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Old 19-02-2016, 12:44   #1
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Inside Biscay Route ???

Hi Friends

I'd like some opinions and insight on this route and time frame
through the Inside of Bay of Biscay, Trip will originate in the UK and
end in Lisbon., Presently we are working on the
Biscay portion. I have done this trip before but on that go
we jumped from Brest to A Coruna in one leap.
This trip we would like to cruise the coasts inside.
We plan on being in Cameret Sur Mer around the 10 of July
I say around because we pay attention to the weather and will wait
if prudent. Don't really fancy the "stuck inside a washing machine strapped
to the front of a roller coaster" ride anymore.
We are working on this part first because if it's going to take more
than 3 to 4 weeks (inside) we will again jump across and then take more time
both above and below Biscay.
The route/itinerary looks like this,
( nm # is distance between ports above and below)

Cameret Sur Mer
La Trinte Sur Mer
St. Gilles Croix
Les Sables
La Rochelle
St, Sebastion
Ria De Ribado
A Coruna

Total nm 707

An alternative route still inside but with fewer ports of call and mostly comprised of longer sails would be as follows:

Cameret Sur Mer
La Trinte Sur Mer
La Rochelle
St Sebatian
A Coruna

Total nm 670

Yacht is a very sound Bavaria 36 with AIS Transponder, Radar, AP, VHF/DSC
and a full complement of Off Shore safety gear.
On board will be at least 2 RYA Coastal Skippers/Tidal and 1 Day Skipper
There might be other crew but the above are for certain.
I'm open to all suggestions and critique on the route,
proposed ports of call, anything I should add or delete?
Weather considerations,tide and current considerations?
So friends let me have it
the good, the bad, the ugly and last but not least
"You're so crazy" Not enough time !!

Thanx All
PS: Beers on me for any here we cross paths with on this trip.

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Old 19-02-2016, 13:01   #2
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Re: Inside Biscay Route ???

In my first Biscay crossing I ask a French fisherman whats he best deal, he answer to me, West, go West and don't be close to the shelf, I never attempt the inshore shelf route, but to me Santander and St Sebastian are deat my crossing one of the skippers from other boat choose to top there , he wait 3 weeks for weather,, good luck...

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Old 19-02-2016, 13:29   #3
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Re: Inside Biscay Route ???

In France, the N shore of Biscay is considered a sailing paradise: many harbours, some beautiful islands and anchorages, not so strong tides, fair weather in summer. Of course, it is slightly crowded.

When coming from Camaret, Audierne isn't always the best stop. The town harbour is in a shallow tidal river: it's often impossible to enter or leave 3h each side of LW. There is an anchorage with mooring buoys in Sainte Evette, just W of the river entrance, behind a breakwater, but it isn't protected against S swell. When possible, I try to go further south: either Le Guilvinec or Lesconil.

From there, I would hesitate between La Trinité on the mainland and Le Palais in Belle-Île. I love Le Palais but it is often full by 3pm in summer.

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Old 19-02-2016, 14:08   #4
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Re: Inside Biscay Route ???

That S Brittany / N Biscay region is my backyard and personally I would keep slow on the S Brittany part and not aim for ports only. There are many delightful anchorages !

Out of the Raz de Sein, you can stop in Audierne yes. Then plan to stop in Bénodet and perhaps cruise a bit of the Odet river. Then stop in the Glénan Is. and in Concarneau. Then on to Groix, Belle-Ile, Houat and Hoedic, wonderful islands with history and walking to do. Then stop in La Trinité (that's the name I carry on my transom around the world...), and in the Golfe du Morbihan. You'll be amazed at the currents and the ever changing scenery in that small inland sea.

After that, and depending on the weather patterns, you can cruise in longer stretches deeper still into the Bay of Biscay, the obvious place not to miss being La Rochelle and its wonderful architecture and atmosphere. I would go fast and skip the Vendée coast except maybe for stops on the islands of Noirmoutier and Yeu. But know that by then, yes, you will be going deeper into a trap that's difficult to come out of, especially by way of the Spanish coast.

In fact, if you plan on doing the return stretch, what I'd recommend is to travel eastwards on the S Brittany coast and then head off for Galicia. I've done that several times, although the best is to take good advantage of a NE wind. On your return trip you can travel eastwards on the Spanish coast and then to La Rochelle and to Brittany. That's feasible without any problem.

Enjoy !

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Old 20-02-2016, 08:35   #5
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Re: Inside Biscay Route ???

Agree with the general idea of most of comments. Do the Morbihan and from there head straight for Gijon or Ribadeo. The best part of northern Spain lies west of there anyway. The itinary you have in mind might get you trapped. Even if not, you will have a bouncing experience for days on end. Even La Rochelle is too far south for a direct approach of the spanish coast. Take a train there, and if you feel you must get there on tour own keel (a great experience, no doubt about it) - I would suggest you sail back north afterwards until you get a good angle for Gijon.
Enjoy your trip. The Rias Altas are a superb cruising ground. A direct sail to La Coruna from Finisterre and doing your intended trip eastwards from there is of course the sensible option. Good luck.
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Old 20-02-2016, 09:02   #6
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pirate Re: Inside Biscay Route ???

I will add to the fast run...
Les Sables to Viviero after which work your leisurely way East.. then North.. much easier life.
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Old 20-02-2016, 09:48   #7
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Re: Inside Biscay Route ???

Hi Neil,

We went down that way last August. Blog at:

if you are interested.

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Old 20-02-2016, 17:58   #8
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Re: Inside Biscay Route ???

Thanks to all
I have been very busy with the
Circus. Four performances in the last
2 days and 2 tomorrow. And thus
I have not had the proper amount of time to sit down with charts and all your comments and really drill into it.
Soon I will be back with more questions. I just wanted to say
a sincere thank you to all for your
extremely helpful local knowledge and
remind all here that beers are on me
for all that I cross paths with on
this trip.
Thanx again
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Old 22-02-2016, 11:18   #9
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Re: Inside Biscay Route ???

Hi Friends,

I have had a chance too look over all suggestions & comments carefully
and think that we will change our plans slightly, so if you all would be so kind as to comment again I'd be appreciative.

Many have referred to going deep into Biscay while traveling southbound
as not so good and it's much better to go inside northbound.
Why is this? Run instead of Beat?

Why is deep inside Biscay, La Rochelle and south considered to be,
as it's been called, " A Death Trap" " A Trap Difficult to Come Out Of"
" Bouncy for Days" ?

I think we will change our plans to one of these two routes
which are both similar in heading of between 212 and 217 True.
This heading appears to be about optimal according to what I can
determine, without heading first due west then due south.

1. Belle-Ile to Ria De Ribadeo

2. Cameret Sur Mer directly to A-Coruna

We have about 6 to 8 weeks, Basically July and August to get from
The River Medway in Kent, UK to Lisbon, Portugal and it has
become apparent that if we want to really enjoy the cruise
we should eliminate deep inside Biscay and spend our time more on the north
and south fringes of Biscay. (Brittany and Rias Altas/Galicia)
All comments very welcome.

Thanks again for all your input.
There is nothing like "Local Knowledge" and I think of CF
as a virtual dock that I can walk down with a few cold beers in my satchel
and make friends. Beers on me to all here I meet on this trip.

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Old 22-02-2016, 13:25   #10
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Re: Inside Biscay Route ???

N Biscay is where I live...

The wind often blows from the W sector. Then, it's possible to sail close hauled from SW Brittany to Galicia. But when starting from further south, it would be necessary to beat to windward.

In summer, the area around La Rochelle is very crowded. "Les Minimes" (La Rochelle marina) is the largest in France: 4500 berths. This is not where I want to be for holidays.

Regarding the N coast of Spain, this is what the US Sailing Directions say:
Winds—Weather.—On the N coast of Spain, the prevalent summer winds are onshore. In the cooler months, the onshore and offshore winds are more equally divided. Gales may blow from any direction, but in all seasons, are most likely to blow from the W. Depressions traveling SE across the Bay of Biscay towards the Mediterranean Sea can form N to NE gales. These often consist of very stormy and thick weather which raises high seas along the N coast of Spain.

In winter, gales reach their highest frequency and from November to February, the wind can be expected to reach force 8 or more 7 to 9 days per month. In summer, gale frequency decreases considerably and gales of force 8 or more are only expected 1 to 3 days per month.

A Galerna is a particularly severe NW gale which occurs along the N coast of Spain. It may be preceded by a thundery squall and is most common during the months of July, August, and September. A Galerna may occur after a day of excessive heat and is usually preceded by a S or NE wind and a slight fall of the barometer. Frequently, lightning is seen and the wind veers to the NW and forms a severe squall. The wind then blows with great force for 3 to 4 hours while much rain falls. The wind then subsides and the weather clears.

A Galerna sometimes forms with the strength of a hurricane and with no prior warning. The usual time of occurrence is soon after the greatest heat of the day, but it has also been known to occur at night and in the morning.

Recent investigations show that the Galerna is often associated with a secondary depression in the Bay of Biscay. Such a secondary depression often appears when a deep and extensive depression approaches from the Atlantic towards the N of Ireland, and causes winds to blow from a SW direction for a period of several days. This type of secondary depression is reported to form very rapidly, especially in summer.
Severe squalls may also occur E of Bilbao in the hot season after a period of NE winds. Dense cloud development is usually followed by a very strong W wind and heavy rain. Then suddenly, the wind shifts to the NW and a gale forms which persists for 2 to 3 days.
Since the continental slope is very close to shore in S Biscay, the swell is often very powerful there: no wonder it is a surfer's paradise.

For catching offshore weather forecasts when underway (out of VHF range), a Navtex receiver would be useful.

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Old 10-04-2016, 17:46   #11
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Re: Inside Biscay, Now Changed

Hi Friends
The plans are now coming together.
After considering all research and what I've learned here,
Thanks Alain and JimB (great website)
We have decided to forgo the south bound inside route of Biscay and do
it in one jump. This will be most likely from Camaret to Ribadeo.
Possibly A Coruna if we have a long wait for weather at Camaret.

Now we are turning our attention to the bits both above and below Biscay
Our point of departure from the UK will be Ramsgate.
The basic route will be


Bay Of Biscay

A Coruna
Then leisurely day sailing down the coast of Spain and Portugal to Figueira Da Foz

Our thinking is basically to tour the history of the D-Day invasion
visiting some of the more historical sites along the way as
some of the crew are history buffs. Then jump
Biscay and spend the remainder of the trip leisurely sailing down the coast
to Figueira Da Foz, taking in the nice summer weather and beaches along the way
We are planning on 5 to 6 weeks for this cruise.
Departing around July 4th.
The above is the outline of our route (not a list of our exact stopping points)
and we will be either staying at marinas or anchorages, deciding along the way
Besides being aware of the tidal nature along the coast and the need to time our
arrivals to coincide with high water what are other things we should be looking for?
What are the best Pilot books for this area?
For off shore weather we plan on using a Delorme In-Reach with an Ocens
Spotcast Weather plan, Anybody have any experience with this service in Biscay?

Beers on me , for any fellow CF members we meet along the way

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Old 11-04-2016, 13:16   #12
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Re: Inside Biscay Route ???

There is now a marina in Roscoff where you can enter at any time. Aber Wrac'h and Camaret are deep water. It is more useful to time your departure from Roscoff to have the tidal stream with you, especially if you take the channel between île de Batz and the mainland.

Roscoff to Aber Wrac'h and Aber Wrac'h to Camaret are two short legs. It is possible to combine both together. However, you have to pay attention to the timing with the tide between Aber Wrac'h and Pointe Saint-Mathieu because if the tidal stream runs against the swell, it creates a *powerful* washing machine. The worst places are near Basse Paupian off Portsall, around Grande Vinotière off Le Conquet and just W of Les Vieux Moines off Pointe Saint-Mathieu. Don't ask how I know.

I use the French "Pilotes Côtiers". They are not necessary if you have detailed charts. When coming from Roscoff, entering Aber Wrac'h through "Passe de la Malouine" saves at least one hour but it can be done only in daylight: the pass is narrow but spectacular and well worth doing.

For passing Raz de Sein, you just have to remember that the tidal stream begin to run S about half an hour before HW at Brest and N about half an hour before LW at Brest. Even in a 36' yacht, you don't try to run against the tide there. Depending on the swell, it is sometimes better to pass at slack water.

In addition to weather forecasts, I suggest you use detailed sea state forecasts from this site: PREVIMER - Coastal observations and forecasts
IME, this is by far the best source in the area.

For victualling, Camaret is probably the most convenient. In Roscoff, the marina is about 2km from the town and from the supermarket. Aber Wrac'h is a harbour, not a town: Landéda is about 2km.

There is a typing mistake in your list: change "Quistreham" into "Ouistreham".

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Old 10-05-2016, 12:06   #13
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Re: Inside Biscay Route ???

You could spend a lifetime there...
I left Port La Foret last week and just arrived to Coruna. The french coast is beautiful and then there is the rivers that are lined with little villages. The place is amazing..
But i wish i had the time to explore it all there.
Sadly i want warmer climates and longer summers so i can work on the boat and paint when i want to paint.
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Old 10-05-2016, 12:21   #14
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Re: Inside Biscay Route ???

It's a pity that you're skipping the north coast of Spain by sailing straight to Ribadeo from Camaret. Should you head straight South to Santander, or even a bit to the East to San Sebastian, you'd be able to sightsee very picturesque towns like Laredo/Santoña, Santander, San Vicente, Llanes, Cudillero, Luarca... Excellent food, wonderful views and much more. Only weather is not guaranteed, but in summer it's quite good, even when it rains from time to time.

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