Bay of Biscay Day 1 (Max’s blog)

So, the big crossing, the one that a lot dread, the bane of sailors of yore,… and a bit more of some sayings like that. In modern times it is still interesting, as the winters can be rather harsh and in summer you’re out in the middle of the ocean with not a lot of information coming in other than from passing ships or satellite phones (which we didn’t have). 

The crossing between France and Spain is a big one to get from Central and Northern Europe down to the Mediterranean. Dad has wanted to get the crossing done as soon as possible to get it behind us and not have to dread any early autumn storms. So after haring down along the coast of France from Cherbourgh to Audierne in Brittany, restocking with supplies and fishing gear (still haven’t caught anything after two weeks) we set off in the afternoon across the nearly 300 nautical mile (555km) stretch of open sea. We motored out of the anchorage in Audierne for about 20 minutes, got the sails all set up with a bit of a problem (we couldn’t go along the correct line any more (upwind) as there were some bloody rocks in the way) and then set a course straight south, south west. This was what we were hoping to maintain for the next three days. After a few hours of going up and down in decent enough waves and swell (somewhere between one and two metres) a pod of striped dolphins joined us for a good fifteen minutes of fun. The first dolphins I have seen on dads boat since the start (two weeks ago), and what fun they were. A decent sized pod of probably twenty playing tag around Artemis and us seeing them through the side of the waves we were going down and them seeing us through those same waves. At one point four of them came surfing in a wave towards us. During their playing I decided to get the rod in, so they don’t get caught in a hook, but let it out again once they passed us. Few minutes later, they are back again, so rod in again. Don’t mind though, as watching dolphins play around beats catching a fish in my opinion. 

A few hours after they had finally decided to move on I saw a huge bank of fog racing along the wind straight towards us. Mentioned it to Dad, but he reckoned it hopefully may only be a passing cloud, a few minutes later we are blanketed in fog with the sun giving an eerie glow to the sea. The wind was still up so we sailed along and the chances of meeting another boat in the Bay of Biscay are remote enough to not have to switch on radar. Next few hours whilst Dad and I just sat watching the fog, Heidi got Brotzeit prepared down below and later on, in the middle of the ocean with naught but water around us we ate a Bavarian dinner down below. To me that was a completely surreal moment, as two worlds that don’t really fit together just were somehow there. 

After dinner finished we discussed night shift duties. Heidi took the first, as she had no problem staying awake late, Dad took the next, as it puts him in the middle where the most actions tend to happen and I got the mornings, as I do like a nice sunrise. So off to bed with the first partial day done, no other boat spotted and on the way to Spain (never been before). 

Good night at 8PM.

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