After 2600nm at slow pace we have now after 4 months of sailing / motoring arrived at Almerimar. Last blog post came from Gibraltar where we spent in total 11 days, mixed anchoring (La Linea, Spain) and mooring (Queensway Quay Marina, Gibraltar). Gibraltar delivered what was expected from an old British enclave, except driving on the right side everything is super british. At Morrison supermarket you get everything from UK that you might miss. We had a pleasant time, enjoyed social life with friendly british marina neighbours, and tried to work out the rich food by hearty walks. Last day we embarked on the “Rock” walk, 400m+ vertical, rather steep walk to the highest part of the cliff using the Mediterranean steps. Not for the faint hearted!
Between Almerimar and Gibraltar we anchored close to Fuengirola and stayed a couple of nights at Marina del Este. Fuengirola hasn’t and will never win any landscape architectural competitions. As a contrast, Marina del Este was a gem of a very secure, well hidden and picturesque harbour. We have gradually got used to Tina Princess becoming relatively smaller and smaller to yachts in southern Europe. Here we moored next side to a 100 foot, beautiful british ketch. The water inside and outside the harbour was crystal clear and the area seemed to be a major diving centre.
We have now signed a 6 month mooring contract with Almerimar Marina. Determining factors choosing this marina were safety from adverse winter weather, liveaboard community, 3000 hours sunshine/pa, costs for mooring and a living, albeit small, village offering what we need. We obviously hope to be able to sail during the winter months, as we have the last 18 years, weather permitting.
We started beginning of August with some anchoring in the Nature Reserve Islands between Ria Arousa and Ria Pontevedra. We visited the Isla Salvóra, where we found out that the “castle” was not a castle but a building for making salt. Do always check before making assumptions what the old buildings were used for J.
Next stop going south was, the Ria Pontevedra. We went for a marina and ended up in Sanxenxo. ( In northern Spain you will expect to find a lot of “x” in all villages names). Anyway, Sanxenxo is a main city in the area and by that also the gathering for festivals and DISCO!!!!. We had a not so pleasant night close to the base drums. Day after was rainy. Fortunately we had not being hit by many of those. We took a stroll in the closest area and, as most times in Spain, ended up in a small restaurant eating tapas. This time we also managed to find Goose Barnacles. Tastes like crab legs. Looks very special and when you as a sailor know that barnacles are things you like to avoid, it is interesting to find that they are costly!
From Sanxenxo we sailed to Conbarro (a tip we got from a sailor in Vilagarcía). We anchored 75 meters from the village center on 3 meter. Good holding. The village center is a 1000 year old fishing village, nicely restored. Small “streets” and pubs/restaurants like “holes in the wall”, close to where grannny is hanging her clothes to dry after washing. Definitely a place not to be missed. We spent 2 days just enjoying the scenery. Sunny weather, warm, but still cold water (+16 degrees).
On or way to the next Ria ( Ria de Vigo) we stopped at another of the natural Islands ( Islas Cíes). For the first time we had clear water: anchoring at 7 meter with total visibility. Good holding as always. Some swimming and a late stroll on the beach. Next day was not so pleasant. Wind change and a lot of “dust” in the water, some coming from all fishing boats harvesting “something” close by. We decided to move on to Baiona.
Baiona is an old city with remains from Columbus. A replica from “Pinto”, one of his ships is there for show. The old town is small, crowded with Spanish people on vacation and filled with nice small restaurants and pubs. A big castle from 1400 century lies on a cliff at the seafront.
Even if we still had “all time there is” we felt it was time to head for Portugal. Still motoring, no wind, and after some hours we ended up in Povoa de Varzim. OK marina, decent harbor fee ( € 18,50) and some Swedish boats again. One of the harbors sponsoring ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers). Close to the showers you find a nice library where you can exchange books. We found that one of our books, left in Baiona, had travelled before us and was now to be found on the shelves here. (Important to make stamps in the books you leave so that you can follow where they have been….)
We stayed in Varzim for 4 days, spending 24 of those hours listening to the foghorn… One day we took the metro to Porto. A beautiful city! Down by the river Douro you find all old Port vine houses, plenty of restaurants and a nice net of old intertwined streets. Peter took a photo of a taxi driver who managed to exceed the speed limit of 10 km. It’s really an achievement to manage something like that among the old houses, streets, stairs and restaurants!
Further south towards Lisbon. The swell forced us to go by motor. Since we have been in Lisbon before, we stopped in Cascais, after a nice 65-70 nM with a combination of sail and motor, calm and 7 knots and some dolphins making us company outside the Cape (Cabo da Roca). We had read that the harbor fee in Cascais was terrible, but we found it OK considering the service and closeness to a nice town. We also expected some extra wind to come later during the week so a safe harbor was needed.
Cascais is a pleasant town, small streets, old and new houses, a lot of azulejos (tiles painted in different colours and pictures) both as decoration on facades and on the streets. We also found a nice outdoor market where we bought vegetables and spices ( a piri-piri plant and basil). Both of us made jogging tours (Peter most of the time) in the mornings and then the days went by strolling through the city or doing some shopping. Friday and Saturday it was Cascais´town festivity. Music, eateries etc. Happy for having the harbor a bit out of sight for the music, so we had some pleasant days ( and sleeping nights) there.
Next stop down the Portuguese coast was Sines. A sheltered anchorage close to the small, old, village. It is far between the possibilities to anchor down the Portuguese coast so we started to recognize some of the other boats coming in. At day 2 we were 4 Swedish boats there! We ate a nice dinner (baby swordfish for Eva and Sea Bass for Peter) in a family type restaurant in one of the narrow streets. Not any foreigners as far as we could see, just Portuguese families out for Saturday dinner. We spent an extra day for sun and swimming. Water clear but cold. Still around +16 degrees.
As mentioned it is far between marinas and anchorages. To Lagos we had a motor/sailing of 75 nM. During the calm part of the journey we got company by Common dolphins. Always welcome! Passing Cabo Vicente, the wind picked up and we had good sailing to Lagos.
We staid in Lagos for a couple of days, looking at the old city and doing some bunkering. The marina was rather expensive but well sheltered for the winds expected.
When weather became calmer we moved to Faro, anchoring inside the sand islands surrounding the nature reserve. Pretty spooky at high tide, since most of the small sandbanks disappeared and we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. The outer island with the two small villages is beautiful. Long beaches, small houses and restaurants. We stayed close to the village in south west and took a long walk to the one at the other end. There was also a small harbor with some people living on their boats all year. We found this village a bit more “worn down”, but still it was here we found 3 storks walking between plastic bags and other “left overs”. On the web we could read that storks migrate over land rather than water, and these were most likely on their way further south for the winter. So were we. Having time enough to make some stops before Gibraltar, we sailed to Mazarón. Good sailing with some visits from the dolphins and Eva managed to catch 4 mackerel for dinner. Peter posted a nice picture of that in our blog. Mazarón harbor belongs to a chain of marinas owned by the Andalusian government. They have the same fees – rather expensive – close to 50€ per night for our boat ( 15 x 4,40) . We took advantage of their service and asked them to book next stop for us. We knew that the next harbour Chipiona – a small, old, holiday town could be crowded this time of the year, so we thought that was vise to do. (We did the same going to Cadiz, later).
Chipiona: don’t miss it! It’s a beautiful old town (as most of the ones we have visited). Semi-large harbor, well kept, English speaking marineros. We stayed for 2 nights wandering the small streets, enjoying the atmosphere. We found a vine company/cellar for the Muscat grape. Tested different variants from sweet, raisin testing red wine (Peter) to white dry wine (Eva). Tapas eating of course, swimming in the now 27 degree water, enjoying ourselves. Number of people on the beach exceeded everything we had seen until now! Umbrellas, chairs, cool boxes, toys to last a day from 9 in the morning to 9 in the evening. Here we started to feel the heat. Temperature was now up to +37 degrees going down to maybe 27 in the night. Even Eva spent the days in the shadow. We started to experiment with open skylights/hatches, Mr. Notemann’s (he owner before us) blinds for the skylights and being in enclosed marinas having open windows helped. We took lots of pictures of tiles, making that the main story and pictures of this month’s blog.
Having more time to spend on our way to Gibraltar, we decided to visit Cadiz, even if we had been there by car some years ago. We don’t regret that. Cadiz is a fantastic town. 3000 years old (!), small, narrow streets, marvelous market for fish, vegetables and meat. We found the place where we many years ago were having dinner with hundreds of hams hanging from the ceiling, the 23:rd of December. We also stumbled upon an interesting event taking place Monday to Thursday on the pier to the marina: trumpets, drums and horns, training for what we think is the eastern festival every year. If somebody knows something about this, please mail us. It was at least 100 persons every night.
29-th of August we anchored in La Linea in Spain, having passed Gibraltar Strait, entering the Med. Fog and a lot of ships made the entrance interesting. Africa very visible with a mountain 800 meters high on the Morocco side and Gibraltar 400 meters on the other side. Very narrow strait. We anchored outside the marina in La Linea and I (Eva) had to ask for depth since the sea floor was visible at 7 meters. Fantastic water quality in a bay with an oil refinery at the inner shore. We have been here by car a year ago so we know what to look for: tapas, Gibraltar cliff etc. 30-th of August we took a berth in the Queensway marina in Gibraltar, for a week, waiting for spare parts and enjoying the easy English life here.
All in all:
For those who wonder why we are going through all harbours and anchorages: we have enjoyed other sailor’s descriptions of where to go and where to not go, and we like to add to that information.
One thing is obvious: don’t leave the Rias in northern Spain too soon. They are special. Easy to find shelter, marinas mixed with sheltered anchorages. Old villages, lots of shellfish. Here we spent 60-70% at anchor, enjoying every day/night. We spent nearly 4 weeks in the Rias.
Cold water: the temperature in the water on the west coast is 16 degrees, nothing else! If water is clear you still don’t do a long swim around the boat.
VAT in Portugal: coming in to Portugal we found the marinas a far between and some are expensive. The fee is shown without tax (23%) and could give you a minor heart attack when paying your way out of a marina. Having said that, the cheapest marina since Rendsburg in Germany was Varzim with 18 € per night.
Azulejas: the tiles in Portugal are marvelous. We are adding lots of photos of how they use painted tiles in Portugal. Moorish, Spanish and Portuguese influence. They are called azulejas because they were only blue (azul) and white in the beginning. The Moorish tiles are non-figurative but the Portuguese ones are used as paintings, explaining fishing and other “normal life” events.
Enclosed marinas: to stay in enclosed marinas is a major plus since we in the south of Portugal and Spain did experienced +35 degrees and had to have all skylights/hatches open, night and day.
Fish nets: southern Portugal and especial Spain is filled with fishing nets and fixed equipment for fishing. That makes day sailing a “must”, or you have to go far out to sea.
- Water temperature: colder than expected at the west coast of Portugal and Spain
- Storks: found in Faro
- Dolphins (common and bottle nosed). We have seen them many times. However, the bottle nosed are “less curious” as the Common dolphins
- Parrots: small parrots imported and escaped are living well in the area of Cadiz. You will hear and see green birds in the trees that most likely belong to some other country further south.
- Eucalyptus trees are now handing over to pine trees.
- Hibiscus, Nerium and Bougainvillea are still sparkling with colors
- Goose Barnacles ( Sp, Percebes) We managed to find them at last. Looks strange but taste like crab legs.
- Wine: in Porto we tested port wines but the best was a red wine from a winery more famous of port wine, Kopke.
- Sardines: there is a season for sardines, July to September. We found it in Porto and ate Sardines there and also further south.
- Chicken Piri-Piri: a Portuguese dish where the chicken is marinated in hot (!) sauce.
- Spices: in Portugal we found hot spices again. We had been looking for chili, ginger, basil and other spices. We even found live piri-piri that we are now taking care of for later harvest.
Until next time / hasta luego
BR Eva, Peter
Shouldn’t complain – reports from Sweden talks of torrential rains and 12C temps. I guess we are still in need of some calibration to cope with the heat. 300nm north we still complained about 16C water temp. Now we have 26C and 37C mid day air temp. Experimenting with ventilation and all kind of “bimini” shelters. We are now in Cadiz, a fantastic, 3000 year old town. Key features are the narrow streets and a million tapas bars but we have also spotted one mysterious feature of the town. Every evening, about 100+ “young people” (according to our norms, ie 20-25 age) turn up with either a drum, a trumpet or a horn. At 2130 they start playing a rather military march sounding tune with serious conducting until approx 2300. Strange. We tried to get some insights by talking to some folks but are still in the dark. Some googling suggest Easter festivities preparation, but sounds a bit premature, sure these kids shouldn’t have to wait 8 months to perform. At that age I knew more funny stuff to do in the evenings…
After two weeks cruising in Portugal we are now close to the Spanish border to Algarve. Portugal has been a very pleasant experience, a lot of culture, finally some decent sea temperature and very nice and friendly people. Only challenge has been the language, probably because we are trying to use some portuguese words rather than using english – most people speak excellent english. From the north we mixed touristy town marinas like Cascais and Lagos with lovely anchorages. A new record high marina fee was encountered in Lagos. Well, if you consider the marina office that looks like any global HQ and number of staff it is probably fair pay. We have met many nice fellow sailors here in Portugal, in Lagos we finally had a drink with Brian and Penny the owners of Dignity from Solent, UK. We/they have been following their/our footsteps since Brittany. Today we also met a nice expat couple from UK living in southern Spain, David and Helen, S/Y Deep Blue, getting some very useful hints of marinas and places to visit in south Spain. From Faro where we are now enjoying, 30C air, 23C sea, 22n wind we are likely tomorrow heading for Ayamonte, the first Spanish town adjacent to Portugal.
Reluctantly we realised making the Spanish Rias full justice meant us making this fantastic sailing area our winter base. Checking stats for winter storms (like last winter) made the decision easy – continue south. From Ria Pontevedro our big impression came from the tiny fishing village of Combarro. From the anchorage it would be easy to miss out the features of this medieval fishing village. Luckily we got the tip from a dutch sailor who made a very successful “sales pitch” about Combarro. From Cambarro we headed out for Islas Cies, a marine nature reserve that requires a permit to be able to anchor and visit this very remote set of atlantic islands. Fantastic clear water, allowing inspection of anchor and chain in 8 m water. After a calm night we experienced the vulnerable position of these islands, having 1.5m swell coming in to our anchorage – meaning a quick departure. Last place to visit on the Spanish Atlantic west coast was Bayona. Surprisingly we met more swedish sailors here than anywhere before on our cruise. Highlights from Bayona was the impressing fortress with 2.5 km walls and of course Columbus “Pinta”, a replica of his ship returning to Bayona, from his America discoveries. We are now in Cascais, a kind of suburb to Lisbon. More on Portugal will follow.
Gijon, Spain. As we entered early in the morning, it was still dark. First sight of the new country was when we woke up after some hours sleep. The town looks nice. Rather big, but with a distinct old town close to the harbor. We started with a stroll in the neighborhood and found lovely streets, up and downhill, small restaurants and a huge beach. The water temperature is still around 16 C, so no swim today. Instead we did some laundry and experienced the first tapas and “raciones” (typically a dish for one for lunch). Nice wine and also cider, that this region is famous for. Day 2 we shopped for groceries, also including fish, at a good price. In the marina we also met the first Swedish boat on its way back to Sweden so we exchanged some experiences of good and not so good places to go in Galicia.
Starting off our journey in Galicia, which we hope will take 1-2 months, we had a long day of motor sailing towards the west to reach Ribadejo. It’s a small village specializing in export of timber. Small harbor. The village is made up of old parts, worn down, and a more 1990 city center. We saw our first trees with lemon. Just imaging the pleasure to be able to pick your own when needed J .
Next day, heading towards Viveiro, was also had to use “the underwater spinnaker”. It seems like it is no wind or a lot of wind. However, with no wind you can explore the sea much better. Suddenly we saw a lot of crabs, small ones (4 cm), swimming close to the surface. We talk about thousands!! As I had seen one in Swedish waters before, I knew they were swim crabs. Last pair of legs changed in to swimming-equipment. None of us had seen them in real life before, but looking through our books, Sweden has 4 different variants and they are apparently common. What we wonder is why they all were at the same place at the same time. Could it be that they “mate” and swim in vast schools at specific times? Anybody knows? Wonders of nature.
Viveiro turns out to be a small village with a sheltered harbor. However you start to think of the October storms when you see the huge piers at the opening. We go a friendly welcome, with a Marinero helping us with the lines at the jetty. 2 well equipped super markets within sight from the harbor was a plus when doing the shopping. The village consists of many small roads parallel with the hills, so a lot of up- and downhill walking.
Since we had family visits coming via Coruña, left the harbor after 2 days, but we had to turn back due to swell. It turns out that you don’t only have to take care of the wind strength, waves and tides, but also the swell, when moving along the coast line. It is specifically the “capes” that makes the sea interesting! Family had to take taxi (1 hour) to Viveiro (train takes 6 hours due to mountains). Next day we set of again to go for Coruña. After 15 nm we lost steering so it was hand held emergency tiller that had to be used for the next 30 miles. Fortunately with 4 persons onboard we could take turns, but it was a bit interesting to go in to the marina in Coruña with one person at the engine, one at the steering and two with fenders and lines. We had called up the marina on VHF and got a lot of help from the marineros. Positive during this trip were the dolphins coming to meet us at various occasions. Some even got stuck on film. Peter spent some time fixing the steering (loose bolts) and we also did some other things on the maintenance list, but we also managed to explore the city. Coruña has a specific way of building their windows. Many small glass squares with white wooden frames in white, gives a spectacular water front in the old harbor. The walk by the waterfront looks brand new and then city as a whole gives an impression of “on my way up”.
Two days later we pass the Cape Finisterre and anchor at Corme, a small fishing village with mussel farming in the bay. It is windy so only our visitors get ashore. Report back is that the village is of the “sleepy” sort. Next morning we get the sight or Bottle nosed Dolphins in the bay. Fantastic.
It is still windy (12-15 m/s) the next day, so with only genoa we set of to the next bay, Camariñas. Good holding ground for the anchor, but a bit too windy for our small dingy. We have to buy a bigger soon…. Anyway, spending the afternoon onboard, we go for a short /very short) swim in the sea. Water temperature now only +15 degrees C. HU!
Quickly we set of to the rias on the west coast. First one is Ria del Muros. On our way we passed the Costa Muerte = coast of death. Having been on anchor for some days, we went in to a marina in Portosin. In the Pilot is says that the marina is known for its friendliness but that the village is dull. We found the marina as friendly as written but also that the village was quite nice! The atmosphere in the village is very friendly, supermarket is close to the marina, the beach is huge with crystal clear but still cold water, and wine and tapas are to our liking. An interesting thing happened one evening when we were eating at the restaurang in the marina. A lot of noice from the small kids fishing on the pontoon…..we thought something had happened. And it had. One of the kids got a sea eel on the hook. 1,3m and maybe 10 kg. It did not look too friendly but was apparently eatable. At least the kid’s mother said so (I think J).
After 2 days our friends left us for Göteborg, via Santiago Compostela, and Peter and myself staid another couple of days waiting for spare parts to the wind generator and also to take care of Peter’s cold.
Since we had heard that it is worth to spend time in the Galicia area, we planned for more time in this Ria and also more Rias on our way south. We therefore went from Portosin across the Ria to Muros. A journey of approximately 5 nM J. We anchored close to the village center, for easy access with our dingy. The holding ground was very good and we stayed a couple of days, walking in the small narrow streets and checking out on local food. For instance; we had our first experience of Razor Clams ( sw. knivmusslor). They exist in Sweden but we have never seen them in any shop, Just the empty shells on the beaches. The Razor Clams are dug out from the sand underwater, by divers. Looked like a heavy work. We also started to notice that all villages looks different. Muros had more old houses, well taken care of, when Portosin had newer ( 1950) buildings. In Muros we also saw some strange small “houses” on high legs. After some research we think they are for storing/drying grain and other crops. We found Muros very charming.
Next stop further to the east was Riveira. Also here by anchor. A bit lager and modern village, with a large fish fleet and a very nice fish market. We did not try to buy there, but the assortment of fish and mussels, crabs etc. was extreme. Lot of things we had not seen before. Now the water temperature had reached+18 degrees so quick dips in the sea was possible, necessary now when the weather started to be warm again. Good weather was mixed with fog, so we took the opportunity for a reading day. (Since we are supposed to be sailing for some time, not all days can be touristic and the brain cannot sort new intake every day) Next day, being warm and sunny, we took a walk along the coast line to the next village. Very nice walk. Checking out the village we ate the best mussels we have ever gotten. Huge, and just cooked with some salt and the taste of the mussels. However, taking off the next day we decided not to stop by with the boat and went to Escarabote instead.
On anchor in 4-6 meters we could listen to the celebrations of “Galicia Day” from the shore. In Galicia it seems that they use “canon shots” at daytime to celebrate, not fire crackers at night as we are used to. Here we also saw typical examples for the whole families celebrating together at the local restaurant. Heartwarming to see the small kids and grandparents at the same tables. Not so common at home.
After many days at anchor it was now time for us to find a marina for some shopping, jogging (Peter) and long strolls. We went to Vilagarcia, a city with 38.000 inhabitants. We got a good place in the marina and went directly to the market place. Peter had read in the Pilot that Saturdays were market days. And so it was! It was huge, and included both vegetables, meat and fish. We ended up with 2 lobsters (220 sek per kg) and some clams for the next two days dinner. Both dinners were perfect. The weather during our stay in Vilagarcia was fantastic, with sunshine and 27-33 degrees. Shadow was necessary so we used our canvas to be able to sit outside admiring the view. One morning, we managed to catch a glimpse of a bottle nosed Dolphin coming in to the harbor, close to our boat. As always, we didn’t have the possibility to get a good photo, so it is only stored in our memories.
July has been a slow move to the south. Weeks of good weather, especially turning south of Finisterre. A few days of heavy rain in Muros. Many days have been spent at anchor and the few stops in marinas have been 3-6 days. Finally we are slowing down and starting to understand that we have TIME.
People in Spain have been very friendly, more English speaking in the marinas than expected and when they only speak Spanish, they have been positive to our attempts to make ourselves understood. We have had visitors from the customs two times: once in Gijon entering Spain and then at anchor outside Riveira. Very friendly and positive
At most of the anchorages, we are competing for space with the fish farms. In Spain most of the world’s clams and mussels are harvested ( 60%) and the northern Rias accounts for 95% of Spain’s production.
Last weeks in July, Peter also have had contact with 2 marinas in the Mediterranean about harbor winter contracts (Oct-March) : Almerimar and Cartagena. Offers seems good and we will decide when we come closer to Gibraltar, in September.
With some spare parts Peter now have both energy systems up and running: wind and solar panels give us the electricity we need at anchor and we have not needed any charging by main or aux engine.
- Water temperature: +16-20 ( +20 degrees at some spots in the Ria Aroso)
- Eucalyptus trees common. We did not know that they were to be found here in Europe.
- Flowers: some rain now and then secures the multitude of flowers. We have seen beautiful Bougainvillea in red and purple, our swedish Honeysuckle (sw. Kaprifol) and of course the Hydrangea ( sw. Hortensia) that have been following us from France to Spain. Exists everywhere.
- Common dolphins have been visiting us when we sailed outside Finisterre. We got some nice photos ( see earlier blog)
- Bottle nosed dolphins ( sw. flasknosdelfin) have been seen close to/in the harbors strangely enough. Not so social but more into hunting fish.
- Millions of Mullets ( sw. Multe) in all marinas. If there had been seals here, they would have been enormous! Somebody wants to give them a hint?
- Swimcrabs in millions surfacing between Coruña and Finisterre.
- Pimento Padrones: a major discovery! Small peppers (sw. paprika) which you get fried in oil with salt. We have tried to cook them ourselves and it works fine.
- Mussels ( sw. Blåmusslor, sp. Meijones): grand size in Riveira
- Razor Mussels (sw. Knivmusslor, sp. Navajas): content looks different than blue shells, since they are dug down in the sand and therefore contains a siphon for catching water and food.
- Scallops: Spanish Zamburiñas we tried fried yesterday. Tasted fantastic. Looks like small Scallops ( sw. Pilgrimsmusslor). We also got Vieiras ( eng. Scallops) cooked with sautéed onions and served in their shells.
- Almejas ( eng. Clams, sw. Sandmusslor?): cocked as we do mussels at home.
- Boquerones ( eng./sw. Ansjovis). We got them served marinated which tastes perfect a hot day.
- The local white wine Alberiño, goes very well with the seafood.
Until next time / hasta luego
BR Eva, Peter
Hola, blog fellows!
As planned we are still “Ria hopping”. Now we are in Ria Arousa, after 10 days of anchoring we felt we had to feel the luxury of being moored in a Marina. Large scale shopping with a 2.3 m dingy isn’t very practical! We are in Vilagarcia Marina, a friendly, less costly marina (100 € for 3 days). Included in the deal is a bottle of really nice Albarino wine. On our way we where greeted by a couple of Bottle Nosed Dolphins that can weigh as much as 600 kg. This morning Eva shouted – bring the camera. One dolphin was in the marina, very close from our boat!
A couple of days ago we had a Swedish couple and their friends on board for a drink.
The boat owners, Lars and Kerstin from Örnsköldsvik, have had their boat Naranja3, 2 years at La Coruna Marina and where very pleased with the service and location with airports nearby etc. Their friends Christer and Eivor are from Orust. Amazingly both Lars and Christer have worked many years at Hallberg-Rassy boatyard at Ellös, Orust, Sweden. Christer more than 40 years, and guess what, part of his responsibility was to lead the assembly of ALL HR 49’s! What a small world!
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