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.