Fantastic Weather in Spanish Rias

wendy_and_audrey_in_rias.jpg

There was glorious sunshine in La Coruna as our guests arrived this week.  Audrey, Mark and Wendy were all here for a bit of autumn sunshine, sailing and a chance to practise their recently learnt navigation skills.  The Galician coastline is quite a challenging place to practice as there are numerous unmarked rocks and many headlands that all look the same.  The chart started to look like a spiders web of lines as we chose to ignore the GPS and go back to basic navigation and clearing lines.  With hand bearing compass and binoculars to hand every one had a go at fixing our position and plotting our next course.  On days where there was very little wind, we wiggled down narrow passages and motored close to the land.  When there was more wind we sailed further offshore to make the navigation easier.

The Spanish Rias are as beautiful as I had hoped.  The northern Rias (Altas) are relatively small and far apart.  As we headed south we found they became larger and closer together.  By the time we reached the southern Rias (Bajas) they had opened out to provide a huge cruising ground with a wide choice of anchorages and marinas.  After spending two nights at anchor in Ria de Laxe and Ria de Muros we chose to visit the very modern marina at Sanxenxo, with fantastic facilities and a very warm welcome in the Real Club Nautico.

Between Sanxenxo and Bayona we sailed past two or three idyllic looking anchorages, and wished we had more time to be able to visit them all.  Bayona looked as pretty as I remembered it to be, as we relaxed in the sunshine with a cold beer.  We are already planning for next year, and with what we have seen this year we realise there is plenty to fill a week trip just pottering from anchorage to anchorage and not trying to get very far.

After 4 days of relaxing cruising in the sunshine in Spain it was time to set off on our first overnight passage to Portugal.  We offer several types of sailing holiday, and this week we were on a combination of short days and longer overnight passages.  We were lucky enough to have a full moon and clear sky for our first night at sea, and were surrounded by dolphins for much of the night.  We managed to visit two old historical Portuguese towns, Nazare and Peniche before arriving on the Algarve coast.  Our best sailing of the trip was surfing around Cape St Vincent at 8 knots.

relaxing_in_rias.jpg

Throughout the whole week the temperature never dropped below 22, and the shorts and T shirts were out in force.  With a flat sea there was plenty of opportunity and room on the deck for relaxing and sunbathing, interrupted only once by a towel overboard drill!  As we reached the Algarve coast  the water temperature also increased to 20 degrees, making it warm enough for Mark to swim a lap of the boat before breakfast!  He wanted to make the beach but at 200m it was just too far.

We are now in Vilamoura marina, scrubbing and cleaning in the sunshine ready for our next trip to Madeira and expecting it to get even warmer.  There are still some spaces on our second trip in Madeira, why not join us for a gentle trip around the island.
 

Fast Sailing

cedeira2.jpg

The beautiful anchorage at Ria de Cedeira

We left Plymouth in glorious sunshine and light breeze and enjoyed a perfect introductory day sail to Fowey.  Richard and I have been to Fowey many times before but it was a first for Velvet Lady.  . 

After a pleasant night in Fowey we set off with the tide and made a brisk 8 knots for most of the first day.  With her brand new headsail and rig tune we were excited to see what effect there would be on the sailing performance of Velvet Lady.  In only 15 knots of breeze Velvet Lady was certainly sailing faster than usual.  As the wind and swell increased slightly we reefed down but still maintained our 8 knots.  At this speed we were across the traffic lanes before dark and abeam Ushant by midnight. 

With the wind forecast to blow from the east or north east we were looking forward to a fast smooth passage across Biscay and we were not disappointed  if anything the only disappointment was that Biscay seemed a bit tame for September.  We were joined by dolphins on many occasions and even had 2 whale sightings. We made landfall in the dark on the Spanish coastline less then 72 hours after leaving England and we soon anchored for breakfast in the beautiful secluded Ria de Viviero, 50 nm east of La Coruna.  The pilot book promises stunning scenery, white sandy beaches and peaceful anchorages.  We were not disappointed. Our photographs just do not do justice to the extent of the scenery, an aerial picture works much better.

Usually the opportunity to potter around these interesting places is missed as one dashes across the Bay of Biscay, rounds Cape Finisterre and then follows the Portuguese and Spanish coastline south to the Mediterranean or the Canaries.  We were glad we had written our programme specifically to allow time to explore these Rias, and with our fast crossing we had plenty of time. 

We spent a day in the Ria Viviero and then visited Ria de Cedeira, and Ria de Betanzos before arriving in Ria de Coruna.  One of the joys of cruising is visiting new places and so we were very pleased to visit three places new to us in a row.  We also spent one day visiting the old Spanish town of Betanzos.  There are very few English Tourists in all of these places and so our Spanish was properly put to the test in everything from asking for the bus times to ordering lunch!.

Next week we again have the opportunity to visit some more of the Rias on our passage south to Vilamoura, and we are already plotting the possibility of a Spanish Rias cruise for next season.  There are still 3 places available on this trip 8th to 18th October at a reduced price of £795 per person.

It is yet again time for our quarterly newsletter which can be seen on the news page of our website.  The winner of our quarterly draw this time is   a gentleman from flintshire who wins £200 towards a sailing holiday on Velvet Lady.  He registered in February this year.  Why not sign in and join our quarterly draws, the next draw is to take place at the end of December.