We stayed in Falmouth for a total of 4 days. It did however feel like a lot longer. Not because it was a boring place, but because we accomplished so much. We made a number of new friends, tried out most of the nearby (and some of the not-so-nearby) pubs, dug into the hearty local cuisine, downed more ale than we both care to admit and even had space for a cider or two (or possibly three). They stay was a success and re-charged our batteries and made us hungry for new sailing adventures. We were ready to set sail across the dreaded Bay of Biscay.
The Bay is an undertaking not to be underestimated at the best of times, so we prepared properly. We got our food shopping done, got the boat in tip top shape and were mentally prepared for hardship. The forecast indicated that the wind would be on the light side, but we decided to err on the side of caution, so we took nothing for granted. In the first 24 hours we saw good winds that helped push us away from the UK and towards France. The trajectory wasn’t perfect, but it kept us moving. Right as we were passing France, the wind died down and we had to motor for almost 24 hours, before we could again hoist the sails and enjoy some splendid sailing. The Bay gave us more wind and higher waves than what had been forecast, but both we and the boat were comfortable. The whole trip across was going remarkably well, when we got a twist in the gennaker and it split with a heart wrenching tear. We got it down and into the bag. We wanted to hoist the main, but it was too windy to get up against the wind, so we turned and motored towards Portugal. At this point in time the waves were between 4 – 5 meters, so it was a tad uncomfortable to try to go against the seas, but when we were sailing towards Portugal, we got them hitting our rear and then everything was excellent. We were surfing down waves and enjoying life. As soon as we rounded the tip, the wind completely died and the waves vanished with it. It didn’t take long before a group of dolphins came up and started playing around us. They never cease to amaze me and this was no different, we were spellbound the entire time they were around us.
They left shortly before sunset, which was when we were getting very close to our destination: Povoa de Varzim. We had intended to go farther, but when I heard that this place was the cheapest and also one of the best marinas in Portugal, I set my course straight for it. We tided up just as the sky darkened and night fell upon us. Our timing was perfect and I’m very happy that we got there before dark. An night approach to a new harbor is no fun.
Povoa de Varzim was everything we were promised and more. It is a perfect place to stop and get properly ready for the sail to Gran Canaria. I took stock of our trip from Falmouth. We had sailed around 580nm. To accomplish this we had spent a total of 86.5 hours. This gave us an average speed of 6.7 knots. I have to say that I was surprised, because it felt like we were going faster.
The best news is that now we’ve braved some of the toughest areas of the trip to the Caribbean. Though I don’t expect an easy time after this, it feels good to move forward with confidence after having sailed through the English Channel and crossed both the North Sea and the Bay of Biscay. Doing this in summer, can be hard … doing it in late fall like we did …. Not recommendable … This of course just adds spice to the tale.