Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands which are all part of the United Kingdom but located just off the coast of France. We spent a little time exploring St. Peter’s Port along the waterfront and were amazed at the significant tides and how boats are sitting in mud at low tide. Giant stone walls surround the various mooring areas, helping to control the tides. A mariners lifestyle must certainly be different than what we’re accustomed to in the Caribbean. We took it all in, had a nice dinner at a waterfront restaurant, and called it a day.
Friday morning, May 22nd, we departed Guernsey at 0800 in a fog bank which we were sure would burn off by mid-morning – wishful thinking. After two days Spirit was still in the fog with the yacht’s fog horn sounding every few minutes (to scare off the mega-container ships). Shortly after departure we encountered our first family of Dolphins frolicking in Spirit’s bow wave. Remarkable, lovable mammals.
By 0400 Saturday morning we rounded Isle D’ Ouessant and started our southwest 350 nautical mile crossing of the Bay of Biscay – a bay that is notorious for challenging water caused by depths going from 2,000 to 120 meters, but that was not our experience – just rolling seas with winds less than 10 knots from the north. Our “wind” was the steady hum of a 150 hp Volvo marine engine.
As we traveled these waters of many shipping lanes we became intensely involved with Spirit’s AIS (automatic identification system) – new technology to us. It’s essentially the same as what the airline industry uses to avoid traffic conflicts – we set the system to sound an alert anytime a vessel closes to within a mile. Not only do we get an alert, we also get information on the vessels name, type ship, course and speed and destination, as well as the time and distance it will be closest to Spirit – sure helps us sleep better at night.
We’ve all adjusted nicely to offshore sailing – watch schedules, wonderful dinners, moving about hanging on to hand rails, wearing layer upon layer upon layer of clothing and sleeping with lee cloths (18 inches of canvas strung up on each side of the beds) to keep us from rolling out at night.
The last few days we’ve had a pleasant change of weather – blue skies, much warmer temperatures, and easing winds. It’s Wednesday, May 27th and we’ve just arrived in a beautiful port town of Cascais, Portugal – but more about Cascais in our next post. For now the photos below have a story of their own. Life is good.