The Bay of Fear

After a quite event less rounding of the Raz de Sein, I was in the bay! Nice pleasant wind was blowing from the continent resulting flat seas, real ideal conditions. Only one thing was bugging me, the autopilot… I lost it again early morning… hand-steering while sailing alone is really not something I want to do again. You do not even have a minute to release the wheel, does not matter if you are hungry or you want to have a pee. Funny thing is that as I’m so late in the season the winds can turn against me quickly loosing any chance  of going on with my project… on the other hand repairing the pilot could take days.. what if this is the last patch of fair winds this season??!! (later turned out to be that I was right on this) so, as there is no other option, I continued further until the wind lasts. 2Every morning I woke up early, around 6, a quick breakfast, off I go… usually I become dead tired after a day manual steering… arriving late to harbours… I could not even remember when I actually moored up the boat daylight last time. Despite the negative effect on my sleeping schedule it has a  a very bright side, as the marinas are usually open from 8 to 18 in france, basically I never had to pay 🙂 as any good thing, nice winds did not last long, especially in the biscay… after 12-15 days (how lucky I was actually to have this nice period I realised later), the  season change was rather visible and quick. First I had to spend a week in Les Sables d’Olonne. I was actually rather about my pit stop, I needed some rest anyway, the city is nice, the ppl are cool and friendly. France so far is rather a nice surprise. My experience is that actually everybody speaks a bit of english, even in small villages, everybody try to be helpful. Absolutely not what I was expecting. 3Since I had to wait here, I decided it is a nice time to lift the boat, and check if everything is ok underneath or not. I wanted to do the same thing before I left the uk, but the crane prices in brighton are rather ridiculous and there is absolutely no flexibility in terms of lift schedules. Here, in france, the whole cost, with cleaning and re-painting (paint included) was actually less than quarter  what they wanted to ask from me in brighton, just for the crane work.  For my biggest surprise when I asked actually when we can do it, they replied if I manage to bring my boat now, than the whole operation will be done by the end of the day, and I can sail away if I want the same night. What a difference, compared to the one month waiting list back home! Wooo if I know this in advance! Anyway… in a few minutes psyrema was already in the air, while I had my breakfast, the hull was spray-cleaned, by the time I managed to find some atm in the city which actually works the new paint went up… magic! Why can not this things work the same way in the uk? Next day I even managed to repair the autopilot, for a while it seemed that I actually had to buy a new one, which needless to say is a large investment, but by the end, with some luck, and a few very useful tips from a local engineer turn out to be a 20euro repair!‎6
When I had a nice weather-window I sailed to La Rochelle. On the way I tested the autopilot, which works well ever since, also I had a feeling of some boat speed again thanks to the nice and clean hull. I enjoyed this sail a lot! Finally I was able to leave the cockpit if I had to eat something, or if I just wanted to wander abound! It all went well.
La rochele was a milestone in my voyage. From here the only logical passage goes to spain. I needed a two day weather window, or preferably 3 to be safe. Well… this did not happened for a whole month! I have to admit this become one of the saddest period, since I left the uk. Every day, you wake up to realise, that there is no chance of continuing for a week ahead. After a while I started to think about leaving the boat behind, I even managed to find a nice place for it on the dry. Frustrating one month. I also realised, that mostprobably I will need some help to progress further, the sailing season is way over, storms are following each-other day by day, I can not loose more time stopping, resting, or with a broken autopilot. The bay is famous about the trecheaorus sea-conditions, especialy the north spanish coast. Here, the atlantic shelf meets the continental one, resulting a seabed, which changes from several thousand meters to a hundred within a few miles. The waves are incredible. Storms are frequent. All set for a nice disaster if you are not careful. Also I learned during the last period that while sailing solo is a nice challenge, you can learn a lot from it, not just about sailing but also a lot about yourself as well, on the other hand it is so boring that there are no words to describe it. 8Just you, and the big blue sea… (well rather big green and grey sea) it is exciting during the first weeks, also I had to learn a lot, but after a while maneuvering and trimming the sails becomes normal and easy, so you have more time to get bored. And hell, I was bored ussually. Already thinking about finding a crew for a while, but here, waiting, I actually started to search for one finally.  After talking and writing to numerous ppl I managed to find two nice sailors I considered sailing with them together for a longer periods. Dusan, who is a professional sailor from Serbia/France and Susanna from portugal who is altough not a professional but was more than eager to put more miles to her logbook.  After countless emails, and weather-discussions, Dusan arrived to La Rochelle just a day or so before we finally had a weather window. After a month it seemed unreal to be at sea again. I was super-excited! There was my chance to continue.9

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