Fountaine Pajot Hélia 44 crosses the Bay of Biscay

Posted: 28 May 2013.

Gordon and Louise Coates update us after picking up their brand new Fountaine Pajot Hélia 44 ex-factory in April. Here is the first installment of their adventure.

As much as we love La Rochelle and had become very familiar with life there, we needed to make a move toward sailing off on our adventure. So we journeyed north for a few days to familiarise ourselves with our new boat. It was a fun thing to do as we explored new places and met some interesting people. Returning to La Rochelle we fixed a few small items, said goodbye to the people we now call friends and made the boat ready for the next leg. We then felt ready to set out across the Bay of Biscay.

We anticipated the trip to La Coruna would take two and a half, to three days. Setting out on Saturday morning the wind was 18 – 20 kts so we had the main set at the first reef. The wind was behind us and the boat just sped along on a one and a half meter swell, and our speed was around 8 – 10 kts. Fun!

It became obvious by late afternoon that another reef was in order and that it would be wise to reduce the headsail too. That evening was not the most pleasant with the wind building up to 35 kts and the sea swell to match. We saw boat speeds above 14 kts! And it was cold – but I must say that we had all the right clothing, thermals, wet weather and safety gear, and we had it all on! With full clears on the boat (something new to us) we were well protected and able to make use of our sleeping bags on the cockpit lounge as we took turns at the helm.

I will admit that there was a moment when I said to myself, “Remind me why we do this?” But by sunrise Sunday the weather conditions settled so we could recover and enjoy some good sailing. It was while I was at the helm, relaxed and enjoying the scene around me – an ocean that was calm, sea birds and dolphins around us, that I said to myself, “Ah, this is why we do this!” However, by evening it was too calm, the wind had died, so we motored for a while. We thought this was a good idea since we wanted to have the engines serviced in La Coruna (in order to comply with the warranty requirements) and those extra hours on the clock were good.

Ten o’clock Monday morning we spoke to Marina Coruna on the radio and received instruction for our arrival. They personally met us at the dock and welcomed us to Spain. All immigration formalities were carried out by the marina staff and we felt delighted to have that first leg of the journey around to the Med completed.

So this is Spain!

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