Saturday, August 19th, 2017
Well rested and well fed, it was time to move along to our second port.
Our plan had been to sail directly to Bilbao but while chatting to a Spanish guy on the Oyster 62 that was berthed beside us, he suggested not going there due to the fact that the port is a busy commercial one and that the marina closest to the city is new and a bit isolated meaning that taxis would be required. His suggestion was to head to Laredo which is much nicer and right at the old town. Everything is in walking distance.
With that change in plan we notified the marina office of our departure time and prepared the boat for a 180nm passage.
We locked out of the marina at 14.10hrs. and headed down the channel.
A yacht flying the Royal Yacht Squadron house flag came steaming fast behind us and came alongside. He recognised our house flag and told us that on a recent trip up to Scotland from the Solent, he encountered heavy weather in the Irish Sea and pulled into DunLaoghaire. He used the facilities of our club, the Royal Irish, and complimented it on the hospitality he received.
He then headed off towards the North while we headed South.
We started to unfurl the mainsail in a light breeze but when it was only partially out it got stuck where one of the battens exits the mast. We tried everything to unfurl it without success. I thought it best to furl it again and forget about trying to use it altogether.
The wind was Westerly at 13 kts, so we unfurled the genoa and motor sailed towards the South West on a heading of 213 degrees.
As the breeze veered into the North West we stopped the engine and sailed along at 6 kts.
When darkness fell we furled the genoa because it was not filling properly and unfurled the jib and started the engine. The breeze was also dropping, however the seas remained moderate.
There was a large cross swell and the boat was rolling heavily which made for uncomfortable conditions on board. Occasionally some waves came from ahead, being left over from the South West wind and Pamela leapt over them and fell down heavily into the trough behind. Joe was sleeping in the forward double cabin and he became airborne from the violent movement so he decided that the forward section was not the place to be and he brought his duvet back to the main saloon. I forgot to say previously that he was nursing a damaged shoulder caused by a broach in a quarter tonner while racing in Dublin Bay some weeks previously. This meant that two of us were not in great shape between Joe and his shoulder and me with my back and pain running down my leg. I found it impossible to sleep except for the odd half hour, here and there. Jimmy, of course, was in fine form.
We all carried out our watches during the night of 2 hours on and four off.
While on my watch and sitting at the nav. station, there was a loud bang. One of the fire extinguishers, which was mounted on the bulkhead beside the galley,crashed to the floor. The bracket which was screwed on pulled away due to the heavy rolling.
As the night wore on the wind died altogether and we just motored on without any sail up making just 6 kts due to the swell.
At 08.30 on Sunday morning we motored over the Cap Ferret Canyon where the depth went, is a short distance, from 100m to 1,500m.
The wind remained between 0 and 3 kts as we motored along is the heavy swell.
At 14.00 hrs., Joe noticed that there was a rasping sound coming from the Watt & Sea Generator attached to the stern of the boat. We examined it and the noise was coming from the propeller but it was securely fitted in place.
30 minutes later I went aft to check on it again to find that it had disappeared.
In a recent conversation with Enda O’Coineen on his Vendee Globe race, he said that he had 2 of them fitted and one also came away but was held by the chord which plugged into the socket. He was luckily able to retrieve it.
It was very annoying to lose the generator since it was very expensive and also they are very efficient when sailing in the Trade Winds.
That day we averaged about 6 kts, making over 130 miles in 24 hrs, not great but then motoring in light winds in a heavy cross swell isn’t great either.
On Monday morning the 21st. at 01.20am, we crept into Laredo harbour, using the chartplotter to find our way in. We had radioed ahead to the marina office but it’s not manned outside office hours, so we chose a spot to tie up to near the entrance.
Once again we made a late night entrance and had a drink before retiring to bed.
The distance covered was 180 nautical miles in 35 hours at an average speed of just 5.14 kts. Slow going.
The advise given a few days beforehand was excellent. After clearing into the Spain with little formality, we walked the short distance into the town and did some sightseeing.
In the early afternoon we were getting hungry and went into a very busy corner restaurant which was filled with local people. We had a lazy lunch, simple but great quality, washed down with some nice local wine and at a very reasonable price.
That night, after dinner, Joe decided to take out an old guitar his daughter had used during her World travels. He fixed it up and tuned it reasonably well and we had a little singsong. Well, actually, we went on singing and sitting in the cockpit until the small hours in the morning.
The next morning we filled the diesel tanks and took 724 litres. That was a lot considering we had only covered 733 miles since we left DunLaoghaire.
Looking back over the log, over 90% of the time the wind was less than 10kts and often around 3kts and mainly from directly astern.
Joe left on Wednesday the 23rd. and Jimmy left on Friday the 25th.
That night while sitting alone in the cockpit having dinner, I was a grandstand spectator to a fireworks display based at the other end of the harbor. I guess it lasted for about 20 minutes.
Brian and Kate Mathews arrived on Saturday the 26th. in the early afternoon and that made up our crew for the next two weeks which would bring us to Cascais in Portugal.