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Old 12-07-2007, 08:22 AM   #1
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Hi, please give me some advices about crossing Biscay Bay. We plan to go from south england to spain. When is the best time to go, the best way to choose.....

Thanx
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Old 12-07-2007, 04:17 PM   #2
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Hi, please give me some advices about crossing Biscay Bay. We plan to go from south england to spain. When is the best time to go, the best way to choose.....

Thanx
I haven't done that crossing myself, but it's highly recommended to do it in the summer, before the end of August IIRC. If you are considering it this time of year, I would definitely recommend waiting for a VERY good weather window, and stay well westward of the shelf. That is in DEEP water with sufficient sea-room. And be prepared to get hammered by wind and waves anyway...
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Old 12-08-2007, 06:29 PM   #3
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Altrhough not an answer to your question, which I will get back to shortley, have a look at this thread which is very relevant: Link to earlier CL topic

Aye // Stephen
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Old 12-10-2007, 11:46 AM   #4
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Hi, please give me some advices about crossing Biscay Bay. We plan to go from south england to spain. When is the best time to go, the best way to choose.....

Thanx
The best time to go is when you have a decent 'weather window'. That's quite easy to arrange, because you have a choice of routes . . .

The 'coast' route. Needs a 3 day weather window. 3 day weather windows are frequent between June and late September, and occur predictably, but not so often, from mid April to October. Outside that period, you may be hanging around for a long time waiting.

Hop from French port to French port (great fun). If, at any time during this journey, a 3 day weather window crops up, head for the Spanish north coast. Go to any of the harbours 'safe to enter in any weather'. You'll find these marked up on my web site. If you get as far south as La Rochelle without finding a weather window, hang around there. The French coast south of La Rochelle is not very hospitable.

The 'offshore' route. Needs a 5 day weather window. Rare as hen's teeth before April and after October, so you'd need a very strong crew and boat to try that one. 5 day weather windows are also not very reliable before June and after mid September, so again, strong crew and boat. June to August? Yes, you'll find a slot, but it may call for some waiting.

So, how strong are your boat and crew? That'll probably decide things for you . . .

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Old 12-10-2007, 05:36 PM   #5
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As said before on this thread, crossing the Bay of Biscay during the winter is not for us 'pleasure sailors'. Having had a few days to contemplate your question i remembered the following story:

A very experienced swedish sailor, named Ulf Peterson with his yacht 'Suzie II' left Gothenburg in mid October some 20 years ago for the Canary Islands. Why you might wonder? He had been working on his boat for quite some time and was simply fed up with staying in port. Thus he took his chances to avoid another six month stay in Gothenburg. You need to know that this chap had already 50000 of blue water miles single-handing at this point, including a circumnavigation and a trip to Spitsbergen and Greenland in the mid 70-ies.

He got so badly hammered on his way to Las Palmas; Canaria, it made him stay there for three(!) long years before eventually crossing the Atlantic. Among other things he was rolled a full 360 degrees at least once, had to be in the ice-cold water for hours undertaking repairs to make his boat float.

A high price to pay, both emotionally and financially, even for the adventurous sailor, don't you agree???
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Old 12-10-2007, 08:49 PM   #6
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I don't want to scare anybody but Biscay is an area in which we should exercise extreme caution. Sure the Bay can be benign in summer and in winter too but I remember, when I was third officer on an 80,000 ton bulk carrier being slammed by a hurricane in Biscay. We were fully loaded with coal so the ship had a draft of about 20 feet and we were thus in a very comfortable condition and had the wind and sea on our port quarter. Suddenly an enormous wave hit us carrying away the port lifeboat which was three decks above the waterline. The wave roled up the main deck and carried away a steel cable duct, rollng it up like the lid on a sardine tin.

That was in September 1976. IMHO very few yachts would have survived that wave and we were lucky in that little further damage was done.

My advice is certainly to cross Biscay but to keep a very good eye on the weather.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 12-11-2007, 11:48 AM   #7
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Thanx to all of you. I probably forgot to write, that Im not going to cross the Bay in winter. I am gathering information. The plan is to cross in summer and probably from port to port. I am not experienced sailor, I dont want to risk to much. Other choice is, I think, to take the boat through inner waterways to Med.

Thanks again and if you have more advices Ill be happy if you share. m.
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Old 12-19-2007, 01:22 PM   #8
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Hi - Biscay is always the baptism of fire for northern europeans - incluidng us. Absolutely second the advice about going in summer. The actual gale incidence starts increasing after the end of July so if you can get away that soon then do.

We went from Falmouth the La Coruna and had a v fast passage of 4 days. (our propellor fell off about half way which reduced drag considerably but made our arrival more interesting than anticipated. )

The advantage of going straight across is that you do get into deep water and so although the swell is horrible for the inexperienced (us) it is not the vicious seas of shallower water. Also you get south faster if that's your objective. The advtange of the coast is enjoying France, never having more than about 250 mile hops and hence very manageable weather windows.

Either way, I would not go straight to Bayona as a lot of people do. the rias of Northern Spain are fab and you could easily spend months just pootling towards Bayona before going down the portuguese coast.

Sarah

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Old 12-20-2007, 09:24 AM   #9
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We sailed from the Netherlands along the coasts to Brest. We then crossed directly to La Coruna. This was the first overnight passgae that my wife and I made alone. We waited for a good weather window near the end of July. Not trusting my limited knowledge of weather I also used a weather routing service, Commander's Weather. For US$60 they followed the weather patterns and after a few days suggested a departure date and gave us a detailed 5 day forecast that turned out to be correct. We did have a little of everything, motoring in the fog when leaving Brest, beautiful sunrises and sunsets and a full moon. We also had winds in the upper 20's gusting to 35 kts and a swell that really bounced us around for 12 hours.

We also had AIS, which I think is great. We were able to directly call one large tanker that seemed to be coming directly at us and ask if they saw us. They told us they did and would be passing behind us.

One mistake I made was not getting enough sleep so that when we arrived at La Coruna in a heavy mist I was having a hard time, but my wife took the helm and we arrived safely.
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:19 AM   #10
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We crossed southward twice now from UK and departed early June aiming to get predominately N'ly winds.

Got them first time when it took 3 days 1 hour exactly to Bayonna with F7-9 from behind.

Second time 4 days with lots of light patches.

I'd agree best not to by pass the Rias - beautiful.

JOHN
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Old 06-10-2008, 09:45 AM   #11
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One further word of caution. If you decide not to run accross the Bay in one hop but follow the coast be careful of the tides and tide rips. There are some nasty ones, particularly along the Brittany coast.

Again, this is not to say don't do it. There are some wonderful harbours and esturies along the coast. Just be careful.

Aye // Stephen
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