We are back in a marina for a couple of days having spent the past 10 anchored in the Rias Arousa, Pontevedra and Vigo. Sadly we are in our last Spanish port of call although it is in lovely Bayona, which is a fitting place to leave Spain.
The Rias have been the most beautiful cruising grounds, full of empty sandy beaches, deserted anchorages and playful dolphins. Arousa was amazing, especially Palmeira and the bay just east of it. There was so much to watch, with the daily activity on the fish farms and local people collecting shellfish from the rocks as they uncovered at low tide.
Almost all of the beaches have swimming areas cordoned off with yellow buoys, plus a channel for motorised craft and have lifeguards, toilets, recycling and normal bins, showers and ice-cream kiosks. We also saw them being raked first thing in the morning. In one or two bays, the proximity of the shellfish beds or fish farms to the buoyed off beach area meant there was little room to anchor, so we avoided those.
We explored a couple of towns, but spent a lot of time on the boat, messing about in the dinghy, fishing and trying out our new inflatable kayak which wasn’t as unstable as it looked! On one occasion we decided to anchor off a very busy tourist resort beach and it was one of the most entertaining afternoons we have had.
There were jet-skis, pedaloes, little sailing school dinghies, people rowing out to say hello and a local fishing boat which had caught a 20 foot power boat in its nets just off the beach. It was hauled in against the fishing boat as they continued to try to get their nets onboard. At the same time the powerboat skipper was trying to untangle the net from his prop. As this was all going on, another 2 powerboats tried to motor across the nets only just being turned away at the last minute by the frantic waving of the fishermen.
The weather has been good, as only 4 days in the past 5 weeks were foggy. One day it rained but almost all of the nights it was very calm without a breath of wind so we slept soundly firmly anchored in the sand. The majority of days have been hot and sunny with just endless blue skies. Again we have been impressed with the spade anchor, which has held brilliantly in some strong winds when others around us have dragged.
The 98 foot British yacht ‘Ameena’ which we first saw in A Coruna was also anchored near us in Ria de Pontevedra before she headed for Bayona as we left for Vigo but we couldn’t keep pace with her, despite doing up to 8 knots! As we approached Vigo, in the fog, ‘Independence of the Seas’ appeared doing 17 knots coming towards us on her way to Southampton.
One day we decided to motor up under a huge bridge to check the anchorage at the top of the Ria de Vigo and even though we knew we could easily get under the bridge we still held our breath as we went under as we have never sailed under a bridge before! The anchorage was disappointing though, very windy with poor holding so we returned to Moana and spent 4 nights there in total. On Saturday night there was a free concert in the bandstand just by the anchorage.
We made it!
The solar Christmas lights we bought last year have seen plenty of use decorating the cockpit and hanging underneath the bimini. Once a week we dress for dinner, cook a nice meal and sit outside under the party lights.
We have seen lots of British yachts and in one bay there were only 3 yachts, all British but none made the effort to contact the others. In another anchorage the only other British people came over to chat straight away and told us they had done the ARC in 2000. In marinas people tend to be more sociable as we are in closer proximity and meet straight away helping new arrivals with their lines.
Some more maintenance was necessary as we found the cone clutch on the anchor windlass was slipping so Rob had to pull up 20 metres of chain by hand, which wasn’t his favourite task of the trip, so he got his homemade workbench out, which fixes to the cockpit table and stripped down the clutch to make a temporary modification. This works well at the moment but we need to find a very large washer to complete the job so will be hunting around Bayona today.
Yesterday we had a good sail here in 16 knots of wind and sunshine, berthing in the Sports Harbour marina in strong wind and being blown off the short pontoon. There aren’t any pick up lines to contend with though. Now Beyzano is safely tied up, with visiting boats from various countries including 3 British yachts nearby and another ARC yacht anchored in the bay outside. We may dinghy over to see them later as they are the first ARC yacht we have encountered so far. We may stay here an extra day or two to await the arrival of another ARC yacht, Salila, as we met her skipper on a course in February.
The marina charge was 83 euros for 2 nights including electricity and water but the Wi-Fi doesn’t reach the visitor’s berths and there are only 3 showers in a portacabin a long walk away, no laundry nor restaurant. The latter doesn’t matter as there are countless restaurants nearby and a couple of supermarkets within walking distance. Everyone is very friendly and we have found all the Spanish really helpful and sociable throughout our time here.
The pre-ARC SSB net has started but we have only tuned in twice since 1 August and not heard anyone else. Also on the subject of the ARC, we have just picked up an email from our crew to find they can no longer make the crossing, so whilst we have a couple of days with Wi-Fi, we need to try to find one or two experienced sailors to join us. They will need to fit into the crew polo shirts we had made back in January as well! As we will all be living in close quarters for about a month, it is essential to meet up beforehand and now we are already half way to the Canaries, it isn’t as easy as it would have been back in the UK. Fortunately our son James has managed to get time off from his new job and will be with us, so we already have the 3 required for our insurer.
From here we intend to sail longer passages south with just a few stops in Portugal before heading for Madeira, then the Canary Islands. I need to return to the UK in September for a few weeks to help my parents, so we need to get Beyzano somewhere safe for a while.
The adventure continues to be a great experience and we are settling very happily into our new way of life.