The Bay of Biscay

The Bay of Biscay is the gulf which runs from Brittany in France to Galicia in the north west corner of Spain. The continental shelf runs through the bay and with sea depths transitioning quickly from hundreds of metres to thousands, it is a formidable stretch of water.  Weather in the bay can be severe and it’s reputation therefore precedes it. However, with the help of modern weather forecasts and choosing the right summer timings, the crossing is feasible. However as a journey of approx. 3 days at sea, for cruising families such as ours, crossing the Bay is often a daunting challenge which features heavily in preparation. It has been so often discussed in our household, that Sean (6) mistakenly understood it’s name as the ‘Bay of Biscuits’. This misunderstanding provided some fun and light relief for what is one of our longest crossings in our year of sailing. 

On July 31 at 5.45 am we set out from Brest with a favourable 3 day weather window; forecasting gentle winds from the North/East with some motoring also in store due to lulls in the wind. The time passed quickly and 68 hours later, at 2am on Aug 3 and on a damp Spanish morning, we arrived and anchored in a small bay outside the port town of A Coruna.

Sean talking with friends on the VHF

The video in the link below best shows what we experienced; countless dolphin sightings, beautiful downwind sailing with the spinnaker, amazing sun sets/rises, calm night watches, some failed attempts at fishing and a joyous arrival in Spanish coastal waters. Nora’s sea sickness tablets worked a treat; our infinite gratitude to modern medicine. There were some fractious moments with two high energy kids on board; however through listening to audio books, weaving bracelets, baking biscuits, helping to sail and wildlife spotting (including whales which were too far in the distance to capture on camera) we made it through with our sanity intact. 

What an amazing challenge for our family to have met. For Filippo and I arrival was also met with relief; we had made it safely. It is time to relax in the beautiful Rias of Galicia……..

11 thoughts on “The Bay of Biscay

  1. Thank you so much for the news and the photos. We are so happy that you found friends to sail with, so you have company at it is more safe!

    Patrick and Sean look wonderful: free and happy!!!

    a very big hug to everybody ,




    1. So lovely to hear from you Cati, I hope you are really well. Yes, sailing alongside our friends from Cowes on Bella has been a really positive experience. They also have 2 boys onboard; same age as Patrick and Sean, and from the same class in Gurnard primary! It has been reassuring for both boats to know that we are close by each other. We had not planned to cruise together but it became a natural choice. Sending you all our love! N


  2. Congratulations on your arrival in Spain. I am loving following you and hearing about your travels. The photos are wonderful- it sounds like an amazing adventure. Enjoy Spain! ( it’s been very windy on the island!)
    Sue ( 43 Albert Rd)


  3. What a great experience you are having guys ! Enjoy the rest of it and keep us posted even more frequently as we all are eager to read your adventures !!



    1. Thanks Fra! Ok,request noted, we will do our best. Boat schooling also starts next week, it will be busy! wish us luck!


  4. Hi Nora & co!
    This looks like an amazing adventure! What a fabulous experience for your boys – something they will never forget! Looking forward to seeing more of your updates.
    Áine x


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