04.06.19 – La Roche Bernard to Arzal.
The day spent loading Destiny with provisions and getting her into a suitable position for an early start on the following day. Left berth1430, stopped at Arzal fuel pontoon to top up main tank (150L) and three jerry cans (20+20+30=70L). Exited Vilaine through the 1600 lockdown. Initially went down river to Trehiguer but very choppy on the visitors buoys so came back up to the Arzal waiting pontoon for the night. Berthed 1735. Cum EH 142.4
05.06.19 – Arzal WP. to Port Joinville.
Fcst: Meteo Consult (MC), SW 3(5) kts > W 19(25) kts @ 1800. Windy (W) NW10 (10) kts > SW 17(21) kts @ 2100. S Int, no rain. Fcst for 07.06 was giving high winds. As our crew were arriving late on Saturday 8th, the intention was to ideally make La Rochelle by end 06.06, or if weather on the 6th deteriorated earlier, stop over in Les Sables d’Olonne and make the final leg to La Rochelle on the 8th.
0700 dep. 0757 start of Varlingue pass, exit at 0821. 0900 called possible destinations . L’Herbaudiere closed to accommodate a rally. Port Joinville open. 0920 Bayonnelles, motorsailing.1424 Les Boeufs, 1700 berthed D leg Port Joinville (bit tight).
62.8 Nm EH 10.0 PJA & JMA. Passport Escales
Approach to Port Joinville
Entering inner harbour
D leg, Port Joinville marina.
La Plage PJ
Shell house PJ
06.06.19 – Port Joinville to La Rochelle.
Fcst: 1900 05.06 SW 7(13) @ 0600 > S 9(17) @ 1800. Shws / S Int. Fcst (W) for 1050 06.06 @ Wpt 379 ‘Barge’ SW 9(15) > 15(20) @ 1800. Swell 1.1.
Plan – to attempt La Rochelle but sail close by Les Sables d’Olonnes in case weather deteriorated earlier.
0615 Dep. 1051 Wpt 379 ‘Barge’. 1402 Wpt 390 ‘NW Re’. 1715 Chauveau Cardinal. Berthed Minimes Visitor pontoon 6 B13 (tight between legs) Told by marina staff to find a place on 4 or 5, but all full. ‘Disorganised’!
75.86 Nm. Cum 3839.8 Nm. EH 12.0. PJA & JMA. Passport Escales 2 nights, 1 night @ €31.90. Wifi moderate.
07.06.19 – Storm ‘Miguel’ made landfall at Port Joinville mid morning, severe winds affected most of W France. Sadly the Sables d’Olonne lifeboat capsized trying to assist a fishing boat. 3 crew lost plus those on fishing boat. Joined for lunch on Destiny by Graham and Jane Clark (Moon Haze) who were berthed in the inner harbour. Gusts of 35-40 kts recorded on Destiny, plus half the sand from Minimes beach!
08.06.19 – Wind moderated early morning, lunch in town with Graham and Jane, Sarah and Adrian Gaunt joined us for the coming week early evening.
Into the rising sun!
Racing an old Gaffer
La Rochelle in sight
The well known fairway buoy.
1st Mate’s relief at arriving
Minimes extension – bringing it up to supposedly over 4000 berths.
The famous twin towers – where chains were strung between to stop the British!
09.06.19 – La Rochelle to St Denis d’Oleron.
Fcst: (W) NE12(17) kts @0600 > 17(23) @1800. R. early am > S Int. Swell 0.9 > 0.4.
Planning: StD cill 1.5 above CD. Hence 1.9UK @ half tide. Est entrance 0740 – 1130 (1245). Fuelled 49.97 L after 24.3 EH = consumption of 2 L per Hr @ cruising revs 2500.
Dep. 0816, and 0841 from LR fuel berth. Berthed St d’O 1050. Met at entrance and guided to berth. V efficient!. Lovely marina. €22.75 pn. Big fête as 30th anniversary of opening. 13.7 Nm. PJA, JMA, SG, AG.
10.06.19 – Day in St Denis, waiting for weather to settle. Hired bikes and toured the island, good cycle tracks and fairly flat. Warning – dont over estimate ability, we did and got charged an extra half day’s hire!
St Denis Marina
Sunset St D.
11.06.19 – St Denis d’Oleron to Saint Martin de Re.
Fcst (W) NW 5 Kts @0900 > W 16(28) @ 1800 R. Longer term fast indicates possible window for Biscay Fri/Sat 14/15.
Plan: Dep half tide 1015/1030. Ent St M HW-2 > HW +1.5 = 1100-1500. Lock opens HW-3 > HW +2.5 (Capitiniere only open when lock is).
Dep 1045. At start of bar only 1.0 u/k. Definitely not before half tide!. Berthed 1345 on long V pontoon in Avant Harbour. Motorboats on inner end, yachts on seaward end (exposed to swell). Pilot book says its dredged to 2m, but not. Aground @ LW but upright in soft mud. In hindsight, berthing in Basin à Flot better, but rafting! €23.90 pn. Wifi poor.
18.41 Nm 3EH. PJA, JMA, SG, AG.
Pont d’ Île de Ré (between the Island and La Rochelle)
Aground in Avant Port
Not going anywhere!
Town from the Bell Tower. Inner and Avant basins visible. Bassin à Flot hidden to left.
12.06.19 – Saint Martin de Ré to La Rochelle (Minimes).
Fcst (W) SW 5(11) > W 17(25). S Int / Shws.
Plan: Possible 48 hr window now exists Thurs/ Fri 13/14, so aim is to position in La Rochelle in order to leave asap am 13th.
Dep 1300, least depth under bridge 4.5m @ Np tide.Refuelled on arrival, and berthed on Accueil pontoons 1511. Guided to berth and help with lines. Much more efficient than previous visits! Passport Escales. Wifi poor.
14.5 Nm EH 0.9. PJA, JMA, SG, AG.
Approaching the bridge
”Star Wars” construction off La Rochelle
Dinghy race in approach channel, stress!
13.06.19 – La Rochelle to Bilbao (ES).
Fcst (W) @ 0800 SW 10(15) kts overcast. 1800-2100 N13(18) > 11(18) R. late evening. Fri 0000 > 0600 N 8(15) >7(12) R. early hours. 0600 > 1200 N 5(8) > 7(10) brief S Int.
Plan: Pt de Chausseron @ slack (approx 0700). Delayed as wind over tide made sea v bumpy.
Dep. 0706. Only 0.9 u/k in approach channel and v. choppy. (LW 0810). 1000 Off Pt de Chausseron.1800 refilled main tank with 20L. 2200 mainsail only with one reef to stabilise movement so crew could sleep. Watching large trawlers as we approached Continental Shelf. Autopilot clutch adjusted as slipping in gusts . W speed 17 kts.
Est @ 0000 108 Nm EH 17.
14.06.19 – Bay of Biscay to La Rochelle.
0000 Continuous watching of trawlers on AIS (one or two not transmitting) accompanied by displays of lightning. 0130 wind speed now 9.5 and dropping. 0600 breakfast and a spectacular sunrise. 0838 2 whales blowing off on port beam, approx 0.3 Nm. 1330 two visit over one hour from a pod of 12-15 dolphins, spending some time playing and running with Destiny. 1645 Land in sight.
Berthed Getxo Marina 1900 120.0 Nm. 19 EH. Total passage 36 hrs 228.0 Nm 36.2 EH.
Notes: Overall the forecast from ‘Windy’ was pretty accurate, including the increase in wind late evening on the 13th. A decision was made before leaving that we wished to maintain 5-6 kts per hour to avoid a second night at sea. Hence the engine never stopped! Sea and swell conditions were as forecast, including the slight increase as we passed over the end of the Continental Shelf. Total measured distance was 195 Nm so the log might be reading a little high? On arrival in the El Abra bay, Bilbao we tried calling RCMA for a berth (Passport Escalles) but no response so moved over to Getxo, also no response (apparently the Capitina closes at 1900 and a duty Marinero has a VHF and mobile.) Berthed on reception / fuel pontoon. Marinero eventual appeared and we stayed the night before being allocated a berth next morning. (Office closed all weekend). Good marina, very secure, Wifi poor, €40.80 pn (inc use of washing machine and tumble dryer) PJA, JMA, SG, AG.
On our way!
Supposed to be a ‘dry ‘ trip, but the ‘1900 bubbles’ tradition can’t be stopped!
Essential crew rest!
Its a lonely place as evening arrives.
Sun rising into the new day.
Final approach in misty and damp weather.
Arrived. A bottle of Moët never tasted so good!
Next morning and the sun!
Puerto Deportivo de Getxo.
15.06.19 – 17.06.19 Bilbao.
Sarah and Adrian left us on the 15th to fly back from Bilbao to the Uk. We had really enjoyed the company of our two ‘good weather mascots’. We have had several potentially difficult trips with them helping us – Chenal du Four, Raz de Sein, and now the Bay of Biscay, and all with light winds! Spent a very enjoyable time exploring Bilbao – wonderful city. Moved over to RCMA for one night just to try it, but once again no response to VHF call, somewhat arrogant staff and poor showers. Only advantage appears to be Passport Escalles.
Having arrived in N Spain, a decision now had to be made about our mid summer return and where to leave Destiny for what was going to be 8/52. Prices ranged from €920 at Marina Yates Gijon to a whopping €3200 at Marina Cantabrico, Santander. As we needed to get back to our French home near Ploermel to collect our car, consideration had also to be given to transport, flights, airports, and even possible hotels on route, as some journeys found online were taking up to 36 hrs. In the end we opted for leaving Destiny in Getxo at €1200, as were both impressed by the marina, and the ease of a metro / bus ride to the airport and a quick 3.5 hour flight back to Rennes via a short stopover in Paris at a good rate. Having made that decision, where next? Obviously west, but bearing in mind that we need to get back eventually to Bilbao, we decided against the 84Mn haul from Santander to Gijon, only to be able to spend a day or two there and then the same distance back. So?
18.06.19 – Bilbao to Laredo.
Fcst (W) SE 5(11) kts > NW 10(13). Sunny.
Dep. 1015, as going down river, joined by Brittany Ferries Cap Finistere. Berthed 1400.
Notes: Large well run marina, but underused. Good modern pontoons in the Visitor area, but services placed directly in line of where your bow will be. Can be exposed to gusts which happed when we were berthing. A Marinero insisted on us going into a down wind Visitors berth (Transito) with him taking the lines. Unfortunately he didn’t take a brake on the spring and a gust pushed us down the berth so our anchor laid an electric point flat! Moral of the story? Do your own berthing! Vistors A7-15 (v. long) and B1-39 (long) €40.50 pn. Wifi excellent. Town not exciting.
22.36 Nm EH 3.75. PJA & JMA.
Leaving El Abra with port control building.
Steep green mountains drop into the sea.
And in between are many isolatedsandy beaches
Vistors A berths (taken from B)
The Town beach (extends for 1.5 miles)
The offending electrical point (now pushed back up!)
Plenty of space!
19.06.19 – Laredo to Santander.
Fcst: (W) NW 6(12) kts > NW 5(9) S Int. Swell 0.5.
Dep.1005. 1230 off Cab d’Ajo lighthouse. 1440 berthed Marina de Cantabrico. Marinero met us in a dinghy and took our lines at berth. Good welcome.
27.18 Nm.(cum 4162.5) 4.7 EH (cum 216.4 + 688= 904.4) PJA & JMA. €42.44 pn.
Notes: Next to airport but not noisy at all. Ryanair to Stanstead – good place to change crews.
20-22.06.19 – Visited Santander, nice city but not as good as Bilbao. Marina a long way out but a 20 minute walk around the airport perimeter takes you to the bus stop. Buses every hour (on time) 15/20 mins into town for €1.55 pp. Good restaurant at Marina Capitinera €12 pp for 3 course lunch with 1 glass of red wine, and not much more in evening!. Hired a car to visit Picos Europa. €85 for a day with delivery and collection, 350 km mileage allowance.
Santander in sight.
Isla de Mouro
Approaching the City
Entrance to marina
Marina de Cantabrico
Shot from aircraft coming into Santander, showing marina Cantabrico to right of runway and City beyond.
23.06.19 – Santander to Laredo.
Fcst: (W) W 11 (19) kts > NW 6(9).S Int. Swell 0.7 > 0.5
Dep1000, 1040, stopped by Custom’s RIB and boarded by 2 armed men in black. Allowed to keep course but at reduced speed. 20 minutes of form filling and internal search of Destiny. Left happy ad transferred back into RIB to bother some merchant ships at anchor. 1209 off Cabo de Ajo LH. 1330 berthed Laredo B21.
25.62 Nm. 4.5 EH. €65 2 nights ( previous €40.50 1 night) PJA & JMA.
24.06.19 – Spent a day exploring Laredo and getting laundry done in a town launderette. Old town actually has quiet a lot of character, with numerous bars and restaurants. Large glass of wine – €1.40!
Leaving Marina Cantabrico
Brittany Ferries, Connemara
Botin Centre, Santander waterfront
Cabo d’ Arjo LH
Tourist apartments along Laredo beach
Laredo Marina taken from an aircraft coming into land at Santander. If the shot is expanded, Destiny can be seen.
Looking back at Laredo
25.06.19 – Laredo to Castro Urdiales.
Fcst: (W) 2(4) kts > NE 5(10). S Int.
Dep. 1010. 1210 picked up yellow visitors buoy. 11.78 Nm. EH 2.0. PJA & JMA
Notes: Beautiful town with good Yacht Club. 12 Yellow visitors buoys (4 in use during our stay) €15 per night payable at YC. Free water taxi 0800-2130. (During July and August cost is €25 and water taxi 24hrs.) Fiesta day 26th) during our stay – loud music evening before until 0500 next morning! Good fixed price lunch on terrace of YC, €15pp inc bottle of wine!
And the mountains..
And the bays!
Entering Castro Urdiales
Looking back at the harbour from the Church
Destiny on mooring
Real Club Nautico de Castro Urdiales
27.06.19 – Castro Urdiales to Bilbao.
Fcst: (W) Sun and no wind over 4kts.
Dep.1000. Arrived reception pontoon Getxo, 1200. Berthed H14. 1230.
11.27 Nm. EH 2.3. PJA & JMA
Leaving Castro Urdiales.
Bilbao, starboard mole.
Bilbao, Port side entrance, start of sunken breakwater.
Destiny is now laid up afloat in Getxo marina. Cost €1235.50 for 60 days in High Season (no charge for the extra day or two before and after the period. They have allocated a berth (H14) well in, out of the major movement areas. They have keys / contact numbers, and will check her regularly.
Total Cum distance 4211.1 and EH 913.2.
For this trip 04.06.19 – 27.06.19 Distance travelled 516.3 and EH 87.7
We will return 27.08.19 and plan to sail for the next leg on 29.08.19.
On our way home – Paris from the air.