View Full Version : Bay of Biscay

24-06-04, 11:39
I am participating in the ARC this year and was planning on leaving the
Solent around mid September to head down to Northern Spain, crossing the Bay
of Biscay. However recently I was informed that the bay usually experiences
bad weather during September due to some sort of cyclical equinox (spelling)
and that it would be better to leave at the start of October.
Otherwise I may end up waiting for sometime in Falmouth for a decent weather

Is this a myth? Should I leave in October? Any advice would be much

<hr width=100% size=1>Doing the Arc ? Me to on www.makathea.co.uk

24-06-04, 12:04
Not sure of the reasons but I understand that many insurances policies have an exclusion for crossing the BofB beween mid-August and end of September..

<hr width=100% size=1>Tomsk -

Can I leave the planet please.. this one is broken!

24-06-04, 12:26
There is a touch of myth about equinoctal gales, as people like Robin Knox-Johnson have pointed out.

However, if you look at the Atlantic pilot charts of the statistical historical wind speeds for those months you'll see a higher probability of gales, for the period. It is also one of the peak times for hurricanes in the windies and some of the storms in the bay are what's left of one of those as they drift over our side of the ditch. They're usually not hurricane stregth by the time they get over but they are still big systems, well capable of spilling your G&T.

That said, weather forecasts for the bay are a lot more reliable than they used to be so you could go with for a weather window but with the proviso that if this autumn proves to be a relatively settled. My own inclination would be to get the bay out of the way before mid-August when the weather has a habit of becoming more unstable, perhaps leaving her in Spain or Portugal for the passage to the Canaries.

However, if other constraints meant that I couldn't go then I'd probably get myself to Brest or somewhere similar and wait for a good 3 day forecast and belt as far south as I could get. Someone else on this board has recommending the 'phone the met office forecast' as a good source and one that I will certainly use next time I go across.

And I can confirm that Pantanious, for one, have no access to the bay clause between mid August and April.

Best of luck for the ARC.

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24-06-04, 12:31
Have a look at the post below entitled "Distance in a day (24hrs) ......etc "

Basically, the conventional wisdom is that the later in the year you go the more unstable and less predictable the weather and the quicker weather systems tend to develop. Consquently, the view is that you really do need to have crossed Biscay by the end of August of fear of being caught in an unpredicted depression.

Yours appears to be a HR42, which will stand up to most weather and should maintain 5.5-6.0kts easily which will get you across Biscay in about 3/4 days.

Personally, with the patience to wait somewhere like L'Aberwrach (Sp?) for a weather window, confirmed by a telephone conversation with the Met Office, and a preparedness to motor to maintain boat speed I'd be happy to wait until September. However, if you are in anyway unsure of you kit or your sea legs, Id go as soon as possible. You can always leave her somewhere and come back!

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24-06-04, 12:42
Thanks guys, some food for thought.

The posting is actually on behalf of my skipper. The boat doing the crossing is a 30 year old ketch rigged Dufour.

<hr width=100% size=1>Doing the Arc ? Me to on www.makathea.co.uk

24-06-04, 13:04
OK - been to the Makathea website.

If you wait till October you could end up weather bound for several days and then will arrive late in Las Palmas. You really do need to be there for as long as you can before departure. It's good to make friends and to party, and it takes time to find the best provisions (Cortes Inglese) but most importantly I expect there will be a lot to do on the boat and you may need to wait for spares from the UK etc.

I would try to go before September I were you, but better in Sept than Oct.

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24-06-04, 14:25
There is a cruising site where you can get all the weather info you need (5 day forecasts, sat pics, isobaric charts etc) and also tropical storm tracking and warnings. go to the site at <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.onpassage.com>http://www.onpassage.com (http://www.onpassage.com>http://www.onpassage.com</A>


24-06-04, 15:17
Ahhhh memories of a force 8 in Biscay on 1st jan 02! I didn't know I had fluids of such varying colour in me!

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25-06-04, 11:40
Hopefully only coming out of one end ?

<hr width=100% size=1>Doing the Arc ? Me to on www.makathea.co.uk

25-06-04, 15:20
If only...
we left Nov 5th...and it was rough, and a tanker sank as well leaving lots of gloopy oil to sail through, lovely smell when your feeling a bit crook....leave early just because the NW coast of spain is one of the best bits and you'll want to spend a few weeks there...loads of lovely anchorages/food/people/beer/wine/cheese and cheaper than the caribbean as well. Bayona yacht club has to be one of the best stops on route as well....ahh those were the days..

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28-06-04, 18:42
Even Hornblowers Mr. Bush was afraid of the equinoctical gales in the bay....:-)
I crossed once in the first week of september and had max. F 5/6.

As an old captain pointed out to me: The biscay is only reputed to be so dangerous because there are so many (merchant) ships in it at any time, and every crewmember of every ship will talk about a storm when back in port, whereas there is only one ship or maybe two whose crew can tell the story of a much worse storm in the pacific.... :-)

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29-06-04, 10:42
My only crossing of the Bay was first week in October and the weather was wonderful. Calm seas, nothing stronger than a force 5, beam reaching all the way. Felt as though I earned my stripes by default! M

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29-06-04, 11:09
Never mind Biscay; read <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.ybw.com/cgi-bin/forums/showthreaded.pl?Cat=&Board=ym&Number=424221&Search=true&Forum=ym&Words=Casablanca&Match=Or&Searchpage=0&Limit=25&Old=1year&Main=424221>here</A> to find out what happens when you get further South on an ARC delivery trip. /forums/images/icons/laugh.gif

<hr width=100% size=1>Je suis Marxiste - tendance Groucho