It was a real privilege to be on night watch in the Bay of Biscay this year.
Pitch dark, no moon. Stars from horizon to horizon. Velvet Lady gliding along at 7 knots and dolphins playing on the bow. How many nights could this last – well the truth is 4 out of the 5.
Our first night was busy with shipping before we rounded Ushant and then remarkably quiet. For 2 nights we sailed across the Biscay with hardly a vessel in sight, not until we approached the coast of Finisterre did the fishing boats appear. This gave our budding ocean navigators plenty of time to become accomplished with the sextant. Sighting on first the sun, then the moon and then finally the tricky ones, the stars. We even had time for Andy to teach us a new technique – A Lunar distance. Not sure I will recommend it as the tables are more than complicated.
We rounded Cap Vilano in the middle of the night surrounded by fishing boats – giving us plenty of practice recognising their extra lights and also introducing the yellow flashing lights on purse seiners that a few of our guests had never seen before.
Daylight dawned on our fifth morning to the towering cliffs of Cap Finisterre and the spectacular scenery of the Spanish Rias.
We had made our crossing of Biscay in surprisingly good time, so time for a couple of stops. First, make sure we had sailed more than 600 miles for our ocean yachtmaster candidate. 609 miles on the log when we tied up at midnight in Bayona.
Long distance passage making and watchkeeping takes it out of you more than you think – and after a couple of beers on board we retired to bed with no one surfacing until noon the following day. A nice day to look around Bayona and then treat ourselves to Spanish Tapas ashore for dinner.
We still had time for a sail into the Ria de Pontevedra and an evening stop at my favourite place Sanxenxo. The lovely weather and the stunning scenery had one of our guests searching out charter boats to come back here next summer. We found a few in Sanxenxo and more in Vigo. I am sure Tony will enjoy his summer here next year!
We are now in Vigo. Getting ready for our guests arriving for a week sailing around this superb cruising ground. Fully booked this week, but still some spaces next week – check out our website.