Port Medoc to Bayonne !!?? The original plan was to do this in two days but I ran into a slight tidal issue at Arcachon; basically we were never going to be able to make the high tide window at Cap Ferat unless we wasted a day at Port Medoc and set off really early the following morning. This would have made us miss our flights home and so I decided the only viable option was an overnight passage to Bayonne. I decided on Bayonne as it is only an hour south of Cap Breton, but a 30 minute bus journey from Biarittz.
Bearing in mind we’d only got to bed at gone 1.30 and were up again at 8, Valeria was not overly impressed at being presented with this challenge when she woke (after only 6 hours sleep) but with no other options we got a couple more hours sleep before setting off from Port Medoc at 3pm. We had about an 18 hour passage ahead of us.
Getting out of the Gironde Estuary with the entire Atlantic Ocean trying to get in was a predictably one sided affair. Add to that a westerly wind and the departure was uncomfortably choppy. For most of the way out the seas were beam on, directly from the side, and so we were rolling quite a bit until about 6 when we could head south along the coast (the start of that long sand dune) with the wind behind us. That gave us an easier motion but with 20 knot winds and a 3 metre swell we were moving around a lot.
Now bear in mind that Valeria is a novice sailor this was a challenging experience in itself, and despite my predictions, based on Wind Guru, that the wind would die down as we moved south she was still concerned, and, now she tells me, s#*t scared. And so, with that in mind she could still be found in the galley happily preparing a full, and delicious pasta meal for dinner.
By the way, we were motoring the whole passage. Firstly, solo night watch keeping under sail with a gybe expected and a novice crew is not the best planning, secondly we wanted to arrive the following morning and the slackening wind would have put paid to that, and lastly we have to run in the engines for 50 hours so 18 hours at max revs would do no harm and give me an idea of how fast and far we can get on engines alone. That is in fact 7.5 knots and half our fuel by the way.
Valeria would not sleep, despite my suggestions, so this was a first for Valeria and so she was up the whole night with me, making coffee, snacks and Facebooking live updates or something, oh, and playing Candy Crush.
I had other computer games to play ……… ….. while ‘keeping a proper and efficient look out by all available means appropriate to the circumstances and conditions of visibility’ (Rule 6 of the Collision Regulations and I still remember it verbatim from 1989!!!) I was using binoculars as well, so it counts as multi tasking, OK?
And so the wind dropped and shifted around to the east as expected, the moon was full and the sea calmed down and we motored on through the night, although Valeria was not convinced, it was as ideal a passage as we could have made.
We slipped passed Cap Ferat and Arcechon at midnight and arrived off Bayonne at first light in a lightening storm. Well, the lightening was concentrated over the land and we got a light shower, but it looked far worse to Valeria. Sun rise was like a scene from Lord of the Rings when Gandalf is talking about the Fires of Mordor and all you see is dark, low clouds lit from beneath by red light.
We got into Bayonne Marina by 10 am and Valeria went straight to bed, with instructions not to be disturbed under any circumstances. (Hold on, I thought only the Captain left ‘night orders’ …. oh, she did….) I checked in with the Capitannerie, sorted out the mooring lines, wrote up the log and then went to bed as well. Waking in the late afternoon we chilled. Dinner, wine and a wag tail.