Sunday, September 27, 2009

Farewell Galicia

Ciès island anchorage

We are almost through with the Ria's cruise. Galicia offered us some very nice anchorages in the 10 rias visited. The last ones, the largest were different but not for the same reasons. Arusa, huge was mostly a mussels farming ground with commercial and fishing harbors and cannery industry. Pontevedra with its nice beaches a tourist playground set in a beautiful large ria protected by the island on Ons, a national park. We have prefered the smallest one with little fishing harbors where we could anchor behing a jetty or in front of a little marina or yacht club where we could row to fill up some water jugs. We were lucky to have a splendid weather since one month. Hot, sunny, but windless.... But the big cloudless blue sky and calm waters compensated this. The only downside to Galicia, is the water temperature... no more than 62 F. What a pity !!
Vigo is the last of the ria before Portugal and its less friendly coast. We anchored out at Ciès Island protecting the ria from swells, and we are waiting for the return of the wind in some numerous little anchorages in front of a cove or beach on the north side of the Ria, just in front of the big city of Vigo.

Monday, September 21, 2009

the biggest Ria, Arousa

The giant high is welcome of course, but it is blocking all the wind. We try to hoist sails as much as we can when we see wrinkles on the sea surface... Lot of work for nothing, most of the time. Though the swells disapeared, which is good under those circonstances when no wind conterbalance the boat... The Ria de Arousa is the biggest, more than 10 miles deep and the mussels industry is very important. Almost all the shores are blocked by mussels beds. We anchor at Carminal, a little town protected in a bay. A commercial wharf hosts two small freighters and a small marina lays on the other side in front of the fishing harbor. The anchorage in front of the beach is deserted, we set our anchor in the middle. The small city is not touristic at all, but very active with a fish cannery. The old part of the city hides itself behind the water front. Some small shedded plazas are surrended by numerous bars all occupied after the siesta hours. We arrived around 8 pm and a little fair was going on, with musics, attractions etc... then at midnight, a very nice firework started just a few hundred meters in front of us.... The fiesta went on until the first hours of dawn...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

On the other side of the known world....

On the other side of the know world...

The weather is wonderful this morning : sun, calm sea, the swells are in vacation, but the wind also. A few puffs of wind let us hope for a nice breeze as we leave this very nice anchorage. We pass Cap Finistere under a beautiful sun and we enjoy this new mile stone in our voyage. From now on, we will be heading south. We enter the narrow Ria de Corcubion, tucked behind Finistere. It is a fishing harbor, without any touristic or cruising faciities, as most of the small Rias. We are the only strangers, the red ketch among small fishing boats in the anchorage. As we walk in the sleepy village on this nice Sunday afternoon, an old lady stopped us and asked us where we come from. Sweden ! very far, very north !! If I could almost look as a Galician woman, Magnus would have a hard time hiding his nordic origins... We can tell that there are not so many tourists coming to visit Corcubion... St Jacques de Composte is not very far, and is the place people go see. We won't.

Friday, September 18, 2009

On our way to the Corner of Spain

Cape villano

Fog, of course this morning, with all the humidity of yesterday... Though it seems to clear up on the ocean. But no wind, and swells always. And of course, the fog was just waiting for us to get out of the ria. We have to navigate with the radar until we arrive in view of the breakwater in the Ria de Camarinas. It is a splendid bay, with calm water in front of a small city. The calm is a relief after the swells and the sun shows itself, enough for us to dry our damp clothes. There is 4 others boats anchored in the bay that could easily harbor hundred more boats without problems. We are a few miles from Cap Finisterre, where we will turn south. We just passed cap Villano and are in the Costa de los Muertos. What stories are behind that name !!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Ria hides another one...

entrance of la Coruna harbor the tiny fishing harbor of Corme

This morning, as we leave the anchorage, we almost regret to have indulged ourselves yesterdays with 3 little beers on our neighbor's boat, celebrating a birthday. The young crew of the nice classic boat from Guernessey follow the same route and we have once seen them in Vivero. Though, we did not drink more than 3 little beers, this morning we have to fight nausea with bananas and sandwiches right away... No wind, and a big swell, 3 to 5 meters according to the local weather station. The sky is grey, and rain showers in the forecast. The 32 miles without wind under the rain tossed around by the huge swells are not very pleasant. We enter in the Ria de Corme under the rain which keep pouring all evening long. We are the only boat anchored inside the breakwater in a small fishing harbor very charming, though we do not see much of it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

toward la coruna

The Ria de Ares north east of La Coruna welcomed us during 5 days. It was such an agreadable and well protected place that we did not feel like going to the big harbour of La Coruna. But the fresh water foot pump started to act up. With no replacement kit and no new pump, we had to go to the city to get parts. We anchor behind the huge breakwater which protects us against the wind but also the swells. It is deep though, 60 feet, very close to the wall, with possibly foul bottom as it said on the Guide. The old city is busy with big restoration projects everywhere. The architecture and structure of the old and new city is very anarchist with a rococo begining of the century style. There is a very active spanish energy off the well respected siesta hours of course... We have to walk few kilometers to find the proper store, order the pump which arrived the next day. Meanwhile, some nasty grey clouds and showers pass by.

Hercule's tower, the oldest lighthouse in the world

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

the Rias ballad....

Slowly, the Galician coast drifts on our portside. We move on unusually calm waters that th

e wind has forgotten for a little while. The lack of wind is not in our favor, but the calmness of the water is apreciated. We already have experiemented the heavy swell in a rough sea by force 4 to 6 wind as we left Ribadeo and Vivero. This morning we left the Ria de Cedeira, beautiful wooded ria with a protected anchorage. Vivero was bigger, less protected against the swell but we found refuge behind a tiny islet close to shore. The little coves nested below the cliff look like the ones in Brittany. But here, the coast is elevated, and behind the mountains Cantabric are not far away. The water

is cold, and the night saturated with dew are getting colder. The days are still warm and sunny and very apreciated. The fog is a risk and this morning it waited for us a few miles from the coast. The radar is on.... Cabo Ortegal, the

northest cap in Spain is passed, Cabo Finisterre is the next, an important crossroad, since we will sail south after rounding it.

And as I write this using the power provided by the engine.... Magnus caught his first fish on this boat !!! A mackerel, tiny but soon 2 others caught on the same line are added to it to make a very nice dinner.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

2 months, already

Ribadeo marina where we spent 4 days, waiting for more favorable conditions.

A little look back considering the crossing of Biscaye was a major step south.

the first one was the North Sea and Channel with its fog and traffic,

the second was the coast of Brittany with its open ocean, rocky traps and considerable tides.

the third the Bay of Biscaye which is always remembered for its bad seas and dangerous breaking waves. during gales.

Since we do not want to strand ourselves in a tight schedule we did not manage too badly waiting for the right weather windows, in this quite rotten summer. Most of the time the wind was too light and from the wrong direction, but since the good weather windows were unusually short, we just went when no lows were in sight.

July was lousy, cool, cloudy, rainy sometimes. It is not before the second week of August that we felt summer and relaxed more, enjoying more.

We had expected wind in the North Sea, they were none, just flat sea and fog. We expected an heavy ship traffic, they were some yes, mostly seen of the radar, but never frightening or putting us in any harmway since we stayed clear of their lines. We expected even heavier traffic across the Channel, as people fear it so much, they rather go via Scotland and Ireland. The traffic in fact was sparse and the wind still absent.

Brittany's waters were negociated with much care respecting the tides and numerous rocks, choosing good weather, though in this case, it did not bring much wind...

The Bay of Biscaye from Brittany to Spain, if carefully planned is nothing more than 300 miles of open ocean. We started close haul for a while with a light wind, then as the wind veered, we continued beam reach as it became force 4 to 5, then to 6 the last day and night. It is important to favor west for 70 miles to clear the continental shelf, where heavy swells can be dangerous in rough weather. The weather pattern varies a lot and changes fast, but with a window of 4 to 5 days, it is not a problem. The arrival on the Nothern coast of Spain can be more challenging as very common heavy swells rise great seas and obstruct some of the not too easy entrances of Rias. The moutains Cantabrico in Asturias and Galicia create some termical wind patterns than can be surprising if not aware of them. This coast is not to be taken lighty, though the sun and the warmth let us think we are in gentle seas. None of that, the fierce Atlantic come rushing from its nearby 5000 meter depht on to the cliffs of Galicia and Portugal. 3 to 5 meters swells are not uncommon, no need to mention their size during a force 7 on up. I have experimented it once, it is enough ! So beating to windward with more than force 4 is out of question on a 32 ft.