Crossing the Bay of Biscay (day 4)

Trip Start Oct 15, 2010
Trip End Dec 15, 2010

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Flag of Spain  , Asturias,
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I relieved the captain at the helm at dawn.  It was the same grey rolling conditions.  I took off his beloved autopilot, convinced that I could do a better job with manual steering.  Not sure that seeing the waves coming actually helped: sometimes the dodging made the boat rock as much as the wave would have done.  But it was fun to try to learn this "dances with waves" and master it.  I noticed that the big swells could be ignored: it was smaller waves that heaved us around.  There were certain angles that worked best for cutting through them.

Then at 11am on the horizon was a bluish form more sharply defined than any cloud: it was Spain!  The mountainous coast of Asturias grew slowly slowly before us.  The seas were mellowing to simple big swells, and for some reason we were still alone and there was not one of the expected horde of fishing boats.  Ahead was a dirty sky and industrial outlines of Gijón, not a scenic French harbor, and we passed a giant container ship on our way past the working port to a small pleasure boat marina.

We docked easily across from another sailboat, two cute girls on deck watching us, so that suddenly I was embarassed about our tattered stern line and my permanent mess of salty hair.  Then their boyfriends came up on deck and everything was OK.  They had left L'Orient on Monday and passed us somewhere out there.  They went off for showers and we sat down to a beer and picon in our cockpit and realized we were all delirious.

But food had to be eaten and so after the captain cleared our passports we went into the Spanish town not so different from Brittany.  There was a promenade and everyone was out walking and then narrow alley streets with bars and restaurants and we all knew a bit of Spanish so could argue over the translation of a menu seen through the window.  We ate soups and slices of jamon and chorizo and I had some kind of chicken steak with melted cheese.  The red wine was bold and not like an elegant French wine but quite drinkable.

Then back at the boat we cracked into the beer and cider we'd bought the night before we left and sat talking noisily in the cockpit with the lights of the marina around us.  I went for a shower and washed the brine off my face and shaved and put on clean clothes and felt fantastic as I eased into the wonderful feeling of a bunk that did not move at all.

Here is the first photo of the day.

Here is our route across the Bay of Biscay.
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