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Sailing Letter July 2014, Spain/ Gijon to Ria Arousa

August 3, 2014

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.

Nature

  • 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.

Gastronomy

  • 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

3 Comments
  1. Håkan permalink

    Om ni väljer mellan Almerimar och Cartagena skulle jag verkligen rekommendera det senare. Cartagena är en trevlig levande stad medan Almerimar är stendött. Dessutom ganska långt in till samhället. Finns bara några trista restauranger och en ganska dålig supermarket i marinan.
    Men det var ju några år sedan så det kanske har ändrat sig.

    Vi har legat på båda platserna, dock ej över vinter.

    Like

    • Tack för tipset. Vi tänkte vi skulle inspektera dessa och några till innan vi bestämmer oss. Stor skillnad på priser desutom. Var ni i även i Aguadulce, något längre österut, och i såfall vad tyckte ni om den hmnen/byn?

      Skickat från min Xperia™-pekdator

      Like

  2. Håkan permalink

    Vi stod på land under 10 månader i Aguadulce 2002/2003. Ganska trevligt där, men vi var ju mest hemma i Sverige och jobbade.
    I Almerimar fick man inte jobba med båten själv, men det fick man i Agudulce. Vet inte om samma regler gäller forfarande.

    Like

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