Sailing in the Bay of Biscay – Discover the French and Spanish Atlantic Coast

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Boats for rent in: Bay of Biscay

Bay of Biscay

The Bay of Biscay is a beautiful and exiting charter area with challenging sailing conditions.

  • Outstanding infrastructure
  • Modern marinas
  • Safe anchor bays
  • Season: May to September
  • Tough Sailing Conditions
  • Demanding navigation

The Bay of Biscay (French: Golfe de Gasconge, Spanish: Golfo de Viscaya), is a bay in the Atlantic Ocean. It extends from Galicia along the Spanish north coast, over the west coast of France to Brittany. On the French Biscay coast, there are the significant harbors of Bayonne, Bordeaux, Royan, Rochefort, La Rochelle, Saint-Nazaire and Les Sables-d’Olonne. The Spanish Biscay harbors are Gijón, Santander, Bilbao and Donostia-San Sebastián. The biggest islands in the Bay of Biscay are Belle-Île, Noirmoutier, Ré and Oléron. The southernmost border is Cape Finisterre at the northwestern tip of Spain. Yacht charter Bay of Biscay

At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much. - Robin Lee Graham

Heavy Seas are known to occur frequently in the Bay of Biscay. Sailing around the Cape from north to south can be a true challenge, particularly when winds blow from the north to the south. These difficult conditions can take their toll on even the most experienced sailors. In the north of the Cape, shelter can be found in the harbor of La Coruna. In the south, Bayonna is a safe harbor. Along the French Atlantic coast there are numerous marinas and yacht harbors. On top of that, there are plenty of safe anchorages and the infrastructure for sailors is above average. The distance between the harbors and marinas tend to be short and rarely exceed 20 nautical miles. In rough weather, well-protected and easily reachable refuges are guaranteed.

Challenging though it was, sailing the Bay of Biscay was still an exhilarating experience and I would definitely recommend it to all experience sailors!

Cities in the sailing area Bay of Biscay  

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  • La Trinitée sur Mer


Airports nearby Bay of Biscay

  • Meucon Airport to La Trinitée sur Mer: 30,9 km, 39 minutes
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Climate & Weather in Bay of Biscay

The sailing triangle Brest–Biarritz–La Coruña is incredibly difficult to navigate. It is known for foul weather and has claimed many boats and crew. The reasons for the tough sailing conditions are the continental shelf, western winds and wave reflection. The long Atlantic waves at the shallow seabed near the coast suddenly stop and rear up at the continental shelf. Plus, due to the texture of the Biscayan coast, waves can be thrown back and dangerous superposition’s can appear. Heavy storms and rough seas come up especially in wintertime at the coasts of Vendée and Brittany. At the north are extreme tidal amplitudes and currents with 4 knots. Even summer time can be pretty rough. However, the difficulty level decreases with every mile you travel south; the sea becomes calmer and the sailing more relaxed. For a Biscay crossing, it is recommended to do so far west in the open Atlantic. Beyond the continental shelf there is enough distance from the difficult atmospheric conditions of the west. The gulf of Biscay is one of the hardest sailing areas and even for experienced crews the conditions are very demanding and present a significant challenge. Beginners are not advised to try this district.