Three weeks ago I sailed my new yacht from Palma back to Falmouth UK. I was very aware of the sensitivity of the weather
at this time of year, particularly the notorious Bay of Biscay and was very prepared to "hole up" when and where necessary. I had a solid crew on board and the yacht was very well prepared. The leg from Palma to Gibraltar
I had imagined would be fairly benign and a good time to get to know the yacht well, handling characteristics and systems. The big surprise was that despite forecasts from numerous sources for winds in the range of F4-6 SW and moderate seas, twelve hours into our trip we had 50+knot SSW winds and big seas. We had few choices of refuge without running into a lee shore and rode
it out under reefed stay sail and a handkerchief worth of main. This strength of wind
continued for a full eight hours and we eventually managed to get into a Marina at Almeria where we waited out the storm. I am no meteorology expert, but I am baffled as to why this may have occurred and was virtually un reported. The pressure gradient throughout was very, very shallow. The conditions were wrong for the Levante and I assumed we were too far East for this phenomenon? I would be grateful to hear from anyone who has experience anything similar or can explain why this occurred. I would be keen to avoid it in the future! By the way, Biscay was a pussycat.