Round the world adventurer Adrian Flanagan crosses Bay of Biscay off his list
Between 04/0500 this morning Adrian Flanagan should have been sailing past Cape Finisterre. Flanagan re-started his round the world voyage at 1100 last Wednesday 9 November from Falmouth see previous news story here.
The first few days were quite light with hardly enough wind to propel his robust craft. But at least the westerly direction was ok, allowing him to sail a south-west course out of the English Channel.
Very clear on the weather maps was a very deep low pressure system and its associated cold front that were already pushing some pretty big waves his way. We knew this was happening so Flanagan was in a race against time to get south as quickly as possible. And this he did, compromising on course, but gaining in speed, safety and right place/right time for when that front hit.
As is so typical in sailing, there can be two clear sides to a coin. This cold front was going to bring with it gale force winds, but, on a good note, a perfect wind direction to get him reaching out of the bay of Biscay, around the corner of Spain and into the warmer, slightly more civilized Portuguese waters.
The last 48 hours have seen him bravely fix a steering problem, which meant he had to hang over the back of the boat for a few hours, and struggle to control the power in his sails. In fact, he even had to drop his main sail completely to gain some safety in the five to six metre waves. And in gusty winds as high as 50 knots he was able to gybe his little boat around and make course for the cape.
To defend himself from the waves he had been on a course that was actually taking him deeper into the storm and further into the bay. So it took guts and resolve to get on the case and take control like he did. There was really no other option.
The big waves and strong winds will be with him for most of today and calming down slightly tomorrow as he tucks in close to land and gains some shelter along the west coast of the Iberian peninsula. But in the mind of this lone adventurous sailor, the first big hurdle is conquered and behind him. The English Channel and the Bay of Biscay are now ticked off on his list and he can look forward to weeks, many weeks, of warm, trouble free sailing.
The plan now is to keep close to Portugal until the worse of the swell and wind is passed. Then gybe south-west and enjoy the downhill sleigh ride that will unfold before him, taking him on a well earned break from the bad weather.
The next few weeks will give him a good chance to recover from the bad weather, catch up on some good, hot meals, fix a few things and empty the boat of all the waves that kept breaking over him. In about a week the storm will seem like a distant memory and all will be back to normal and 100 per cent. He may even be thinking about putting on some sun cream… good tanning weather dead ahead.