Lista Light

Brest to La Coruna

Last day of the Brest festival (16th July) and the big sail-through to Douarnenez, a much smaller and better part of the festival. Thousands of boats all around us as we all pile through.

Sail-through to Dz

We managed to get the main topsail up for the first time too - and had a day's sailing practice the day after tacking and hoisting the sails up and down in some sort of order ! Rob was discharged in the dingy for a picture opportunity.

Main topsail up

After leaving our anchorage we decided to go up the river on the other side of Douarnenez, where it is a little quieter and we wouldn't need to ferry back and forth to shore in the dingy.

Moored in Douarnenez river

Jay, Noel and Jo returned to the UK to complete sorting their lives out, taking with them the injector pump for the main engine which had started leaking diesel, and the alternator which was also not behaving correctly despite being reconditioned before we left. Rob Merryn and Josh had (we thought!) several days to concentrate on the long list of outstanding tasks which included a full fuel filter, oil and oil filter change for both engines in preparation for the onward journey straight out from Douarnenez across Biscay to La Coruna, Spain with our next guest Guy. Jay returned bringing the parts back mended a week later, which allowed the engine to be started, and we moved out of the precious museum area in the Douarnenez river after many threats to 'have us moved' by the officious patron. Despite moving only 50 metres, Rob's boat driving skills were not quite up to scratch yet and so the journey involved another near bowsprit and wall collision, plus about half an hour of attempting to reverse park into a rather large space. In the meantime Josh had gone on to Spain with a new aquaintance David sailing on his 30ft boat, and Kieth, the boat spider, had began to show signs of wear in the sun as his insides started to make an appearance.

Spider leaking its stuffing

Since Noel and Jo were not back now for another week, the multitude of jobs continued, which included completion of repainting the heads and fitting a couple of new shelves, and fitting of the new GPS near the steering position and many coats of varnish on pretty much everything wooden.

The heads with a new coat of paint and a new shelf

The new GPS and re-varnished steering area

We left Douarnenez on Sat 7th August for 4 day sail down France across the Bay of Biscay to La Coruna, Spain, but there was little wind for a sail as we motored out of the bay - something that was due to drastically change over our crossing of the notorious Biscay Bay! Guy seemed to be settling in well and got straight on with the job.

Guy at the helm

Due to the light wind, we put up everything we had, which included the first outing of the new mizzen topsail, which went up on a yard which took some figuring out!

Mizzen topsail up

Unfortunately the wind was pretty much coming from exactly the wrong direction (bang on the nose) when we turned around the corner and pointed at La Coruna 286 miles off so we knew that the journey would not be easy. After about a day trying to translate the French radio forecasts and systematically missing the English versions we managed to get the forecast for some strong winds, so we knew we were in for a bumpy ride. The wind and sea slowly got up and up and up until we were beating into 10 meter breaking waves and force 6-7 winds. Guy started to look a bit green and rushed to the rail several times but showed resilience and continued to be useful.

Waves in biscay

Click on the link below to see a short video which gives some impression of what we had for 3 days solid!


At the height of the storm sereral metal fatigue problems confronted us - the cransiron holding the mizzen boom up broke which made the boom flap about, with Guy heroically holding onto the sheet rope and being dragged along the deck. Everyone rushed out onto deck to get the sail down, and after getting everything under control we realised that Noel hadn't had time to get his trousers on and had been rushing about the deck in the rain and spray in his pants and socks!

Broken cransiron

The bowsprit gammon iron holding the bowsprit in place also broke, and a G-clamp helped stop the bowsprit bumping about for a while, plus a main sheet block fell apart, but all disasters were taken in our stride.

Broken gammon iron

We had been trailing out a fishing line the whole way and despite several false catches of sea weed and plastic bags, we finally caught a tuna, perfect size for six ! (Thanks for the new fishing gear Merlin!)


We finally made La Coruna at about 1am, and after re-anchoring a couple of times finally got some quiet rest, switching the engine off after 90 hours solid running. It had been a very wearying four days, but the boat and us as a team had stood up to everything nature had thrown at us and all was well. A good solid breakfast the next morning and we thankfully hit the showers in La Coruna.

Breakfast, La Coruna

After wandering around for a while we decided beer and tapas was required, so we all took full advantage of the Spanish hospitality. Unfortunately though, Noel ran into his old friend swampy and christened the boat that evening as a result. Josh had also joined us to spend a last night on board to pick up the rest of his stuff and head for Europe, having decided that the sea-faring life was not for him after feeling sick the entire way down to Spain in considerably nicer weather the week before.

Back to previous section - Bristol to Brest
Forward to next section - La Coruna to Gibraltar

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