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Old 26-10-2011, 16:03   #16
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Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

We sailed from Cork. Plenty of searoom should you get in one of the nasty storms.

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Old 21-11-2011, 19:43   #17
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Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

My regular beat for the Med is Holland > Falmouth and wait for an acceptable weatherwindow.
As Boatman says: treat the Biscaya as a Full Atlantic crossing. Ok, it' s only 3/4 days to La Coruna but if the wind is coming in from the SW than make yourself ready for some battlements tour. During my last one trip rogue wave ripped off the engine from its foundation and sprang the manhole of the gasoiltank. Diesel and engineoil widely spread out in the cabin and it was only blowing a moderate 7 Bft.
Somehow I survived the mess and keep this as a warning memory not to downgrade the risks of the trip. It took me a couple of days to get the oil and diesel out and fix the engine foundation. In Club Nautico I met some Dutch people who told me that they have had the experience of a full Bft 9. I had been just lucky to sail in the channel between 2 low pressure fronts.
The weather gods thought I had received sufficient punishment for my attempt to cross the Biscaya and the remaining distance to the South of France went event less.
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Old 22-11-2011, 00:47   #18
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Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

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Originally Posted by MacG View Post
My regular beat for the Med is Holland > Falmouth and wait for an acceptable weatherwindow.
As Boatman says: treat the Biscaya as a Full Atlantic crossing. Ok, it' s only 3/4 days to La Coruna but if the wind is coming in from the SW than make yourself ready for some battlements tour. During my last one trip rogue wave ripped off the engine from its foundation and sprang the manhole of the gasoiltank. Diesel and engineoil widely spread out in the cabin and it was only blowing a moderate 7 Bft.
Somehow I survived the mess and keep this as a warning memory not to downgrade the risks of the trip. It took me a couple of days to get the oil and diesel out and fix the engine foundation. In Club Nautico I met some Dutch people who told me that they have had the experience of a full Bft 9. I had been just lucky to sail in the channel between 2 low pressure fronts.
The weather gods thought I had received sufficient punishment for my attempt to cross the Biscaya and the remaining distance to the South of France went event less.
Thank you.... as a matter of interest, when you left for the Bay, was BFT was your acceptable weather window? I realise that forecasts are not set in stone, but we thought upto 6bft would be acceptable..... reading your note, me thinks I should lower that for the eventuality that it increases!
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Old 22-11-2011, 01:19   #19
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Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

Its academic where you depart from UK but i would head for Brest in France, much easier to get going again across the Biscay. Also its an excellent place to retreat to if you get slapped about a bit and have to head back to get away from the weather. If you been in there first, you will be familiar with it and not restricted with tidal harbour entries and a crossing from Brest to say Coruna keeps you out of the main shipping lanes. The addtional thing is you get to stock up with loads of cheaper wine and french food. The whole of the Northern Spanish coast is amazing and worth time exploring.... dolphins and whales galore all way down to Lisbon!

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Old 22-11-2011, 02:38   #20
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Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

I changed my deep draft 41' for a more modest 30' since a severe handicap recently limited my ability to sail solo long distances in or around shipping lanes.
I am forced to cut my journey in legs which lengths are determined by the time I can do without sleep, i.e. approx 30 hrs. or some 150-160 nm. Save for my bionic ear, I am completely deaf. Sleeping means that I have to offset the device that is connected to a plug that is drilled in my skull and brings me back into the land of living.

So ionianpilot' s way might be my way for the future. Harbour hopping just to the Gironde and taking the transverse of the Canal du Midi. The shallow draft of my recent acquisition allows me that. But the season of 2012 I will go to Scotland and the outer Hebrides. Never been there and I want to smell the waiting waters of the Minx.
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Old 22-11-2011, 02:48   #21
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Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

You can do no wrong coming to Scotland! Best cruising anywhere, and proper pubs to hunker up in at night! If you time it right, loads of fetivals, music , seafood....you got it all!
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Old 22-11-2011, 03:13   #22
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Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

@Chantal

I left Falmouth with a moderate wind and a weather-chart from a German sailor showed me the two depressions on either side of the Biscaya.
So I knew what could be coming and I took the calculated risk.
When it starts to blow a bit, on the edge of the Continental Flat the weirdest waves are building up and just like a slalom skier I avoided head-on breakers.
My watchmate finished a bottle of whisky to damp his fears for the towering white faces around us - it was his first time out there - and waking me up for my watchturn, the weathergods hit us with this rogue. We fell of that wave and I cannot describe the chaos afterwards.

I just can say this: Give Ushant a wide berth on the port side. The rest will be experience for later journeys.
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Old 22-11-2011, 04:38   #23
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Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

I have not sailed the English channel, but tip my hat to those of you who do.
Did the first and second part of my RYA on channel charts and info.
What with BST, bell curves, running fixes with tidal vectors thrown in, its a piece of work.
Very close friend of mine from Norwich often navigates the big boats up to Norway , Sweden.
Master of understatement, he says "makes ya think"
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Old 22-11-2011, 05:22   #24
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pirate Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

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I have not sailed the English channel, but tip my hat to those of you who do.
Did the first and second part of my RYA on channel charts and info.
What with BST, bell curves, running fixes with tidal vectors thrown in, its a piece of work.
Very close friend of mine from Norwich often navigates the big boats up to Norway , Sweden.
Master of understatement, he says "makes ya think"
Aww.... the English Channels not so bad... North Sea's a bitch tho' with all the shifting sand bars etc.... between UK and Holland there's loadsa spots where you can paddle barefoot for miles....
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Old 22-11-2011, 05:37   #25
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Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

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Aww.... the English Channels not so bad... North Sea's a bitch tho' with all the shifting sand bars etc.... between UK and Holland there's loadsa spots where you can paddle barefoot for miles....
+1. Hail, squalls, 0.5m under the keel, Thames Estuary and southern North Sea in January. Not fun.
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Old 22-11-2011, 05:38   #26
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Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

Not really, (or do you want to walk the Doggersbank?) but the gates between the Dutch and German "Wadden" isles are a challenge to any sailor, specifically if it blows a bit from the WNW or WSW and ebbtide runs against the wind. Try the "Molengat" @ NW 7 - 8 .....

There are two real enemies out there 1) the stupid politicians with their inefficient powerparks and 2) the sledgefarmers who are digging for crude.
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Old 22-11-2011, 05:46   #27
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pirate Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

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Not really, (or do you want to walk the Doggersbank?) but the gates between the Dutch and German "Wadden" isles are a challenge to any sailor, specifically if it blows a bit from the WNW or WSW and ebbtide runs against the wind. Try the "Molengat" @ NW 7 - 8 .....

There are two real enemies out there 1) the stupid politicians with their inefficient powerparks and 2) the sledgefarmers who are digging for crude.
The Wind Farms are becoming a pain as well..... making some of the old short cuts inaccessable....
But going back to the Bicay.... F6+ from the Nth is fine...
if you've a decent length window with F6-8 from the NW to NE you'll get a fast passage with just the jib rolled out... lumpy but managable...
everythings running in the same direction... its the S quandrant thats the pain...
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Old 22-11-2011, 06:06   #28
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Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

I have to check my logbook(s) there are two spots where you' ll have those rogues building up, one is the Trevelyan bank, the other I cannot remember. After day 2 Biscaya becomes quieter and softer when you approach the Spanish coast and day 3 you spot the Estacca de Barres knowing that you'll be within half a day in La Coruna. When the dolphins are shouting their welcome, you know that you made the right decision.
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Old 22-11-2011, 12:25   #29
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Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

With today's resources it's possible to get a solid 3 to 4 day forecast. Get down to the UK's southwest and check it out.
If it's strong out of anything other than the N - E or W - hunker down and enjoy the pubs and pasties.
When you get the right weather window - you go.
If you prefer it lighter then fine, but we've done it safely running before a F8/9 and it was quick. Three days exactly to Bayona in a 42 footer.
Enjoy
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Old 22-11-2011, 13:27   #30
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Re: Sailing from the UK to Portugal, Across the Bay of Biscay

The main problem is lows seeking in around Finnisterre as you head south. Its difficult to avoid them, without making easting. In reality for a straight run , SE ireland would be a better jumping off point as you want plenty of westing, unless consiously going to brest or somewhere, That way you stay out of the Sw's and can run out into the Atlantic if needed.

+1 on the stay away from Ushant

The other things is that after Biscay , there quite a swell on the Portuguese coast and in some conditions a lot of the ports are inaccessible.

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