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Old 03-07-2013, 14:31   #31
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Re: New Cruiser debating the Atlantic Coast of France, Spain, and Portugal

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Biscay France offers some safe winter cruising. A bit chilly and wet at times; hope you'e got a heater! There are some great small towns which stay alive all winter; many summer holiday spots effectively shut down. And some good rivers to explore inland a little - the Launay (rade de Brest) and the Villaine, as well as the more obvious Gironde.
Yes, each year I cruise the North Biscay/South Brittany in February. I have always been lucky with the weather. There are some gales but since the continental shelf is shallow, heavy swells don't come often close to shore. On the coast, the winter temperatures are generally above freezing. In fact, I prefer cold and dry weather over mild and wet, for it's much easier to protect oneself from cold than from moisture.

From La Rochelle, it's fairly easy to cruise the coast towards Brest, except for the Raz de Sein (between Sein island and the mainland), which must be treated with respect. There are many ports and marinas, which keep operating all year long.

IME, a Lagoon380 doesn't go well to windward in a seaway, so you might have to make good use of your engines against the westerlies.

Zoid, if you happen to stop in Lorient, I would be pleased to discuss the cruising ground with you.

Alain
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Old 03-07-2013, 16:07   #32
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Re: New Cruiser debating the Atlantic Coast of France, Spain, and Portugal

I make 3 Biscay crossings in winter, mostly for charter companys , and in one with a L380 club , all i can say is forget to sail the close to the coast to spain unles you are a masochist, almost all the harbours in the north tip of spain are dead traps in severe gales or storms, and you are moving under the continental shelf , one fool dude sail a brand new Bene for moorings from Sables DÒlone to la coruña and make a straight course across Biscay , get caught in a sever gale a day ahead of spain and made Santander surfing big waves , he got stuck there for almost 15 days , the cap got presed by Moorings to make progres and leave harbour with a horrible sea condition outside, he broke the mainsail, and the boom... i know that because i leave Olone behind the gale and reach la coruña before and later meet the cap in la coruña, lucky guy you know?

For the Op , i sugest to sail south and leave the area as soon as posible until North coast of Spain, from there is almost a piece of cake, well you got Finisterre and later the coast of Portugal, with a nice window you will be ok, there is no real weather windows in Biscay in winter , if the met say 2 days , expect one .... and keep a good distance from the shelf, in doubt or with problems head west or pull the pedal to the metal, Biscay is really rough in bad weather, hope you enjoy your crossing ....
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Old 03-07-2013, 18:04   #33
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Re: New Cruiser debating the Atlantic Coast of France, Spain, and Portugal

Great input and I appreciate everyone's help with this. For the Visa discussions I think everyone's advice is correct, assuming we get a 12 month French visa technically on the days spent outside of France count toward the Schengen 90 days out of 180. I found this plus the actual Schengen legal language:
EUROPA - PRESS RELEASES - Press Release - The EU Visa Code will apply from 5 April 2010

It also sounds like enforcement isn't going to be too big of a concern. Based on what I'm hearing here foreign flagged boats are harassed or checked frequently to ensure Schengen compliance. So it sounds like its all riding on getting that 12 month visa...

One other thought that I wanted to see if it was a viable option was to get the boat Oct. 23rd (earliest I can pick her up) and then hire a delivery captain to get her into the Med and winter on the Med coast of Spain. The advantage with that is that I will be in the Med already as soon as the weather starts getting nice and it might be a tad bit warmer. Any thoughts on that?
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Old 03-07-2013, 19:44   #34
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There's some good stuff here , I ve made several out of season trips across biscay and have yet to form a good opinion of " the best way". I do agree about the costa murde, but sometimes you have no choice , I have entered Coruna in bad weather and prefer it to say Bayona . I've also dodged gales approaching finnisterre by running into Gijon , but on bad weather I had to go into,the commercial port as the fairway into the marina is a death trap

I still don't have a " best way " lately I think just a big banana out west skipping the whole coast and finnisterre might be better , nice deep water

Dave
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Old 04-07-2013, 00:29   #35
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Re: New Cruiser debating the Atlantic Coast of France, Spain, and Portugal

Completely agree with the last two posting, hence why it is important to wait for a good 4 to 5 days of good weather window before leaving La Rochelle or where ever you are south of Britany.
Entering A Coruna can be challenging, I never experienced that ( I avoided it) but what is sure is that if you are stranded here with bad weather coming from the west for weeks in a row (as happened in early june 2012, I was sailing back from Horta and decided not to stop here) you may have to wait quite a while before sailing south. From this perspective sailing past A Corugna can be worth it BUT if you have some broken part to fix or if you have plenty of time it is worth stoping here and to go to the marina within the city, the one close to the cruise-ships dock.
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Old 04-07-2013, 02:06   #36
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Re: New Cruiser debating the Atlantic Coast of France, Spain, and Portugal

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I've also dodged gales approaching finnisterre by running into Gijon , but on bad weather I had to go into,the commercial port as the fairway into the marina is a death trap
The alternative marina just south of Gijón Musel ( Marina Yate ) is safe to enter in all conditions. As is the port of Aviles , just west of the nearby headland.
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Old 14-12-2016, 23:27   #37
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Re: New Cruiser debating the Atlantic Coast of France, Spain, and Portugal

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So we are finally casting off the land based shackles and going cruising. We’ve been saving up and just pulled the trigger on a boat. The plan was to purchase in the southeast US and sail the Caribbean. However we stumbled upon a boat we liked and it happened to be on the Atlantic coast of France. We debating bringing her back to this hemisphere, but since the ability to travel is one of our main reasons for cruising, we decided that Europe might be a great place to explore. We’ve been lucky enough to have sailed much of the Caribbean (from the Windward Islands to Belize) over 8+ years of bareboat chartering, so Europe would be completed new cruising grounds.

So we’re leaning heavily towards not shipping or having it captained back to US/Caribbean. The boat will be ours in late Oct/Nov near La Rochelle. Based on the research I’ve been doing, that time of year in that part of the world is not exactly easy coastal cruising down the coast. We are lucky to have the advantage of having time, so we can start making our way south when it makes sense, and we will need some time to outfit the boat.

So after all of that here is the question: are we asking for trouble starting our cruising life on a boat in La Rochelle France in winter? We can live in a marina for a while but would love to slowly work our way south when weather windows present themselves to Spain, then Portugal, with the goal of getting into the Med for the summer through next winter. We are not overly experienced sailors, having only several years of weeklong charters in the Caribbean and my US Sailing Bareboat courses.

I’m looking for some advice from those that have sailed this area during these months (anytime from January to April-ish), whether or not we can make our way south when openings in the weather present themselves, or whether or not we’re crazy to consider it.

Right now our options are: 1) brave the coastlines of France, Spain, and Portugal to the Med, 2) get an experienced captain to help take the boat straight to the Med, or 3) ship the boat back to US/Caribbean and just spend our time island hopping.

Thoughts? Any input on good pilot/cruising guides for this area?
HELLO HOW ARE U?
U MUST BE COLD IF U ARE THERE IN THIS WINTER !
IF U HAVE A HEATER IN THE BOAT JUST STAY WHERE U ARE TILL THE WINTER IS OVER ENJOY THE BACK COUNTRY WORK ON UR YACHT DO SPAIN WITH AN OLD CAR FOR A FEW WEEKS THEN COME BACK DO SOME MORE WORK ON THE YACHT AND IN APRIL MAY START SAILING SOUTH. OR IF THE BOAT IS READY AND SEAWORTHY GO SOUTH TO THE BORDER THEREE ARE MASSIVE MARINAS ON THE FRENCH OR SPANISH SIDE .
THEN DONT FORGET TO GO AND SEE THE MEDITERRANIAN NEXT YEAR ILL TELL U ALL ABOUT IS IN THE NEXT CHAPTER.
UR CHART PLOTTER WILL BRING U THERE. REMEMBER THE GULF OF BISKAY IS NOT A PLAY AREA.
MARCEL
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Old 14-12-2016, 23:32   #38
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Re: New Cruiser debating the Atlantic Coast of France, Spain, and Portugal

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HELLO HOW ARE U?
U MUST BE COLD IF U ARE THERE IN THIS WINTER !
IF U HAVE A HEATER IN THE BOAT JUST STAY WHERE U ARE TILL THE WINTER IS OVER ENJOY THE BACK COUNTRY WORK ON UR YACHT DO SPAIN WITH AN OLD CAR FOR A FEW WEEKS THEN COME BACK DO SOME MORE WORK ON THE YACHT AND IN APRIL MAY START SAILING SOUTH. OR IF THE BOAT IS READY AND SEAWORTHY GO SOUTH TO THE BORDER THEREE ARE MASSIVE MARINAS ON THE FRENCH OR SPANISH SIDE .
THEN DONT FORGET TO GO AND SEE THE MEDITERRANIAN NEXT YEAR ILL TELL U ALL ABOUT IS IN THE NEXT CHAPTER.
UR CHART PLOTTER WILL BRING U THERE. REMEMBER THE GULF OF BISKAY IS NOT A PLAY AREA.
MARCEL
hAHA JUST REALIZED THIS WAS YEARS AGO I WASTED MY TIME THERE BUT IT WAS MEANT WELL . BYE
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Old 15-12-2016, 09:08   #39
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Re: New Cruiser debating the Atlantic Coast of France, Spain, and Portugal

One good reason for waiting for Spring is to be able to enjoy the Atlantic Spanish Coast cruising. Great cruising ground, many shelters on the rias and Islands and much better food at much nicer prices than what you will encounter on the touristic med.

You can search from information on this forum about that cruising ground that deserves to be explored for at least a month. Been there several times and I miss it.



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Old 15-12-2016, 14:37   #40
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Re: New Cruiser debating the Atlantic Coast of France, Spain, and Portugal

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hAHA JUST REALIZED THIS WAS YEARS AGO I WASTED MY TIME THERE BUT IT WAS MEANT WELL . BYE


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