26 June 2017 – This sailing life!


June 26th, 2017


North Atlantic 2017 – 2019, Spain

Written by

Richard Farrington

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By Richard. Posted on June 26th, 2017 in North Atlantic 2017 – 2019, Spain.

Saturday was spent largely at anchor in the Ria Viveiro.  Glorious warm sunshine prevailed and we enjoyed a walk along the beach where we are lying offshore.  Evidence of the rich seafood along this coast was everywhere – scallop shells, clams and razor shells were the only litter.  Despite it being the weekend, the beach was not crowded: no doubt due in part to some Bonfire hangovers, but perhaps also the lack of drinking establishments within striking distance.  We had to resort to the fridge onboard!  There was a hotel, but it looked shut and abandoned, until we saw a group of ‘differently abled’ people disappearing inside.   It looked like a dreary version of Jack Nicholson’s pile in ‘The Shining’ so I dread to think what sort of distractions they were being offered…

Elsewhere on the beach there was a wedding, which looked much happier.  What a great start to a new life!

Shellfish soup…

In the mid afternoon the wind got up enough for us to move a whole six miles further west to the Ria del Barquero and a location we had identified last week in our road recce: the fishing village of Bares.  Inevitably the wind was on the nose and impossibly light, but it didn’t matter because the scenery was splendid and sailing to windward without a shirt on is still a novelty!

Bares was as picturesque from sea as it had been by car. We ventured ashore in the rubber boat, using the dastardly outboard for once.  Initially it misbehaved: the fuel pipe from the tank worked loose very quickly and only rapid deployment of industrial quantities of kitchen towel prevented a minor pollution incident.  Anyhow, some persuasive language seemed to do the trick and we found a well-kept pier with a number of small fishing boats on running moorings and one of those EU signs.  The village was equally well kept: no litter, fresh paint, good quality paving stones, masses of Busy Lizzies and begonias revealing that the population is more resident than weekending…  The most obvious source of alcohol was deserted apart from the owner and his daughter, and with an hour to wait before they offered any solids, we enjoyed a glass of local wine (Albarino grape – recommended) on a lovely terrace overlooking the harbour and the beach before returning onboard to eat.  The Biscay swell penetrated as far as our anchorage and facing a disturbed night we shifted our position a mile further up the ria before turning in.  The beach here was being used by fishermen using really long rods to cast their lures beyond the surf line in search of bass or some local equivalent.  They were still there with searchlights on at 0300 when I got up to recycle some Alburino.

Our private bar at Bares

Sunday 25 June promised sunshine and wind, so we got up and went sailing.  We had to motor as far as Cabo Ortegal, an impressive headland marking the NW tip of this part of Galicia.  Here the wind filled in from the NE, so we hoisted the spinnaker and set off towards La Coruna.  Champagne sailing followed until mid afternoon, by which time the wind had got up to a steady Force 5 with a sea state to match.  No debate about dropping the spinnaker, not because the sail could not handle the conditions or the boat was straining, but because we wondered if two middle-aged people might struggle to get the thing down if the wind got up any more.  The sail came down easily and it proved to be the right decision: half an hour later it was gusting Force 7, we had two reefs in the main and genoa, and we were still surfing at over 8 knots!  Without shirts on!  Fantastic – the first decent sail since arriving in Spain!

The scenery complimented the sailing.  The cliffs are higher here, the landscape green and lush, the houses with terracotta rooves (sic) rather than slate, offering a taste of warmer climates ahead. We saw three other yachts on the whole passage: we overtook some Brits who were headed for Cedeira, had a very close encounter with Pierre Dick in his Imoca 60 St Michel Virbac heading in the other direction at speed, and then the slightly odd sight of a big French ketch closing the coast from much further offshore under power with no sails set at all.  I can only imagine he had some rigging problems and hope he made it in safely…

British yacht off Cabo Ortegal

Effortless sailing…

We screamed into the Bayo la Mula which offers the visitor the tempting options of El Ferrol to the north, La Coruna to the south,  Ares and Betanzos to the east.  I quite fancied El Ferrol, but the Pilot book is a bit lukewarm (I think the author is a ‘cup half-empty’ kinda guy) so we opted for Ares.  It’s well inside and we anchored to the north of the marina off the beach in front of the main town.  It’s a holiday resort and the beaches were packed solid; there was a ‘traditional singing festival’ underway in a tent and the rest of the population was promenading as the Spanish love to do.  We went ashore to investigate.  The outboard worked beautifully.  The pier was immaculate, the town clearly upmarket, if rather closed away from the seafront.  We stopped at the tent to watch a choir who looked like a mix of elderly university professors and morris dancers who could hold a tune, but appeared to be there under suffrance.  Where was Gareth Malone when we needed him?  We did not linger… instead we found a splendid waterfront café selling the finest grilled octopus, fried chipirones (baby squid) and Padrone peppers (all the rage in London apparently, but probably not at €6 for a plateful!) that we’ve had since arriving in Spain.

Returning onboard, it was warm enough to relax on deck until well after midnight.

Monday has been a maintenance day.  Generally the boat is holding up very well with no defects to cause concern.  By the time Anna arrives tomorrow evening, Escapade will be like a new pin!  Tonight we have been invited to a neighbouring UK boat in the anchorage for drinks – there are three Cruising Association yachts here.  I’m looking forward to finding an RNSA boat soon!