Final part of Spain's North coast.
Light winds and head winds seem to be the norm this year along this part of Spain's
coast but Ruby takes them in her stride.
The Spanish NW coast
Castro Urdiales Cathedral
Castro Urdiales (5th June, 10 miles from Bilbao.)
Today our original plan had been to go and anchor
in Santona, a beautiful Ria with an easy entrance with good leading
lights to help you clear the shallows, but the space for anchoring was
very exposed to the wind and swell, and as we had been warned that picking up a
buoy cost 24 euro we made a hasty exit. Once we had cleared the headland we
where able to sail under headsail alone in an E5.
Three hours later we were anchored in the very picturesque harbour at Castro Urdiales
in 9m, some areas outside the moorings were in 11m.
The harbour was quite crowded with local for and aft moorings, and it is not easy
to pick these up as a French yacht found out to their cost, managing to pick
up a rope around their prop. Once the French boat had anchored Barry kindly
dived and cut the rope and pick up buoy free for them. He accepted two bottle
of extremely good white Bordeaux as payment. After that bit of
excitement we rowed ashore for a look around the town and a beer at a water
side bar. At night the castle and church overlooking the harbour are floodlight,
this makes the outlook from the cockpit very pleasant. Castro is obviously
a popular Spanish holiday town as it was quite busy with holiday makers.
Unfortunately as Castro is open to the east the swell crept in during the night
making the anchorage lively, in any other wind direction I guess it would be fine.
Cathedral of Santander.
Santander (6th June, 33 miles from Castro Urdiales.)
Very rolly passage, with everything in the galley
cupboards clanking, must do something about that. We anchored in an Easterly
F5, in the anchorage off Pta de San Marco. Pleasant outlook, lovely beach
and reasonably sheltered although with wash from passing ships and ferries at times.
Next morning we headed up the river to the marina. Wind was quite blustery
and berthing on the waiting pontoon was quite tricky, fortunately the marina boat
came out to meet us and escort us to a quieter berth. The marina is very pleasant
but absolutely miles from anywhere. It is also not cheap at 42
euros a night, it is however very convenient for the airport. The bus stop
for the bus into Santander is 20mins walk away, the nearest supermarket or bread
shop is about the same but involves crossing a busy main road at a roundabout just
off the motorway, not ideal. It did however serve our purpose as a place to
give the boat a good clean, do the washing and have a full day out in Santander.
Santander is a big seaside town with a lovely cathedral, good market and lots of
cafes and tapas bars. The Plymouth ferry calls regularly. After two days in
the marina we returned to the anchorage as we intended an early start on the 10th.
After listening to the weather forecast, which promised little wind, we decided
to have another day at anchor.
Harbour master's aerial
photo of Gihon.
Frogs on the lily pad
Gijon (11th June, 89 miles from Santander.)
Today we did get up at 0430 and left around
0500 for an 85 mile trip to Gijon the largest city in Cantabrico. The forecast
wind did not materialise and so we did a lot of motor sailing interspersed with
bouts of sailing hard on the wind. The best bit being the scenery, we could see
the Picos mountains whose highest peaks were still covered in snow, magical.
Mid morning we ate the last of the apples and then realised there was nothing between
us and scurvy, bar the quarter lime destined for the evening G&T's. This
sailing lark is really stressful.
Gijon is super and is a real crossroads for meeting boats who have just crossed
Biscay, there were about 20 boats in the marina 15 British, 2 French, 1 New Zealand,
2 Dutch and a super yacht from the British Virgin Islands. The majority of
yachts had washing hanging from their guard rails, except the super yacht which
I suspect along with its 5 crew had its own washer & dyer. Gijon is great it
has lots of museums the majority with free entry. Lots of good supermarkets
and chandlers and a good cheap, albeit grubby, lift out facility which we used
to enable us to change a prop anode and the saildrive anode which was about to fall
off. See Boat Page - problems, Click for details,
but thankfully Tex from Ocean Reign was on hand to render assistance
as the task looked like it would exceed the 60 minute lift out slot. Thanks Tex.
When we were walking through the town we came across this wonderful pond just off
the main road, a beautiful oasis with water lilies and lots of tiny bright
green frogs sitting on the lily pads.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Gijon and the marina facilities are good and very
reasonably priced at 26 euros a night, and as we did not arrive until 2200 on the
first night they gave us this for free. The town has everything you could
need. It would be a good place to leave your boat in the winter, very helpful friendly
Cudillero old harbour.
Cudillero (6th June, 16 miles from Gijon.)
Nice leisurely start today, we left at 1000 for
a 30 mile run to Cudillero, a small fishing harbour. As usual lately we are
making best course to windward with lots of tacks to relieve the boredom.
Cudillero is pure picture postcard beautiful. Pastel coloured houses with
red roof tiles built into the hill side. No spaces exist between the houses and
they had very hilly narrow streets, the locals must be fit.
We moored on the only remaining space on the pontoons, no facilities. We tidied
the boat and then went for a walk, lovely little place, fishing nets drying on the
quay and fish drying in the sun on racks outside the houses. On returning
to the pontoon we found the gate locked. Barry had an extremely difficult
climb around and over a 10 foot gate, as he was unable to open the gate from the
inside he borrowed an inflated dinghy and paddled to the gate to try and encourage
me to climb the fence and drop into the dinghy. Not an easy task but with
little alternative I took my life in my hands and climbed the gate and managed to
get into the dinghy. An other boats crew returning later in the evening after
a birthday celebration were not so adventurous and ending up staying ashore in a
hotel then contacting the local police to get them on to their boat the following
day. We were not charged for our stay but will remember it for quite a while.
Pipers in Castrapol.
Streets of flowers
Bridge over the R Landro.
Looking down on
Viveiro from San Roque.
Cedeiria in the mist.
Ribadeo (17th June, 48 miles from Cudillero.)
Left Cudillero at 0930 into a head to wind situation,
not to be deterred we did our usual best course to windward day and arrived in Ribadeo
at 1830, way later than the boats who had opted to motor sail from Cudillero, but
as Barry pointed out we are a sailing boat! Tied up on the pontoons at the
Darsena de Porcillan marina. Good value at 22 euros a night. The following
day we cycled to Castropol on the opposite side of the Ria.
Lovely old town where they were celebrating Corpus Christi. The street were
covered in flowers and there was a bagpipe band playing outside the church.
Lovely atmosphere lots of people joining in the celebration all in their Sunday
After we had watched the processions we went to a bar to enjoy a quick beer before
cycling back on our hilly route back to Ribadeo. Unfortunately the bar man
had a bit of an accident by dropping about a hundred cleanly washed glasses as he
emptied the dishwasher; poor man.
Viveiro (19th June, 34 miles from Cedeira.)
Once again another best course to windward day.
We tied up on the pontoons in the marina almost in the center of Viverio.
Very amusing harbour master, good value at 16 euros a night including our discount
for buying a passport at the cost of 5 euros which entitles us to 10% discount in
all the marinas in Galicia.
Thought to have been founded in the 13th century, Viveiro sits on the River Landro
and beneath extensive eucalyptus forests growing on the 500m peak of San Roque.
Nowadays it has the largest fish processing industry in N Spain.
The town has two distinct areas, the modern commercial centre and the old town,
some of which is in need of renovation but its not without a certain faded charm.
Well worth a visit. And there is a brilliant supermarket only 5 mins from
On the following day we walked to the top of San Roque, a local mountain with a
beautiful little chapel on its summit plus a fallow deer reserve on the slopes.
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Cedeira (21st June, 48 miles from Viveiro.)
From Viveiro to Cedeira once again a best course
to windward day but at least the wind was blowing a good force 4 to 5. Lovely
coastline and Cedeira is a very attractive Ria, with easy access as long as you
keep well clear of the Pta Chirlateria and its off lying rocks, and avoid the shoals
of Piedras de Media Mar. Once inside the Ria behind the breakwater it
is a good safe anchorage with lots of room outside the moorings and fishing boats.
We rowed ashore the second day to visit the town which again has a modern quarter
and an old town. We took advantage of the free internet facility in the library
and had a coffee in the square after visiting the small but adequate supermarket.
We found the people very helpful, one local lady walked us to the tourist office
and a local fisherman helped us carry our dinghy up the slip.
Despite the misty cool weather we enjoyed the peaceful but scenic anchorage, with
its ever changing complement of visiting boats, for three nights. We would
have stayed longer but our first visitors of the season are due in La Coruna soon.
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