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- White Lady To La Coruna Part
Deep sea adventurer and HotRIBster, Richard Rumney recounts an interesting voyage
| It had
seemed like a good idea. We would trail my Ribtec 8.15m Yamaha
diesel powered RIB from Fort William to Portsmouth, take the P&O
ferry to Bilbao, then cruise along the North coast of Spain.
The ferry was booked in January, for July, and arrangements made with the Real Club Maritimo del Abra in Bilbao to use the slipway and to leave the Land Rover and trailer there. My crew on White Lady was to be my good friend John Meilleur who lives in Calgary, Canada. John's experience was limited to a fast waterjet powered river patrol and underwater rescue in Alberta. The due date arrived and the ferry was
We joined a tour of the bridge on the second day and it became
apparent that one bridge officer was quite hostile towards leisure
boat owners. His view was that they should not be at sea!
After berthing in Bilbao at 0730 hrs we were able to clear Customs with only a slight hold up whilst John filled in a form that was then attached to his Canadian passport.
At every harbour we subsequently visited the authorities proved to be very strict. Passports, manufacturers invoice, registration document, insurance
VHF radio licence, operators licence, engine details and my International
Certificate of Competence.
After a journey of about 10 miles around the harbour we arrived at the very welcoming yacht club and launched the boat. Then we completed the first leg of our cruise, 125nm to Gijon, in relative comfort and found an old but well-appointed hotel for the night.
|For our Westward passage
to Ria de Muros, some 221nm, the forecast of light north-east
wind seemed ideal. For the first 85nm the conditions were indeed
very pleasant and we made good time. However we soon were running
into some much stronger wind and bigger seas. At first this was
fun, with the bow just going under as we surfed down the waves,
but soon the seas became big, steep, breaking and ugly. Our situation
(Left) Launching at Real Club Maritimo del Abra with the Club House in the background
(Right) Start of the threatening seas
| John asked why I didn't
open the throttle so we could climb up the back of the waves.
I told him that the throttle was wide open and it was taking all
165hp to stop us sliding back down the waves. Cabo Villano lived
up to its name of the "Villainous Cape" The wind was now a steady
40 knots and the seas very large and threatening.
On the back of one wave, John said that there was a boat length from the bow to the breaking crest and looking astern said that there was a boat length from the transom into the hole. I looked and quickly decided that it was a bad idea to look astern!
Going through the breaking crests was a
| tricky business. Lumps
of water the size of a 4m RIB were being picked up by the wind
and were overtaking the boat as we eased off the power for a controlled
downhill run. There was a definite danger of pitch-poling or,
if we crossed a wave at the wrong angle, of rolling.
When on the back of one wave I remember the wave collapse on top of us. We were pinned in our seats and could see water and bubbles above our heads. It seemed a long time but eventually we could see the sky again. The water was still a half metre above the tubes with the engine case covered up to the navigation lights and we had been pushed down into the trough. This was repeated a further four times that
| afternoon. Instinctively
I had closed the throttle thus reducing the amount of water that
would enter the engine case.
The automatic electric bilge pump controlled the situation extremely well although I would have liked an air intake the length of a periscope.
John didn't say much but I sensed he was perhaps not enjoying the ride. I may have upset him a little when I said that this was probably the first time that he had been scuba diving without leaving the boat.
Looking across La Coruna harbour
towards the Real Club Nautico
Drying out after having been submerged five times in 40 kts of wind and 12 metre breaking seas
| Our main aim now was
to get to La Coruna. Mile after mile and wave after wave we eventually
made our course change. The wind and waves were so strong that
it was necessary to add 60 degrees onto our course to avoid being
swept past La Coruna.
Later, when we were enjoying a few beers in the Yacht Club we learned that all local boats had been restricted to the outer harbour....