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Old 12-02-2016, 11:38   #1
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First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

Virtually the first leg of my trip between Plymouth and Malta has me crossing the Bay of Biscay in early May this year.
I have three very able sailors helping me to make the crossing, but nevertheless , I have always got a more rounded solution when taking into account the options posted on the forum!
I have a couple of queries that you can shed light on if you will...
1. We will first sail to Falmouth and then head out SW until we get to around level with Ouessant, and then turn south (at around 9.5 degrees W) heading for A Coruna. I am a little concerned that if we stop there we may struggle to get around Fisterra if the normal South Westerly's blow. Any help with preferred ports or tips on crossing would be appreciated.
2. How would you structure the watches on such a trip (4 or 5 days of probable 'testing' sailing) for 4 people? Any and all suggestions appreciated!!


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Old 12-02-2016, 12:03   #2
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pirate Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bertybuoy View Post
Virtually the first leg of my trip between Plymouth and Malta has me crossing the Bay of Biscay in early May this year.
I have three very able sailors helping me to make the crossing, but nevertheless , I have always got a more rounded solution when taking into account the options posted on the forum!
I have a couple of queries that you can shed light on if you will...
1. We will first sail to Falmouth and then head out SW until we get to around level with Ouessant, and then turn south (at around 9.5 degrees W) heading for A Coruna. I am a little concerned that if we stop there we may struggle to get around Fisterra if the normal South Westerly's blow. Any help with preferred ports or tips on crossing would be appreciated.
2. How would you structure the watches on such a trip (4 or 5 days of probable 'testing' sailing) for 4 people? Any and all suggestions appreciated!!


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If you plan on going that far out I'd head for Baiona.. its only about 50nm S of Finisterre and much less chance of getting stuck with the weather.. its a hard slog from LC (if SW'lies set in) getting round that corner..
Baiona's a nice place and has most things you may need.. accessed in most weather..
Watch keeping with 3+skipper maybe 3hr watches.. depends on experience but would ask to be called if sleeping to assess any changes that may be needed.. a rare event as I under sail.. if you've full sail I've one reef in..
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Old 12-02-2016, 12:27   #3
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

I'll second heading straight to Bayona, it's a lovely place and you are unlikely to get stuck with bad weather.

As for a watch pattern, I suggest 3 hour watches 6 pm to 6 am and 4 hours during the day.

As boatman says, make sure all crew understand the rules for calling the skipper, e.g. Changes in weather or visibility, lights they are unsure of, other vessels passing too close etc.

Enjoy the trip, remember, don't try to cross bay of cadiz to Gibraltar if the wind is in the East - it's not worth it!
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Old 12-02-2016, 12:35   #4
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

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Enjoy the trip, remember, don't try to cross bay of cadiz to Gibraltar if the wind is in the East - it's not worth it!
Nor is coming out of Gib with a strong Westerly. The yacht didn't have roller reefing so constant trips up to the bow to change head sails as green waves poured over us. Didn't help the skipper seeing another similar sized yacht so wanted a race
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Old 12-02-2016, 13:36   #5
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

leave with an easterly,and aim for a point 20m west of finnisterre,then duck into baiona or keep on going
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Old 12-02-2016, 23:24   #6
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

There are some very good points being made here - thanks guys.
I am keen to spend a little 'recovery time' exploring the Rias before we get to Baiona - after all, this is not a delivery trip and I want to make it enjoyable and memorable (for the right reasons!) for the crew too! What about landing in Arousa?
Also, how does Vigo compare to Biona?


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Old 13-02-2016, 01:17   #7
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bertybuoy View Post
There are some very good points being made here - thanks guys.
I am keen to spend a little 'recovery time' exploring the Rias before we get to Baiona - after all, this is not a delivery trip and I want to make it enjoyable and memorable (for the right reasons!) for the crew too! What about landing in Arousa?
Also, how does Vigo compare to Biona?


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Howdy,

We did the trip for the first time as well last year although on a slightly different route. Weather windows were few and far between for us so we went Falmouth -> Brest -> La Coruna. La Coruna is a fantastic city and we met up with 15 other cruisers who were all heading south also. As it turned out the wind then died, so everyone motored / motor-sailed down through the Rias to Bayona (and beyond). Camarinhas, Combarro, Muros, etc - make sure you stop in as many as possible, as once you hit Portugal, that'll be it for anchoring out.

Bayona's ok... we anchored there for a week but didn't rate it that highly.

We found Biscay like the Alderney Race - SO many prophets of doom told us how dangerous it was, etc etc (and I'm sure it can be in the wrong weather), but if you hang tight in Falmouth and get a good window, it's a bit rolly but not a bad sail down.

Enjoy the sail!

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Old 13-02-2016, 01:30   #8
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

While it can be a bit of a bash getting out of A Coruna, It usually is not that difficult and if your boat points well, it can be a nice sail. It Also saves a fair amount of time if leaving from Falmouth. Unless very strong westerlies are predicted and your boat does not point well, just head direct to A Coruna- and save time, Just dont try if there is any southerly aspect in the forecast.
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Old 13-02-2016, 04:47   #9
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

Why not adopt an opportunistic frame of mind ?
Get yourself a recent copy of Reed's and a decent set of electronic charts to be able to access any marina
It's also nice to have some way of getting the latest weather forecasts while sailing (Navtex, satphone if you can afford it (a friend can send you text messages summarizing e.g. grib data for free)). Then you can decide on the spur of the moment
Why not stop at Camaret (near Brest) to wait for an opportunity or get the latest forecast. Sailing through Raz de Sein (on the right tide !) can be fun !
Divert to A Coruna while en route if the situation at Cape Finisterre is not clear, or if your crew welcomes a rest, or ...
Why not then hop to Camarinas or Muxia, or even at Corme / Laxe on your anchor
Once you've rounded Fisterra, there will be an embarrassment of riches...
If you can read some French, or care to use Google translate, there is a large database of recent comments on all marinas by French sailors along the Galician shore. I have found it invaluable (and have contributed to it )
Bateaux autour du monde - Sail The World - L'Univers de la grande croisière en voilier - STW
(zoom, then click on any green anchor symbol)

In a word, be flexible. Consider the large picture (3-4 days ahead) then zoom on what to do for the next day. Don't stick to a fixed plan, that's a sure recipe for disaster
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Old 13-02-2016, 04:56   #10
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

There's a lot of interesting anchorage around and between la coruna and baiona. A bit cool to swim that time of year but doable. Corme, laxe, Muxia, muros, etc. I'd much prefer Ria arosa to Ria Vigo although the NW anchorage in Vigo is amazing. If you can't quite lay la coruna, cedeira is a nice first stop as well. Heading west along the Galician coast is easy enough that time of year if you have the time to avoid adverse conditions.
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Old 13-02-2016, 05:48   #11
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pirate Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

If you are into exploring the Ria's may I suggest you make your first port in Galicia, Viveiro....
Tucked behind the N most headland its enterable in a F10 with none of the dangers of La Coruna at the approaches.. surfed into the Ria on 9 metre sea's.
Lovely little town where unlike La Coruna the Tapa with drinks is still free.. and delicious..
From there its easy making forays to say Gijon.. just be careful not to get caught with your pants down to far into the corner..
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Old 13-02-2016, 08:16   #12
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

Pick your weather window and go.
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Old 13-02-2016, 09:06   #13
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

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
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Old 13-02-2016, 10:27   #14
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

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!
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Old 13-02-2016, 10:32   #15
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Re: First time crossing the Bay of Biscay

This one also is pretty good http://www.amazon.com/Gentle-Sailing.../dp/B004UBG4IM
And the Imray Atlantic Spain and Portugal.
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