Friday 17 April 2015

A long haul to A Coruna

We were bound for Vigo but in the early hours of Friday morning about 80 miles north of A Coruna the wind had got up from the south west to an estimated strong force 6 necessitating 3 reefs. The sea was up too (although not as bad as it had been in the channel during the first 2 days). That made Cape Finisterre which we would have to round the get to Vigo, a lee shore, not somewhere we wanted to be in rough weather. We had also not been able to get a forecast for the area and therefore did not know whether the conditions were likely to deteriorate still further. With both of us being pretty tired from the constant helming required due to the failure of our self steering systems, the decision though reluctant was the only sensible one in the circumstances. It meant our rendezvous with the ladies in Lisbon by sea would now be unlikely.

We will have to get the steering systems sorted out before we undertake any further long distance passages and it's looking like getting the Tiller Pilot repaired and/or replaced will require us to get to Vigo. The local Agent here appears to have closed down and I think we may have to get one shipped out to Vigo which we could get to in 3 one day hops if the weather allows.

Meanwhile on the wind vane front, I have spoken to Chris who has advised on potential adjustments which we will try and test out on departure from here. If that fails, I then face the prospect of either having to buy another or get the previous one shipped out from home! I know the it works but removed it in favour of the current one because of concerns about the weight. Either of the above will incur considerable delays and expense!

The first two days of the passage out in the channel were really quite unpleasant, consisting first of strong head winds and lumpy seas and then calms and lumpy seas through which we motored for 12 hours.

The only saving grace was that hard on the wind the boat will steer herself with the helm lashed and we therefore had temporary respite from the chore of constant helming. The motion of the first 24 hours was so unpleasant that I was sea sick for the first time in my life.

Once we had Brest abeam going south however,  we picked up the forecasted easterlies and the seas subsided. The next three days were a mixture of light to moderate easterlies punctuated by calms through which we motored to start with but then conscious of the need to preserve fuel we had to just wait for the wind to return. Sometimes we made good speed but often the winds were so light that we were down to 2-3 knots and therefore our average speed was significantly reduced over the passage. We covered roughly 450 nautical miles over the ground in 6 days 6 hours giving an average of only 3 knots. Not fast!

The worst part of the passage which really did take the fun out of it was the constant helming. We were both so knackered after our 3 hour stints that all we really wanted to do was sleep even during the day. Social time was therefore limited to hand-overs some of which were extended when one of us became sufficiently hungry to cook. We did get a bit more used to things by the last sunny day in the bay and hove to in gentle winds to have a decent lunch together. The day before that or perhaps the day before that we were visited by dolphins - the same type of small ones on both occasions. They cheered us up.

Late afternoon on Wednesday we had a period of calm after which the winds went round to the west and gradually built, requiring one, two and eventually, by the early hours of Thursday, 3 reefs. That's when we decided to alter course to A Coruna. Another notable experience of the Bay, half way across (as the winds were getting up) was the amount of shipping. By the Thursday night, we had a constant stream of north bound traffic to port and south bound traffic to starboard and felt like a hedgehog in the central reservation of the motorway. We realised that we'd stumbled into an unofficial separation zone used by the ships going to and coming from the formal zone at Finisterre. If you imagine how difficult it would be for the hedgehog to cross the motorway, that's rather what it was like for us. We were very glad we had the AIS transponder because we at least that meant the ships could see us and occasionally we called one up on the radio to clarify who would pass whom where. Most of the time though we just tried to keep out of there way. Eventually we made a dash across the north bound traffic and made it after about an hour. Soon after that the third reef went in and we headed for Coruna. Our approach there was similarly dogged by heavy traffic going up and down the coast, including numerous fishing vessels that apparently were engaged in fishing and therefore had right of way.

We entered the marina at 2100 BST to find we were the only other visitor...

This is the other ....

Penguin ii a lovely Colin Archer design, sailed by Bob and his wife, from, of all places Gillingham. So the only two visitors were from the Medway. They will be heading back north soon having wintered here.

Coruna has some impressive architecture, none of which I have photographed yet!!

Today has been spent walking around and trying to find a local Raymarine Agent in an attempt to get the Tiller pilot repaired. They've closed down!

We've also taken advice from Chris who built the wind vane on possible adjustments which we will make before we head out next.

It's beginning to look as if we will coast hop down to Vigo in a couple of days (subject to the weather) and get a new tiller pilot shipped out and hopefully get the existing one repaired when we get there. Vigo is apparently the place for boaty technical support.

Last night we had moderate local fast food because most places were closed. Tonight we hope for more success and that's where we headed soon so that's it for now.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like exciting stuff! I never thought I'd see the day when you became sea sick. Shame about the self steering, I hope you get it sorted.
    And what a pleasant coincidence with that other boat from the med - maybe you'll meet more local boats further ashore?
    Lots of love
    Mum and Steps x


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