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 waves.

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.