Sailing languidly through the veil of fog off the Portugese coastline was what felt like the transition from cold and wet to warm and sunny, from the UK to the continent, from Cornish pasties and fish ‘n’ chips to tapas and Paella. In my mind the Biscay was the last major passage hurdle of a busy year, (although a mistral may well keep life interesting for the passage from Mahon to Imperia at the end of the week) and despite the first uncomfortable 24 hours out of Falmouth where we motor sailed into 20 knot headwinds and 2-3 metre swells around the outside of the Ushant shipping lanes, the Biscay crossing passed without drama.
Towards the end of the first day off the northwestern point of the Iberian Peninsula we were blessed with some company. AIS confirmed that Pen Duick VI were those white triangles on the northern horizon, one of six Pen Duick’s owned by the late Eric Tabarly. She is a 22 Metre Bermudan ketch designed by the French architect Andre Mauric and launched in 1973 for the subsequent Whitbread Round The World Race. All 5 Pen Duick’s are planning to be present at the Panerai regatta in Cannes so it seemed appropriate to wait for them, fire an unexpected salute broadside and then sail away at speed! I hope they didn’t feel we were re-enacting the Battle Of Trafalgar, as the sun had already dipped well below the horizon and the prominent cannon blow was all the more obtrusive.
We re-fuelled in Cascais, the departure point for the new Panerai Transat Classique race that embarks on a thrilling journey on the 2nd December. The 26 yachts already signed up for the 4000 mile race include ‘Moonbeam IV’, ‘The Blue Peter’ and the 46 Metre 2-masted schooner ‘Germania Nova’.
With little breeze to carry us south we motor-sailed monotonously, via Gibraltar, to Mahon. There we tied up in a slightly-too-busy, but serene anchorage, inside the incredible natural harbour and set to work on varnishing the capping rail and making her glow.