I was rudely awakened by the sound of a fog horn and felt a bruised bump on the side of my head. On deck was a heap of soaking wet clothes and five metres under the boat were my absolute favourite flip flops …
Last night I had fallen into the sea attempting to gracefully climb onto the boat from our bouncy dinghy (now christened Baloo) after an evening of live music, wine and tapas … ! In the cold light of the following morning we found ourselves wrapped in thick fog and my flip flops could have been anywhere within a 60 metre diameter circle of the boat, thanks to the 30 metres of chain we had on the anchor. All hopes of diving to find them were out of the window.
We’re only five weeks into the trip and despite having already covered over 850 nautical miles adapting to this new lifestyle was going to take a bit more practice! Just another 29,000 miles or so to go!!!
We’re nearing the end of our Spanish adventures and are in Baiona, preparing to start sailing along the Portuguese coast in the next few days.
If the sea was just a tad warmer than Skegness we could easily be somewhere more exotic sounding than the coast of northern Spain. It’s felt like we’d found a hidden secret – the sun has shone, the scenery has been stunning, the culture fascinating and the sailing has been a mix of sublime and exciting. There’s been no plastic rubbish on the beaches, just fishing debris and the odd plastic bottle nearer to towns. And everywhere smells SO fresh.
We left A Coruna on 3 September, waving goodbye to our English friends and Pepe and Jorge from the Spanish Sail Training Organisation Juan de Langara, who gave us some lovely Galician wine, beautifully wrapped in an old Tall Ships Regatta name board.
We were on our own again and our mission was to make our way down the coast of Galicia, anchoring as much as possible and taking some time out to explore along the way.
Keen to make progress we spent five days sailing and anchoring – our longest time without going ashore since leaving Gosport. At times it felt like only us and Spanish fishermen were left on the planet – it was eerily empty of boats at sea, other than fishing fleets. But there were lobster pots and viveros (floating mussel rafts) EVERYWHERE; we started to feel sorry for Spanish sea life – it felt like anything living didn’t stand a chance!
Here are a few highlights ….
The Coast of Death We initially sailed along the Costa da Morte (FACTOID: named after the number of shipwrecks caused by the treacherous rocky shores and exposure to the Atlantic Ocean). As we headed out to sea we got into a north easterly airflow which built to Force 6, gusting Force 7 at times. We covered over 37 miles in seven hours and were pleased to eventually anchor in the pretty bay of Corme for the night.
That evenings entertainment was tuna fishcakes with red cabbage coleslaw, a glass of red wine and a feisty game of backgammon. The next morning we had snagged the anchor on an old lobster pot but managed to shake it off.
The End of the Known World We were keen to get past the famous Cape of Finisterre in search of warmer weather. (FACTOID: The Cape was once believed to be the end of the known world and the gateway to the afterlife … and we didn’t feel ready for that!) It was grey, there was big swell from the wind the day before and 85% chance of rain. We put in three reefs, I kitted up in full foulies (the Captain kept his shorts on!) gloves and boots and set out to do battle with the elements. But … the weather never ceases to surprise us; the sun came out, we enjoyed a lovely sail achieving six knots over the ground and the company of a big pod of dolphins. As we were only four miles off the shoreline we passed deserted sandy beaches, coves and dramatic cliffs and had the radio playing on deck as we still had access to 4G.
We Found Paradise Ria de Arousa is the world’s greatest mussel producer and rammed with viveros, but right in the middle of the Ria we found Guidoiro Arioso Island, which had been a very recent gull nesting ground as evidenced by areas of flattened grass, feathers and dead birds. It was our first dry land after five days at sea and was like finding a deserted desert island.
Gunfire and intrigue In Pobra do Caraminal we were woken in the middle of the night by the alarming sound of gunshot. In the morning there was more gun fire coming from the mountains and it soon became a common sound – presumably hunters. There was also a lot of cannon fire, reciprocated by neighbouring villages.
We hiked up into the mountains to find freshwater rock pools to swim in and made some intriguing discoveries on the way — a mobile altar in the middle of road (complete with candle sticks, flowers and cushions); a litter of puppies; big green Iberian lizards and bagpipe players!!!
Nude bird spotting Playa de Melide on Isle de Ons is a renowned nudist beach and the island is a national park where we tried to spot the local Kentish plover, Shrike and Stonechats. We snorkelled amongst the rocks and swam off the nudist beach. Did WE keep our swimwear on? You’ll never know!
Corn nuts and herons Sailing into green and gorgeous Ria de Aldan involved dodging MORE viveros and we ended up anchoring twice after a local shouted at us and whizzed up on their dinghy to tell us we were close to a submerged rock. We landed Baloo on the sandy beach and walked bare foot to the beach bar for beers and corn nuts as the sun set … and the next morning watched herons fishing from the rocky shoreline.
Thousands of fish Anchored off the Isles de Cies we woke to the sound of bubbling water all around the boat. Rushing up on deck we saw thousands of green fish swimming on the surface either gulping air or feeding. We couldn’t identify them and couldn’t work out what they were doing. The fishermen and gulls weren’t bothered and we wondered if it was a mass gathering before migrating. It was mesmerising and they were with us for over an hour before swimming off out to sea.
Our First Dive We dived off Baloo with a dive flag mounted on a fishing rod. Aside from Paul getting his foot trapped in his wetsuit arm (!!) it all went well. It was cold in our 3mm suits but we saw dog fish, lots of shrimp gobbies and large shoals of fry amongst multi coloured weed.
Adios Espania So now we’re in our final Spanish port – a maze of tiny back streets heaving with cheap local tapas bars, full of locals and no tourists. Dolphins can be seen jumping in the bay and a locust (or maybe large cricket?) paid us a visit, taking up residence on our anchor windlass. We’ve been busy doing laundry, shopping, cleaning and boat jobs and preparing for longer sea days to get to Lisbon.
Following last nights dunking we’ve moved into a marina and are safely tied up to a pontoon … and the hunt has begun for a new pair of absolute favourite flip flops!
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