We couldn't go down the river at Audierne until the tide was half way in. So it was 5 pm. when we motored down to St Evette and raised the sails. The wind was light westerly so we had the main, No1 Jib, stays'l and tops'l. Virtually no swell so it was a very peaceful evening that saw us set off at a comfortable but sedate 4K. It was a beautiful and sunny and we were visited many times by dolphins.
Our destination had been La Coruna, but the forecast was telling us that the wind was accelerating around the headlands of NW Spain to F7. We could avoid this by heading further east and so we picked on an interesting little town called Luarca. If we arrived before Tues afternoon we should have no more than a F5 which sounded ideal.
The first night it was my turn to cook, which as it turned out was lucky because conditions in the galley became more challenging later. Veggie curry was on the menu.
The gentle conditions held through the night and so we all slept well. We did 3 hour watches, overlapping the first hour with the previous 'watcher', doing the second hour alone, and being joined for the last hour by the follow on 'watcher'. The night was clear, no moon but the stars were brilliant. Loads of shooting stars too !
The light weather continued throughout the next day and although we slowed from time to time to less than 3K we covered 80M in the first 24 hrs. Good enough, as we knew we had more wind on the way.
As we sailed over the edge of the continental shelf, we saw more dolphins and many tuna jumping, presumably trying to escape being eaten. They also managed to resist the temptation of the lure we were trailing.
The wind built up over night to a F4 and veered northerly. Our speed increased to 5-6K plus and as the wind was behind we changed course to a more westerly one for less rolling and more comfort. We were covering the miles now.............. 150M in our second 24hrs.
The second night when I was on watch I heard heavy breathing close behind and although it was dark, when I turned around I saw a whale about 5 yds away !!! It was smallish. Probably only 12 to 15ft and Chris, who was on deck with me at the time, saw a second. We thought that they were probably pilot whales. They were the only whales we saw although the next morning we saw several 'spouts' in the distance.
The wind was slowly building throughout the day and by the evening we were racing along often sustaining more than 8K in a NE F5. The swell was increasing and we were corkscrewing along. Our speed was making an arrival in the dark look likely and so we decided to try to slow down a bit for comfort and to delay arrival until daybreak. We handed the tops'l and put 2 reefs in the main. The stays'l had been handed earlier when the wind was putting it behind the mainsa'l and it wasn't earning it's keep. Under reduced rig the speed slowed to 6-7K!
By 2 in the morning it became plain that we were still going to arrive a couple of hours before dawn. We were all pretty tired and I wasn't happy to approach a small unknown harbour in the dark so when we were 5 M off the coast we bore away to westwards and ran down wind for a further 20M to a town called Ribadeo. We arrived shortly after sunrise and the entrance was large and easy.
So here we are now, in Ribadeo, a small and interesting town, as yet unspoilt by tourism.
We've spent a couple of nights here and are off today to find an anchorage in one of the rias to our west.