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Passage from Azores to England in July

By Sue Richards last modified Aug 10, 2009 07:50 AM

Published: 2009-08-10 07:50:22
Topics: Atlantic Ocean East
Countries: Azores , United Kingdom

Received 27 July 2009 from yacht Vindomar
Roy and Sue Potter are almost at the end of a 5 year circumnavigation

Azores to NW Spain

This is to be the final leg of our voyage and we depart the island of Terceira and head north.

The first day we experience light winds from the south west and we enjoy steady comfortable sailing towards our destination. Our plan is to stop at the Isles of Scilly for about a week as our mooring in Britain will not be available until August and we have a few days in hand. It is clear that having sailed north away from tropical zones where weather is constant and predictable for days and even weeks ahead, here we find new weather systems suddenly appearing over the horizon. The forecast is for mainly light or moderate winds and seas for the next 7 days as we leave the islands, but soon new weather systems are tracking across the Atlantic north of us bringing high winds and seas. We wish to avoid the worst of these so begin to head further eastwards to allow systems to pass.

Typically in July the Azores High should be well established and the usual situation on this trip is to find flat calms and the main concern is whether enough diesel can be carried to motor for several hundred miles. Not this year though and we find new Low Pressure systems forming around the Azores and heading north east as well. Trying to avoid this system we find ourselves being forced more and more east so change our plans and decide to stop at La Coruna in North west Spain.

The trip is all downwind sailing but with bigger seas than we have been used to, swells come down from the Northwest and establish at times a confused and sloppy sea. Not very comfortable and moving around the boat is difficult. Coupled with periods of rain and cooler temperatures at times we begin to feel quite cold.

We experience a few squalls, one particularly nasty with winds increasing from about 18 knots to a maximum of 38 Knots. We are already well reefed down with 3 reefs in the Mainsail and only a little jib, we take in the rest of the jib and run before the wind for 30 minutes or so until the squall passes and the wind eases again. We arrive in La Coruna in the late afternoon and tie up in a marina right in the heart of the town. This proves to be a well protected berth and surprisingly not noisy apart from the Spanish fascination of setting off rockets at frequent intervals with the resulting loud bangs, not so bad if you hear the whoosh but startling if you miss that and just experience the loud bang. Never did find out why they launched so many but on one occasion it was 12 one after the other.

La Coruna is a delightful destination with lots of squares, statues and old buildings. We enjoy just wandering around, shopping in the supermarket, restaurants and the surrounding coastline is magnificent. Definitely on our list of places to maybe visit again and spend more time.

NW Spain to Brittany

Leaving La Coruna we head north east across the bay of Biscay, which is kind to us with relatively light winds from the south west. We just set the boat up for downwind sailing with a poled out genoa and relax and enjoy the trip. Occasional periods of rain make it wet at times but there are no accompanying squalls. The middle of the bay produces a period of calm so we motor through one night. We arrive in Cameret near Brest in Brittany and find again a good marina in the middle of the main sea front area.

Camaret also is delightful although at the peak of the French holiday season, restaurants and bars are busy but there is also lively entertainment in the street. Again the surrounding area is beautiful and we enjoy a pleasant stroll along a cliff top path with magnificent views along the coastline. We always did like France and this reminds us of some of the things we have missed while cruising more distant places. Temperatures here are also pleasant making life just that bit easier.

Onward to the UK and the end of our Voyage

But we are now impatient to be home, so as I write this we are preparing to depart and sail the remaining 135 miles to Plymouth and will arrive on Monday afternoon having spent 5 years and 2 months away from Britain on a journey that has taken us some 21,000 miles visiting 35 countries along the way.