The Rain in Spain falls mainly in Galicia

ria vigo from hill comp

The Spanish Rias are characterised by their long golden sandy beaches, colourful buildings on the shorefronts, extensive mussel beds  and the lush green trees.  Yesterday, after the guests left, Richard and I had a tourist day and walked up to El Castro, the fortifications in the centre of Vigo where we got a great view of the whole Ria.  In fact if you look closely between the branches of the trees you can even see a fleet of Optimists out practicing for their big regatta next week.

We are back in Vigo at the end of our first of 2, 7 night Spanish Rias trips.  The weather gods were not in our favour this week, and we discovered why Galicia is so green, one morning it rained 17mm in an hour!  However, despite the weather not being perfect, we managed to carefully pick our moments and still have a great few days sailing.  We started with a fast downwind sail to Sanxenxo – pronounced Sanshensho and a night in my favourite marina.  There was a big function on when we arrived with lots of Movistar flags flapping in the breeze – and the ex Volvo Ocean Race boat Telefonica Black in pride of place now logoed up as Movistar.  Looked like they were doing lots of corporate days raising sponsorship for the next race.  We saw them on the water later in the week doing 19 knots to our 7!

Our second days sailing we headed north to the Ria Arousa and an anchorage in San Julien.  There are plenty of places to go in this Ria if the weather is right – after listening to the forecast for Southerly gales we had to choose a bay protected from the south.  When we arrived there it looked like all the fishing boats in the area had made the same choice, it was packed.

A good choice as it turned out, the wind blew relentlessly all day but Velvet Lady lay perfectly well to her anchor, which was buried well into the mud.  A day at anchor gave us plenty of time to read books, play games and join the Spanish in their Siesta routine.

The wind and rain died off by lunchtime on day 4 and we had a quick blast – yankee only across to Pobra,  a small town hidden away in the corner of the Ria.  After 2 short days on the water we went out for a much longer sail sailing back to the Ria de Vigo, past Vigo and east under the bridge into the very sheltered Enseada de San Simon.  We all agreed how pretty it was, a very large piece of water a bit like a large lake with a spectacular island in the centre of it.  We went to bed imagining launching the dinghy and exploring the island.

Lins island

Sadly it was not meant to be – The wind and rain started up again overnight and we didnt have a chance to go ashore to explore this interesting islands.  Thats now on my to do list – and maybe we will get the chance next week or the week after.

 

Accompanied by Dolphins on our Biscay Crossing

dolphins

It was a real privilege to be on night watch in the Bay of Biscay this year.

Pitch dark, no moon. Stars from horizon to  horizon. Velvet Lady gliding along at 7 knots and dolphins playing on the bow.  How many nights could this last – well the truth is 4 out of the 5.

Our first night was busy with shipping before we rounded Ushant and then remarkably quiet.  For 2 nights we sailed across the Biscay with hardly a vessel in sight, not until we approached the coast of Finisterre did the fishing boats appear.  This gave our budding ocean navigators plenty of time to become accomplished with the sextant.  Sighting on first the sun, then the moon and then finally the tricky ones, the stars.  We even had time for Andy to teach us a new technique – A Lunar distance.  Not sure I will recommend it as the tables are more than complicated.

We rounded Cap Vilano in the middle of the night surrounded by fishing boats – giving us plenty of practice recognising their extra lights and also introducing the yellow flashing lights on purse seiners that a few of our guests had never seen before.

Daylight dawned on our fifth morning to the towering cliffs of Cap Finisterre and the spectacular scenery of the Spanish Rias.

We had made our crossing of Biscay in surprisingly good time, so time for a couple of stops.  First, make sure we had sailed more than 600 miles for our ocean yachtmaster candidate.  609 miles on the log when we tied up at midnight in Bayona.

Long distance passage making and watchkeeping takes it out of you more than you think – and after a couple of beers on board we retired to bed with no one surfacing until noon the following day.  A nice day to look around Bayona and then treat ourselves to Spanish Tapas ashore for dinner.

We still  had time for a sail into the Ria de Pontevedra and an evening stop at my favourite place Sanxenxo.  The lovely weather and the stunning scenery had one of our guests searching out charter boats to come back here next summer.  We found a few in Sanxenxo and more in Vigo.  I am sure Tony will enjoy his summer here next year!

We are now in Vigo.  Getting ready for our guests arriving for a week sailing around this superb cruising ground.  Fully booked this week, but still some spaces next week – check out our website.