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Old 01-06-2015, 09:48   #1
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Netherlands to Gibraltar

Hello Everyone!

My wife and I are planning to sail from the Netherlands to Gibraltar in Aug (likely leaving the first week of AUG) the boat is a Hanse 371 from 2002 that I bought with my wife recently. The fact that we dont know well the boat nor the route is why we have decided to go with a professional skipper and spend our AUG vacations sailing her back to Spain. Nonetheless, I will love to prepare well the trip and hear your experiences, in terms of recommended routes and stop-overs, weather and other advice you might have for example, I have calculated that the trip should take 14 days, assuming weather is good (Ive been reading that AUG is actually the best month to cross bay of Biscay). Anyone with this type of experience?
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Old 01-06-2015, 10:17   #2
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Re: Netherlands to Gibraltar

I made the trip to Gib from Hundested, Denmark to Gib in 1973 aboard a one-off 62 ft. Bill Lapworth designed sloop. We went thru the Caledonian Canal of Scotland and down the Irish Sea. You'll likely shoot straight down the sleeve and around the corner at Cap de la Hague and head south, right? I highly recommend La Rochelle. Incredibly beautiful. Only approachable at hi tide - then ancient locks close to hold the water in the harbor. Looks like an 18th century Disney movie setting from the sea. If you can hit Santander, Spain in August there's a great flamenco music fest at night in the bullring w/ all the child prodigies. A jaunt up the Vigon river and a couple days in Lisboa is also a must if you have time. In Gib we stayed in the destroyer pens instead of the huge hippie encampment of the main marina. Porto was very nice too BTW. Keith
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Old 01-06-2015, 16:10   #3
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Re: Netherlands to Gibraltar

Thanks Mehariste - we will have to dance at the rythm of the weather, although the plan is reach Gibraltar as soon as possible...14 days maybe?
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Old 02-06-2015, 04:00   #4
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Re: Netherlands to Gibraltar

In adverse conditions it's easier to make progress down the English side of the Channel than the French. All of the English harbours worthy of the name have all-tide access. Not so all the French ones. That said, Cherbourg is a good place to stock up with French goodies and of course there is cheap diesel in the Channel Islands.

Don't get spooked by all the stories you hear about the Chenal du Four. It's buoyed for big ships and is easy-peasy, just make sure you've got the tide in your favour.

Camaret just outside the Rade du Brest is a good spot to wait for a 2 day weather window to cross Biscay. If the weather is being uncooperative, Chataulin, up the L'Aune river is a nice diversion. On the Spanish side, La Coruna is a good place to aim for. If you arrive late, the anchorage at Ares, accross the ria is a sheltered spot to drop your anchor and gather your wits.
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Old 03-06-2015, 09:51   #5
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Re: Netherlands to Gibraltar

two weeks are bit ambitious for the trip - we did it from Kiel-Canal,Brunsbuettel to Faro in 13 days by 45" cat. But it was perfect weather NNE all the time. So we stopped twice at Cherbourg and Aveiro for only one night each.
Don't sail by schedule - Biscay can be a pond but even hell..
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Old 03-06-2015, 15:45   #6
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Re: Netherlands to Gibraltar

Dear Tellus and Sestina,

Thanks for the advice. We will definitively sail depending on the weather and if we have bad luck we will leave the boat in a different port and continue at a different moment. I've learned this the hard way in the Caribbean, where the forecast are not as accurate as in Europe and where island hoping can be complicated at times

Sestina, thanks for the tip - I will know search the internet for the AUG pilot chart to check the prevailing winds, but seems that most likely we will have to avoid the lee shore of the french coast

I ordered the Imray 2015 pilot chart as well to start preparing

By the way, what about installing AIS system? (I am inclined to do so, but...will you consider it a nice to have or a must have?)
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Old 08-06-2015, 10:13   #7
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Re: Netherlands to Gibraltar

If as suggested you cross to the English side of the English Channel,you will certainly find days when AIS will be indispensable!
A receiver will suffice,as you can VHF DSC call the bridge of the ship giving you the closest CPA.Mostly you will find that if you can see the AIS plot on your screen,you will notice the course alteration of the vessel in question,avoiding you,obviating the need to disturb the officer of the watch.
As to enter the Chenal du Four,you will have re-crossed the shipping lanes again,The benefits of AIS will again be felt.
So it's a no brainer,
How you go about displaying the AIS has numerous solutions,just google something like AIS YBW (yachting and boating world)
This should bring up various threads like iNaVx or openCPN for example.


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Old 08-06-2015, 15:29   #8
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Re: Netherlands to Gibraltar

Dear paulclan,

Thanks for the reply - Yes, AIS seems a must have for such a trip so its something I will have to budget for

By the way, any tips on food? do you guys always bring everything pre-cooked to avoid cooking during the days of cruising?
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Old 08-06-2015, 16:34   #9
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Re: Netherlands to Gibraltar

This is a fairly challenging trip, so good call on the pro skipper. It includes full transits of the North Sea, English Channel, and Bay of Biscay -- three of the most serious bits of water in this part of the world.

The North Sea and Channel can be done, if you have the time, day sailing from port to port on the tide along the coast. The weather is frequently severe, so you would do well to budget plenty of time for waiting for weather windows.

As has been said, the English side of the Channel offers more and much better ports of refuge, but don't miss Cherbourg for stocking up on French provisions, and Guernsey for cheap fuel if you need it.

Biscay can be done either going along the coast, or much faster to go straight across to La Coruna. But you must have the weather window.

Even a couple of months would not be excessive to budget for this trip, if you want to choose the right weather without time pressure. Then it can be a pleasant cruise instead of a nerve wracking weather fest. Make miles when the weather is good and then enjoy the fleshpots when it's not.
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Old 10-06-2015, 09:55   #10
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Re: Netherlands to Gibraltar

Thanks for the tip - I've been having some discussions with a friend on the best month to do the crossing.

Some say July or AUG is a good month, but I've also heard not good!!

ANY OPINIONS???
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Old 11-06-2015, 06:19   #11
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Re: Netherlands to Gibraltar

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Morgana, & Keith.
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Old 20-06-2015, 10:37   #12
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Re: Netherlands to Gibraltar

no pb at that time to get down to Portugal, the dominant winds are NE to N along the western coast of Spain-Portugal

attention to strong tide currents at the tip of Brittany !
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Old 21-06-2015, 06:16   #13
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Re: Netherlands to Gibraltar

Quote:
Originally Posted by bil56 View Post
. . . attention to strong tide currents at the tip of Brittany !

And in many other places, basically anywhere there is a headland or narrow place. Places for being especially careful in case you are near the coast:

1. Portland Bill
2. Needles Channel
3. Start Point
4. Alderney Race (runs up to 12 knots!!) and various other spots in the Channel Islands
5. Anywhere near Ushant
6. Chenal du Four
7. Raz de Sein


A gale blowing against the tide in any of these places can break your boat and kill you. Read the pilot guides (and Reeds Nautical Almanac) for more information. The tidal races are shown on charts and are better avoided altogether, if possible.
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Old 21-06-2015, 06:49   #14
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Re: Netherlands to Gibraltar

For fuel, Brest has a fuel pontoon in the marina in town behind the big breakwaters which takes debit cards so you can fuel up any time of day or night before Biscay, then Camerinas in Galicia is a good option as you don't have to go out of your way much. Lagos is another option after rounding St Vincent and might run out before Gib.
Of course, you'll have fair winds the whole way so won't need any
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Old 21-06-2015, 07:09   #15
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Re: Netherlands to Gibraltar

I did Copenhagen to Gibralter last summer
Crossed Biscay second week of September with no problems
But we were lucky and a good weather window was open
when we reached Brest so we just took off.
If you have the time, places we enjoyed were
Tourquay
La Coruna
Cascais
Spectacular sail down the coast of Spain and Portugal
Enjoy your trip
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