In the summer of 2017 we mainly sailed in the waters of South-Brittany and continued later south on the west coast of France until La Rochelle from where we sailed across the Bay of Biscay to the coast of North-Spain. In Spain we sailed for two weeks along its northern coast. Our plan was to sail south looking for warmer weather as the summers in the English Channel have been rather mild and windy. Our wishes were granted as soon as we sailed around the French Finisterre to Brest where the weather started really to warm up. There was a heatwave after heatwave during our stay in France. Of course, the lovely weather meant relatively calm winds and Perkins was the main propulsion during this summer. The total distance of the summer cruise was 845 nautical miles from which we sailed about third.
The west coast of France is extremely popular sailing area. We could really see that the sailing in France is a national sport. Along the coast there are so many marinas many of them having thousands of berths and at sea there was always other sailors as well. Already in June there was some feeling of rush as the yachts on multitude of sailing schools and racing boats together with cruising yachts were filling marinas. If we wanted a berth we needed to arrive early, or we’d spend a night rafted to other boats.
The west coast of France is definitely the best sailing area after the Baltic Sea where we have been ever sailing. There are a lot of possibilities when planning the route as we could choose between gorgeous islands, idyllic rivers or charming old towns. Our favorite locations were following,
- Islands of Belle-Île-en-Mer and Îles de Glénan
- The River of L’Aulne in Rade de Brest
- Towns of La Rochelle and Vannes
Especially our favourite was the town of La Rochelle. It is charming little French city where there is still present the feeling of originality. The small boutiques and numerous restaurants are situated in the heart of old town keeping it busy with people buzzling around. There are big shopping malls next to highway intersections in too many places which have eroded the life from city centres. There are several marinas in La Rochelle including the largest of Europe with 4588 berths and in addition there are many boatyards which really bring seafaring atmosphere to the town.
The crossing of the Bay of Biscay was tough for Suwena’s crew. Technical problems, sea sickness and thunderstorm in the middle of the night at Biscay created quite a stress. However, 200 miles later we made her fast to the marina of Laredo. We felt tired but happy, we had made it across the Bay of Biscay.
Originally, we planned to start exploring Spain in the Basque Country but we had problems with batteries and had to make repairs in La Rochelle. Finally we shortened our stay in Spain for arriving in Sada on time for our flights back home.
It is about 250 nautical miles from Laredo to Sada and dominant winds on the northern coast of Spain are from west. For us this would be a long sailing into the wind and so we tried to make good of any weather windows for going west. We only stopped in three places and tried to sample the Spanish hospitality as much as we could. Especially we can give thumbs up to Laredo and Viveiro as both these small lively towns were really charming. Also the friendly and welcoming Spanish people took our hearts.
We’ll have more time to get acquainted with Spanish culture next summer. Suwena is in Sada waiting for us and the upcoming summer adventure in Galicia.
The blog stories of Suwena's sailing on the coast of Bay of Biscay you can read from the blog archive
Log summary of Suwena 2017
- Nautical miles: 845 M, from where 18 % sailing, 9 % motorsailing and 73 % motoring
- Engine hours: 120 h
- Generator hours: 13 h
- Fuel used incl. engine, generator and heater: 579 l
- Dinghy fuel consumption: 10 l
- Fresh water: 5868 l, 72 l/day
- Ports 14 + anchorages 6: total 20 ports of call
- Overnight stays: 81 nights
- Longest leg: La Rochelle – Laredo 200 M