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Old 23-10-2019, 03:58   #1
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Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

Hi,
I’m am currently looking to sail from Thyborøn, Denmark to Purto de Almerimar, (southeastern) Spain in the beginning of January. However i don’t have much experience in sailing in winter. My boat is a 24 foot Albin Viggen. I hope that i could some advice and opinions from you.

Is it possible to sail this route in January?

What is important to consider?

Will it be better to wait and sail in e.g. February instead?
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Old 23-10-2019, 04:19   #2
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Re: Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

Don't think there is much difference between Jan and Feb or even March for that matter. As you have limited experience I would advise short day hops along the coast. That way you can always bug out if conditions or your nerves get the better of you.


Apart from the winds, the tide is strong in the channel and the North West French coast. Having a good engine to punch through would be an advantage.


Seeing as it's only 24 foot have you thought about sticking it on a trailer and driving it down?



Quote:
Originally Posted by NikolajAM View Post
Hi,
I’m am currently looking to sail from Thyborøn, Denmark to Purto de Almerimar, (southeastern) Spain in the beginning of January. However i don’t have much experience in sailing in winter. My boat is a 24 foot Albin Viggen. I hope that i could some advice and opinions from you.

Is it possible to sail this route in January?

What is important to consider?

Will it be better to wait and sail in e.g. February instead?
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Old 23-10-2019, 04:20   #3
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Re: Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

You can find videos on Youtube of Ran Sailing doing a similar route when they left Sweden a few years back. It looks doable if you have a strong engine... but not an enjoyable trip

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Old 23-10-2019, 04:34   #4
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Re: Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

Across Biscay in a 24-footer in January? Albin Viggen only weighs 1500kg; not even two tonnes. Probably lots of fun to sail, but not something you want to get caught in weather in.


I think you would need to do that with a ton of time -- couple months? -- to wait for weather windows, and you may well be forced to day sail along the coast. It can blow a gale for weeks at a time in Biscay in that season, and you do NOT want to be in a Biscay gale in a 24-footer. There's a guy on here, Phil, Boatman61 I think, who has done this very thing in a boat like that, and he can tell you all about it.



Honestly I would consider hauling the boat overland on a trailer if you need to do it in winter, or wait for next summer. And summer, not February. The weather starts to settle down a bit there around May.
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Old 23-10-2019, 06:06   #5
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pirate Re: Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

I did it in December non stop from Brixham, UK to Viveiro, N Spain.. The boat was a Hurley 22, 4000lbs 2300 of which was ballast.
The English Channel was pretty straight forwards but the 340 odd nm from Ushant to Viveiro was very stormy with fronts sweeping through quickly and 'quiet weather' never below F6.. seas varied from 5metres to 11metres and winds got up to 70kts.. I spent many days hove to and drifting South on the current switching tacks every other day to maintain my general heading.
It was cold, wet and miserable, but I was a young 59, full of vim and vigor and looking for adventure and a new life in Portugal.
If you are set on doing this hug Europe down the N Sea hopping from port to port with weather windows then jump across to the UK from Ostend/Dover then coast hp the S coast to Falmouth.. reason being more all weather/tide friendly ports.
Jump across to Ushant then coast hop down France and along N Spain.. from Baiona South it gets easier but you may need your engine a fair bit.
Word of warning on W Portugal.. few all weather ports as most are at river mouths and have sand bars that regularly claim victims local and transient.
I was fairly experienced when I made my trip with several solo W to E trans-atlantics under my belt so knew enough to survive, but if you are not practiced on your boats abilities and limits in bad weather you will be by the time you reach Falmouth and can then decide whether to wait till April or continue.. You will be pretty much alone out there.
I should add, as I closed Spain three large (90+ft) fishing boats went down 2 nights before I made port, one of which had crew from Viveiro.
Be Lucky..
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Old 23-10-2019, 06:48   #6
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Re: Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

i know a couple who did almost this exact route a few years ago. i believe the boat was 32ft. They had zero experience... bought the boat and left in December.

I'm personally not advocating doing this my point is it can be done but waiting for the weather will be key. They mentioned to me that they had some long, multi week stops in ports that were not even ope... they were the only boat there. The good thing was they had no marina fees to pay.

So yes, it can be done. But you cant be in a hurry. Be smart, but with limited experience that can be your biggest challenge.
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Old 23-10-2019, 07:13   #7
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Re: Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

Sailing the English, French, Portuguese and Spanish coasts in winter or early spring is gong to be tricky as already explained. We saw sea water freeze in the Solent in Feb 18 and have had snow as late as April, all be it rare.

However, with a draft of 1m you have some options, but You need to check for lock and canal closures.

a. The classic route from Le Harve to southern France through the canals. Though they may be frozen in Feb / early March.

b. Use the St Malo to Rennes and on to La Roche Bernard, Brittany canals.

c. Use b plus the Midi Canal, Bordeaux to Port Nouvelle.

A start point for research:

https://www.french-waterways.com/pra.../canal-depths/

https://www.michaelbriant.com/french_canals.htm

These would be much safer for a small yacht starting an early spring departure.

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Old 23-10-2019, 09:12   #8
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Re: Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

Don't do it!
I've sailed Biscay twice in December and got well bashed both times.
Should have learned my lesson the first time!
Not worth it.
Will be cheaper and quicker to put it on a truck.
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Old 23-10-2019, 09:34   #9
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Re: Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

Like the rest of the posts, waiting for late Spring or Summer would be the wisest.

However one can travel from the Weser river (I think that's the name) through a canal to The Netherlands and then all the way to Rotterdam, avoiding the Friesen Islands and their shoals.

One would then have to deal with the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay.

As others have pointed out, the Bay of Biscay is no place to be in a small boat in the winter.

I would make sure that my engine, rigging and sails are in good condition.
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Old 23-10-2019, 09:54   #10
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Re: Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I did it in December non stop from Brixham, UK to Viveiro, N Spain.. The boat was a Hurley 22, 4000lbs 2300 of which was ballast.
The English Channel was pretty straight forwards but the 340 odd nm from Ushant to Viveiro was very stormy with fronts sweeping through quickly and 'quiet weather' never below F6.. seas varied from 5metres to 11metres and winds got up to 70kts.. I spent many days hove to and drifting South on the current switching tacks every other day to maintain my general heading.
It was cold, wet and miserable, but I was a young 59, full of vim and vigor and looking for adventure and a new life in Portugal.
If you are set on doing this hug Europe down the N Sea hopping from port to port with weather windows then jump across to the UK from Ostend/Dover then coast hp the S coast to Falmouth.. reason being more all weather/tide friendly ports.
Jump across to Ushant then coast hop down France and along N Spain.. from Baiona South it gets easier but you may need your engine a fair bit.
Word of warning on W Portugal.. few all weather ports as most are at river mouths and have sand bars that regularly claim victims local and transient.
I was fairly experienced when I made my trip with several solo W to E trans-atlantics under my belt so knew enough to survive, but if you are not practiced on your boats abilities and limits in bad weather you will be by the time you reach Falmouth and can then decide whether to wait till April or continue.. You will be pretty much alone out there.
I should add, as I closed Spain three large (90+ft) fishing boats went down 2 nights before I made port, one of which had crew from Viveiro.
Be Lucky..
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Anything is possible but you will need a lot of luck plenty of skill and a lot of time if any of these are missing wait for Spring /Summer

As for the Rand you tube Comment this was on a 40 ft boat with an experienced skipper.
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Old 23-10-2019, 09:56   #11
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Re: Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

Your first hurdle will be to get through the English Channel. To put it simply if the wind is westerly you could motor sail all day and go no where. The best idea would be to get into the French canal system as soon as possible and head to Spain via the canals. Safer and probably quicker in the winter and more enjoyable too.
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Old 23-10-2019, 10:30   #12
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Re: Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

Truck, trailer, or German and French canals to the Med. Trying to sail it outside in winter falls somewhere between suicidal and EXTREMELY uncomfortable. For a novice in such a small boat, FORGET IT!
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Old 23-10-2019, 11:35   #13
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Re: Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

You are asking the wrong question, so you are going to get wrong answers!

The question should not be "is it possible?", the question should be "Am I capable of it?"

The relevant answers are:

1) Yes, it is possible - it's been done many times.

2) No - probably not. You say you have limited experience. Are you at Thyborøn at the present time? It you are, you will find that just now there is a 15 knot southerly blowing once you are out of the harbour. In a Viggen being singlehanded and beating into it, that would mean a storm jib and a double reefed main, and you need to get past Blåvandshuk before you get the wind on the beam. The first hidey-hole down the coast, if you don't like what Neptune is telling you, is 20 miles down the coast at Thorsminde. With a 15 knot wind on the nose and 3 foot seas running against the wind as I would expect on that coast, that translates to 7 to 10 hours of sailing. If you are good. If you are NOT good - and you say you don't have much experience, and unless you have serious engine power - it may translate to being driven on shore. On that stretch of coast, at this time of year, that translates to being dead!

If you are a good navigator, or if you have the hy-tech gizmos that purport to relieve you of the obligations of being a good navigator, you will find the entrance to Thorsminde. Else you will not. At the height you are in the cockpit of a Viggen you would not see it from the distance off you need to be off shore to be safe from the reefs, even in clear weather. If it's raining or spume is flying it is very difficult. The Viggen does not have an inboard AFAIK. An "egg beater" on the transom isn't going to get you far, and if it quits (which it very well may in choppy seas) while you're close inshore, you've had the biscuit.

There ARE days when Vesterhavet is calm. Something like two a year as I recall, and I even recall having seen one of them :-) So wait for one of those. Take your Viggan out far enuff on a straight course that you can't see the entrance to Tyborøn. Go another mile or two, then reverse course and come back in on the reciprocal. That'd be a safe way to learn something about that coast.

Nu må du ikke ta' mine ord for hårdt :-) De er kun ment som en advarsel at dit foretagende er slet ikke så let. Det kan gøres, men kræver mere erfaring end jeg tror du har :-)!

Before anybody beats me - that furren lingo is just to show our new friend that I really DO know something about that coast :-)!

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Old 23-10-2019, 13:24   #14
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Re: Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NikolajAM View Post
Hi,
I’m am currently looking to sail from Thyborøn, Denmark to Purto de Almerimar, (southeastern) Spain in the beginning of January. However i don’t have much experience in sailing in winter. My boat is a 24 foot Albin Viggen. I hope that i could some advice and opinions from you.

Is it possible to sail this route in January?

What is important to consider?

Will it be better to wait and sail in e.g. February instead?
Hi Nikolaj

I suggest you look at the possibility of transiting France by canal, either from the Atlantic at Bordeaux to the Mediterranean near Cap D’Agde. (This is done via the Canal de Garonne and Canal Du Midi.) Or the longer route from the Channel to the Med.

You need to unstep your mast and be prepared to spend on diesel.

All the details are in guides available from www.french-waterways.com , plus quite a few sailors have blogs relevant to this route and videos on YouTube.

By transiting France in this way you save yourself the winter passage around Atlantic Spain and Gibraltar, plus the task of getting back into the Mediterranean via the straits at Gibraltar- all of which can be unpleasant,.

If you opt for the longer canal trip from the Channel to the Mediterranean, you also cut out the trip around Brittany and The Atlantic coast of France. The canals have a speed limit and I think there is a prohibition on nighttime travel, so at first glance it looks like a long and slow trip. But, who knows how many days you might lose waiting for favorable weather on the ocean voyage?

After rejoining the Mediterranean from the canal, you have a week / ten days of hopping down the coast to Almerimar.

Someone else mentioned the possibility of putting your 24 footer on a truck to Almerimar, I would also give that serious consideration.

In your original posting, you mentioned that you don’t have a lot of experience sailing in winter. I suggest that the Bay Of Biscay in your Albin Viggen might be quite challenging and uncomfortable.

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Old 23-10-2019, 14:39   #15
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Re: Denmark to Spain in Winter ...Possible?

Oookay, Trente Pieds, what does Nu må du ikke ta' mine ord for hårdt :-) De er kun ment som en advarsel at dit foretagende er slet ikke så let. Det kan gøres, men kræver mere erfaring end jeg tror du har :-)! mean in English? Please don't leave us linguistically challenged people out!!! ;-)

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