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The Spanish Rias part 1

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Ria de Ares (22nd June, 24 miles from Cedeira.)

The Passage from Cediera to Ares was wonderful, for the first time in days we were sailing with the wind, albeit light.  For the first two hours we are were sailing under head sail alone to facilitate optimum speed for mackerel fishing.  With five mackerel in the bag we decide to hoist the main and really get a move on.  On route we saw  lots of gannet, shearwater and guillemots far more than on previous days.  By the time we reached Ares we were sailing at 7 knots and in the exact direction we wanted to go what a change from last week.


Sunset in Ares

Seagull view of Sada

The anchorage was sheltered behind a long breakwater and there was lots of space outside the moorings. Very good holding in about 5 m.  At first we had exclusive use but were soon joined by two English and one New Zealand yacht. The day had been cloudy but the evening was the best part with a few hours of warm sun and a beautiful sunset. From the anchorage we could see our next port of call, Sada, only 4 miles away.

Sada ( 24th June, 4 miles from Ares)

Today we motored down the Ria to Sada, which has a large new marina, very well equipped including a washing machine a real rarity on the northern Spanish coast.  Very reasonable price with good security and welcoming English speaking staff.  Carrefour supermarket is literally next door to the marina so we took this opportunity to  stock up on bulky items.  The town has everything you might need including a bus to La Coruna.  We used our time to catch up on the washing and boat cleaning and generally enjoy the now warm sunny weather.  Our first visitors are due on the 1st July so from here we shall be going to La Coruna about 12 miles away.

Coruna (30th June, 12 miles from Sada)

We had only just rounded the breakwater when we where approached by a marina boat from the pontoons near the Yacht club.  We spoke with him and asked why we would choose his pontoons instead of the Darsena Deportiva marina he told us that his was cheaper and had better facilities, so we followed him to a space on the pontoon where he helped us nose in and then pick up lazy lines from the pontoon.  The lines were  a little short for our length but with a bit of heavy, tugging and a strange knot configuration we where tied up.  We wished afterwards we had gone in stern to as the step from the bows to the pontoon was a long stretch.  The cost was in fact reasonable 24 euros a night and the showers where clean and hot and the girl in the office albeit a Spaniard had spent a lot of her life in England and spoke excellent English and gave us lots of tips on what to see and do in the town.  She also gave us her card and said if you have any problems whilst you are in Coruna just call me, how's that for service.  We stayed two nights in the marina, but on the second night we had to endure a pretty terrible  noisy musical performance from the adjacent yacht club which went on from midnight until 0400, so we decided to move to Darsena marina.  This marina was in-fact 2 euros cheaper but the facilities which were housed in porta-cabins were grim, the floor was permanently awash and the communal changing area in the ladies had a large unscreened window onto the car park.


Holiday Time?

As we have my sister Maggie and her husband Nigel staying with us for a week, we are now on holiday; this may seem a strange comment as people often assume that as we spend our life living on a boat and travelling we are always on holiday but it is not so.  We still have the mundane chores, washing, cleaning, boat maintenance and the like but not this week.

The first night of their stay we walked into town to watch the football England versus Portugal.  We had no idea where to do this but Barry spotted a crowd of teenagers with a football, and in no time at all we where being walked to a bar with a huge TV.  Maggie and I went for a walk around Coruña's  wonderful array of shoe shops during the first half.  We then joined the guys and walked around the corner to the Irish bar intending to be there in time to watch the second half.  Ten minutes into the assumed second half, Barry and Nigel realised they were watching a re-run of what they had already seen.  Apparently  in the first bar they had been watching Sky, in the Irish bar it was local TV, on which the match was not shown until 30 minutes later, hence the confusion, so once again we moved on to another bar wasting enough time to arrive in time for the second half  shown  on local TV, unfortunately we had chosen a bar with lots of Portuguese supporters, but this was no problem they were very friendly and commiserated with us at the outcome. Barry and I are not into football but we still had a good time.   Obviously a much better time than the England team.


Tower of Hercules

Coruna itself is a busy interesting city with lots to see and do.  We visited the Tower of Hercules, which is the world's oldest Roman lighthouse still in operation.  It is an impressive structure set on a hill surrounded by a sculpture trail. We climbed the 234 steps to the top and were rewarded by a super view out to sea and over the city.  There are also many museums some of them offering free entry, also a large aquarium build on the rocks above the sea, close to an amazing 50 metre glass obelisk built to commemorate the millennium, the glass is all different blues, greens and purples depicting scenes from the towns history it looked wonderful with the sun shinning through it.  At night is is light by spotlights.


Coruna tram.

We also took a ride on one of the 1920's restored trams which once again run but now on a tramway rebuilt in 1997.

We caught the express train  to Santiago the journey took one hour, cost 7 euros return each and was fast, clean and on time.  Santiago Compestela is a modern city with a beautiful old town, complete with a wonderful cathedral.  Here we were able to watch a service taking place,  the cathedral was full of people, a lot of them tourists, many of them complete with rucksacks as they had just walked all or part of the Pilgrims way which finishes at the cathedral.  At the close of the service a huge 60 kilo incense burner was lit and hoisted on a rope and pulley system anchored by eight men, it was then swung backwards and forwards  high above the congregation.  An amazing and quite moving sight.   We later ate lunch outside a small bar in the university area, exceptionally good value for 7E a head.

During the week we sailed back to Sada, here we caught a bus, to Betanzos, a medieval town, with lovely old churches,  tiny narrow steep streets and interesting houses and tapas bars.  I am told it is possible to take a dinghy up the river from Sada over high water all the way to the town but it would be a long way about 3 Km.  Unfortunately we were just a couple of days too early to witness the medieval festival, but we did see some of the locals trying out their costumes.  We had lunch in a tapas bar, the prawns and baby squid where great, not sure about the recommended hot tongue!  The following day we sailed to what was by now becoming one of our favourite anchorages at Ares.  On the way we were entertained by a pod of about 20 to 30 dolphin, as the surfaced and blew the noise was amazing, we have heard it before but not when there have been so many together.  They stayed around the boat for quite some time. A magical sight.

We returned to Coruna on the Friday so that  we could have a last night out with our visitors before they returned to England on the Saturday.  We made a point of dressing up, a novelty for us these days, and had a super evening eating at one of the many restaurants in Coruna.  We chose a bistro called Arte el Sano. The four of us had starters and main courses each  shared two puddings and three bottles of wine and it was still only the equivalent of £18 a head, it was also excellent for both food and service and only five minutes from the boat.  A nightcap and coffee in the square a short walk away rounded off the evening well. A good weeks holiday.

After our visitors left we made good use of the marinas washing machine did some shopping, went for a long bike ride to work off the over indulgences of the previous week and we where then ready once again to be on the move.

The next day  we spent the morning in harbour and saw the Spanish King arrive by helicopter which landed on the car park adjacent to the marina, apparently he was having lunch in the town, an annual event.  In the afternoon we went out to the anchorage on the opposite side of the Ria Coruna, lovely spot well sheltered from the swell and wind from the north east.  Early start tomorrow.  Well 0900 is early these days.

May's figures
Distance logged. 330
Hours at Sea. 63
Engine Hours. 26
Average passage. 33
2006 Totals
Average passage. 31M
Total distance. 648M
Total cycled (Km). 1000+

Another month of light winds and only 330 miles logged but we are still well on target to reach the Algarve by September.  Our leisurely pace has allowed us to sail when many other boats are motoring, we even keep up with some 40' boats when they need to motor; Ruby is such a delight to sail. 

No bicycle data as the speedometer is inoperative, but rest assured we are still getting the miles in even if its only carrying groceries from some out of town supermercado.

Camarinas (15th July, 48 miles from La Coruna)

Passage to Camarinas. Anchor up and off by 0900 as planned towards Corme in the Ria de Corme y Lage. Everything ready to hoist sail as we turned out of the anchorage to windward, except the halyard had wrapped around the steaming light, halfway up the mast. No amount of coaxing and swinging would free it, so we headed back to the shelter of the anchorage away from the swell, so Barry could climb up the mast and sort it. Back on course, but too hard on the wind, we motored to the headland passing the Tower of Hercules. We were then able to sail for a while although the wind was light and the swell sizeable so not the best combination in light winds.  During one of the sailing periods we noticed that one minute we were in 100m plus depths the next we were reading 7m, we were sure there was no shallows in the area and concluded it was a large shoal of fish beneath us, also the sea and air around us was full of seabirds.  We part sailed and part motored on and off all day due to the fickle winds and we were just approaching Ria Corme when  the wind picked up and we decided to continue on to Camarinas another 15 miles or so away. All along the coast on the hill tops there were wind turbines some times in groups of 30 or more.

Camarinas was a good choice with nice easy access into the Ria by following a series of transits. Its lucky the navigation was easy because the sailing wasn't. Just as we turned into the Ria the wind rose from 12 knots from behind us to 25 knots on our side and sent us off like a scalded cat. We clawed a reef in the main and one in the genoa to restore balance but still we blasted along into the Ria. Minutes later the cliffs sheltered us and we motored into the lovely anchorage close to village and beach.  We had to have two goes to get the anchor to hold because of the weed but it was a lovely location and the air smelt of eucalyptus.


The festival of the sea.
A splendid free-for-all.

The next day the village was celebrating some local festival and the fishing boats were so well decorated in flags, paper flowers and branches it was difficult to see they were still boats. That night we were entertained by music and fireworks well into the morning hours. It was not until the following day that we learned that the fishermen had provided wine and grilled sardines, and all of it was free.

We tried to swim but the sea temperature was only 17 degrees which felt very cold.

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