Sailing across the Bay of Biscay


For the short verion – just have a look at the movie below!

We left the harbour in La Rochelle just after sunrise, heading out for our longest crossing since the North Sea. Excited and a bit tense, but with a perfect forecast – between 4-9 m/s from a favorable direction. That would mean that we could sail with the wind in our back all the way to Spain. The winds were weak until we saw the last land – the islands outside La Rochelle. We wrote down some of our expectations:

Jens – A lot of time at the helm. Hope I don’t get seasick and that we get a clear and bright night sky. Also hoping for some wind, in the current pace it will take us five days…

Petra – Looking forward to doing a passage in nice weather. Feels like it´s a good window if the wind picks up a bit.

Soon the routine started to kick in.

  • Steering– taking turns by the helm to hand-steer and navigate
  • Cooking some food to enjoy and keep the energy up day and night.
  • And of course resting and sleeping, when you are off duty

With the good weather we also had the time to entertain ourselves, playing games and reading. Too bad that Jens is so good at winning at “UNO” 😉 But also being entertained. I was laying out on the deck reading when Jens announced, the dolphins are here! I was sitting by the bow and cheered them on for at least a half an hour. They truly are magnificent creatures. But we also got another visitor. A small bird that landed on Jens shoulder after sunset and after a while decided that the best place to rest in the middle of the ocean was under the floorboard in the cookpit. There it sat for an hour until I came up to take over the night watch and scared it away 😉


After some dinner it was time to take turn steering through the night. Time to staying focused and time to think things through. You know the first star that becomes visible as then sun has set? This is the favourite of a night sailor. The incredible thing that even out in the middle of the sea, like in the Bay of Biscay, where no land or man-made thing can be sighted for miles and miles, there are the stars that guide us through the night. This night I was lucky, the only star I could see in the sky was conveniently placed a meter from the mast and a perfect guide, not to having to bother looking at the compass or vindex for an hour or so.

After 24 hours we collected our thoughts again, sailing on Biscay at 3800m depth.

Jens – A little tired after steering over 6 hours straight last night. The wind has not turned as we hoped, still risk of gybe all the time. Annoyed that I made a Chinese gybe last night. But now it’s OK. We are heading in the right direction and if I just get a couple of hours of sleep everything will be top notch!

Petra – Had a very good day yesterday when the wind finally picked up. Really fun and nice sailing. Epic moment with all the dolphins! I didn’t sleep well though, and the first night shift was pretty rough with a speed a little over my comfort zone. The morning was fine. Feels good that we have made it halfway in 24 hours.

In the end, the wind didn´t turn to east as it should, so we decided to change our course and head to Santander instead of Gijon. We didn’t want to risk getting stuck with no wind in the middle of Biscay. We arrived in the middle of the night, but after stopping at the marina in town we were told that all the spots were taken and we had to continue into the river for half an hour more.  At the Marina the Santander we finally could tie the lines and get some rest.

It took us 41 hours to do the crossing, and we were quite happy that we decided to change the course to Santander. Some final reflections from the day after we arrived:

Jens – We didn’t get to where we planned, but instead aimed for where the wind wanted to take us – which I think was a good decision. We were pretty tired when we reached shore now, if we would have sailed 24 hours more we would’ve been exhausted. Biscay has treated us well! Feels really good to be in Spain, even though I don´t understand anyone here either… Felt a bit strange that we didn´t see any boats out at sea, at bit lonely.

Petra – The second day we were a bit more tired, more easily annoyed and not so social. I got some stomach ache that kept me from getting any sleep all day. But it was fun having the sea all to ourselves, fun to sail fast but without effort. It also went pretty well for me at the night shift last night, I think it was because I knew that we would get into harbour and I would get to sleep later. It was frustrating that they told us off at the first harbour, and very surprising that we then sailed into a fishing line…

All in all, you could say that crossing oceans is not where we run into problems, it is when leaving harbours in the wrong time… But next up – sailing to Llanes and doing some hiking!

Hope you enjoy the movie!


Author: sailingforharmony

Cruising the oceans, exploring the world

8 thoughts on “Sailing across the Bay of Biscay”

  1. Hello Jens & Petra.
    We enjoyed watching the wonderful film you made of your journey to Santander.
    It was very professionally done.
    Looks like you are enjoying every moment of your journey.
    We wish you well on your continuing journey.
    Take care
    Sandra & Norman


    1. Thanks a lot Sandra & Norman! It took a lot of time to complete the film, but I think it is worth it to share it with our followers and keep it as a memory for ourselves. Hope all is well in Belfast (& France?). The other visitor boat in the harbour here in Gijon is French, they crossed Bay of Biscay from Lorient. Nice to finally meet some other sailors!


  2. Vilken härlig film! Det är så jätteroligt och intressant att följa er på bloggen.
    Ni borde verkligen använda materialet till att skriva en bok!!! Kramar och hälsningar från Ann-Mari och Lennart


    1. Hej! Vad kul att ni följer med! Det tog sin tid att knopa ihop filmen men roligt att få dela lite rörliga bilder också.
      Hehe ni skulle bara veta hur vi pratat om det här med att skriva en boka om erfarenheterna, ska berätta om det i något blogginlägg 🙂 Kramar från oss!


  3. Följer med intresse och spänning era berättelser. Vi var i Cornwall med familjen för många år sen och är sugen på att återvända efter att ha läst era upplevelser därifrån. Kan tipsa om att i På kryss och till rors nätupplaga finns en intervju från Kanarieöarna med ett par på en systerbåt till Mouni. Ha det gott och vi hoppas på vindar akterifrån. Björn


    1. Mycket bra tips, även om jag redan läst den. Besättningen på Moana lärde vi känna via Oceanseglarklubben och de åkte ett par månader innan oss. Pekka och Barbro som har en L32:a mailade jag lite med när vi precis köpt vår båt, hoppas att träffa dem någon gång på haven de är ju riktigt erfarna rävar! Vi hade lagom vindar akterifrån idag, så fortsätt gärna med de tankarna! 🙂 Petra


  4. Underbar film! Tack för att du/ni tog er tid att göra den! Härligt att se! Enjoy and keep on sailing, keep on dreaming!


    1. Tack bästa Anna! Det tog många timmar att göra den, men hoppas kunna göra några till för det är ju trots allt en annan grej med rörliga bilder. Och förhoppningsvis går det snabbare med tiden. Ringer dig någon dag, har en del jag skulle vilja bolla!


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