I bought a ticket a week ago. It looked then like the Atlantic was finally calming down a bit. Wrong. The forecast map turned red once again and I’ve been three days here drinking coffee. Again. Plus the swirling winds picked up my board and sail and threw them onto a fence. My new sail now not so new any more with a big mess of repair tape on the torn leech. I finally make it out. A window of two days gets me to Ribadeo, Galicia, where I am lucky to receive support from some nautically-minded compatriots. We watch giant waves batter tiny harbours then retreat to walk the snow-covered hills. Next, I sail and paddle into a painfully light headwind; the following day I am thumped by a strong headwind and on day three get round Spain’s most northerly point. Victory, I think. But harder battles are to come.
More compatriots put me up for a few days as the next storm rolls by, during which I have a great roast dinner, and almost as satisfying surf. We visit the coastline of the next leg of my journey to inspect imposing cliffs of Norwegian stature, facing open Atlantic rather than fjord. After four days of hospitality I feel that I can impose no longer, and almost before I know it I am sailing through the gusts rolling round Cabo Ortegal, and then upwind into 4 metres of confused sea. My heart frequently jumps into my mouth as inescapable walls rear up. They seem certain to crumble and swallow me whole. I keep 2 miles out for sea room – safety from the maelstrom under the cliffs – but even at that distance it still feels that I’m right under the towering walls. The sea is deserted. I am in another world. The tracker shows steady progress as per usual, but it is an intense 15 miles where the fear I am usually adept at burying is keenly and uncomfortably felt.