It’s back to school! Between borders, COVID-19, money, long term and short term, it was a bit of a mess… The break of the holidays brought me wise advices: I’m going to Algarve in Portugal.
So many hesitations
It was in Saint-Jean-de-Luz at the gates of Spain that I wondered about the future. Before I left Lorient, my ambition was to visit northern Spain and then return to Brittany after a two-week family holiday. The idea was to prepare the boat during the month of September for a transatlantic crossing.
We’ll stay in Europe
I’d love to cross the ocean one day, but one have to be realistic: I’m not ready and neither is the boat. Plus I don’t even want to!
About Øya, I have to install a way to receive the weather forecast while being offshore, it is mandatory for offshore navigation but above all necessary. I will also have to pass an antifouling paint on the hull since the weather windows of January did not allow to do this properly … So it has to be renewed prematurely. There are also many other things I would like to do.
All of this requires money! My saving are now almost empty so I have to fill it again. I don’t earn enough with the job I have, I would need one more. I’d love to work again with computer sciences, I miss engineering.
In short, this vague project to cross the Atlantic is good but it is too early. We’ll see, maybe one day, but it’ll be at least later.
If you leave without a particular goal you quickly find yourself supid like I did in Saint-Jean-de-Luz: not really knowing what to do…
In fact the timing is not that bad. My summer program was punctuated more by holidays with family and friends than by my navigation and nonetheless my life program. This is the right context to imagine what the next future will look like.
What do you want to do with your life, Vincent?An ex
Building is fabulous… But what to do once the construction is completed? Start something else?
For everything one need motivation. Getting the project to fruition took so much effort that it became my main motivation. When I made the decision to embark on this adventure, I had a dream that seemed to me behind a mountain of preparations. However, we have recently come to here: the project has become a reality and I am somehow already at the top of the first mountain. It is now a matter of refocusing the project on exciting (and realistic) objectives.
So I start with my desires: travel, go to other climates, meet people who have a different culture and see wonderful landscapes. I really enjoyed Norway, the Norwegians and the climate. It was a so fabulous experience that I want to continue my journey to different horizons.
After all, that was the idea of starting out, moving into a house that allows me to travel without having to destroy everything to start all over again. Sisyphus should probably learn about it.
Leaving for the Algarve
It’s decided, I’d spend the winter in the port of a nice city, where the culinary culture is existing and where I would find a shipyard for Øya.
It is said that northern Spain – especially Galicia – is very similar to Brittany. Cider is a speciality of Gijón in Asturia, that is to say. I love Brittany but it’s been a long time since it is not exotic for me anymore, at least not enough.
I’ll just pass.
Portugal? Why not! There are wind and dried cod from Lofoten, in addition the ports look financially accessible. Everyone comes back enchanted from the southern region, so my decision is made. I will spend the next winter in Algarve.
The end of the holidays
I left Øya in Saint-Jean-De-Luz alone hanging from her buoy during the holidays. It was supposed to have peace of mind during my absence. These buoys are actually inexpensive and maintained by the port which then guarantees a certain level quality.
We were returning from the beach with the family when the French Navy called me to inform me that the buoy got broken. Øya became adrift and began to enter the swimming area of the bay. Its final destination would have been in the best case to run aground elegantly on the beach among the swimming tourists but for my part I imagined it to be already getting crushed against the rocks by the waves…
Fortunately the people on their boat next to mine saw the problem and called coast guard immediately. The guards came to tow Øya to another buoy before any damage could occur. It was not really worth it to pay a buoy 70 euros a week, but in the end I always have an incredible chance in my bad luck. I prefer to consider this side and keep happy of it!
After a quick break in Toulouse where Louise lent me her dentist appointment, I took the bus to Saint-Jean-De-Luz. Obviously the bus schedules are not in line with those of the tide. I will have to go out of port by rowing with my dinghy to reach my boat which is in the bay, and the tide stream is getting too strong inside the port. Luckily, I cross the path of kind Spanish people who agree to tow me with their motorboat. Otherwise, I would probably have spent the night on the pontoon.
Here am I, back on board with the firm intention of leaving this windless region and the Bay of Biscay as soon as possible. Øya has been there for more than a month, quick quick, we need oxygen!
First strong weather experience
I do some handling and take the weather. It’s not very good but it’s not horrible either. A wind from the west is forecast at 6 Beaufort established and gusts to 7 or 8 Beaufort; in English it means “a little strong conditions”. The wind being contrary to my route are even “pretty very uncomfortable” conditions.
I’m tired of feeling unconfortable when the forecasts are not perfect. After a long hesitation I consider that it was an opportunity to see the boat in stronger conditions than I am used to. So I went out anyway.
The afternoon went pretty well, the wind graduately forced, I adapted the sail surface, everything was fine. The sea is not so strong, we have a swell of 3m a little chopped but it’s really fine. It was between 3am and 6am that I reached the strongest conditions with sometimes gusts to 8 Beauforts. In these moments the air is very salty and there is no light while the stars and the moon almost full had shown themselves a few minutes before. The rain and wind make an impressive noise that covers the storm that has sometimes rumbled not far in the sky.
I moored the anchor at 12:42 in Getaria with eyes ingested with blood and an unremovable smile! Even though I did a dismal performance – i.e. 25 nautical miles covered over almost 24 hours – I kind of did my baptism of fire.
It was the perfect opportunity because it was not the passage of a depression over three days or more, they were big squalls but for a few hours. The swell did not have time to grow more than 3 or 4 meters. It was enough to realize the difficulties I might encounter, imagine what it would be in a real gale and see the behavior of my boat in there.
It is extremely docile in these conditions. I have never felt the slightest insecurity. I noted some technical problems, however:
- The axis of the gooseneck has dislodged. Luckily it happened between two squalls. I almost lost one of the phalanxes on my ring finger when I put the boom back in place because the swell was moving the boat. I’d like to make a hole in the axis and put a pin in it so it never happens again.
- I would need a real waterproof headlamp because in the squall and at night it is really very dark …
- My offshore throuser is of very poor quality, it is basically not waterproof at all. This is an important detail because wet clothes are very effective in destroying motivation, especially when it combines with fatigue. It was okay in this case because the water was still at 20 degrees or more.
My only regret is to have seen the scene at night, it must be beautiful by day. It’s not on the program, it’s good to have experienced it but one should play too much.
That’s it, we’re moving forward!
I left On August 28th from Saint-Jean-De-Luz, and want to join the Algarve around the middle of October. I put my progress on the blog’s home page, I would update it as I go along.
At the time of writing, I am at the anchorage in front of the “Playa de Rodiles”, 11Nm before Gijòn. I’m leaving this place later to buy some equipment and drink a bowl of cider in Gijòn.
I finally got to leave this area of no-wind that stretches from Arcachon to Santander, it was my first goal. The next one will be Cape Finisterre, after crossing it I would be under the influence of another weather system and I will find good winds pushing me toward south, up to Cape St. Vincent. Then I will have to choose a landing port, for now I consider Portimão.
I sometimes sail by day, sometimes by day and night depending on the weather. I don’t want to waste too much time and arrive relatively early in Portugal because I can’t wait to devote myself to my self-business.
In the meantime I enjoy the road, the beautiful landscapes of Cantabria, Asturias and soon Galicia. I don’t waste time, but I don’t deprive myself of the trip.
Why don’t I go for a hike somewhere with my tent? I don’t know, I hesitate… Is that really what I want? Ha we’ll see later!