Northern Spain

At last we have made progress, arriving in Northern Spain Wednesday last week.   We crossed the Channel finally a week before that, waiting for our opportunity after a Gale Force 10 made its way down the English coast, interesting night at anchor that was. We had high hopes of catching the races at Alderney but the continued sea state meant steady progress. Poor Joy just could not punch through at pace. The window was beginning to close, we did not fancy a foul  tide approaching Guernsey! So we dropped the main, altered course and Joy breathed a sigh of relief as we then flew on to Cherbourg.

A quick stop for provisions, as we had been on the hook for nearly a week. By now there was hardly a breath of wind and a flat sea, so we motored on to catch the races that afternoon and on for a night in Beaucette, Guernsey. A very exciting approach amongst the rocks. Where was the well buoyed channel and the waiting mooring buoys? The bright sun shine we have all been longing for was now setting over the marina office making it impossible to pick out the transit. Keeping a close eye on the screen, regular references  back to the cardinal and an even closer eye on the depth sounder we made our approach. We dropped the hook and hoped she would hold as we waited for the tide to get over the sill. Later we found out that it was too early in the season and divers had not yet been to lay all the buoys. The entrance is just as exciting, a mere 8 metres wide and only steep rocks both sides, and Joy felt wider than usual as we made our  way in, but luckily there was not much swell so it looked worse than it was.

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The narrow entrance to Beaucette harbour, Guernsey looking from the inside

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We treated ourselves to a fab meal in the restaurant. The island looked great and we would like to have explored some more, but with favourable winds forecast we pushed on South the following morning to Northern Brittany. We were followed in to Treguier River to find an anchorage by a single dolphin at sundown, made our day! The wind always seems to pick up during the night when at anchor and with not much swinging room, and there are always fishing buoys conveniently placed to add to the equation.

We left that morning with a enough breeze to sail well but it soon dropped so up went the reacher but progress was steady. A couple of hours later it began to build again. A another quick forecast check and a few sums, if all went well we could be at the Chanel du Four at the turn of the tide, too much temptation to keep going south, looking forward to sailing with a few less layers!

An overnight sail through the Chanel du Four found us at Camaret in an anchorage full of fishing buoys, it was now  5am! We had to anchor quite far out or risk a spot of bother from the fishermen, little protection from the swell.  Onwards the following day to Morgat, a beautiful bay tucked away from the North West winds and swell with stunning scenery.

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Passing the lighthouses on our way through the Raz de Sein, a stretch of water between the Isle of Sein and Pointe du Raz, Brittany

Then an early start (for us!) the next day to catch the tide through the Raz de Sein which was timed perfectly, planning to find another anchorage that evening, but as we passed the headland at Pointe de Penmarc’h, Brittany, we  downloaded weather information and still with a North Westerly forecast for a few days we decided to crack on across the bay of Biscay, perhaps they had the sun in Northern Spain.  This took us two nights and almost two days, for me it was a great experience on watch alone, sailing in a strong swell and upwards of 25 knot winds.  We had a couple of hitch-hikers along the way, night one saw Terry the Tern perch next to the helm for a bit of preening then a snooze for a few hours, and a very small bird that did not stop for long, just curious! He sat less than 2 feet away.  The following day we had a large school of dolphins arrived to play under our bow wave, they really like to show off and played around us for a good half hour. We watched them from the bow, almost within touching distance as the bow went down into a wave and they jumped out.  What an awesome experience!

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Terry the Tern returned the next night, but a change of helm shift and reefing sails as the wind had increased unsettled him and he no longer wanted our company.

We arrived in not so sunny Spain, raining with poor visibility, but found our  anchorage at Getaria where we chilled for a few days.  It is a beautiful fishing town set amongst lush green mountains with steep rocky cliffs.  We were glad to arrive and have a change of clothes and a shower, after a very cold few days where we even slept between watches fully clothed – who would believe it’s nearly June…..

On arrival at Getaria I decided to bake bread as supplies were low, I didn’t anticipate the length of time for it to rise as it was so cold. So at about 11.30pm when it was ready for baking, having set the timer alarm for 25 mins I decided I would have a snooze.  I awoke at 3am to the smell of burnt bread!  The alarm failed to wake me from my deep slumber (and nothing ever seems to wake Jez!) and the black brick that resulted would have been a good match for the angle grinder.

We inflated the dinghy the following day for a trip ashore to explore, timing ourselves each time as we get quicker at the whole process!  Note to self, don’t drag the dinghy so far up the beach on an ebbing tide.  On return a couple of hours later armed with bags of provisions, the long unceremonious drag back to the sea improved my muscles once again. No fear of it being washed away!!

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