March 2020

Gap Year. Part 2: from France towards the Mediterranean Sea

This is the second part of my 'gap year' updates. In the first part I described how we sailed from England to France. Now it is time to leave France and cross the Bay of Biscay to later sail the Atlantic Ocean towards the Mediterranean Sea.

The Bay of Biscay

Sailing from England to Spain indicates crossing the Bay of Biscay. It was a challenge that was worrying us since we bought the boat. The Bay has rather scary reputation among sailors and is considered one of the most challenging places in Europe. Especially in winter when powerful storms are raging on North Atlantic and only few days a month the sea is calm. Fortunately we got our weather window after very little waiting and we could safely cross the Bay from Concarneau in France to Viveiro in Spain. Have a look at the video below to see how it went (English subtitles are available).

Spain. Galicia.

After crossing the Bay the weather worsened for a while. We spent over two weeks in Galicia. Once the weather improved we could leave Viveiro and sail to Porto for the New Year's Eve. On our way we visited cities of A Coruna, Muros and Muxia.

Portugal

Portugal was our home for over a month. We sailed around the coast from Porto in the north, visiting Peniche, Cascais, Lisbon, Portimão, Lagos and Vila Real in the south, with many stops in smaller towns on our way. I visited some of them during my trip to Portugal in 2018, but many of them were new to me. Yet again, Portugal has proven to be one of the most beautiful countries in Europe.

We got stopped in Lisbon by a stormy weather, so we decided to fly to São Miguel Island in Azores. The island is nicknamed 'The Green Island' and I really hope that photos explain why it absolutely deserves the name (note that it was January!). On São Miguel we tried local tea, hiked a bit and bathed in a hot springs.

From Lisbon we sailed further south to Algarve. We made a tough decision there: we decided to skip the Canary Islands and head towards the Mediterranean Sea. We decided so because we wanted to spend some more time in Portugal and the weather in February was still very unstable on the Atlantic Ocean. I hope to sail to the Canaries at some point in the future anyway!

Spain. Andalusia.

Heading towards the Mediterranean we arrived to Spain once again. This time it wasn't the stormy Galicia but rather sunny and hot Andalusia. We visited Cadiz and Sevilla, and then sailed towards Morocco.

Morocco

After roughly a day of sailing we left Europe and arrived to Morocco. I have been to Morocco before, when few years ago I went on a sailing trip from Malaga to Casablanca. This time we travelled around the northern part of Morocco: Tangier, Meknes, Fes and Chefchauen.

We left Morocco, crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and sailed towards La Linea in Spain, right next to Gibraltar. About halfway there, close to Tarifa, Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea. Despite many challenges on our way, Atlantic Ocean will hold a special place in my heart. I can't wait to explore the Mediterranean, with its unstable weather, various countries and cultures.

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