Thursday 3rd July 2014
Wind, north-easterly F5-6, dropping to F4
Seas, Atlantic Swell of 1-2m, plus the wind sea of the white horses
I didn’t sleep well, and ended up decamping to the rear cabin, and as I’d forgotten my glasses, I couldn’t read, so lay there listening to the slap of the water on the stern. The wind had died off, but not completely. Despite the poor sleep (on my count, skipper A-OK), we were ready and ship-shape for our departure, north and eastwards, so broadly north-east… which is EXACTLY where the wind was coming from.
It was blowing 15knots as we exited, which took some careful controlling. Whinchat was the largest boat in the marina, and the marina is not that big. We were moored next to a tiny German sailing boat with two ladies on board, and we were going to be blown their way. We had the bow and the stern lines singled up so that we could slip Whinchat back, using the wind – as far as we could so that the wind didn’t just take the bow and plough us into the Germans to port. A fishing boat was leaving port, so I couldn’t hear Pete’s commands above the engine noise, so I told him to yell – he doesn’t like doing that, but he had no choice. I’d just about run out of rope, so it was up to the helmsman. “Are we clear?” he yelled – of the pontoon yes, but not the next boat along to starboard! I think he was running out of space behind him, but another couple of metres saw clear water. Really well controlled by the skipper – and very pleasing.
We knew the wind forecast, and knew it would be a beat to Corme. We could have waited another day or two for the westerly wind to arrive, but we were both ready to move on… and you should never wait too long for the wind, as it has a habit of changing its mind. The conditions were ‘good enough’, so we were both happy to leave. The sea had decreased, or was forecast to, and it had, and the wind was doing exactly, and very unhelpfully, what it was supposed to. It would be a long day beating to windward.
In the shelter of the harbour, we raised the mainsail, and I sailed us out, with the wind running behind us. All very civilised in 15 knots of wind, so we deployed the Yankee ready to make the turn – and BANG we hit a wind wall. We were on a beam reach, flying out of the Ria, suddenly in 20-22-25-28 knots of wind! Water running down the decks (not itself a problem), but I could hardly control where we were going, and it’s an exact pilotage out of the Ria in order to avoid some rocks. Pete put a reef in the main, which was very much needed, and so we continued out – flying a bit less. The next part of the course we had to be precisely on track – rocky shore to starboard, and isolated rocks to port. The wind was absolutely on the nose, and so we had no real choice but to roll away the Yankee and motor through the water until we could get to ‘safe’ water. You know, it isn’t called Costa Da Morte for the fun of it! Plugging through the sea was not great – sailing gives for a much nicer motion through the water – so we were pounding into the wind-sea. Thump-thump-thump, for at least a mile, until we could turn…. off-course! Off-course, because we couldn’t make the course with the wind direction. The wind was pretty strong, so we had a reefed main, and the stay-sail. This was fine if we had a ‘decent’ F5 (22+ knots), but any less, and we really didn’t have enough sail out to make progress – particularly given the lively sea. It meant I helmed one LONG tack (almost to America, or so it felt), about 10 miles (encountering and having to take avoiding action to two fishing boats, putting us more west as we bore away, sob-sob). We lost sight of land! However, the plus side, was that we were under blue skies, away from the bank of cloud on the land, and in lively conditions, it’s always better to see a blue sea, and not a grey one.
My musing on the sea today was that it wasn’t quite rough, but it was more than moderate. There were constant white horses riding towards us. Some of the waves were big (you could see the horses rearing up at you), and when they hit, when the wind was not quite enough for the sail configuration, it slowed us down. Pete called the tack line, and before we did, he wanted to heave-to so that we could pump the holding tanks. Under supervision, I brought us to a stop, but, urgh…. We were stopped, it’s safe, and a good way to take a moment, but the motion… Blergh. Had my guts a-churning; vile. There was no way I could go down below and pump out the tanks, so Pete had to (despite his elbow). I felt bad in more ways than one. I’ve just got no constitution for the flailing about. The tipping, the heeling, isn’t what sets me off – I’d been fine until that point – so I had the edge of nausea chewing away at me for the remainder of the trip. Not that bad, until near the end, when I had to pee, but a stint on the helm and calmer seas helped there.
Pete took the helm for the port-tack back in, and gave it to Doris. He claimed Doris was better at steering, and she didn’t mind the cold wind. I was trying to snooze in the cockpit, but unaided by Stugeron, I couldn’t settle, and the wind was whipping around my legs. I was sitting next to Pete, and noticed that we were back in sight of land. Was it Finisterre? No, it was Cabo Vilan. Pete went to check the distance from us. It was four miles! FOUR MILES. We’d done about 12 miles into the Atlantic and back to make FOUR miles. Thoroughly dispiriting – when I knew that we must have another 10 in this beat to go. Actually, we were about 55degrees to the wind, so it wasn’t close hauled, but it was slow, partly because we couldn’t make very far to windward. Like I said, when the wind blew like it meant it, it was fine, but otherwise, we were barely making five knots. It made for a long feeling day at sea, and I found it better to not look at the speed indicators at all. In fact, it was better to just look at the sea.
After my bout of nausea-enducing pee, I took back the helm, for the last half hour, for what was the best sailing of the day. By now the wind had dropped to about 15knots, with flattening seas, so we had all sails out and we were steaming along. 7knots – that is more like it! It’s always heartening to see your destination in front of you too, especially when you’re tired, bit icky, and just want everything to stop moving! Pete did all the taking down of the sails, and as we approached Corme, he took the helm, taking us right through to the anchorage. Here, we found four boats in, so we’ve done the nice thing and dropped the hook just off the line of the two rear boats. It’s the first time that the anchor dragged, so it had to come up, with a forest of seaweed on it, so perhaps that stopped it from digging in properly. Our noise had brought Mr Frenchman up into his cockpit – smart trousers, shirt-with-collar and a red jumper – I waved. He didn’t. Apparently Pete waved too. Same response. Very irritating, and I may not have said some kind words. Anyway, second attempt, all good. Except that the anchorage is quite small, and we were one of five boats in. There is a ring of viveros to sea, and a mooring field along the coast, so this strip of water is all there is. Pete was worried about our proximity to the viveros, but the wind was due to die, and in the frequent checks the GPS position, we hadn’t moved.
As anchorages go, it wasn’t the most pretty, perhaps it would have been if you were closer to the little beach, but we felt we were a bit in a working port – we were! With the viveros and a couple of fishing boats having come in to land their catch. The gulls were also really noisy here, constantly calling and arguing. Even when I woke in the night, I could here them… going on, and on, and on.
I had no desire to go to shore, so we didn’t even take the dinghy off the coach-roof. We knew that we would move on tomorrow, probably the long day to Ares for WiFi. There’s a change a-foot in our plans, and we need to lean heavily on the internet to see what is possible – can we get home next week?
Supper was the veal steaks, flash griddled by Pete, with a pile of roasted veg in the Remoska (we’d missed lunch due to the conditions, well, a chewy bar and half an apple doesn’t really make a lunch in my book), so we were both ravenous. I was very weary, given the poor sleep the night before and the rather wearing conditions at sea. Let us hope for better tomorrow on both counts.
white horses thunder
rearing and bucking to shore –
Whinchat has the reins.