Tropical Storm Grace

Our guests arrived anticipating a week of sunshine and light winds to explore the Spanish Rias, but it wasn’t meant to be.  The weather had a somewhat unsettled feel to it, and our first days sailing was interspersed with rain showers.  We anchored for the night in the Ria de Alden, not too far from Sanxenxo.  During the night the rain came and went, but we started the morning of Monday 5 October in light airs.  Little were we to know that out in the Atlantic, just south of the Azores, Tropical Storm Grace was forming and that her path would bring her within 300 miles of the Galician coastline and Velvet Lady’s cruising ground.  By 3 in the afternoon there was a storm warning on the navtex for force 8 to 10 winds offshore and our plans to find an idyllic anchorage for the night needed to be radically changed.  We needed a marina berth that would be safe in the predicted strong southerlies and so we headed north to the Ria de Muros and Portosin marina.  As we approached the marina and already in the protection of the Ria we were experiencing severe rain squalls with wind gusts of 40 knots, Velvet Lady was still doing 4 knots under bare poles.  After a trip to the shower and laundry to dry out, we settled down on board with a well earned beer and prepared to sit it out.

During the night we could hear the wind gusting – although at one stage there was a completely clear sky, and were very happy to be tucked up on board.  With the weather really no good for cruising, we took a bus to the nearby old town of Noia, and practiced our Spanish. 

We went out for a sail after our second night in Portosin, and although the wind had died somewhat, the sea was still rather large.  After 11 or 12 tacks, we realized that we were not going to make fast progress out of the Ria, and headed back to marina Portosin for a third night.  The girl in the marina office chuckled when I entered, but said we had stayed out longer than she expected!

Finally the weather improved, with bright blue skies and sunshine, and we spent a long day enjoying being out in the fresh air as we headed 50 miles south to Bayona and some authentic Spanish Paella. 

Despite the weather, we all enjoyed ourselves, sailed 144 nautical miles, practiced navigation, chilled out from work pressures, visited 4 picturesque rias, took photos of leaping dolphins, ate and drank lots, barbequed on board, ate al fresco and filled the time practicing our tall tales of being caught in tropical storm grace.

We even added to our general knowledge.  We were all extremely puzzled after the storm as we sailed through huge patches of ‘red goop’.  Google came to the rescue and let us know that it was naturally occurring red algae caused by the upwelling of nutrients found specifically off the Galician coast!