England to Spain in 2007
Our first voyage on Ocean Free was from the UK down to Spain. On reflection we should have considered some easier voyages first after a 2 year refit. But the project over-ran, the kids were on school holidays and Jane wanted to get somewhere warm.
After a launch party at Port Solent, we left the UK
First night stop was Cowes in the Isle of Wight and then over to Alderney in the Channel Islands for an overnight stop and then we were off to the sun.
The Bay of Biscay can be nice or nasty – we got nasty! Still anything that was going to break did break and we got those issue out of the way for a while.
We left Alderney in the Channel Islands at about midday and had a good blast down the North West coast of Spain. The wind was from the North and gradually building – we had the full rig up and I asked the night watches to wake me if the wind reached 20 knots. In the end I was woken at 25 knots, and went up to the cockpit to find George and Angus power reaching at 12 to 15 knots boat speed in the pitch dark. We reefed down and cut the speed back – but paid for it in the morning with a lot of frayed lines. It was our first hard sail and we had pushed her too hard and worn through a number of poorly led ropes.
As we rounded Ushant and bore away south, we thought we were on for a quick crossing, but the wind eventually headed us and after 100 miles accross the Bay of Biscay we were on a beat to windward. We were in the shipping lanes and being buzzed by air patrols. That next night we made only 60 miles progress into a wind that built to force 7.
The main halyard broke at one point, with the strong central core sliding out through the braided cover that had been chaifed. Ed did a great job in stitching in a tempory line and re-roving the spinacre halyard to hold up the mainsail with spray flying over the foredeck.
With a choppy sea building and about 250 miles to go, we gave up the fight and put on the engine. Tentatively at first we motor sailed into the wind and head-on to the seas. Then as we realised we could take it, it was sails down, throttle down and go for port.
After about 3 1/2 days our landfall in Spain was Camaris at about 9 in the evening – a tiny little marina where they only had one berth left at the end of the pontoon. Thats all we needed. The little club cafe had only one thing left on the menu – Paella – and that went down a treat.
North West Spain is beautiful – there are very few cruising yachts and few tourists ashore. There were a number of interesting rias to explore which were well protected from the ocean swell. Harbours were generally focussed on fishing but yachts seemed welcome.
We had dolphins with us most days including a pair that followed us like village dogs round one bay.
We spent about 10 days in Spain working our way south for a crew change in Porto, just over the border into Portugal.
There Ed, Arth, Michael and Simon flew home and Dee, Stef, Richard and Adam joined us.
more words needed !!!!