The “Professional Dock” at La Rochelle has become home to 4 Fountaines now, 2 Helias, 1 Saba and a Saona. With three of them owned by Australians, we have outnumbered our lovely French neighbours on Helia 233 (Diapson) and renamed it Australia Pier. With PJ as our witness (godfather?!) Keith and I christened ITIKI with a specially imported bottle of Arras sparkling wine (Methode Tasmanoise) we bought on a trip to Tasmania a little while back. This was followed by a farewell celebration with the rest of the FP owners from our dock and a few of the boys from Uchimata Team, who did a fantastic job of preparing our boat for departure. The boys had already been celebrating with a well deserved long lunch as today marked the last day of work for a lot of the workshops, before they go on their summer holidays. We are ready to go and just in the nick of time!
Crossing Biscay - La Rochelle to A Coruna
While Keith is a seasoned sailor with more ocean miles under his belt than he cares to remember, many of you will know that when it comes to sailing I do prefer to be home in time for dinner. Needless to say I have not spent too many nights “at sea” underway, on a yacht, either sleeping or on watch, so our first crossing of 2 1/2 days was going to be a big deal for me. A mixture of excitement and a healthy dose of nerves with a couple of Travacalm and Zantac on standby was my coping plan. Weather wise we had a great looking forecast of 10-15kts with it building to 20s on the nose rounding the NW corner of Spain. We had to two glorious sunny days with some long stretches of sailing, daytime and night time. We saw very little on the way, the occasional fishing boat as we got closer to land, a cruise ship and a cargo vessel. We spotted a few whales, not sure what kind and a couple of pods of dolphins too. We also had some long stretches of motoring which recharged the batteries and heated the water - for hot showers of course!
The Gennaker was unfurled and works beautifully. Our skipper Keith was delighted to have a headsail with a proper sheeting angle. The moment of truth, however, was the launch of “the weapon” - aka the Parasailor. This went up with 10-12kts of true wind “up the duck” and proved to be an incredible piece of engineering. So stable and self trimming - how many fellow sailors have ever had a BBQ with the kite up and no one trimming or steering! Very civilised! Looking forward to using this baby a whole lot more. You will of course note that the colour coordination with our logo... We woke to a cold and misty morning on day 3, very pleased to get our first glimpse of the Spanish mainland. All in all Biscay was very kind to us, ITIKI handled very well and we really did have a dream run.
Bumps in the night
You might imagine that sleeping on a boat while you are sailing along at sea is a relaxing and romantic experience. Imagine the gentle kiss of the ocean against your hull as the waves slowly rock you to sleep... Yes I know you have seen the pictures of our Queen size bed, a big step up from sleeping on wet sails during race or delivery, however the helm station is conveniently located just above our bed which means the autopilot is right next to your head and it sounds much like some sick, hydraulic wildebeest calling its young. Imagine an intermittent windshield wiper with a nervous tick and no sense of rhythm and not quite enough water to glide across your windscreen. Then of course there is the sailing component and its associated noises, the grab of the blocks and the slam of the traveller car as you bounce over waves, the thud of a lazy sheet hitting the coach house (who just jumped on my roof?), the slap of a wave under the bridge deck (did we just hit something?) Did I mention the hull is like a giant echo chamber and sound carries very well through the water? As we had been sailing for over 15 hours straight (sadly Nebo crashed on Day 2!) the batteries were getting low so time to run the generator - great idea - at least it is a regular hum, rather soothing really! Maybe I should get up and put a load of washing on... I think I will sleep on the sofa tomorrow night!