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Old 08-11-2016, 07:24   #1
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Question Gulf of Biscay in November?

Hi,

I'm not a sailor, but I have a question.
My boyfriend and his friend are currently in Portsmouth and plan to, as soon as they can, sail via Falmouth and Plymouth to A Coruña. Early spring they would like to start the crossing to the Caribbean from Cape Verde or from the Canary Islands.
Now I looked up a few things and I see that most of the sailors don't pass Biscay in November, with the exception of the Vendée Globe then.
Just for your info: my boyfriend has a good basis but is not experienced. His friend has experience (as in: he was on his own from Dover to Portsmouth). They sail with a steel Noordsvaarder of 9m.

I would like to ask you whether you can soothe my anxiety, or just express an experienced warning, with that I can perhaps convince them not to do it.

In case you say "no way, life-threatening": is there another option that they already can begin their journey? For instance to Brest and then daytrips if the weather permits? Or inland via Paris to the Mediterranean?

I know they are late with their departure, and normally you would say "wait until spring", but there is some time pressure on the situation due to some personal circumstances.

If this topic does not belong here, I apologize, I'm not such a forum user, let alone on the topic of sailing.

Thanks in advance!

Greetings!
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Old 08-11-2016, 07:34   #2
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Re: Gulf of Biscay in November?

I made a Biscay in January, if you ask me, doable, long wait for a window, Sables dOlone La coruna, caught 40 miles from La coruna in strong SW in the night, i mean Charters companys deliver boats from Biscay area to the Caribbean in any season, except Hurricane season, I'm sure if you have the patience to wait for the best conditions have a nice croosing, and yeah i know how you feel , Mighty Biscay need to be treated with enormous respect, i remember long hours in the pub discussing weather and be rolled by Low,s in the marina every week... Cheers.
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Old 09-11-2016, 22:29   #3
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Re: Gulf of Biscay in November?

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Originally Posted by neilpride View Post
I made a Biscay in January, if you ask me, doable, long wait for a window, Sables dOlone La coruna, caught 40 miles from La coruna in strong SW in the night, i mean Charters companys deliver boats from Biscay area to the Caribbean in any season, except Hurricane season, I'm sure if you have the patience to wait for the best conditions have a nice croosing, and yeah i know how you feel , Mighty Biscay need to be treated with enormous respect, i remember long hours in the pub discussing weather and be rolled by Low,s in the marina every week... Cheers.
You might not know that by 'window' he means a weather window, a forecasted period of decent weather long enough to make some good progress. As he says, and you have read, these windows are less frequent in November in the BoB.

There are people who are expert in forecasting weather for mariners, some at a cost and some not, which might be worth your friends exploring.

Neilpride and some others on here are very experienced offshore sailors and I would trust their advice.

The condition of the boat and the ability of the crew are critical along with the weather when venturing offshore. I assume that if the skipper became ill or injured your boyfriend could sail the boat well enough?
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Old 10-11-2016, 15:17   #4
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Re: Gulf of Biscay in November?

Welcome to CruisersForum, GF

Crossing the Bay of Biscay with a 9m yacht takes approximately 3 days from S Brittany to Galicia. From Falmouth, it takes 2 more days. So, one would need a 4- or 6-day weather window, with a moderate wind blowing from NW to SE through N. This happens sometimes in fall or winter but it isn't frequent.

This crossing is usually done earlier in the season, to reach the Canary Islands by October and cross the Atlantic Ocean in winter. The aim is to arrive early in the Caribbean, to have a good time before the hurricane season.

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Old 10-11-2016, 15:27   #5
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Re: Gulf of Biscay in November?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Girlfriend View Post
Hi,

I'm not a sailor, but I have a question.
My boyfriend and his friend are currently in Portsmouth and plan to, as soon as they can, sail via Falmouth and Plymouth to A Coruña. Early spring they would like to start the crossing to the Caribbean from Cape Verde or from the Canary Islands.
Now I looked up a few things and I see that most of the sailors don't pass Biscay in November, with the exception of the Vendée Globe then.
Just for your info: my boyfriend has a good basis but is not experienced. His friend has experience (as in: he was on his own from Dover to Portsmouth). They sail with a steel Noordsvaarder of 9m.

I would like to ask you whether you can soothe my anxiety, or just express an experienced warning, with that I can perhaps convince them not to do it.

In case you say "no way, life-threatening": is there another option that they already can begin their journey? For instance to Brest and then daytrips if the weather permits? Or inland via Paris to the Mediterranean?

I know they are late with their departure, and normally you would say "wait until spring", but there is some time pressure on the situation due to some personal circumstances.

If this topic does not belong here, I apologize, I'm not such a forum user, let alone on the topic of sailing.

Thanks in advance!

Greetings!
After all your questions has been answered here Zeilersforum.nl: Golf van Biskaje in november? (1/3)
I really think your question is a hoax..
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Old 10-11-2016, 15:31   #6
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Re: Gulf of Biscay in November?

Put your foot down and tell them no, they just don't have the experience for this.

Here is a link to the forecast wind, its a forecast not a guarantee

https://www.windytv.com/?2016-11-12-03,46.649,-2.725,6

Those purple areas that are going over the top of Scotland this week could easily be moved south by the jet stream and then they would be in real trouble.

Tell them to park the boat up in England or France and think and plan again in April.
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Old 10-11-2016, 15:51   #7
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Re: Gulf of Biscay in November?

Read a little history about U-Boats crossing the BoB during winter, under diesel and with bridges 10 feet above water, and you'll conclude that this is not the season to mess with that part of the ocean.
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Old 10-11-2016, 16:00   #8
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Re: Gulf of Biscay in November?

I’ll assume for now that this is a real query. Saying as much simply because crossing this stretch of water can be so dangerous at times due to the violence of the weather which kicks up in it’s vicinity. So, based on what you’re saying, you obviously have some knowledge of what’s involved in such a passage. But perhaps don’t know that at times the starts of various races done (exclusively) by pro’s get postponed due to the level of weather encountered when crossing said bay. As it’s simply too dangerous at certain times, & in some months/seasons.
Note that these are sailors who routinely travel the southern ocean. As in circumnavigating the globe via said route.

Which should give you an idea of how serious an undertaking it is.So that even for experienced folks, a plan A, plan B, & plan C are advised, if it must be crossed during seasons where it tends to have it’s worst weather.

Note, in case it's not apparent. The weather there essentially reaches hurricane force at times, including in the length of time that it transpires for, & the extent of it's reach. It's just that since the weather itsn't tropical, it doesn't receive said title.
The other "fun" parts have to do with the weather sometimes being reflected off of certain land masses, & thus intensified. Along with shoaling sea beds in areas causing waves to stack up notably.
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Old 10-11-2016, 16:01   #9
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Re: Gulf of Biscay in November?

I also did it in January a few years ago. Got an excellent weather window but we were well aware (and planned for) the possibility of seriously ugly weather. I would not like to be out there that time of year in a 9m boat. (I was on a 50 ft. boat). Also, you don't want to follow the coast around the BoB. You can get windbound on the north coast of Spain quite easily
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Old 17-11-2016, 04:28   #10
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Re: Gulf of Biscay in November?

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Originally Posted by Tricolor View Post
After all your questions has been answered here Zeilersforum.nl: Golf van Biskaje in november? (1/3)
I really think your question is a hoax..
Dear Tricolor,

As you've blamed me already of being a hoax in the other forum, I do feel the need to reply...
Apparently the way I formed my question, and my latter absence to reply on the very handy and interesting replies I got from numerous people (including yourself), made you conclude that I'm a hoax (which I'm not).
Eventhough you find it unlikely to believe, I really support my boyfriend in this trip, but I'd rather not lose him, obviously. Therefore I was checking facts. I've posted on this forum aswell as on the Dutch one to gather several opinions to make an objective decision, together with him. I've been walking around for over a week with the nasty feeling that I was witholding him from a big adventure because I was scared.
So on the contrary! I was looking for reasons to let my fear go and tell him "enjoy the bumpy ride" or to find a good alternative. The ride resulted to be too bumpy for his level of experience, we've concluded together, and his companion is not willing to sail through the inland of France instead. I feel very sorry for him and told him that he should seek an alternative but safe adventure.
So for the above reasons I'm not sure why you feel the need to accuse me of being a hoax, here or on the other forum.
It is one of the first times that I've posted on a Forum, sorry for being a newbee, I didn't realise that you're supposed to keep an eye on the replies toroughly or are not supposed to open the same thread on several websites.

Anyway, I know that I shouldn't have to be justifying myself, nor do I know why I feel the need to. Just don't like it when I'm being portrayed as a hoax (why would I do that anyway?! Why would anyone??!) or a bad girlfriend either.

To all the rest of you who took the time to read my question and to answer it: thank you very much, and a lot of sailingpleasure to all of you!

Grts,

Katrien
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Old 17-11-2016, 04:41   #11
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Re: Gulf of Biscay in November?

I think you both made the correct decision
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Old 17-11-2016, 05:53   #12
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pirate Re: Gulf of Biscay in November?

It was a good decision..
The Biscay in winter is no place for novice's.. its a time of 50+kt winds and 7-12metre sea's more often than not.
Have done this crossing a few times and it was a non-stop Nov/Dec Brixham - Viviero - Fig da Foz trip took over 5 weeks.. a lot of time in the Biscay was spent being blown down to N Spain backwards while hove to.. with brief runs in the lulls, usually around 4-6hrs before the next blow started.. more often just an hour at most as the wind shifted quadrant.. winds upto 70kts and sea's 9-11 metres recorded.
Much better get a good window.. cross to Brest then hop down in day runs in good 24hr weather windows.. or better yet.. do it next year.
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Old 17-11-2016, 08:01   #13
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Re: Gulf of Biscay in November?

I did my 2nd Biscay delivery for this year from france to lagos in a 10m yacht 6 weeks ago,had a great trip with near perfect downwind conditions,took 14 days with a fewl brief stops.

unfortunately,given the crews experience level and boat size ,the season is over.

ditto boatmans comments
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Old 17-11-2016, 08:03   #14
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Re: Gulf of Biscay in November?

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It is one of the first times that I've posted on a Forum, sorry for being a newbee, I didn't realise that you're supposed to keep an eye on the replies toroughly or are not supposed to open the same thread on several websites.
All fine! As long as you are friendly, I'd say, you are supposed to do as you please :-) And most likely the troll comment was not meant unfriendly (and next time he might have a bit more patience...)

It was interesting to read the answers, very knowledgeable community here. Good decision. And good idea to ask around!
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