Posted by: williekp | September 24, 2016

Cowes to Falmouth

Positioning for a crossing of The Bay of Biscay

On the first of September we convened for a shake down cruise in East Cowes. There were six on board that day including myself and Sarah who had come to meet the crew. The crew were two women and two men. Harriet and Joyce and John and Glenn

imageWe did the shake down sail in the Solent and after a few emotional goodbyes between Sarah and myself we left the next day on the tide down through the Needles channel and heading for an anchorage at Studland bay near Poole harbour. Joyce left us too and is planning on joining us in Lisbon for the open ocean sail to Maderia and down to the Canaries.


It is not easy making ones way west to position to cross Biscay. The prevailing winds are westerly so unless you get lucky you are head to wind and every 6 hours the tide turns against you which further slows progress. The leg to Studland was uneventful with mostly motor sailing. At Studland we anchored up and had supper on board and a few hours sleep before setting off at 11 pm to sail across Lyme bay and into Dartmouth.

Our first night sail went well with Harriet and myself on the first watch. Because we had to go south initially we could sail without the motor and it was a beautiful moonless night and a bit cold. Harriet had never night sailed before and I was very pleased and relieved that she thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wasn’t anxious at all. That leg to Dartmouth took about 18 hours and we arrived pretty tired. That didn’t stop a meal out followed by a bit of crew bonding which lubricated with rum and gin took us into the early hours and a day off next day.

From Dartmouth we called in at Salcombe, anchored off Plymouth, called in at Fowey where the picture above through the porthole was taken. Most of that was motor sailing with Lila’s engine performing reliably and the wind vane steering working well at a 20 degree angle to the wind. We struck lucky from Fowey to Falmouth with favourable wind and a great sail all the way into the estuary.

John had always planned to leave us at Falmouth and Glenn who was down to cross Biscay with us had to leave because of time pressures at home. That meant that we needed some more crew quickly who were experienced enough to help us cross Biscay.  At that stage I wondered if we should just turn around and get the boat to the Med via the French canals but Harriet didn’t seem much interested in that so we ensconced ourselves in a cafe with internet and made a list of potential crew from the Cruising Association’s web site. We must have e- mailed 20 people and followed up the next day with phone calls. This was Saturday and the available weather window was supposed to open the following Thursday.


More on how we progressed next time. John seemed to enjoy himself enough that he signed up to joining us again in Northern Spain.


Going into a night sky







  1. Good to hear you have started. We look forward to following your adventures.
    Bon Voyage
    Geraldine & Bob

  2. Hi Willie and all Lila’s crew. Great to see you underway and here’s to a speedy Biscay crossing. What is your Wylo’s registered name and MMSI number as I would like to follow your progress on Vessel Finder. Good speed, best regards Steve (Read).

    • Hi Steve, sorry for the delay in getting back. Boat name is Lila of Cowes. MMSI number is 235106666. New post up just now. Regards Willie

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