At last we’ve set sails! Waking up at 5AM was quite tough, an hour when for most of us it is still saturday night more than sunday morning. Thanks to our friends and families that came to say good bye. After a few tears when we untied the mooring ropes, the harder was to see all the little figures on the dock disapear in the horizon.
Good bye Pornic, hello Spain! Cape is set to South West, wind are favorable, and our route is almost direct. Out of Pornic’s bay, the north-eastern swell get its way and let us surf, revealing the rolling nature of Karukera. The swell will stay with us at all time.
With all sails up, the boat speed is good, around 6-7 knots average, and surfs around 10 knots! We get used to the sailing routine, switching drivers every two hours, taking pictures and videos, sending the last texts before being out of reach. The first naps starts barely after noon: we have to be in good fit for the night to come.
A last contact with french coasts when we see Yeu’s Island Lighthouse, right when the first dolphins come and play with Karukera! What a wondeful show to see them surf the same waves as us, jumping in front of our bow!
We will be surprised to see how much time dolphins would come and play during the crossing, day and nights, for a few minutes and sometimes for an hour!
The first night is full of stars, and the wind decreases a little bit. The waves are still big, and it’s hard to sleep with the boat rolling from one crest to an other. We cross a lot of boats, fishermans and cargos. Stressful moments when we don’t know where those big masses are heading to.
To cut the rolling, we set up the spinnaker whe the sun sets! Giving us more speed, and allowing us to make a more direct route, the mood gets better with a few morning jokes !
With the light breeze, two of us can sleep when one is still driving: morning naps are good. Conditiond are great in this second day of sailing, and we print 3D parts to improve our wind turbine while in the middle of the bay of biscay. We won’t see any boat this day nor the next night, but we get to luck to have a very nice companion! A little bird lands on Karukera to rest a few hours. He would go around the boat, fly under the boom, land on improbable places of the rig!
The second night with dolphins is magic: we can perceive them thanks to luminescent planktoon that lights up when water stirrs. Each swell break is amazing: it seems that we are in the middle of a turquoise pool. We start the wind turbine and it produces enough electricity to full the batteries at all times.
The third day, wind rises up progressively, the swell gets bigger but more importantly shorter. The boat gets harder to steer, and it requires way more strength. We try the hydro turbine which starts to surf behind us!
We perceive Spain mountains around 5PM, and even if we still got 50 miles before A Coruña, smiles are all over our faces!
We think that the feared Bay of Biscay was nice to us, but he has not said its last word.
Wind gets to 30 knots with gusts, and we decide to reef our mainsail. The maneuver will be sporty: we have to make almost a half turn to face the wind, with swell on our side. The three of us are on the deck, harnesses tied as usual, Oliver at the steer.
While turning, we hear a big smack. Oliver Yells: “we lost the rudder!”
All sails are quicly sets down, boat is drifting slowly to the North-West, in a strong sea and huge black clouds upwind. Hopefully the rudder is stille here, and it’s only the steel cable between the sterring wheel and the rudder that broke. We will make a quick fortune repair with a rope instead of the damaged cable. We hope it will hold for the remaining 25 miles to A Coruña: there is no closer shelter. We contact the closest MRCC (Marine Rescue Center Coordination) to inform them of our situation, in case it would get worse.
We are going slowly to A Couña, with half the Genoa, looking at a huge thunderstorm settling in right in front of us. We prefer not to think of what would happen if a lightning was to touch the mast…
The thunder, the rain, and unstable winds are playing with our nerves, switching between 20 knots North East to 5 knots South East to nothing a dozen times… We try to go as fast as possible without forcing on the wheel, using the engine and the sails. Every two hours, we get reassuring calls from A Coruña checking on our situation.
Once we have passed Cabo Prior lighthouse, the thunder goes away, just as the wind. Stress is comming off, but we still have 4 hours till the harbour. We are seriously tired, but it’s not the moment to go sleeping. A lot of fishing boats and getting in and out of the Ria, and shoals have to be avoided.
We finally get to A Coruña around 3:30 AM. We have sailed 371 miles since Pornic, in just a little less than 3 days. We are dirty, salty, tired, but glad to have finish our first step!
We will stay here a few days to rest and repair. Inès will meet us here on sunday.