There was a serious hunt for leaks and also fine tuning the boat and systems. Turns out that we had a fairly tough go of Biscay, we should have crossed about a month previous. It seems that we were behind the power curve each leg of this voyage.
For example, we were hunkered down in Gijon, and every night the weather seemed to get worse. Winds were high and so were the waves crahing ashore. Gijon wasn't inexpensive, either.
I poured water over every portlight and hatch, and included all of the lifelines and stanchions. Dry.
I couldn't fit into the stern lazarette, so I asked The Spousal Unit to climb inside, I closed the hatch and applied water from a hose.
"Stop, stop, stop the f$%^& water!" She yelled.
We found that Chris had made a loop of nylon webbing that he had placed around the hatch to make easy access in lifting said hatch. (The lever had broken and I hadn't fixed it). The waves would break on the bow, water would run down the deck and drain into the lazarette, which in turn drained into the bilge.
Good. That mystery was solved. We also washed all of our clothes and dried them on the dock. In the afternoons, we would walk down to the market sector and wander about, buying beer, wines and local foods. On one such outing, we found a Chinese restaurant.
"These guys are everywhere!" Said I, "Even in the Middle East, you can find a Chinese restaurant."
We walk in and naturally, they spoke English, so we took a chair and marveled at the great food and the fact we were seeing Asian people speaking Castilian Spanish (Cathtilian Thpanith), and they were very nice and kept my Thervetha topped up. After dinner we continued the evening promenade.
Every evening, especially on Sundays, the entire populace of Gijon would come out in their Sunday best clothes and walk as a family up and down the seawalk. You could tell that this was a time for quiet reflection as well behaved children and proud parents/grandparents would show off their families in a show of dignity I had never witnessed before.
Made us want to walk along, even though I was wearing blue jeans and polo shirt.
In the mornings, we would wrap up the household chores and make for town. We stopped once at some seafood place and discovered Crawfish.
So we grabbed a sack o' crawdad's and headed back to the 'Beest.
First, we talked Chris into leaving the boat for the evening. Then after he departed, we gave our extra special guest a little bath in salty water. One of the bugs was slick enough to climb out of the sink and onto the counter.
We call this photo: A Study of Dinner in Gijon
A little remoulade was made and garlic bread was created in the oven. Dinner was really nice and it was a great way wrap up our Gijon visit.
Wildebeest III needed about forty gallons of diesel, and naturally, no fuel dock. This meant humping four jerry cans one half mile, carrying forty pounds in each arm. All morning long, it was. Plus we paid road taxes on the diesel so it was a double burn. In Europe, at the time, you paid for tax free diesel for marine use. Unless you had to buy at a gas station. Same in America, but they raise price of the diesel so you get no break for the lack of taxes.
Loaded and underway at about 1500, we were off and running like a herd of turtles, about a 100 NM trip ahead of us.
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It was pleasant enough, for the first six hours. Soon the sun was down and the winds started picking up from the North West. We were motor sailing to ensure we got our five knot planned speed.
The crew was kind of nervous, but we passed Ribadeo and a number of ports along the way. You could tell the ports by the bright lights in a dark field of menacing, rocky shoreline.
I took my first break at about 2200, went below and jammed myself between the galley table and the berth. We were bouncing and swinging quite a bit. I did my best to try and sleep, but no; I was going to lay there is this state of hyper awareness, not quite getting rest. I knew there would be a price to pay when I stood my watch, and everyone else would be snugly dry in the cabin. Sleeping.
Chris took his relief at midnight, and I hopped up on deck to a roly-poly sea, with winds remaining at about 18 knots from the North West. I was relieved at about 0300 and snoozed for real for about an 3 hours or so, when we found ourseves in range of La Coruna.
We entered the harbor with no idea where to go and the docks looked chock a block with boats. We found a mooring and settled. The dinghy was still secured, so I did not bother to check in. About 1000, some harbor master came out and yelled at us to move, so we complied. He had us tie up to a moored fishing vessel, so I felt a bit miffed.
It would have been nice if we could get a shower and maybe an afternoon ashore, but not this time.
This is the view off the stern.
We opened some beer and wine and had a little dinner party with our shipwreck casserole. We set Taps at 2100 and had a wonderful rest.
The next morning, up and at 'em at 0600, we decided to get underway ASAP to avoid paying dockage fees. After all, they didn't let us ashore and they probably just wanted the Wildebeest to just go away. Them good deals, ya know.
It was a beautiful morning and the breeze was a gentle 12 knots from the North. We opened up the sails and commenced the down hill run to Oporto, the real target being the fishing village of Leixoes, pronounced La Zhoys.
First, though; We had to get by Finnisterre.
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Finisterre is a cape that juts out into the Atlantic, and the Latin term means "Lands End". This is where you get the influences of Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic ocean beating each other for dominance of the sea both in current and weather. Nasty.
We had dolphins follow us out and it was calm enough at first. About 1300, the winds increased to about 22 knots and it was getting REALLY bumpy. I tried to pull in the head sail and again, just like Cherbourg, the sheet knotted up and began its sine wave battering of the boat and Captain.
A knot formed and whipped into my face. It was like a punch in the cheek and eye and it laid me out and flung my glasses over the side. I quickly moved to get my glasses, which were swirling in the water (onboard the boat) by a drain, and grabbed them back.
I also had a small black eye and fat lip for my efforts.
Back to the fun; We managed to get the head sail rolled up but left the main up for stability and some forward motion. We were motor sailing again.
The swells became enormous, and we would climb up and dive down. They were at least 25 feet and I was nervous, but what could we do?
We reached Finnesterre about 1800, near sundown. Nothing notable, just more rocky cliffs. The swells started easing and we settled into roly poly chop, again. I went below for the first sleep, so Chris could enjoy what we Naval Aviation types call "Pinky TIme". Pinky time helps transition to night time which is of course, Dark AS Hell. It can be disconcerting for someone to just step out on deck, expected to drive the boat when it is as dark as a politician's soul out there.
We noticed a large number of fishing boats trawling back and forth, connected by nets to each other.
Just something else to have to worry about!
It was still quite bumpy when I got the call at about midnight to come up on deck.
"Skipper, there are flares to the west; shall I adjust course to try to help?" Called Chris.
I scooted up on deck, and for sure there was another flare being launched. This was a tough one, I had never been in this situation as a civilian, and certainly my thoughts were in getting the "rescue".
"No, Chris. "Maintain course."
"We have to alter course and lend a hand, its the RULES!" Shouted Chris.
I was not liking his tone of voice. This is my boat and I'm responsible for all on board.
"Chris, this is my f@%&*ing boat, I say what we do. "There are plenty of professionals out here to help that fishing boat. Look at the two that are hightailing to the west?"
"You can hear the Mayday on the radio, the Coast Guard will be here in minutes with a helicopter and we have this mast which will just hazard the rescuers.... Besides, we are five miles away, it would take an hour to get there and it will be over by that point."
I could understand Chris' point, but I knew the risks we would be taking just to get involved. If there were no other boats and no Coast Guard, I would have bustered over to lend a hand, gladly.
About a minute after our argument, a Dauphin Helicopter passed our bow heading to the site of the emergency.
I felt vindicated.
The seas were still bumpy and it was difficult to move around. And we were tired.
Chris announced, "If I fall over the side, don't do anything extraordinary to rescue me. I want you to stay safe."
"Chris, are you nuts?"
"The seas are such that I wouldn't want anyone to risk themselves to rescue me, that's all."
Now I had heard it all!
"Don't be silly, if anyone falls over the side, of course we will make all efforts to rescue. "I just didn't want to get in the way of that other rescue, but for our crew, I would make all effort."
And with that I took over the watch for the next couple hours.
The boat would lean all the way left, then swing to the right. Up the wave and down. Over and over again until dawn, when Biscay had finally lost its grip on us. The seas smoothed out and it was lovely, indeed.
As we began preparations for entering port, we found this stowaway had committed suicide on the Wildebeest. We made much mirth on this Gar.
Aside from the little deal with rolling up the headsail, there were no major flaws in this leg. The Wildebeest had pretty much gotten all of our little details ironed out, and that was a good thing. Chris was leaving us in Leixoes, so the Spousal Unit and me would be sailing alone as far as Rota, Spain.
Our friends the "Fair Rose of Sharon" from Denmark would be in Leixoes along with some others we had met in Brest.
Finally, some fun!