Thought it was about time to bring the saga up-to-date.
Since the last instalment we've successfully crossed the Bay of Biscay
to Gijon (about half way along the north coast of Spain) and have meandered
along the coast heading towards La Coruña
where we arrived last Saturday. The Biscay crossing took 75 hours and
we survived the experience. The first two days were glorious - a bit of
Atlantic swell but not too bad. Sailed nearly all the way - just running
the engine for an hour a day to keep the fridge/freezer cold. About half
way across our electronic chart reader gadget decided not to work reliably
- which was a bit of a worry, however we managed to get it to work before
we arrived at Gijon. The paper charts were OK, but having invested in
the electronic ones we wanted to make sure they worked! Anyway, the last
24 hours the wind got up to about Force 6 and the seas were pretty lumpy.
We put the saloon berth cushion on the floor down the centreline and the
off-watch person slept on that - with earplugs in! The earplugs were a
great idea - although you could still hear if called, they took the edge
of the noise of the seas and rigging so you could sleep.
We also saw dolphins and what looked like tuna or bonito jumping out of
the water! Promptly motored through the fish but still didn't manage to
hook anything. So far our record of fishing is abysmal - I hope we aren't
going to have to depend on our fishing to eat! We've tried different lures,
different speeds of boat, etc - all without catching anything yet.
While at Gijon we discovered there was a cider festival
being held over the weekend - apparently this part of Spain is cider-country.
There is a local tradition of pouring the cider from the bottle held at
arms-length over one's head and the glass at an angle down by one's hip!
Not a lot of the cider ends up in the glass - most pours onto the street!
Once we'd tasted the cider we could understand why - it was really cheap
but really rough! The street was the best place for it!
Anyway, after a few days recovering from the Biscay
crossing, and having caught up on a huge load of laundry (by hand!!),
we headed west exploring the rias (like Scotland, apparently). Steep sided
inlets with high rocky cliffs and generally a small fishing village nestled
at the base. It's amazing how many fishing boats there are - but only
about 30% of them appear to go out fishing. But every harbour wall is
crowded with locals fishing every evening - we've only ever seen one fish
caught though! We've come to the conclusion that the men are sent out
to fish to get them out of the house!
Our chart reader died completely so, after lots of phone calls/emails
to the UK, they agreed to send a replacement gadget to us. We asked at
the local post office if they would accept Poste Restante (which they
were very helpful about) and the UK said they'd courier the part out to
us. Unfortunately, we ended up in Cudillero for 10 days waiting for it
to arrive. Turned out the UK had sent it by post - and two days later
than they'd said. However, Cudillero was a pretty fishing village and
we had a free mooring! When we'd first arrived, we'd dropped the anchor
but the bottom was a fine silt and wouldn't hold. The harbour had lines
laid along the sea floor to provide fore and aft moorings for the fishing
boats and a German yacht arrived and picked up one of these moorings.
After we'd dragged twice we rafted up alongside him and were soon joined
by a Dutch yacht. The socialising was great fun! About 100m from our mooring,
work was being done to build a new slip way and dock - machinery working
all hours of the day and night whenever there was low tide. A couple of
days later one of the Spanish guys called out to say we had to move as
they were doing an underwater explosion at 6pm that night! They were concerned
about the safety of the yachts because we were in direct line. It was
great of them to take the trouble to warn us - none of the local fishing
boats seemed to move! The two other yachts decided to sail on westward,
but we had to wait for our parcel. In the end we motored out of the harbour
for the duration and came back in again at 6.30pm! Over the course of
our 10 day stay we were joined by a variety of different yachts - 2 from
the UK and one French family with 2 young children.
The only other major hiccup is that one cell in one of our bank of 5 domestic
batteries decided to die - which caused the other batteries to drain rather
worryingly. We took it out of the loop and the other 4 batteries have
gradually recovered - but during all this we've had to be really careful
about electricity consumption - which is why we've not been in contact.
Yesterday we managed to get new batteries installed so we have life again!
Somebody had also sent us a lovely email but with photos attached - and
after an hour on the mobile phone the email was still downloading. In
the end we had to find a ciber cafe to receive the email and delete it
so we could get back on line! Moral of the story is - please don't send
big emails or attachments! We can't receive weather or financial stuff
if we're off the air.
Finally the part arrived and was successfully installed and we were on
the move again. Last night in La Coruña
we had lots of visitors from different boats and enjoyed a traditional
roast dinner and dessert - washed down with several bottles of wine! Today
we have hangovers... But the washing has finally been hung out to dry
(it's been wet and windy for the last two days) and we're getting fuel,
water, etc on board ready for the next stage.
There has been a gale passing through on Sunday and Monday but the forecast
for the next couple of days is good so we'll probably leave tomorrow to
round Cape Finisterre. Either straight through (about 24 hours) or we'll
stop at one of the rias overnight. Then, hopefully, the going is reasonably
straightforward and getting warmer!