16th July 2005
Gijon to La Coruņa
In Gijon we met up with Billy, Sherie and Mike aboard Alieron, a US
registered Swan 44. They had been in Suances with us and tried to leave
for Gijon 2 days before us but were hammmered and, not being able to go back
into Suances due to breking waves on a falling tide, they had to run
before the wind to Santander. Anyway, they spent two nights with us
in Gijon and we have been cruising with them ever since.
Gijon was beautiful with a lovely old quarter but evantually we had
to leave and decided to do a long passage to the beginning of the
area of the Rias, the Galician fjords. The destination was Ribadeo 75 miles
away. We left at 6am and motored for 2 hours before rounding Cabo Peņas
where we were able to set sail. The forecast was for slight seas becoming
moderate later, wind east force 3 to 4 increasing 4 to 5 with some gusts of 6
at times. So we sailed well and even put up the ghoster, a massive
light weather sail, on a pole. By 12 midday the wind from dead
astern had increased
so that the ghoster was providing too much power and we took it
down. Soon the main was too powerful so we reefed it and later the
yankee also. The wind coontinued to rise so the yankee was replaced with
the smaller staysail and evantually the main was removed altogether.
By now we had wiinds of solid force 6 gusting to 7, a near gale. The
boat was very controllable with only the staysail up and we were
doing a comfortable 6 to 7 knots. Running before the wind is a normal
strong wing tactic and I was glad to have had the chance to practice it.
But the last hour with the wind creating waves of up to 3 metres, meant
we had to hand steer to avoid being broached, turned sideways to the
Evantually we arrived and found strong winds in the bay and so
chose to anchor in the protected bay instead of trying to enter the marina
where the wind could make mooring the boat very difficult. We were
tired after our ordeal but never felt that the boat had been out of
control. I am just glad that Gerry was on board as he was unflappable
and relaxed at all times. We had two bottles of wine with a fine
dinner and relaxed aboard for the evening.
The next morning the wind had calmed a lot and we headed into the
marina for the night. The town of Ribadeo was lovely with a lot
of beautiful derilict buildings displaying the commercial trading
history of the port. It would be a great place to buy into before
the developers take root. Some of the buildings have already been done up
in a tasteful way, preserving the character of the town. If only we
could do that at home!
A sunny morning marked our departure for Viviero, the first of the
Rias Altas at the northwestern corner of Spain. We had to motor on slight
seas until the last hour and a half, when we had a lovely wind from astern.
But as we entered the Ria itself the wind got a bit and we set a
record, the first time Suckin Diesel had gone over 9 knots, 9.4 at
one stage. When we got further in it died to a pleasant breeze,
fsmaking the mooring up easy enough. It was hot that day, late 30s at
a guess, not Irish weather! The town had lots of character which
we saw at night after a paella on board cooked by Gerry.
Viviero to Cedeira started with us horsing out of the Ria at over
8 knots into a fog bank. Radar on etc. Luckily, the wind eased a
bit and finally the fog lifted after a few miles and the wind stabilised from
astern, increasing to force 6 to 7 for the last 8 miles. Rollercoaster
sailing before calming down for the beautiful anchorage of Cedeira.
Sadly the town didn't have the character of its delapidated cousin,
Ribadeo, though it was nice to wander through. For me it is especially
difficult to pick up the accents and regularily I am confused and can't
tell if they are talking Gallego or Spanish.. But then I remember what it
is like in Ireland talking to some of the fishermen in the small
harbours, you sometimes aren't sure what language they are speaking.
The following morning when I turned on the VHF I could hear a slightly
frantic voice repeatedly calling the Port of Cedeira. I guessed that there
was no harbourmaster listening and when he got no answer, I got in
touch to see if I could help. It turned out to be an 82 foot Sealine
motorboat, brand new, which was having engine problems and was arriving
from Brest in France. He was very low on fuel and was entering slowly in
thick fog. So Gerry and I went out in the dingy to help guide them in.
Suckin Diesel to the rescue again. After refuelling they headed off
to Porto in Portugal where they hoped to meet up with service engineers
to get their engins sorted out. Meantime they were plodding along
on one engine at 8 knots. I suggested going to La Coruņa, only 30 miles away
but they seemed reluctant. Gerry reckoned they were drug lords and
were reluctant to be spotted in Spanish waters for some reason. After
hearing their very East End accents on board a brand new 2 million
pound yacht, I think he could be right.
So after a dive (where Gerry had too much hot air to be able to sink!),
we headed for A Coruņa for a few days rest and crew change. The Roman
lighthouse of Hercules was the most impressive feature as we motored in
on a glassy sea. The marina is right beside the old town, which we
sampled for dinner as guests of Billy on Alerion. Some great fish
was had with the skipper trying to translate. But whatever, we got
great food and suffice to say, the following morning people were
a little slow to get up. So today is Gerry's last day and he has
helped to clear up the boat while I do some maintanance. It has been
great having him along for the spin and I hope he has learnt lots.