Friday 01 July 2016 Falmouth, UK.
Heading South from England entails crossing the Bay of Biscay. This means that right at the start, when you’ve yet to get into the swing of things, you’re faced with a five-day passage across seas that are notorious both for being rough and for being busy with commercial shipping and fishermen behaving as unpredictably as ever. To make it easy on myself in these early stages I’d invited Nick to join me for the passage to Spain. As there seemed to be a likely weather window in the offing, he travelled down by train and came aboard in Falmouth.
That was ten days ago and he’s just left to go home. In that time we’ve gone out sailing a few times. We’ve put up the storm sails and taken them down again to make sure they’re ready to go. We even tried out my new series drogue.
But we didn’t sail to Spain. The general idea is to wait until a depression has just passed the UK on its way East. There’s then a period of Northerly winds, enough to allow a small boat to get South before the next depression approaches the UK with its South-Westerlies. As the first part of the passage is on a South Westerly course, directly into these South Westerly winds, it’s important to set off during a Northerly respite between them.
Unfortunately the North Atlantic seemed to be clogged up with unruly depressions behaving badly. The winds were persistently from the West or South West with any interludes of Northerlies being only hours long. Furthermore, the forecasters seemed to be struggling. Not only would the morning forecast be different from previous evening’s, different forecasters would be predicting different things. So not only were the forecasts for adverse conditions, they were also not to be relied upon.
So we waited. And dowlnloaded more weather files. And waited some more. We worked on the boat a bit, and mooched around the town, but we didn’t sail to Spain. For Nick, with his three-week holiday from work, the last possible time of departure for Spain seemed to approach rapidly. For me, the prospect of being stuck in Falmouth until the September gales set in seemed real.
Today’s forecast is as grim as ever. There being no prospect of leaving in the next few days and thus arriving in Spain in time for Nick to fly home and get back to work in time, he left today to spend the rest of his holiday on his own boat. Having him aboard for ten days was good even though we didn’t sail to Spain. I’m accustomed to being on my own on the boat and wondered how I would cope with someone else aboard. In fact it was absolutely fine. I enjoyed his company and found that sailing with someone else aboard makes life really easy. Furthermore, because Nick has his own boat, which he commonly sails alone, he knows what to do. Despite having only briefly sailed together before we nonetheless sailed as a very effective team. Maneuvers such as anchoring seemed to be pleasingly slick. I’m sorry that his precious holiday did not pan out the way it was planned but I’m glad to have had him aboard.