Review of the 2005 sailing season: lessons learned

2005 was expected to be a more relaxed season, quite different from the year before where I covered 1200 nautical miles in getting to Bilbao. There was always the slight pressure of time schedules and the obligation to cover ground to meet people. This year I planned to be a little more sedate, covering a total of 800 miles, although I didn't have as much time as the previous summer.

From April and May on I started meeting sailors passing through Bilbao en route. Some had great plans to get to the Canaries for an Atlantic crossing, others the Mediterranean, while others were meandering without any definite plan. I must say that it was the third group who I related to most. I liked the idea of just chilling in a place that you like and leaving when you feel like it. If the weather didn't suit, you stayed or if the company was good you stayed. People like Elenor and Stuart on Cool Blue who arrived for 2 or 3 days and stayed 5 weeks. First lesson learned: this is not a race

By the time I had left everyone had booked tickets so my trip was planned and scheduled. I just had to try to meet the deadlines. As Gerry will testify, the trip out west found us with winds that were generally light in the morning, increasing during the day, and dying off at night. The direction tended to be easterly but the swell was usually from the northwest. So on a day when the winds were stronger, you had a confused sea with sea swell and wind chop coming from different directions. Second lesson learned: in the forecast, swell is just as important as wind

The return trip found similar wind, except this time we were going against it. This is why so many people only cruise this part of Spain going from east to west. When they get to Galicia, they go back direct to France to avoid the slog we had. Third lesson learned: in planning a trip pay more attention to expected prevailing winds