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Here is an account of my trip across Biscay on my way to Portugal in Two's Company

The Picture on the right is the launching of Two's Company after her renovation.


On the night of 27th May, I anchored in Cawsand Bay, it had been a nice warm sunny day with a light south westerly wind. I managed to sort out all the last minute things and check the route waypoints and all the electronics. Cawsand Bay is a safe peaceful anchorage, except with a wind from the  east, and most of the time it is quiet, so I had a good nights rest.



Wednesday 28th May

I woke early to get the forecast, light SE, with mist and fog, clearing, sounded ok to me. The mist was quite thick, but the forecast had said it was clearing, 

08-15.  On with the the auto-helm, set a course for outside Ushant, sort the boat out, then up with the spinnaker. The gps said three knots, slow but with the thick mist, and hearing lots of fog horns and noises was ok. I had left the engine down for safety reasons. 


14-00.  The fog was still there, and getting colder, I put my thermals on. Then I had a quick fright, a beam trawler, with its beams out, came out of the fog. I fired up the engine and gave her full revs, the trawler changed course and went behind me, about 50yds, but close enough to scare me.  The speed varied during the day but the visibility didn't improve until early evening.


20-15.  I had covered 40 miles in 12 hrs, averaging 3.3 knts, not very good but progress.

Later that evening the wind shifted directly behind, ideal spinnaker weather, however it was getting dark, so I  thought being single handed it was not safe for me to fly the spinnaker at night.



Thursday 29th May.

The night was noisy, as the boom was creaking and couldn't make up its mind which side of the boat it wanted to be, because the wind was from directly behind. I tried the trick of heading 10 degrees off course, but it still backed occasionally and as I had a preventor on the boom, the main backed causing the auto helm to be overwhelmed. I think the answer would be a mast head rig so I could have flown a decent sized cruising chute.

The early morning forecast was wind dying and going SW in Biscay, can I get around Ushant first???  At 08-00  the winds were E/NE 3/4 still from behind with a blue sky, sailing along at 4knots,  24hrs 92 miles covered.

11-00 Some wonderful sailing , clear blue skys, unlimited vis, and doing about 4 1/2 kts. Been a bit busy ( its ok in the sun ) checked fuel, checked batteries, taken a few photo's, fixed the search light, checked out boat, wash and brush up, feeling good.

13-00 Getting a little worried about the weather in Biscay, forecast, V-3/4 going S/W showers, a low forming in Biscay, but nothing clear yet, hope I get passed Ushant before the weather turns!!

Frustrating as the afternoon passes and the ETA for Ushant goes up with the wind dying and speed falling. In the afternoon a Nimrod aircraft flew very low, scared the living daylight out of me.

17-00 A beautiful turquoise sea with a lovely evening, but no wind, doing 1.7 kts

19-00 Hurrah !!!! reached waypoint 1, Outside Ushant. Next waypoint Finisterre course  213degrees  369 miles.


Friday 30th May

Quiet night, slept at 1/2 - 1 hour intervals, no ships seen. Shipping forecast terrible, S 4-5 Fitzroy, V3 - W/NW 3-4 later Biscay. Do I go into the bay or not?

07-00   Winds southerly, light, close on the wind 220 degrees at 2.3 knots

12-00   Light SW winds, fog, viz down to 400yds. 326 miles to waypoint, 15 miles in 6 hours.

13-00   Passed two French fishing boats. Musts remember to keep a good lookout, as I hadn't seen anything for a while, I think I was getting a bit slack.

19-00   314 miles to waypoint, 55 miles in 24 hours, just over 2 knots average.

19-10   Wind just picked up touched 6 knots, hurrah but still SW.

20-30   Too good to be true, winds dying, still from the south, down to 3.3 knots.



Saturday 31st  May

Not a bad night lots of boats around at first, but then disappearing. Slept ok in 1/2 hour stints. Slow progress during the night, light SW winds, 59 miles in 24 hours.

10-30   No wind so decided to motor for a while, to make progress and to charge the batteries up.

12-05   Another bad forecast SW 3-4. Decided to tack towards the Spanish North coast and see what happens.

18-00   Steady at 3.5 knots, crossing where all the shipping travels, then quiet not a ship in sight. The forecast is giving Thunder Storms during the night. Please tomorrow in the forecast anything but south in it.


Peaceful Biscay



Sunday 1st June

Saturday night, what a night, just as it got dark, wind got up, doing nearly 7 knots hard on the SW wind.  Reefed in the gib and reefed in the main, it all went ok, but why does it always happen at night.

02-45   Wind still from the south, so I said sod it, reefed in more, which reduced speed to 3 knots, it all went nice and quiet so I went to bed.

08-00   34 miles in 24 hours, wind still from the south but dying. When am I going to get some decent winds????? Shook out the reefs and started to sail into a S 4 with rain and drizzle

12-00   Wind died a little and the rain and drizzle had gone. A shoal of dolphins appeared, wonderful, stayed with me for about 20 minutes, lots of those beautiful creatures.

13-00   Things settling down, beating into a SW, but doing 5 1/2 knots, heading for the corner of Spain, but the rain and drizzle reappeared.

18-00   The forecast was giving more of the same, wind from the SW. Oh when will I get a decent forecast?????. 


Not so peaceful Biscay

What a wonderful sight


Monday 2nd June

What the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Another evening of banging and crashing to windward, doing 7.8 knots, so again reefing in, in the dark, slowing her down so things went fairly quiet. Had a good nights sleep, at 45 minute intervals, only saw 1 fishing boat.

09-00   The forecast said the winds would ease, but still from the S.

11-00   The wind has eased, so I shook out the reefs.

15-00   And alls quiet, drifting along ( to windward ) about 2 knots, flat sea, blue skies with a few clouds. Been busy with the boat, topped up water from containers, charged up batteries, checked over boat, checked the nav side of things, had all over wash in the cockpit, walking around starkers, its nice to have a good sized cockpit. Thought I saw another dolphin, but now I think it was a shark, it was by itself and was gliding through the water, circling the boat. I went for my camera but when I got back on deck it had gone.

17-00    Panic, I went down in the port hull to clean my teeth, but when I stood on the floor boards water sloshed up, what the _ _ _ _ I thought. Where did that come from. I think I went into instant panic, I started thinking, I'm sinking, mayday, VHF, life raft (I didn't have one), life jacket, grab bag, looking around for shipping, and just staring at the water sloshing around. It was strange, like a little man in my head saying do something and that seemed to work.  I got the bilge pump and a bucket and started to bail her out, I wanted to see if bailing would make a difference to the water level, and it did, that was a slight relief . I continued to bail her out and managed to get most of the water out, which was a big big relief. I then tried to find where the water was coming from, I had to dismantle the steps and the cupboards on the inside, from the steps to the heads, and there I found the source of the leak. There was water coming in where the bridge deck meets the hull sides, but just a trickle, I thought at the time there must be a small crack along the joint, ( this later proved to be correct ). I realised this must have been forced in during the previous evening when bashing and crashing to windward, so I thought as long as I don't go banging and crashing to windward I should be ok. 

The nearest Spanish port which I could lay, was Gijon about 88 miles away, just off the wind, so if I took it easy through the night, I could assess things in the morning and maybe get there in one piece.


Tuesday 3rd June

Not a bad night, however I did have trouble with the auto helm, well it was the bracket, I fixed it with a hammer. It did send me off course for a little while, but not too bad.

09-00   Heading for Gijon with the wind on the beam, typical on the last day, and I had to slow down as the speed was increasing and I didn't what to put any pressure on the boat. Just been followed by more dolphins.

13-00   Sighted land hurrah!, but the wind had died and I was just bobing up and down in the swell. 32 miles to go, so I put the engine on, and yes the wind got up,,  and went on the nose again, but the engine coped ok. 

5 miles to go and the mist started rolling in off the cliffs and it started to drizzle, I was a little worried as my chart for this area was the wrong scale, I wasn't expecting to come this way. I checked the GPS to make sure I was ok, and as I entered the outer harbour, the mist cleared. 

20-15   It was good to see where I was going, and really good to tie up and relax and look out at the town, knowing I had just completed my first solo Biscay crossing




Arrived Safe, party time




While I'm waiting to put up the log of the trip, from N.Spain onwards here are some  pictures of my trip to Portugal.

Stuck in Leixoes, Porto for a few days with fog.

anchored just outside the marina

At anchor in Cascais, the entrance to Lisbon


Arrived at our secret lagoon in Portugal

Looking along the beach in our secret lagoon

Looking along the beach in our secret lagoon from the port side


Sitting nice and quite on the beach

Alan and Ian joining me in the lagoon


Looking over the dunes


At anchor


Bit late back from shopping, missed the tide,

still no problem,

the water is nice and warm .


Here is our trip up the river Guadiana, which splits Portugal and Spain in the south.

This was to deliver some plywood about 20 miles up the river so Dave could  build another dingy



and myself


Just passing the mouth of the river

Well up the river

You don't need a big expensive boat to enjoy cruising

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