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.

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