Friday, January 29, 2010

Eel Strikes, Weather Windows, and Nasty Seas

5:22 GMT
Lat 45°57’ North Long 1°59’ West
Heading 255°

It was a long night in a very small hotel room with terrible internet access, but we received just enough GRIB files to know that we needed to get the heck out of dodge.  There are not a lot of weather windows in January, and to safely transit the Bay of Biscay in winter, we needed to leave La Rochelle sooner rather than later.

At 10:00 AM local time we were in the commercial harbor, anxious to get going.  The wind is out of the NW and anticipated to move North, that's some seriously good news for us so we are moving fast!  The bad news is that we were not the only ones with business in the harbor, and about 15 eel fisherman are anchored and tied together with chains, blocking the mouth of the harbor - not all that uncommon in France but awfully inconvenient this morning!

Thankfully, my Franco-American crew proved their value once again and JC Caso was able to negotiate some movement from the fishing vessels (who completely get what we are all about) and we were on our way...

Now it is 1722 GMT and we are pounding our way upwind in 40 knots of breeze gusting 50 in the Bay of Biscay.  Hell of a way to ease a new (to me) boat and rusty skipper into serious offshore sailing again.  But at least we are on our heading!

She Sails!
The boat is FAST.  We were banging away at 15 knots until we decided to roll up the staysail, and now we're doing 8-9 knots and it is still very wet and rough.  I just finished a two-hour trick on the helm, hating to put the boat under so much load right out of the gate, but there are not a lot of options until we see the Northerly shift we are banking on.

And while getting the snot smacked out of me is probably good for my psyche, we are going to ease the pain on the boat as much as possible - this is a delivery to a refit, not a race.  Still, things look good for getting home and seeing my kiddies soon.

More reports as soon as I can manage - thanks for all the interest and support!


Test Sail Jan 28, 2010 La Rochelle, France
Photo by Olivier Blanchet VELUX 5 OCEANS

Test Sail Jan 28, 2010 La Rochelle, France
Photo by Olivier Blanchet VELUX 5 OCEANS