20 July – Bent Metal and the Ria Pontevedra


July 22nd, 2017


North Atlantic 2017 – 2019, Spain

Written by

Richard Farrington

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By Richard. Posted on July 22nd, 2017 in North Atlantic 2017 – 2019, Spain.

42:23.9N  008:45W

Wednesday dawned wet and windy.  I wondered how we might get out of our half sized berth into a narrow channel between the pontoons with the wind blowing us firmly onto my Irish friend.  We had a cup of tea and waited for a while.  The rain stopped and the wind eased enough, so we decided to get going.  We wanted to get round into the Ria Pontevedra and the fishing port of Combarro in time to do some chores before collecting a hire car and driving to collect Anna from Santiago de Compostela.

It took some time to undo all the knitting that had held us in place, rig suitable slip ropes and fenders, but all went according to plan and John Bourke ‘stood by’ as we left the berth.  He asked something that neither of us quite heard but a second or so later the boat was brought up hard – we still had an overnight spring attached to the pontoon.  I was grumpy, but we recovered the line without further incident and put out to sea.  Apart from a heavy cloudburst which met us at the harbour entrance, we had a splendid sail out of the bay and down towards the Isla Ons.

Whilst looking for other boats under the sail, I noticed that the pulpit looked a bit odd.  Quickly we realised that the ‘minor berthing incident on departure’ was actually quite a serious buckling of the port aft stanchion on the pulpit.  After all, twenty five tonnes moving at 1.5 knots is pretty much impossible to stop without major assistance and we had torn the base of the metalwork out of the deck.   John’s innocent question on departure must have been ‘would you like me to let go your other line?’

Bent metal, damaged pride

Amazingly, the electricity supply to the port navigation light is intact, so apart from a weakened pulpit, potential for water ingress and dented pride, we are okay.  The repair may be complicated: I don’t think it can be straightened, so we will have to unbolt the whole pulpit and take it to a stainless steel fabricator to have a new section of tube welded on.  That means being alongside for a day or two, as without the pulpit we have no guardrails.  The best place to get the repair done is probably Vigo – ironically John Bourke keeps his boat there and knows the boatyard owner very well, so we will be calling for a favour or two shortly!

We had a cracking sail into the Ria Pontevedra and almost into Cambarro before the wind dropped.  The Ria is an interesting mix of high and low end tourism, fishing villages, a small shipyard at Marin where the Spanish Navy’s equivalent of Dartmouth is located, and the town of Pontevedra which has lost much of its maritime influence but is clearly a major transport and industrial centre.

The Naval College

We spent almost two hours getting fuel at the marina in Combarro.  Only one of the two pumps was working and guess which one we tied up to?  Even as we started to move, a fishing boat slipped onto the working pump and we had to loiter just offshore for ages whilst he filled up.  We were quite pleased though, because Julie had booked a berth in the marina a few weeks ago.  Except that they had no record of our booking (despite our email chain) and they had some ‘very big boat’ coming into the berth where we might have expected to go.  They offered us another half-sized pontoon, which we took as the weather forecast is benign and there is room for plenty of knitting to hold us in place.

The bus to Pontevedra set us back less than three shekels and by early evening we were armed with a brand new Japanese blue car and headed for the Carrefour hypermarket in Pontevedra.  First, we drove up to Vilagarcia to see our friend Alberto and a tearful reunification with the Blessed Outboard.  It now has all the new seals and gaskets on the fuel pump that I have been after for weeks and – God Willing, fuel leaks onto the cushions are a thing of the past!

Carrefour was not quite the culinary stimulant we had anticipated.  It makes you realise how multicultural and imaginative most English supermarket chains are: I think we get much better choice in the Gosport Morrisons/Waitrose/Tesco enterprises than was available in this vast hall.  That might be unfair as there were probably a hundred different varieties of tinned sardines, but pretty much ‘nada’ in the breakfast cereal row, the yoghurt aisle or the biscuit selections.  No grapes, no fresh herbs, no orange squash.  How can a chap expect to live?  Actually we did rather well and the biggest challenge of the day turned out to be getting our purchases from the car back onboard the boat.

Anna’s flight was on time and we were well set for Thursday.  Much of the morning was taken up returning the hire car, but Anna and Julie had a fine walk around the delightful old part of Combarro.  They even found fresh herbs in the local supermarket and I joined them for a lunchtime drink in a splendid waterfront bar.  Actually, their ‘perch’ was underneath one of those grain stores you see everywhere.  Here in Combarro they were originally fishermen’s lay apart stores, I imagine, but the waterfront has been tastefully (honestly) turned into a maze of very narrow streets, selling either alcohol, tapas or trinket – or all three!  It was buzzing and the sun came out – so morale was restored despite the lurking issue of the pulpit repair.  We are now in touch with another Alberto, arguably the Godfather of boatyards in Vigo.  Hopefully he can sort us out with minimal impact on the itinerary.

A Bar  – or a Byre?

Combarro seafront

A typical cross – with Christ on one side and the Blessed Virgin on the other; one faces the men at sea, the other the families at home.

Mid afternoon we sailed from Combarro and moved to anchor just around the corner at Raxo, where Julie had seen advertisements for a seafood festival.  It’s a very picturesque spot and we are anchored right off the end of the pier – so an easy test for the outboard and a good run ashore beckons!