Finally myself and Skeiron found ourselves alone, in the middle of a very dark night. Uncomfortably comfortable.Alex Laline.
After a long period in lockdown and after getting everything we could possibly get ready while in confinement was done, there was one thing left to do: go sailing. That’s when the whole operation “get to the boat” started.
As soon as France started relaxing lockdown measures, I jumped on a train to Paris in order to reach La Rochelle and before nightfall, I was back on Skeiron, with her new bottom ready and nicely moored alongside with the help of Yann and the Prepa Nautic team.
I spent the next day getting her ready for an idea that has crossed my mind while in lockdown: to cross the Bay of Biscay in preparation for the qualifying passage.
What is the qualifying passage?
The qualification passage is a 1.000nm course set by Classe Mini that takes us around the Conningbeg buoy in the Irish sea and back to La Rochelle. The course has to be single handed and a series of requisites have to be accomplished, like the use of Celestial Navigation and SSB radio. If you get the passage done, you’re a step closer to be on the start line of the Mini Transat.
The idea of crossing the Bay of Biscay was perfect: I would get a few days sailing with Skeiron and getting to know her a bit better before the qualifying passage and I could sail to Coruna, not only was the only place in Spain which had recently lifted the lockdown, but were Maria (the creator of the website and my love) lives.
After a day well spent getting Skeiron ready, we slipped lines at 6am and pointed Skeiron’s bow towards the entrance of the bay. I had it pictured in my head as a nice warm summer morning, sailing with the wind in your face and getting tanned. Instead we found ourselves sailing in the middle of a raincloud beating against 25 knots of wind. It took a lot longer than expected to reach open water but it was a nice feeling mixed with the first bit of sunshine once we did.
After a few hours with the wind gusting up to 27 knots, the first problem appeared: one of the rudders had disconnected from the tiller. Luckily it was the rudder on the windward side which meant Sir George (the autopilot) was still happy to steer the boat while I fixed the problem.
Throughout the day the wind started to ease, allowing us to shake out the reefs and get a bit more comfortable onboard and allowing me to get some rest. We couldn’t have asked for a better first night: clear skies, nice breeze and fishing boats ALL over the place, so after a bit of slalom and tacking between trawlers, finally myself and Skeiron found ourselves alone, in the middle of a very dark night. Uncomfortably comfortable.
The following days were all spent sharing the same BIG detail: beating upwind. From 2 to 20 knots, from no sea state to 2m swells, from my happy face to my grumpy face in a matter of minutes.
It wasn’t until the 3rd day when the news came that there was a weather front coming towards us. It’s not only that we don’t like weather fronts in general, but imagine being on a 6.5m boat, after beating upwind in all kind of winds, where everything around (that isn’t that much) is all over the place, having had not much sleep…. The decision was obvious: we would make a stopover in the North side of Galicia: Viveiro.
I had been to Viveiro before so it also made me confident to chose it as a port of refugee, and a bit of begging after being rejected entrance due to work on the marina, I was allowed in. It was perfect. A one day break before heading to Coruna.