The Bay of Biscay, which is bounded by the west coast of France and the north coast of Spain, covers an area of 86,000 sq miles. It’s known for its rough seas and violent storms and much of this is thanks to its exposure to the Atlantic ocean. High seas and gale force winds are quite common in the bay.”Winds blow from America to Europe and the waves grow all the way as they travel from west to east,” says Prof Adrian New, from the National Oceanography Centre.”These swell waves can be felt in the Bay of Biscay if you’re still in deep water 100 miles out. They then become shorter choppier waves when you hit the continental shelf. Swell waves are long sloping waves that are around 20ft high, but high winds can make them both bigger and steeper. Gales are most likely in the bay from October through March. We were sailing in August so we should not have all of this …?
This trip going South we had very good friends and also very goods sailors on board: Ben and Mieke van Dullemen and Jeroen de Vries. Ben and Mieke have their own mono hull ship and so have a lot of experience. Jeroen is an experienced regatta racer and was racing on the Nitro, a one off 36ft race boat, with Robbert. Very good sailor and navigator. Ben did a lot of navigation preparation. How to, where to, why to etc. For al of us this was our first more-than-one-day overnight crossing, so a good preparation is half the work as we say.. Mieke and myself we took care of all the provisioning. Because we had about 10 days to do the crossing we decided to do it without any stops from The Netherlands to Spain. For all of us quite a new experience of course …. On August 3th, 2018 Robbert and I sailed the boat from Heijningen to Scheveningen. For our crew much easier and leaving from Scheveningen felt more real, sort of. We fuelled up the tanks, welcomed the parents from Mieke onboard for a coffee (so they knew on what kind of boat she would be), went through all the safety instructions etc.,and we untied the lines on Saturday morning, August 4,2018, at 10.36 AM. The sun was shining, the wind was good, the weather forecasts were good as well. Nothing could go wrong! Bye bye Holland! OUR NEW LIFE STARTED!! UNTIE THE LINES!
We were all excited! The weather conditions were very good for the coming days. Soon we all found our way on the boat. Especially for Ben and Mieke, who are huge fans of a catamaran!, it was a matter of hours before they were completely at home. As well for Jeroen who is used to racing fast mono hull sailboats, just like Robbert! We made a watch scheme for the men and Mieke and I could join whenever we wanted. Ben started at 08.00 – 10.00, Robbert from 10.00 – 12.00, Jeroen 12.00 – 14.00, Ben 14.00 – 16.00, Robbert 16.00 – 18.00, Jeroen 18.00 – 20.00, Ben 20.00 – 22.00, Robbert 22.00 – 24.00, Jeroen 24.00 – 02.00, Ben 02.00 – 0400, Robbert 04.00 – 06.00, Jeroen 06.00 -08.00. The first night is always a bit exciting as we all have to get used to the darkness, to the sounds, to the views, to the navigation systems etc. But boy have we been lucky. We could easily cook, take a nice hot shower, sit down and relax, play a game, read a book, work on the computer. It was amazing how easy things went. The weather was good. We could even use some more wind! The first day/night we sailes 80 NM in 9 hours! During the 2nd day there was time enough to do all sorts of boat jobs. One of the major jobs to be done was connecting the solar panels. We have 3 sonar panels on the roof but we do not want to see any wires anywhere. So there was a lot boat yoga going on that day! Wires going from inside to outside to up going down. Lot of boat yoga haha! But the end result was perfect! Thanks Ben for your help! By the way Ben knows almost everything when it comes to boats. He owns a boat but also works in the industry! The days flew by before we knew. We have been trying to catch a fish, but no positive result …. Tried all the lures we have but no luck. Some fish cuaght the lure but no fish left for us …. We could send a message to our loved ones everyday through our Garmin Inreach so everybody knew what was happening. Nice! Everything was working properly on board. What a perfect boat to do this kind of crazy stuff! We sailed south direction Brest, Franceturning east direction Spain and when you come at the height of Saint Nazaire than the real depths in the Bay appear. That’s also where they often say it gets wild! Depths go up to 4000 meters!! Our depth meter stopped at 102 meters I think and also got wild haha! Anyway, we felt that the swell of the waves changed. The waves got very very long and got higher as well. But to be honest very pleasant sailing! If you look at waves the height difference it was amazing. Very difficult to picture this. I tried several times but no luck. Maybe the video shows a little how it looks and feels. The wind though was not getting wild, which was pretty nice for us! We had no problem at all, even at that very deep part of the Bay. We looked at the weather systems all the time to see what was happening. As there was not much wind we sometimes had to put on the motor to keep up with the weather forecast. We knew the wind would pick up in a few days and if we were not keeping up and average of 6 knots per hour we probably would be in that wind .. which we did not like … So we were motoring as well as sailing. During the night we had very conservative sail setting. Which is pretty soothing. Most mornings it was very wet from the dew. I do not like that. Everything feels salty and wet and cold. But as the sun was there every day all dew cleared up soon. We really had a very good time and everyone was enjoying. What I find most insopiring is the spectucular views of the Bay. Unbelievable! And every day again! And every day a different view! Really nice! On the fourth day we only had a few hours where the wind was picking up to about 28 knots. Luckily during the day so everyone was awake and could help and do whatever had to be done. But at such moments I feel very blessed having these good sailors around! It just feels very safe! What more happened along the way: we had a lot of dolphins around the bows. Such a pleasure to see these gracious animals swimming so close by. At some point Ben was sure he saw a Whale! We were all like? Huh? A whale? We never saw anything and we will never know if it might have been a whale or if it was dolphin! We ate at least 5 kilo of liquorish. Being Dutch we all could not resist that candy pot standing there for everyone to grab it … We did not do any exercise! Walking around on a CAT is maybe enough exercise?
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