Thursday, 20 July 2017

Heading south

Heading south the plan was to do the 150 miles to Lisbon somDavy could get his flight home in a weeks time. We hoped for some good sailing as we were in the Portuguese trade wind zone which should give winds from a northerly direction. We aimed to take a good bite out the journey doing a 65 mile sail to Figuera de Foz. After a long day we arrived late in the evening and anchored just inside the breakwater. The town seemed a bit industrial so we didn't miss much by not going ashore. We tackled the Chile and managed half of it!


Next day we headed off for Nazare which is reputed to be an all wether harbour due to the fact the Atlantic has a narrow but 125m deep channel running almost to the harbour entrance. It's also famous for it surfing and even on a good day we heard the breakers pounding on the shore as we approached. Waves attain over 100ft in big storms.
LS851


Glad I didn't take this pic from the boat




We stayed in the very pleasant Marina assisted by a very helpful Marina manager. The second half of the chile was demolished and a walk ashore to stretch the legs was welcome. The town was a wee bit disappointing and reminded me of a Rothesay, maybe it was just too early in the year.


A breezy morning but with only a 25 mile sail to Peniche meant we had a blast with 25 knots on the starboard quarter. Quite a lumpy sea made for some busy work on the helm but great fun in lovely sunshine. The forecast was for stiff winds all next day so a day off was in order. Peniche was a nice town with friendly bars and restaurants. Obviously popular with the Portuguese people for holidays and day trips to the coast. We had a healthy walk to the lighthouse on the point where Colin lost another hat!

Davy after the walk to the point.



No winds next morning saw us heading away for a 60 mile trip to Lisbon. We had no wind until the last 15 miles up into Lisbon but had a good sail unfortunately with a foul tide of 2 knots.

We sailed under the awesome 25 de April bridge which not unlike the Golden Gate Bridge spans the river Tagus. We tied up in a huge central Marina at reasonable cost and Davy prepared for his flight in the morning.



When Davy left Colin and I had a day in Lisbon doing the tour bus and enjoying most of the sights the city had to offer. Whilst it was interesting in my opinion did not compare favourably with Porto. We left next day going around Cabo Espichel and into a very nice anchorage with a really shallow approach over sandbanks called Arribida. We loitered around a big purse net fishing boat who shot away in front of us and quite near the shore. It was interesting to see how they managed the huge net. The wind blew strongly off the shore in the evening and it was roasting. I've never seen the humidity gauge so low. The sails were quite crisp with lack of moisture.

An easy 35 miles next day with no wind and masses of dolphins down to Sines with 3 customs officials coming aboard to check all papers passports etc. All done in a very friendly manner though. A good walk and meal ashore meant we were fit for the long haul to Cabo de Sao Vicente. It was a long day with little wind until the last few hours but we turned the bottom corner of the Iberian peninsula and were officially in the Algarve. We anchored up in a remote bay for the night. Headed no along the coast it was now apparent we were n the holiday zone. It's an interesting rocky coastline around Lagos with tour boats buzzing in and around all the caves. Into Alvor to a very pretty anchorage and a dingy ride into town found us well into the land of the all day breakfast. It was a nice town though and good to be ashore but n the sun. Not Vilamoura next day and the €56 a night Marina! The sea was great for a swim though. Faro was next as Colin had to fly home as his two weeks were up. Faro is in the Rio Formosa a large area of wetland with varied birdlife beautiful beaches and strong tides. We headed in through the narrow entrance and went quickly with the flood tide up the marked channel. It narrows a lot near the city but like most things after a few times you get to know it well. We had to anchor about a mile from the nearest landing area which involved winding through channels. Colin's flight involved a trip in the dark but we managed fine and Colin left for home. Both him and Davy were good fun and good tolerant crew.

I had time to service the engine and do some chores before Jim arrived in two days time.

Friday, 19 May 2017

A new year

I've not been very good at keeping the blog updated mostly as the app on the iPad stopped working I have now got the new app and as I'm anchored in strong winds in Faro I have time to recount the tale!
Its been 9 months since Aros More's bottom was wet with Biscay water. I did a road trip in February to deliver some heavy items and do a few jobs when she was out of the water. I also had a survey done which thankfully turned out well.
I returned on 2nd of May and lifted in the next day. All went very smoothly after which I motored the 1 mile to Marina Coruna where I had 2 weeks on a pontoon before heading off. Lots of things to do with re rigging sails varnishing and maintenance on winches etc.
A nice berth in the sun!


Having discovered the two big leisure batteries needed replacing this posed a challenge both sourcing them and removing them from under the floor as they are about 60kg each. I used my fender board and pyramid building style managed to get them up and off the boat and new ones in.
Up and oot!

Coruna is a very pleasant small city with all the people around the Marina helpful and friendly. I

worked most days but found time to look around and enjoy the great hospitality of the club Nautica with Alex and Anna looking after me very well. It seems a beer comes with a lovely tapas dish so a ate well!

The time passed quickly though and soon I met Brian who after a days rest was ready to head off west and south in search of sunshine as the weather had been quite mixed.

A nice 50 mile trip to Camarinas which was great to check out everything was as it should be. So we headed off to do a short 25 miles which took us round  cape Finesterre and southern seas.
Finnestere

We anchored and tied up in marinas while we explored them as much as we could with the time we had. They really were very nice and not unlike our own sea lochs except of course it was sunny and warm. The places we stayed were Corcubion, Muros, Ribeira, Rianxo. It was interesting sailing among the mussel rafts when you got used to it. I had applied for the required licence to visit Islas des Atlanticas by photographing passports ships papers etc and emailing them off. Sure enough after a little reminder we got our permit which incidentally was never checked but I wouldn't want to chance not having.
The first island Isla de ONS was a quick evening run ashore which was pretty but not exceptional. Next day we headed down to Islas Cies, what a place that is. A fantastic anchorage with a beautiful beach. The weather we had was also spectacular and very hot.

We walked a fair bit when we arrived and went ashore in the evening. Next day the weather was not so good but we set out to walk the 2 miles and climb up to the lighthouse on top of the hill. A lovely walk though eucalyptus woods and just as we were approaching the top, it got foggy. I'm sure it would have been a great view!

We headed off after lunch for the short hop to Baiona which was to be the last Spanish port for us. A very historic and busy wee town but unfortunately it poured with rain for a lot of the time. We were there 2 nights as the winds were not good for us. We were going to take a trip to Vigo by bus but decided Vigo in the rain would not be the greatest use of time. We walked round castles and climbed inside madonas on hills and generally made the best of the time we had.

We headed south again in light winds and said farewell to the beautiful Spanish rias and hoisted the Portuguese courtesy flag making or first landfall in Varzim. A boatyard with a huge mix of boats some new  some old some really old and neglected. Having to push on to make flight gets etc we headed next to Lexios which is right next to Porto. We shoehorned into a tight spot where I was for 4 nights. Brian and I had a good day in Porto, what a lovely city. We did the ferrys, cable cars, bridges only avoiding the port tours as they expensive for what they were.

Sadly Brian's time aboard had come to an end he was good company and good crew as always.
Davy and Colin flew in on the direct cheap Ryanair flights from Edinburgh and had a shore day with interesting shopping trips with the butcher using google translate for mince. We ended up with a kilo of high end mince for Colin's legendary Chili.
Do you think there's enough!




Saturday, 6 August 2016

End of the line!

We entered Coruna Marina on the Monday morning and arranged our lift out for the following wing Monday. We had a week to get the sails etc off the boat but still Lenny of time to do a bit of sightseeing and winding down before flying home.
We took the very impressive RENFE train to Santiago de Compostella made famous by the Camino pilgrims walk which is becoming evermore popular. The route varies from as far as 800km away in France, to a minimum of walking the last hundred km required to get the certificate or have your sins forgiven in a holy year!
A beautiful city it is though with an incredible restoration of the cathedral ongoing.



There was an African happy clappy band who tried to enlist me and were nearly successful 


We had a few good walks around La Coruna including one to the famous Torre de Hercules, reputed to be one of the first ever lighthouses built by the Romans. The original was added to over the years and is now a very grand building.
Susan did a bit of cycling on ye olde bike!


The last Monday arrived and with a tinge of sadness we made our way to Marina Seca for our 4.30 travelift appointment! Reversing in with the crosswind was not going to be easy or perhaps even possible. The team were though very professional and a rib tied a line on the bow to hold her straight. Within 1 1/2 hours we were lifted out, pressure washed and safely placed I a secure cradle.




So there she will be until next year when we will decide when and where to go. This year was just over 1500 miles but I could happily do much less next year!

Friday, 22 July 2016

Another day another Ria

Susan and I drove back to Gijon which took  couple of hours on the excellent dual carriageway. A day pottering around town and then hiring a car for the next day to revisit the Picos de Europa's. They are spectacular. We managed on this visit to go on the funicular railway which is carved through about a mile of solid mountain from Poncebos to Bulnes. Bulnes is a remote village with no vehicle access, now though with the railway it has many of the Alpine type houses turned into cafe's which made a grand lunch stop.




I wish we had had time to walk the path down but we had only a day to do the whole range. We headed east then South to Potes and up over two passes over 5000ft with spectacular views. Visibility had greatly improved over the day which made for a memorable as well as long (over 300 mile) journey.


We fuelled up and headed off in pleasant sunshine, slow progress but a pleasant lunch stop anchored in the sun then into San Estaban on the top of the tide, just as well as the previously dredged entrance is now well silted. A pleasant and secure anchorage if a bit noisy with the usual weekend partying!
Next day along to Luarca, a fairly straightforward entry but no room in the inner harbour. 5 moorings are provided in the outer harbour but this does involve running a sternline ashore onto the high quayside.

Just like Eyemouth

A pleasant trip to Ribadeo with the Principado of Asturias behind us were now in Galicia! A lovely Marina made for a quiet night and big shop at the Gadis supermarket, home of the €7.50 Gordon's gin bottle. Oh yes and number 3 check and form issue by the friendly customs guy who had visited the Borders on his motorbike!




We had a lumpy longer trip next day round some rugged headlands to Viveiro a cracking Marina which is not unknown to Corinthians with Paul Taylor overwintering there a few years ago. We toured the sights of the town which did not take too long and decided on a reconnaissance trip by train to Ortigueira where we were headed for the annual Celtic music festival. Ortigueira is a beautiful Ria with a  very taxing ever changing entrance and only a small Marina in the town. A great trip on the cheap and comfortable but slow FEVE train allowed to meet meet the Capitaneria (harbour master) who said he could give us a berth for 4 days.

Rugged headlands

We left Viveiro at 6am to ensure arrival in plenty time for full use of the tide, in fact due to the great sail we were 2 hours too early so a little anchor stop in the sun with Susan napping and me watch the water rising on nearby pier. With a light following wind and a light swell the sums all done it was time to go. We went in without any trouble with clearance between the sand and the keel never below 2m. A big sigh of relief though when we were over the bar. The channel is then marked but challenging in beautiful surroundings for a couple of miles to Ortegueira.

The bar

The Ria 

We arrived at 1.30 and were told he would give us "primo berth" which was on the hammerhead and perfect at €20 per night with power etc!

Primo berth! The square building to our right is the stage at n ear splitting range!

The festival was great but took a bit of getting used to as like so many Spanish festivities they start late. There were a few parades and sessions through the day on Sat but the main events on the big stage did not start till 10.30, about our bedtime!
   
                                Some odd folk at these parades!!

We were joined by Susan's friend and colleague Sheila with Dave who were kind enough to play some of my favourite fiddle tunes and generally keep us entertained for most of the afternoon. 

Sheila in good tune


Accompanied by Davy

Girls in the sun


We waited on the Friday night for the Peat Bog Faries who came on at 1.45. After an hour we headed off to bed which being only 250 yards from the main stage meant we still heard the music until 5am! We slowly rallied next day taking things very easy planning to spend more time back on the boat than standing waiting for new acts to come on. Sunday saw a major parade of pipes from Galicia, Brittany and band of Scots pipers from London. All very good. We were now acclimatised and thoroughly enjoyed the last "late" band who were Manran who we've enjoyed before in Stornoway. Even though last they absolutely nailed it with great music and interaction with the audience.

Manran also in fine tune

Ria de Ortiguera

Orteguera was a beautiful place but we had to leave so we did on Mondays tide and very settled conditions. We anchored for 7 nights in various places, Espasante, Carino, Cedeira, Port Felipe in Ferrol and Ria de Ares travelling only about 40 miles in that time. The weather was hot so we walked a bit in the morning swam a bit and generally chilled out before heading in to La Coruna which will be journey's end.

A dingy safari!





Port Felipe in Ferrol

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The North Coast

After a brief trip home to attend my sons stag doo I arrived back to Bilbao and awaited new crew consisting of Davy Jim and Chris who were out for a week to sample Spanish cruising.

We did the bridge and a trip into the city to visit the Guggenheim museum. It looks a bit weird from the outside but inside is impressive with it seems not a straight line anywhere. Some interesting exhibits from the very impressive paintings to some sculptures that need someone with a more artistic brain than me to make anything of!


By Friday morning we were ready for off and left Bilbao for the 40 mile trip to Santander. We did this with a fair wind and went upriver past the town to the main Marina near the airport. The Marina was ok but the most expensive at 45€ and miles away from town. We also had the first visit by 2 customs officers who not overly chatty were content and issued us with a form which we could present later!!I would anchor in the river next time. We stayed aboard and headed west with a couple of harbour options though they are limited on this coast. They also require a bit of tide to get over bars and are further complicated with the all to regular swell.
Puerto de Suances is not the easiest but we did have sufficient water but also a fair swell. We went in for a look and it did flatten out in the channel despite white water on the near wall and the beach on the other side. We got into the tiny harbour and tied alongside a fishing boat.





A meal ashore where the main course of hamburgers x4 never quite arrived though the chips did! The starters were plenty for us so we were lucky the order was lost in translation.
I had a chat with some local fishermen to confirm we were OK in the harbour. I also wanted confirmation if leaving at 6am in the morning allowed us enough water. They said 5 would be better. It would also be dark! Playing it safe we left at 5am following our entry track and the lights to make our exit into open water though it was a relief to see the depth increasing.
The weather was bright and sunny with a light tail wind we made good time in the rolling beam on swell.
With an early start and no place to go as we were out over low water we kept going for Ribadesella the views of the Picos de Europa were stunning. These mountains are up to 7000ft and quite spectacular. Jim correctly noted the snow still,on many of the tops. Arriving in bright sunshine and a fair swell we went in for a look. It pays to watch a while as after it looked reasonable a big swell sends a breaking sea in the entrance. I didn't fancy it so we kept going to the all tide fishing port of Lastres. A nice little pontoon saw us protected by the biggest walls I've seen on a harbour, I can imagine a Biscay storm will take a bit of stopping!
Jim and Davy had a very quick swim and a pleasant night was spent watching the fishing boats leaving. 
A short trip next day found us in a very nice marina in Gijon. It was now Monday and only 2 days left until the crew leave and the admiral arrives. 
We took a city tour and visited a piping and rural life museum which was very pleasant.

Davy ready for lunch!

We also had some interesting meals ashore where we often missed the mark on the menu interpretations.
We hired a car for the return to Santander and took in the mountains which were very Alpine and looked magnificent in the sunshine.



On along the very impressive road network to the airport including an impromptu tour of the city the 3 amigos flew back to Edinburgh on the plane Susan arrived on. They did a great job covering over 100 miles in some very rolly conditions.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Off to sunny Spain

Eddie and Brian duly arrived in St PeterPort Guernsay and after doing the island tour on the service bus for one pound!! a plan was hatched to do an evening departure for Aber Wrach which is a small sheltered town just over 100 miles away and more importantly near to the tidal passage inside Ushant. With high hopes of a nice sail no wind meant us motoring all the way. We had a walk ashore enjoying a really nice meal and a few grande French beers. Next day we could not leave until the tide was favourable to allow us to turn south round the western extreme of France. We enjoyed a ramble in the countryside which was warm and pleasant. Leaving at 4pm it was great to get 3 knots of fair tide down to Anse du Bertheaume where we picked up a mooring before dark.
While the gulf of Brest offered a lot of tempting places to see it was a bit too much of a detour so we planned for the final tidal gateway of the famous Raz De Sein. The Raz has tides up to 6knts and has a fearsome reputation for over falls and all things bad. The tide would not set in our favour till afternoon so we planned a lunch stop on the Isles de Seine. We anchored in the bay of the tiny rock infested island and went ashore to a very pretty but now mostly holiday home village. The Raz with a fair tide and no wind was very simple but I can imagine a SW storm would be very different.
                    
     The famous Raz de Sein Lighthouse                  
  

Well it was now warm with the sun looking out now and again, long troosers no more as the shorts prevailed despite the peely wally legs. 



We anchored up in the bay of St Evette just outside Audierne. Despite a fair walk we had a lovely lasagne ashore. Short of bread next morning we headed into town which was a long way. Alas it seemed to be some kind of holiday with nearly every shop closed. Using our Del Boy French we were told a Liddles was the only big shop open today, just along the road! Along the road was about another 1 1/2 miles up a hill in a very hot sun. Liddles came good though and well stocked up we tried for a taxi, not today were they queuing in the car park and the store lady could not get one. The thought of the long walk back was hanging over us. We passed a taxi office which was closed but an ambulance depot was next door so I went in to enquire with my best bonjour to date. In a second or two I had negotiated a lift back in a car type ambulance which made Brian and Eddie smile ear to ear!
We left after lunchtime and as we were later than hoped decided on the small rocky islands of the Iles de Glenan. They look very intimidating on the chart but are fine in settled weather. It was busier than expected when we anchored 


Eddie cooked up liver and onions which was very good despite it seeming worryingly tough before cooking. A trip ashore and after a walk round the island found us in a little bar for a beer. The locals were friendly with one who sat holding his pet hen called Bridget. He insisted I hold it for a minute which I did but noticed it would barely make a pan of soup let alone Sunday lunch though I didn't share my thoughts with him! The small islands are home to one of France's most famous sailing school but there appeared to be no courses on at the time.
On again next day to Lorient a busy harbour with a huge marina where we tied alongside. This was home to the German U boats during the war and the servicing facility is a huge concrete structure still intact today. It's mostly being used for a variety of commercial reasons with part of it being a museum. France seems to have a lot of its high performance racing yachts here which was interesting to see. The museum was too,late for us but we nosed about and got the feel of it.

U boat Pens


Next it was down to the inland sea of the Morbihan. We made good speed and got through with the strong tide to pick up a mooring at Anse du Moteno. We could here the tide roaring not far away as it ebbed over the shallow water not far away. Next morning we went with the tide up towards Vannes. There were some tight spots in the channels but well marked.


The Morbihan

Nice little houses

Big tides


We took the dinghy up the last mile of canalised river to the town which actually had a reasonable marina which was kept full by a reported cill. After a trip in the mini train round the very attractive town we headed back in the now roasting sunshine. A quick reactionary 180 turn when we spotted the cill 
Prevented us getting an early bath. The dingy portage was short and we were soon back aboard enjoying the weather. Pleasant walks ashore left a very positive impression of the area. We left next day with a roaring tide through the narrows and headed over to Ile Houat in pouring rain. Anchoring in a big sandy bay we had an interesting beach landing in the dingy with Brian thankfully taking the brunt of the breaking wave! A lovely small village and a nice little pub ended the day nicely.
Quite a boisterous sail next day down to Ile D'Yeu and tied up in a tight little Marina for the night. Clearly these off lying islands are very busy with visitors which is not surprising as they are very interesting and attractive.
With an overnight anchorage at Ile de Re we headed down into La Rochelle next morning. The Marina has more than 5000 yachts and is just huge. We fuelled up and made off into town on the electric ferry boat.
Electric Ferry

The city was great with museums and nice areas to wander around. 

The famous Bernard Moitessier's boat in which he did a record 37455 miles non stop



We spent 3 nights here waiting for good weather to cross the 180 miles to Spain. A fine forecast for leaving early Thursday showed 15knts W going NW then going very light. On the contrary we had light winds all day then it freshened with a reef going in before dark ( 2 reefs in fact) we had up to 37 knots of wind well forward of the beam for most of the night and next day along with a very uncomfortable sea. It was very hard to stay in a bunk and little chance to sleep. No surprise as we were going down the line where Biscay shallows up from about 1500m with under 20 miles to go we discovered the rocker cover gasket leaking which was successfully plugged using the good old epoxy putty. We got in though as planned on time to Bermeo where bacon egg and chips was served up and tasted great.
We stayed a second night and enjoyed exploring the busy town.

A welcome Bermeo



A sunny windless trip of 20 miles up to Getxo just outside Bilbao is where I am now. We visited the city and did a bus tour which showed how Bilbao is a great success as a town which has changed from heavy industry to lighter forms of business. The city is sparkling clean and a joy to the eye. Eddie and Brian's last day arrived and we crossed the top of the Bizkaia bridge which is one of the few bridges of its type left in the world. It has a carriage suspended on wires which travels over the river leaving clear passage for ships. You can get a ticket to walk along the high part which in the scorching sunshine was fantastic, despite it looking a bit daunting from the ground.




We enjoyed the lads last afternoon using the facilities of the Real Club Mertimo Del Arbra which included swimming pool and the most luxurious clubhouse imaginable. A meal in their restaurant and they were off with Ryanair from Santander after 3 weeks of pleasure and pain! Thanks to them both for their enthusiasm and good humour.