Wow what a ride! I am starting this blog at 1am on the second night of our crossing in an attempt to capture the craziness of what we are going through. There is no storm, just huge winds but we are being tossed around from side to side in the most difficult motion to describe- Something akin to being inside a washing machine. I can’t see outside as it is dark and we lost our wind instruments 12 hours ago, so we can’t definitively tell what the wind is doing or where it is coming from. We are all calm and no longer seasick but this would have to be the worst ride I could ever have imagined on a boat. We are rocking and rolling, our outer hulls sound like they are smashing into the sea and I can’t sleep. Smash, crash and roll. We have it all. My watch starts in an hour.
We are not sacred. I feel very secure and safe in Scout. We have no leaks or damage and I have no idea how this experience rates to other experienced sailors. It is probably normal for the Bay of Biscay. I know we departed Australia with lots of our family and friends concerned about this passage as it’s reputation had preceded itself. I just hope it doesn’t become our normal passage conditions for any future legs.
We departed La Rochelle at 1025 on Thursday 23rd March for a 48+ hour voyage to A Coruña in Spain. We arrived at 1700 on Saturday 25th March.
Challenging conditions began once we rounded île d’Oléron. We had one reef in the main sail and with the genoa out we sailed at about 9 knots until about 1800. We had taken sea sickness tablets before departure and it was a wise move. We all felt pretty good and spirits were high. First night we ended up motoring as there was just not enough wind but still the sea was confused. Night shifts began for the first time for us. Not quite the confident sailor, I was dreading it. What if I did something wrong or missed something critical or the wind changed during my shift. Fortunately with only the motor powering us, there was not much that could go wrong. I even managed to avoid a collison with a freighter. I did have instruments to show me where he was, but in the dark, it is so much harder to see how far away he is according to his lights. I decided to change course and go around the back of him, although it wasn’t probably necessary.
The next morning the waves were larger, some at 4 metres and I became sea sick. I couldnt hold down tablets and ended up applying a ‘mal de mer ‘ patch that had been recommended to me. They are amazing. They last 3 days and I have felt fine ever since. They are not available in Australia and I will definitely be ordering more from New Zealand.
Time seems to have no meaning or relevance during a passage. Sleep is grabbed when you can and it is either light or dark. You must be awake for your shift and meals are heated up (I am so glad I did all the cooking and preparation before I left) when conditions allow. The only time I can now relate to is how long we have left to our destination.
Well my shift has started and I will finish this blog now. It is 3 am and thank goodness the seas have settled a bit. Still rocking and rolling but none of the huge crashing and banging that was going on at midnight. We have only the jib ( our smaller head sail) out and the wind is coming from behind. We are comfortably sitting between 6 and 8 knots. The chart plotter shows me that there is some other crazy sailor beside us, about 9 miles away on the same heading. It is comforting to know that someone else is out here and the conditions must not be too bad at all. Maybe we will see them in A Coruña.Am I enjoying this? It is hard to say. I am not terrified. – just uncomfortable and I suppose nobody really enjoys being uncomfortable. But I did know that was always going to be a part of the experience. Yesterday I wasn’t so relaxed with it but sea sickness can dampens anyone’s experience. Tonight, it is different. I am certainly more relaxed during my shift and in fact, I think I am enjoying it. During the day, three of us couped up inside has its limits but now sitting up at the helm station in the dark, it is kind of peaceful and relaxing.
The wind has dropped off a bit and that is probably good. Mike was concerned that we were going too fast and may arrive in the dark but we are going to go wide around the cape into Spain and take our time with hopefully a controlled arrival.
See you in Spain!
We are looking forward to tapas and sangria!
PS. The crew of the boat beside us during the passage were at port when we arrived at A Coruña. They are professional crew moving new catamarans from the builders around every year to Croatia for each summer…I asked him what he felt of the crossing and he said it was one of better ones, and they got caught in the storms, which we avoided- so there you go, I had no idea what was considered a bad crossing after all .