Vigo is located in the North Western part of Spain, just south of Cape Finisterre which marks the border with the Gulf of Biscay. We were just going to make the schedule for Vigo when I was called at 4.30 by the navigator on duty that there were Tuna fishers in the way. Their method of fishing is to set long surface nets and then sit nearby waiting for the fish to come in. Most of them will attach little strobe lights to buoys, to mark the end of the nets. If they are attached, those battery operated lights work fine in the beginning of the night but by early morning the batteries start to weaken and then the fun starts.

In the pitch dark of the night you can not see the buoys or the nets and the fishing boat skipper suddenly realizing that the ship might run over his net, speeds up and start crossing the bow. By doing this he hopes that the ship will change course and will miss the net. The problem is you do not know were the net starts as the fishing boat is not always lying at the end of his net. He might be in the middle or have drifted away and not even being close. Also the crew tends to take a nap between the setting and retrieving of the net leaving the youngest deckhand to monitor the traffic and the boat. When a ship is coming close he calls the skipper, who jumps in the wheelhouse and starts racing towards his net.

So we also had them tonight. The navigator on duty is of course completely capable of dealing with the situation, otherwise he would not be on duty, but as the actions of the fishing boat might be totally erratic, it is better to have the captain on the bridge, even if it was only as a witness and to concur with the actions taken. Based on the behavior of the boats we took a quantified decision of where the nets had to be and the best option was to steer for open sea. That we did, but it cost us quite a bit of time and thus we arrived late in Vigo. Talking to these fishing boats does not work, due to language barriers, and also because they only monitor a private working channel for among themselves. So we sailed around them and lost some time. Also in port was the Sea Princess, docked ahead of us and as the part of the pier assigned to us was just long enough, I had about 100 feet clearance, to park the ship where it had to go. Thus I had to come in very slowly to fit the ship in between the stern of the Sea Princess and the pier of the fishing port just behind us.

The weather forecast for the crossing of the Gulf of Biscay had been very good. Until right at departure, when the wind suddenly picked up from 10 knots to 40 knots within 30 minutes. By the time we had departed the bay of Vigo there was a good gale blowing. It turned out that a frontal system south of Ireland had come further south than forecasted and had started to intensify right off the coast of Spain. Luckily it produced southerly winds, so the Veendam was running with it, reducing the relative wind on the deck. But as it brought the swell with it from the North Atlantic, the ship started to move somewhat. According to the latest weather chart we will stay out of the worst part and then the system is supposed to go to the Irish Sea and, hopefully, we can avoid the most of it.