Cherbourg to Roscoff
On 16.05.23 Wolfgang, our third man for the Biscay crossing, comes on board in Cherbourg. We welcome him with antipasti, baguette and a French beer on board and then go out for pizza in the evening. Our next destination is Roscoff, 118 nm from Cherbourg.
I have calculated 04:30 am as the time departure. However, after dinner I did not know why so early. When we checked the whole thing again together with a small red wine buzz, we come to a different conclusion and are pleased without further thought about the result: a moderate time for departure at 08:30 am. Well, we didn't quite made it, but at 09:30 am we set off with moderate wind from the north with genoa, main and mizzen. 4 hours later I know that my planned departure time would have been correct. Then we are in the current north of Alderney, the Alderney Races. Fleetwood strives with 12 kn over ground, with 5 kn speed through the water, ahead. Chaotic sea, sometimes whirling, sometimes unexpectedly 1.5 m high and breaking, sometimes almost glassy awaits us here. It's good that there is no more wind and the wave spurs us on. However, the wind is also not enough for enough power in the sail to get through here with rudder pressure. Of course, on one hand quite good, because otherwise the sea would be possibly even more unfavorable, on the other hand remains here nothing else than to start the engine. If we had departed as originally calculated, we would have passed Alderney at "calm water" between two tides and we would have missed this current experience, but "nobody is perfect" and tide navigation novice mistakes happen. Well, the first 30 nm we sailed nicely, the rest to Roscoff goes with decreasing, later asleep wind under engine. We have plenty of engine hours this cruise so far....
I've been hanging my friends' "good wishes cards" in the forecastle with me in between, and I'm happy about them every time I go into my chamber. The gift sweeties are somehow all gone?!
In Roscoff we arrive at 05:45 am. Here we put in again a day in harbor, check the weather, fill up with diesel, buy fresh food for the expected 3 days of the Biscay crossing. In the evening we had a nice dinner in the restaurant at the harbor. Here the meat is grilled on the open fire, "French", is my name for the even bloodier version of "English"..., but makes an impression and the people like it. We eat something else. A small problem we have, namely the holiday on 18.05., all stores are closed. Actually, we would have to leave the next morning at 08:30 am to sail at high tide through the natural channel between the mainland and Ile de Baz, which is too shallow at low tide for Fleetwood.
Now, however, shopping has to be done. I build up my bike, am at 08:30 at the supermarket and we then leave at 09:30 am. Still fine!
Another small problem I have to solve on the harbor day: namely a leaking drain plug on the water separator in the fuel system. There it had already leaked out for days some diesel. The plug I then tear off when trying to tighten him a little of course....to stupid, so quickly I have rarely had the diesel tap closed and my finger on the leak. Of course there is no spare part here, but with some tricks I manage to build a temporary plug. I guess it will last until Kiel.
The Biscay crossing to Vivero
Our Biscay crossing has the destination Vivero, it is 378 nm, 63 hours underway and will only need the engine for mooring and unmooring. Vivero means 70 nm less than A Coruņa. Second reason: at the Capes between A Coruņa and Finistere actually is a wind field stuck for days, gives 40 kns and more, we don't want to pass this.
Predicted for the Bay of Biscay are northerly winds, 14-20 kn, maybe some fields with 24 kn. Windfinder forecast indicates these are 6 single fields which we possibly pass, or also not. Finally it will be a roaring ride. North of Ile d' Oussant I cooked: roasted green asparagus, rump steak with mushroom gorgonzola sauce, fresh pasta. A challenge, but also fun. The crew appreciates it. On the second day we have stew with lots of fresh vegetables. Eating is only possible from bowls on the rolling boat.
We pass Ile d' Oussant at 7:00 pm, from here on we have course 200° for about 330 nm. At 9:00pm we saw our first dolphins, what an experience! I have been looking forward to this for the 5 years of preparation. We will have schools of dolphins around us several more times. It is most beautiful with a bright blue sky the next day. We also experience a biological sensation for us, for hours we drive through a field of millions of Spanish galleys. Sometimes they touch each other and at night these touches can be seen as lightning.
Before that, however, the wind increases to north 6-7 and it is quite choppy the 70nm to the continental shelf. Only when we move over 4000m water depth the wave becomes pleasantly long. After two reefs the mainsail disappears at 23:30 for the night. The next day we set it again in the morning, but from noon on we sail only with genoa. In fact we measure a maximum of 31kn wind speed downwind. That is 8 Bft. Nevertheless, a great experience, there is mostly sunshine, the sea is rushing and breaks at to 4-5m high waves. Often I think the next breaking crest would have to enter the cockpit from behind, but Fleetwood's stern always rises above the foam as if by magic. At most a very little spray lands in the cockpit and we feel absolutely safe.
Shortly before entering Vivero, I am overcome with concerns about the waves we should really enter the Ria of Vivero, which is open to the north, with the wind blowing from astern. Shortly after midnight we still have a good wave of 2-3m height. (Ria= delta of a river). Nevertheless I decided to continue the plan.
It's a good thing that we can't see the surf to the right and left of the Ria. The surprise is then that the wave between the various little capes of the bay quickly runs out.
A nice quiet harbor awaits us, can hardly imagine that it blows outside like this.
Overall, it was a very good decision to go, despite the northerly winds and the thus expected rolling during the crossing. The next days even more wind is expected...
We stay several days in Vivero, get to know Bernd and Regina from Flensburg, who have been sailing with their Marretje for almost a year. More about that in the next report from aboard.