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Old 13-02-2016, 10:40   #16
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pirate Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

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If you've got the time, the most awesome place we visited last time after crossing biscay was Ribadeo on the border between Asturias and Galicia. After 4 days surrounded by water breathtaking views on the Picos de Europa and a stunning landscape. Great place and people too!!!

Camaret-sur-mer (Britany) is a good place to stop in between (spent a winter there), and Douarnenez. Don't get the tides wrong in the Raz de Seine or go around Ar-Men lighthouse.

For the Iberian Peninsula I highly recommend "Atlantic Spain and Portugal" by Henry Buchanan (RCC Pilotage Foundation, Imray). Don't bother with the Reeds! The Reeds is certainly great for British waters, but not up to date for anything else, no info about any alternative anchorages and just the major places mentioned. Unfortunately the same goes for the Bloc Marine.

Concerning the Portuguese west-coast I've updated my old article, even with pictures, and it can now be found here: Sailing Portuguese waters

Fair winds & happy sailing
Dody
Still hanging out down at 'Surf City'..??
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Old 13-02-2016, 10:58   #17
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

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Still hanging out down at 'Surf City'..??
Yep ! Foredeck very close to be finished, now "only" aftdeck and interior missing ! Whish this rain will stop monday midday as predicted, I'm completely blocked with my progress at the moment!
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Old 13-02-2016, 13:39   #18
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

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Hi Dody,
Thanks for those tips... I like your style!
Managed to get down to Cameret and Douarnenez in the summer and echo your recommendation, but I was hoping to take a more direct route across the bay.
I'll certainly get the pilotage book you recommend and do a little homework!
Thanks! Once you've got the pilotbook you'll find out that there are huge amounts of lovely places in the Galician Rias, not only La Coruna or Bayona. For some inexplicable reason I prefer the northern shores of each of the Rias over the southern ones, but that's me.

If you have a chance, spoil yourself with a lot of time in the Rias - you won't regret it! And: go ashore and explore, don't try to see the achievement of sailing distances in as short a time as possible as your only goal like unfortunately so many people do!

Fair winds and happy sailing
Dody
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Old 13-02-2016, 14:25   #19
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

greetings from Cyprus Larnaca marina..
Just get as far out as possible so you are away from the underwater shelf and away from the traffic heading North and South.
I sailed from Falmouth first week of February few years ago and good sail with everything up ,cutter rigged and a steady 11 knots until a stop in Corruna , great port and shopping.
Beware of the fishing boats that try to snag you to claim new nets .It is a popular sport so have the engine ready to run and drop the main.The other excitement we had was 2 water spouts that wanted to chase us.
Beware of the night trawlers with the same ideas as in daylight hours.
have a great sail
Peter
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Old 13-02-2016, 14:53   #20
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pirate Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

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Originally Posted by raqsshaqi View Post
greetings from Cyprus Larnaca marina..
Just get as far out as possible so you are away from the underwater shelf and away from the traffic heading North and South.
I sailed from Falmouth first week of February few years ago and good sail with everything up ,cutter rigged and a steady 11 knots until a stop in Corruna , great port and shopping.
Beware of the fishing boats that try to snag you to claim new nets .It is a popular sport so have the engine ready to run and drop the main.The other excitement we had was 2 water spouts that wanted to chase us.
Beware of the night trawlers with the same ideas as in daylight hours.
have a great sail
Peter
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Larnaca marina
I tend to dive through the Ushant gap and stay inshore of the main traffic.. just get the odd one heading into Brest at the top, Bordeaux round the middle and Bilbao etc; towards the end.. also between the inshore-offshore trawlers.. straight line to Viveiro or Finisterre.. depending on weather..
Personal choices..
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Old 13-02-2016, 15:30   #21
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pirate Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

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Originally Posted by Dody View Post
Yep ! Foredeck very close to be finished, now "only" aftdeck and interior missing ! Whish this rain will stop monday midday as predicted, I'm completely blocked with my progress at the moment!
Know what you mean.. I want to slap some paint around the interior.. smarten it up a bit.. but want everything open to clear the fumes.. given up with boom tarps the wind keeps ripping them.
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Old 13-02-2016, 16:01   #22
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

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Know what you mean.. I want to slap some paint around the interior.. smarten it up a bit.. but want everything open to clear the fumes.. given up with boom tarps the wind keeps ripping them.
So true! For this longer job I had to make myself a "proper" one, concrete-re-bar shoved into irrigation-tube & bent into hoops which are attached to the stanchions. Made a cover from UV-resistant greenhouse-plastic with re-inforcements sewn around it and eyes pressed in, the whole laced down on the sides, curtains to take up when it gets warmer for air-circulation. Since around x-mas a dehumidifier running 24/7 ... BUT: I can't cut any plywood outside in the rain and the wind doesn't help either. And it's only four more smallish-sized plywood-sheets I've got to laminate in, for the next step wx outside doesn't matter !!!!
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Old 13-02-2016, 16:13   #23
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

Great insight... many thanks!!
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Old 13-02-2016, 16:42   #24
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

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greetings from Cyprus Larnaca marina..
Just get as far out as possible so you are away from the underwater shelf and away from the traffic heading North and South.
...
Beware of the fishing boats that try to snag you to claim new nets .It is a popular sport so have the engine ready to run and drop the main.The other excitement we had was 2 water spouts that wanted to chase us.
Beware of the night trawlers with the same ideas as in daylight hours.
...
Don't know which fishing-boats and trawlers claiming new nets you are talking of. The fishing-boats in Biscay are usually 20+ meters long. The Trawlers carry heavy nets which are held with steel-cables 18 mm or more in diameter. Now how do you think you could damage any of this equipment with an average sized sailing-vessel for them to claim compensation?

Sure, like everywhere else, the thing is to avoid them. But in the first place with the purpose of avoiding damage to your own boat! And I agree, it's sometimes a bit tricky when they fish in their pattern to imagine which turn they will make next. But that's their work, they are not doing this to annoy others!

Close to shore there might be small fishing-vessels, sometimes open rowing-boats even, when the weather is good. But they fish with lines, hardly ever with nets. And if they fish with nets it's in a close circle of maximum 20 m diameter and big lights at night to attract the fish.

Now just to make this thing complete: there do exist ground-nets, held in place on each side by an anchor with a buoy and a flag to mark both extremes. Unless in very shallow water you can pass these buoys&flags without any problem if you keep 1.5 m off, sometimes you can even go closer. This kind of nets you will find very few in Biscay but more further down south of the coast. And mainly on the continental shelf, not outside in deep water.

@ Bertybuoy:

The tactics for Biscay depends simply and only on the forecast you've got the moment you head off.

Draw 2 lines from the traffic-separation-zone at Cape Finisterre to the one in Brittany, that's where to expect the majority of traffic, and stay out of it - weather permitting.

Beginning of May the violence of the low-pressure-systems up there will in theory have gone down, but you should keep an eye on what's in the making from the west and how it's progress is.

Having a good deal of leeway is always a brilliant idea - that's why sailing-ships in the old days were staying as far west as they could manage. Getting a glimpse of Ouessant for them was comparable to a death-threat.

With a moderate or even good weatherforecast, and a modern ship with the ability to point a bit to windward, there is in principle no harm in sailing east of the traffic-lane.

You might be lucky with the forecast this May, as the last 3 years were exceptionally bad. Still, prepare yourself that possibly the weather-systems by then haven't settled enough to get a good, reliable and stable forecast for 5 -6 days, because that's what at least we are talking about provided nothing else goes wrong. Thus, you might be happy to stop in Brittany, wait for the next favorable forecast to minimize it to 4 days or so, and then sail on.

Fair winds & happy sailing
Dody
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Old 13-02-2016, 18:24   #25
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

Dody presented about the best summary of what to do of all the folks about getting through Biscay. If in doubt, head southwest. There are several weather services that will give you personalized forecasts. For the Biscay region, you got to keep an eye on the northwestern weather patterns. A good lull up there will normally give you about a week to get across the bay and into the mid Atlantic. Otherwise, you can coastal hop, daytime preferred.

Admittedly a lot of fishing boats do not mark their nets nor trawls. Radio contact does help. Some nets go for miles, so depending on seeing a boat not much help. If they snag a military or government vessel, they basically are unemployed forever if not executed on the spot, so most tend to set nets deep.
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Old 13-02-2016, 18:39   #26
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

Uuuuupppps, I nearly forgot:

with your forecasts! In the earlier days we were relying on radio-forecasts which certainly is far better than nothing and is still a big help out there for many of us.
But honestly, a forecast saying "North Biscay SW 3-5, South Biscay SW 5-7, Finisterre SSW 7-8 gusting 9" - we are talking about a big piece of water with a lot of different weather-patterns - is only part of the whole truth.

Today forecasts in general have gotten much more reliable and the amount of information we can get is immense. Wheatherfax on its own already provides very detailed information for those who can do something with it. And, with an SSB-radio you can receive them out there on the ocean.

For those who are not experienced with weatherfax, we've now got Grib-Files available to use! Whichever spot we're after, we can find out everything about predicted winds, gusts, wave-heights and so on. There is plenty of free programs, my favourite "ZyGrib" for example. With a tool like this we are able to get very detailed information about what's going on out there and can plan accordingly.

I was really amazed when crossing Biscay sailing south in November 2012 and using it for the first "longer" passage how accurate I was able to avoid the worst of the weather - till the last day, because I didn't have a pactor-modem yet to get updates while underway and had to rely on what I downloaded half an hour before I took off!

Navtex is certainly nice in coastal waters but doesn't work out there and, as said before, it doesn't really help you to get generalized information for quite a big sea-area.

Fair winds
Dody
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Old 13-02-2016, 19:02   #27
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

Dody, as you know, with today's satellite mapping and detailed weather contours, one can fairly do their own weather predictions for their specific area for the next several days. We like the subscription services that produce on the spot short and medium range forecasts for one's specific plotted course. Plus the real time alert to changes in weather really help.
Yes, back in the 60s, weather forecasting was totally hit or miss, mostly miss. Once we tried to get out of the Channel only to hit huge walls of water and gale force winds on a day forecasted to be calm with 10knot winds and 4 foot seas. Thank goodness those days are mostly gone, at least for the Atlantic.
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Old 13-02-2016, 20:57   #28
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

Be prepared to be flexible. I have been knocked down in a 60 footer in 50+ Knts, stuck in fog and last time becalmed for most of 3 days. Sailing south it is worth getting well out about level with Cork. Clears any nastiness off Brittany and give you more sea room if you get pushed east later.
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Old 14-02-2016, 01:19   #29
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

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I tend to dive through the Ushant gap and stay inshore of the main traffic.. just get the odd one heading into Brest at the top, Bordeaux round the middle and Bilbao etc; towards the end.. also between the inshore-offshore trawlers.. straight line to Viveiro or Finisterre.. depending on weather..
Personal choices..
This is exactly what we did. Had a trawler try and run us down on Day #1 (only to find out they were telling us about a pod of dolphins hanging around) Day #2 a big tanker out of Bordeaux change route to give us room, and Day #3 we had a slap from the weather, but only for a couple of hours.

There was also a midnight port-to-port passing of a BIG sailing superyacht and us but otherwise, it was a pretty easy three days TBH.

n
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Old 14-02-2016, 06:34   #30
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

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... We like the subscription services that produce on the spot short and medium range forecasts for one's specific plotted course. Plus the real time alert to changes in weather really help...
But that only works for people who've got a satellite-type of phone which many people - me included - don't have.

With making "your own forecast", as long as you know about the current weather-systems all around you and crosscheck the real weather you've got about every 1-2 hours with the predicted weather for your current spot, you can keep track about what's happening fairly accurately and adjust your course accordingly.

And once out there, in the majority of cases, there is no heading back anyway.

Fair winds
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