In the late afternoon we were heading from the Cornish coast, south west towards the shipping lanes, when suddenly a pod of dolphins appeared. They swam with the boat for about an hour - watching them was a mesmerising experience. They have the most incredible sense of the motion of the boat, and effortlessly jumped and twisted in the wake as we sped along. A "good omen" I thought at the time - little did I know that perhaps they were offering us a warning of things to come!
By Sunday afternoon, the wind calmed and we were able to get our exhausted selves together. Magda volunteered to cook an interesting egg and potato dish for dinner, which was welcome as we hadn't eaten the whole day. Little did we know that this was going to provide us with the energy needed to deal with our next dose of severe weather. We'd taken a look at the Navtex weather information we'd received, and it indicated gale force winds, so we were a little more prepared for this than before. When it did hit us on Sunday night, we had to endure around 12 hours of constant battering; we also had a series of mishaps, such as a few violent gybes that threatened to break our mainsheet traveller, which could have had catastrophic consequences. The alternator on our engine had also packed in, and as our batteries weren't charging, we weren't able to start the engine. This proved to be an issue through the following days, as we were reduced to barely enough power to light the compass at night, let alone other navigation instruments.
By Monday afternoon the sea state had calmed, and we even had a few hours of intermittent sunshine. But again, because this is Biscay, nothing is impossible, and by late on Monday night, we entered the worst of the weather systems that we were to encounter on this leg. A severe gale, with winds of between 35 and 40 knots and beating rain, hammered us for hour after hour, with the sea state building bigger and bigger. Massive waves were breaking over the boat, and helming in the dark proved to be a roller coaster ride. Nature was flexing her infinite muscles, and we were witnessing her immense power. The terrifying beauty of mountainous waves breaking in the dark, lit up by phosphorescence, was awe-inspiring. By this time we had decided to change course towards where we thought calmer weather would be, towards Gijon in Spain, instead of A Coruna.
|Skipper at the helm|
The storm lasted into late on Tuesday morning, and eventually the waves started to lose their height and power, although the rain persisted. We were exhausted and wet, and with the last of the remaining laptop power, Dave plotted a final course to Gijon. Through persistent rain, we continued on, heading 190 degrees, and finally in the early hours of Wednesday morning, we sighted the lighthouses of the Spanish coast. Eventually the navigation beacons marking the approach to Gijon became visible, and we entered the harbour at about 06h00. A cup of tea was followed by a much needed shower and a long sleep.
|Below decks after a watch|
Next, on to A Coruna! Until then...