canal is 1,40 only.
Not hard to understand that he is a bit fed up with it
We have also had a 'tropical storm' gone lost, pass here with wnds around Force 6-7 last night. A very good reason to stay put. The center of this somewhat desorientated caribbean hurricane reportedly hit Ireland with 45 knots of wind. Imagine the size of the seas that must have gone with it!
The wind wills still be on our nose tomorrow, but on Saturday morning the next little leg is in the cards. 35 miles to Ria Vivero, the one we originally planned to go to after crossing the Biscay.
Vamos a ver! (we'll see)
Can you see our boat in the picture?
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.
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
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.)
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.
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.