We have now been on our own for a week spent at different sheltered anchorages in Ria Muros and Ria Aurosa. These places have very few, non Spanish, tourists, except for a handful sailors. Alas, everything feels very genuine, a bit challenging though when it comes to language, but we have never experienced any negative feelings towards us. At Muros, we probably anchored in the middle of the retired fishermens habitat, no worries, friendly smiling faces everywhere. Weather is slowly becoming what is to be expected in Spain, 25-30 C in air. Sea temp still below 20C.
We are not more than 35nm (5h sail) from the Portuguese border but we will try to spend at least one month more in these fantastic waters. We also want to fix some electrical stuff in Vigo which seems to be well equipped for yacht services and spare parts.
After Gijon we have checked out a number of Rias mixing marinas with lovely anchorages.
First stop after Gijon (or Xixon in Galician spelling) was Ribadeo, a small town, with zero touristic features – which we enjoy. After a night sleep we went a further day sail to Ria Viveiro. Larger town with perfect opportunities for bunkering essentials; food, wine, diesel. We knew wine was extremely affordable (cf Swedish prices about 50 % less costly) but even more nice was the low cost for fish, seafood and meat. As an example, blue finned, fresh Tuna 7 € / kg. Enough about prices, we truly enjoyed Viveira. Here we also where joined by family members for a weeks sail further west and south. Next stop was La Coruna, a common harbour for north european sailors coming from Ireland, England and France. This 55m trip became rather interesting. After about 3 hours motoring against wind and swell we lost steering. After some dramatic minutes I found out that the rudder tiller extension had loosened so no connection to either autopilot or steering wheel. Impossible to fix in about 2.5m swell, about 10 m/s following winds unless someone wanted to risk getting their arms broken. Emergency tiller mounted – voila we can steer the boat. Bad news: we had 35nm to La Coruna and to steer was extremely hard, i.e. 1.2 m tiller with a 24 tons boat and the swell. After 5 hours and taking turns with some creative way to use the winches to offload most of the force we were able to moor at the Coruna Marina. We have lost steering, propeller etc before but this time it felt a bit more serious – so we were very please having managed this incident without any damage to crew or boat.
On our ever growing to do list is to have on more tiller extension made, increasing redundancy by separating autopilot from ordinary steering.
After a couple of days in La Coruna, where we met surprisingly many Swedish sailors, we are now in lovely Portosin, a marina in Ria Muros. Before Portosin we stayed in Ria Corme and Ria Camarinas after rather windy day sailing trips. Here we will wait for some wind generator spare parts.
To explain the headline – The coast between La Coruna and Cap Finisterre is called costa muertas (Coast of Death), I guess due to the very exposed atlantic coast. Finisterre means (I think!) end of the world – a name, given way before GPS and some brave guys claiming the earth was a sphere.
For our dolphin lovers – yet another National Geographics quality clip is available here.
Yet another month has gone. We have taken it slow, but still we are now in Spain. How did we get here….
From the Kiel Canal we managed, via Cuxhafen, to go to Helgoland. This island has been on our list in order to see all Gannets ( sw. Sula). It is one of the major bird cliffs south of Scotland / Norway. The island is divided into two parts. A “lower” and an “upper” part. The down part is occupied by all hotels and condominiums. The ferries from Hamburg comes every day for shopping and leaves in the evening. This gives the island s strange feeling of party at daytime and slow almost autumn like in the evening when the ferries have departured. On the “upper part” you have a nice footpath to the bird cliffs. You get as close as 2-5 meters from the big birds. Peter made a nice video clip that is linked to our main blog. Rather cold weather, windy.
As always we were not in the mood for bunkering stuff even if we have the possibility, so some beer and lot of pictures in our heads and we were off again.
185 nM to Texel in Holland. An uncomplicated night sail. We are still in well-known waters, so we spent less time sightseeing than last time. Instead we took some easy strolls in the village. Texel has a very nice sailor’s shop, where Peter managed to get some good boots/wellies for a decent price. Last time we were here we bought the biggest electricity contact (red 3 Phase 400 Volts) that you could buy. (Good to have). We also bought some nice spits with shrimps to grill and first test with Endives (see gastronomy).
From Texel we went further south to Ijmuiden (close to Amsterdam). Half motor half sailing as normal this summer. Good harbor with a very nice yacht club: old leather chairs (worn out) and cozy atmosphere. We took the bus in to Amsterdam, a rainy day, and strolled around the flower market etc. A beer here and there and then home again.
Next stop Oostende. We managed to arrange a visit from Eva’s colleagues from Ghent. So nice to have an opportunity to say goodbye also to Belgian friends. A pleasant afternoon with a lot of talk. Mercator Marina in Oostende is a favorite of ours. You have to use a lock, but then you end up in the middle of the town with supermarkets, restaurants etc. on elbow distance. We got our first “mole e frit” (and the second…). Weather here was warm but with thunder and plenty of rain in the evenings. Ghent had a hail storm with hail as big as Ping-Pong balls.
Next stop was Boulogne Sur Mer. First French harbor (Now Eva has archived the flags for Germany, Holland and Belgium). We have been here before and was pleasantly surprised with a harbour master catching our lines. We got a nice berth in the small marina. Here we have 9 meter tidal water, which means that entering from the marina sometimes is like climbing a ladder. Met a small dog that used all his claws to get to the shore J. Don´t try to get down with full wagons of food at low tide J.
Sunny and warm weather. Did some sightseeing to the castle (old city). One day spent looking for a 220V fuse – which we did not find.
Wednesday in Boulogne was market day so we bought some nice scallops for dinner. We also managed to get a new type of beer in the marina pub (that was officially closed). A Grimberger red which we never tried before. Turend out to be a nice choice in this warm weather.
Next stop Dieppe. Mix of sail and motor again. Saw some Porpoises ( sw. Tumlare). We now understand that if you use VHF to call the harbor and they don’t answer, it might have to do with language problems. We were met by a “harbour master”, that showed us to our place and helped with lines. So don’t mistrust if you don’t get answers. They will be there.
We have been in Dieppe before so we found our way back to the fish shop/market and bought a Sea Bass for dinner. The next day we tested mussels for dinner. This time Roquefort and curry. Very nice indeed!
Peter took the opportunity to install our last solar cells so as from now we have plenty of power.
After2 days we took a night sailing to Alderney. We managed to see an Ocean Sun Fish / Mola Mola ( sw. Klumpfisk). We have seen them in the aquarium in Hirtshals so we were able to confirm what we saw. It is round as a disc and swims on the side, so what you see is one fin and one big eye. Lovely to see one of those!!
Entering Alderney at 5 o`clock in the morning we saw the difference to Swedish summer mornings and light. Here it is dark until 5- 5.30. 8 meter tidal water made some calculations necessary before catching a mooring, in order not to stand “dried” when the water disappears. Small village uphill from the harbour. It felt rather remote. Was supposed to be a ferry terminal but we did not see one during our 24 hour stay. Maybe not in use every day. Northerly wind is not very comfortable the anchorage, so we departed the next day, via the Swing, to Guernsey. The Swing is one of those scary areas where you have to calculate the time for safe passage.
We passed one of the biggest colonies of Gannets (sw. Havssula) that we have seen. 2% of all Gannets are supposed to be here. And 1 Puffin (sw. Lunnefågel). A couple of hours later we ended up in south Guernsey ( Petite Port), in an anchorage which was beautiful. Different sceneries at high and low tide. We stayed there for 2 nights and did some walks. Also a short dip in the sea. + 17 degrees. HUH!!
From Guernsay we did a night sailing/engine to France, Bretagne. The cost was very different from expected. Very white and shiny. Chalk cliffs? We passed the Chenal du Four early in the morning with 4 knots against at some point, otherwise OK and entered Camaret Sur Mer, a beautiful harbour in the village center, in the morning. Weather was still warm and sunny. Water crystal clear but still a bit cold for swimming. We did some nice walks on the fantastic cliffs instead. A new Mussels dish was tried. This time Breton style ( cidre, mushrooms, cream). Tasted very nice indeed. We also tried to follow the Football championship on TV but difficult to get good signals.
Day two, while having a nice beer in the shadows, we ended up in the middle of a wedding. First we saw the bride and groom at the Mayor’s office for registration and later at the harbour going for the church ceremony. You can clearly see the connection to all Celtic. Bagpipes for instance.
Further to the east of Bretagne. We aimed for Benodet river, but first we had to pass the Raz de Sein ( 5-6 knot). +/- 15 minutes passage slot at high tide. Interesting. As Peter had done the calculation correct we passed on almost slack water. 1 knot against. In Benodet river we took the advice to stay at Sainte-Marine on the left side. A very picturesque place! As suggested in Reeds, we took a mooring for the night. Next day we were advised to move to the pontoon. We are a bit too big for the mooring. People are helpful and we are positively surprised by the way we are received even though we don’t know any French. Benodet is a river with 2 villages one on each side. The one to the right is more touristic than Saint-Marine. We checked out both and also had time for a dip in the sea. Now the temperature was close to 21 degrees. Crystal clear water.
Dinner the first day: oysters and fish in a fantastic environment close to the harbour, overlooking our boat.
We also had a nice evening with 4 English gentlemen ( see Peter’s blog and link). Singing and bagpiping….the day after…..
After the bagpipe night went further up the river to try to anchor. First time for us to anchor in a river with 4 knots of tide every 6-th hour, but the anchor held OK. Nice sceneries with a Little Egret Heron ( sw. Silkeshäger) strolling around at low tide. Perfect having food 2 times per day at low tide. We also had a nice wiew of a small castle from 1800 (?). Looked like something from the fairytales. Also a remaining thermal bath from the Roman era(?).
Further to the east we tied up at Port Tudy on Ile de Groix. Ypu are supposed to catch a mooring stern and aft. Interesting to try to catch a mooring from Tina’s bow. Pretty high!! After two tries we backed up to the one against the wind and took the dingy for the next. In the evening we were 3 boats side by side on the same two mooring. Now the weather was a bit more rainy so we did less touristing and more in-house reading etc. We had a nice dinner at a small pub in the harbour. Oysters and fish.
After two days we got fair winds and let go for crossing the Biscay. We got a fairly good crossing. Nice winds 7-12 m/s, NW, but the swell was disturbing. We used some seasickness–plasters which was fortunate. But still it was difficult to move around in the boat, mot to mention to try to sleep. However, after 40 hours and 245 nM we entered Gijon in Spain. We had made it!.
All in all this has been a nice month. Not too difficult with customs in France. They came onboard in Camaret checking all our papers and pass ports. Most likely we are lacking some papers (boat passport) which we have ordered from the Swedish authority.
- A lot of Gannets: we did not think that they would be more than the seagulls, but they were everywhere.
- The Ocean Sunfish of course!
- Some common dolphins in Bay of Biscay. Not very social. They did not stay and play.
- The small Egret heron in the Odet river.
- Everything is so green: Ivy ( sw. Murgröna) and Holly ( sw. Järnek) everywhere. Looks like somebody have polished them. Honeysuckle ( sw. Kaprifol) is also seen here and there in Bretagne. The most important garden flower seems to be the Hydrangea(?) (sw. Hortencia) which is a mix of pink and blue at the same time. Thought the color had to do with the chalk in the soil, but apparently not.
- Water temperature: except for the river Odet has been between 17-19 degrees.
- Mussels and mussels and oysters: the Breton style mussels with cider and mushrooms was a new experience and very tasty.
- We tried Endives on the grill and cooked. Not the last time. They taste like asparagus!
- Breton crepe: a dark dough not common to us with all sorts of filling. Also a nice experience.
Next letter will be for July. Have a nice summer.
BR Eva, Peter
We have now successfully completed our first Bay of Biscay crossing. As we have not sailed in these waters before, we learnt that swell (sw Dyning) affects the wellbeing of sailors more than wind speed. Luckily, we had 48 hours of ideal wind direction WNW F4-6 and max swell at 1.9m. Still it took some time to adapt. We are now at the center of the Galician town Gijón, arrived 4.30 this morning. As we are a bit tired, we devoted today to rest, laundry, wash the boat of lot of salt, and have a quick stroll through town. And try some cured Serrano ham!
Before this Spanish town, after Camaret s.m. we enjoyed the holiday resort town of Benodet, thanks to Francois! A really nice place with romantic restaurants alongside river Odet. Highlights from an eating point of view are the Bretagne Crêpes.. Oyster fanatics have a good time here as well, Belon river (giving name to the Belon oyster) is right around corner. At Benodet, we also had a wonderful evening with four English gents, covering the essential skills needed in a sail boat; Bagpipe,Guitar, Story telling and a nose for fine Wine (owner having a Wine trading company in UK). Hope you read this you brave sailors on Griffin! For bagpipe connoisseurs we suggest this link.
After Benodet, we followed another of Francois advises, Port Tudy, Isle Groix. A lovely, a bit more rustic experience, introducing us to buoy moorings fore and aft, with 3 boats sharing the mooring. We plan to spend next 4-5 days in different Spanish Rias, after that we will be joined by family members somewhere in the Á Coruna region, at the nw tip of Spain.
Peter & Eva
We have now arrived, as it feels, in more “summer like” latitudes. We are in Camaret Sur Mer – a beautiful Breton town close to the most westerly point of France. Before that we stayed at Alderney (Braye Harbour) and Guernsey (Petit Port anchorage). Weather now really nice, 25C air but still 15C in water. Being brave scandinavians, we had to make a few, short dips in the sea, to show off.
Biggest challenge at the moment is to make ourselves understood. Bonjour is a phrase covering 99% of the needs, even when running you feel obliged to make some noise and smile to all those polite and friendly french people you meet everywhere.
Taking this picture, we spent 10 minutes exploring the self timer of our camera to make a nice selfie. When a couple of French guys came to our rescue I tried to stretch my french beyond any limits. Amazing what sign language and a smile can do. Vive la France – 2100 CET we will be watching the World Cup game against Switzerland.
We are now safely moored in Dieppe Marina, a nice place we visited 2005 on our way back home from an A
round Britain sail. Even though we have experienced larger tidal range, Dieppe harbour, with 24h access and no locks or sills is impressing. At spring tide, as today, the range is 9.8 meters and it is easy to feel a bit scared looking down from above the streets. We are continuing eating mussels and enjoying ourselves. Today we also completed the installation of Solar panels, in all we now have 500W fixed and 100W flexible power. And yes,it is enough for “standard consumption” i.e. fridge, freezer, lights, radio! Tomorrow we take off to get some british feeling by visiting Alderney, one of the Channel Islands we have not sailed to before. Still light winds and amazingly favourable for us, i.e. NE.
At last, we have enjoyed our Moule Frites. A serious dish in Belgium (more generally in Normandy). In some diners you have 20+ variants, eg Pernod, coco, orange etc. But, as we are old-fashioned we prefer wine / cream stock. Newly married couples in Scandinavia usually end up with 2-3 ice-cream machines. In Belgium, your primary household gadget is a Friteuse. Anyway – we love Oostende and Mercator Marina.