Like The Swallows…

As the weekend approaches a heatwave is being forecast for Ireland. The Azores High is putting in another appearance and tho’ it might mean BBQs and picnics for the residents of Cork, for Temptress and her crew it means welcome north westerly winds. The time has come to head south with the swallows to find warmer climes. Another of Clarionet’s former crew Julian (Joe) is joining us for the passage to Baiona (bay-own-a) the most southerly port in N Spain, just north of the Portuguese border, a distance of some 560 miles or about four days sailing. 

Since Monday afternoon we’ve been busy cleaning the boat, fixing things like the starboard navigation light (again, this time it was the bulb), doing the laundry and shopping for provisions. There are some canvas repairs to complete especially the bimini which needs some re-stitching and things to stow away that won’t be required on passage. The spinnaker gear needs to go on as we are expecting a downwind passage and with three of us on board to manage sail changes we may as well sail as fast as we can. Joe will arrive on Thursday and we plan to depart on Saturday morning.

Baiona is almost but not quite due south from Cork Harbour entrance, just a few degrees further west are required so a north westerly wind should see Temptress sailing free and fast. The only obstacles to progress are a huge width of shipping lane off Finisterre and the possibility of strong winds on Monday and Tuesday close to the Spanish coast. The latter are forecast to be around 30 knots still from a northerly direction but the area they cover should be shrinking and north of our hoped for landfall by the time we reach the Spanish coast. The former is four lanes wide, some 19 nautical miles off the coast so we have to get the approach right to ensure Temptress ends up entering the ITZ (inshore traffic zone for small craft) from the north and not in or crossing the shipping lanes themselves which occupy a band 17 nautical miles wide to the west of the ITZ. They are busy lanes, every commercial ship that has come from the Far East via the Suez heading for Europe or vice versa passes this way. Why four lanes? Dangerous cargos are kept separate from other commercial shipping to avoid a repeat of a previous disaster when an oil tanker sank polluting much of this beautiful, rock strewn coast.

Finisterre – the end of the earth – known locally as Costa de Morte, Coast of Death; a wild place that conjures up terrible images of stormy weather in the mind of every sailor. Until relatively recently it was also name given to the adjacent sea area in the shipping forecast, now known as Fitzroy after the father of the forecasts but a change of name does not remove a deserved reputation for stormy weather and treacherous rocky shores. This is where sailing ships ended up having run before Atlantic gales if they couldn’t reach the safe haven of La Coruna at the southern tip of Biscay or turn south down the Portuguese coast.

On passage we intend to put our new technology to the test. Hopefully as well as our AIS transmissions which will be trackable until we are out of range of the base stations that feed the web site, we should be able to update our position map and possibly even post the odd short blog entry enroute.

Baiona, 2001 – Kevin & Susie
with Angie & Pat of Autumn Breeze

As for our destination, it is a port Temptress has visited before and we are looking forward to exploring old haunts like the Monte Real Club de Yates with its beautifully appointed clubhouse (memories of roaring winter fires and cosy sofas). Or perhaps we’ll climb again to the boat cradled in the arms of the statue of the Virgen de la Roca high above the cliffs or walk the medieval walls of the Parador Conde do Gondomar (now a rather luxurious hotel). Whatever we do we will at least have made good progress south towards the trade winds that will hopefully wing us across the Atlantic later in the year.

The Virgen de Roca, Baiona


  1. Hi Kevin & Susie, sounds great, warmer weather and sunshine at last for you! How nice of the wind to oblige for your journey south, however the vast shipping lane you have to cross sounds treacherous, so good luck with that! I'm sure you've dealt with worse, but all the same, safe travels. Love from Yorkshire xxx


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