Have you heard the one about 3 Poms and a Welshman ….

After a couple of days at Villagarcia waiting for the wind to abait, we saw our chance and made a run for it, to the better sounding place of Bayona. Right on the dot of dropping anchor the wind picked up. We had some lunch whilst we made sure the anchor set and off we went in the dingy to explore the town.

We took the dingy over to the Monte Real Club de Yates and found a park under a walkway and tied off to a floating jetty. Then off we went to explore. We started with the really old fort that dominates the entrance to the habour.  Evidently Francis Drake had a go at capturing Bayona as well. That boy did get around.

We also checked out a replica of the Pinto – Bayona is famous as the place Christopher and his merry men returned to after they’d did their discovering America bit. Of all the new things they discovered and brought back, I didn’t realise the Hammock was one of them. Before that, sailors slept on the hard deck.

It was also on the replica of the Pinto that we ran into Andy – more on him and his crew/friends later.

By this stage the old town was opening up after the afternoon siesta so we had a coffee and then headed back to have a drink with Andy at the bar of the yacht club where he had his Bavaria 45 parked. As we got there the wind started to pick up even more so we said a quick hello and headed off to get our dingy.

Now given this is tidal Europe still, parking your dingy under anything is probably not the best idea since Christopher Columbus discovered America. Hence we discovered our dingy with little or no headroom above it, with only an inch or so between the top of the motor and the bottom of the walk way.

It was an interesting ride back to the boat in what was now 45 kts, but the wind was behind us (planned) so it was okay. It was even more interesting getting out of the dingy and then lifting it.

We decided that this was not the place to spend a night on anchor and then decided not to go to the Yacht Club marina, but to go to the other marina as there was pretty of space there along a collector jetty and the Yacht Club seemed to insist on Med Mooring – something we weren’t all that keen to practice in 45kts. Successfully fuelled up and berthed for the night we headed into town to see if we could find Andy and his crew.

Now, if you ever come across Andy and his crew (Ooroo – this means you), especially in a bar at night, be warned – these guys are dangerous company. But fun. We found these four poms (ok – 3 and a welshman) at a really cool bar with a nice barmaid, who just kept bringing us food and drink all night, including Bailey’s at the end. She either couldn’t or refused to speak a word of English all night but that didn’t seem to matter, as she kept laughing with/at us.

So there was Andy who before he got into sailing rowed across the Atlantic – not sure what he did other than that. Then there was a doctor, an electrical engineer/delivery skipper/welshman and a Royal Navy guy. We on the other hand were only two strong and were totally outnumbered. In hindsight, it was silly even to try and keep up. But did we laugh and laugh. DSC_0705 DSC_0706 DSC_0710 DSC_0720 DSC_0723 DSC_0724 DSC_0732 DSC_0734 DSC_0735 DSC_0737 DSC_0738 DSC_0745 IMG_0450 IMG_0434

I came back to the boat sometime after midnight and sent Cas an email saying there was no way we were going anywhere the next day.

20 Million Tapas Bars and no Petrol Station

The Imray Cruising Guide said that many would consider the Ria of Camarinas amongst Galicia’s loveliest, with anchorages protected from almost every direction. Sounded good enough for us, so that’s what we programmed into the chart plotter.

We were once again following our two o’clock rule and arrived on the dot. We anchored out the front of the small marina next to another yacht, who shortly upped anchor and left.

As the main sail came down, we noticed one of the batten cars had separated from the mast. The cause of all those little niggly situations with the mainsail sticking now became evident. Allan hightailed it up the mast and took some photos of some damaged track and we filed our first warranty claim.

We were also short on dingy fuel so we hopped in the dingy and headed for the marina. We got there to find it closed for siesta. We got talking to a polish yacht who were also waiting for fuel. They’d comes round from the med and were heading off across the bay of Biscay as soon as they got fuel. We hung around for a while and found a few other English speaking sailors in the marina. For such a small marina, that was the most English speakers we had come across so far.

In time, Captain Bob made an appearance and told us that he was helping out the capitiane who couldn’t speak any English. He’d been wintering there and had been sailing his yacht around the world for the last 28 years. Before that, he was in the Royal Navy. Quite a character.

The marina didn’t sell anything but diesel and Bob didn’t think there was anywhere else in town – but promised to enquire. Allan and I thought this cant be right and set off to explore the town. We eventually gave up looking and found one of the many tapas bars for a coffee down by the water. Bob came along a short while later and told us the nearest petrol was in the next town, a short taxi ride away. We weren’t that desperate so we finished our coffee and headed back to the marina. We had a chat to a few people including a couple from England who were cruising the area on a power boat and gave us a few tips.

We also saw one of the poles, a young girl called Ewa, who had been dumped on shore, because the boat had to get to Brest on Saturday and they had no time to get round to La Coruna, where she needed to catch her train from. As well as no petrol stations, there were also no hotels – only 20 million tapas bars. So we did the right thing and picked up our first “random” person and gave her a cabin and an Aussie BBQ for the night. She turned out to be quite interesting, having been to a lot of the places we were going. She had her offshore skippers cert and ran a watch team on the boat – a real watch as they had no radar and no AIS – just eyes.

Next morning it was up early to drop Ewa off and head south motoring to VillaGarcia, where we could possibly get some parts and a repair done.

And yes the Ria was really beautiful!

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Why can’t I get a Corona in La Coruna?

After a night of analysing the weather in great amounts of detail, and now armed with our new 2 o’clock rule, we were up before the crack of dawn and setting sail for la Coruna. As usual on this part of the coast, we seemed to be tracking straight into the breeze. The seas were lumpy and unsettled but all in all it wasn’t too bad.

We made the 50nm around to la Coruna in good time. We were well inside the ria as the wind started to pick up at you guessed it, around 2pm. La Coruna has two main marinas and Mike, being in the lead, called both of them up, only getting a reply from Marina Coruna.

Then a guy on a bike cycled out to end of the jetty and guided us to our berth, right beside Ooroo.

Marina Coruna turned out to be a good choice, reasonably cheap by Spanish standards, great staff and facilities.

Safely berthed and formalities attended to it was time to have a corona in A Coruna. However it was not to be as Corona can’t legally go by its usual name in Spain because the Spanish royal family owns the trademark Corona. It therefore is sold in Spain as Coronita, meaning “little crown.” Never mind, it still tasted good, and as we were to later discover the local beer called Estrella Galicia was a pretty good drop at half the price. Food and drink is crazily cheap in Spain.

Then it was into town to check it out.

La Coruna is full of history. The main square is dedicated to Maria Pita, whose either famous for single handedly repelling Sir Francis Drake’s English Armada, or perhaps having four husbands, some of which unexplainedly died, leaving their wealth to poor Maria. We learned lots about Ms Pita on a free night-time tour of the city the following night.

Talking of which, the free tours that the city puts on just about every day are great. The guides do a great job first speaking Spanish then English and dressing and acting the part. Unfortunately, I missed the tour of the Torre de Hercules, the oldest working lighthouse in the world, originally started by the Romans (what have they ever done for us?).

But I made sure I was on the Picasso Tour (Picasso lived here as a kid until his sister died and the family moved to Barcelona). The guide was a hoot and played the part to perfection – he was evidently a professional actor. We visited a lot of the city on this tour and saw the family home that Picasso grew up in – its now a museum. Interestingly, Picasso “invented” the white dove, which is now the international symbol of peace, whilst studying art at the local arts college.

A Coruna was where Joan left us. The airport was at Santiago de Compostela, a beautiful old town that marks the end of the pilgrims walk to the burial place of st James, one of the apostles. Whilst allan went with joan, I had the engines serviced, along with two other lagoons – a very popular place to do the 50 hour service it seems.

Engine service completed, I headed to the train station, an hours walk away and paid my €5 for a ticket to Santiago on a swish new train. 40 minutes later and I was there. A 30 minute walk into the old city and I found Al outside of the main cathedral. He was still buzzing from having attended 12 o’clock mass – quite an elaborate affair full of pilgrims. Even though Allan wasn’t religious, it seemed to have had quite an effect on him.

The cathedral is just great to walk around with lots of little chapels spread around its edges, interspersed with old fashioned confessional boxes. The central attraction was the tomb of st. James, located directly underneath and behind the main alter. It was a very moving place.

Santiago is full of old churches, university buildings, shops and tapas bars. We had a coffee with one of the pilgrims, a lady from Denmark, who had a car crash 13 years ago and couldn’t walk more than 500m last year. She went on her own spiritual and healing journey, walking the whole 700kms along the Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgrims walk, to get there. My friends Paul and Jenny did a bit of the walk last year and rob has also done it so it was good to see what it was all about.

We finished the day by going to the 7pm mass, but this turned out to be much more low key than the midday mass as most of the tourists and pilgrims had left for the day. I thought there might be hope for Allan yet, two masses in one day, but we went to a bar straight after and I realized he’s probably beyond saving.

Back at La Mischief, and with a good sleep under our belts, next day we were off, heading south.

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The New 2PM Rule

After a pleasant wander around Luarca in the morning, and some provisioning at the local markets, we headed back to our respective boats and headed off towards one of the scenic Rias that Galicia is renowned for. We had decided on Vilela as the place to anchor up and enjoy some fantastic scenery. The weather report looked good so off we went.

As usual Ooroo took off in front and it was largely a motoring exercise as the wind stayed well under 10 knots. Along the way,we got a call from Ooroo saying they were in the middle of a group of pilot whales a little bit ahead and further out to sea.

So with waypoint marked, we headed off in search of a whale adventure. Sure enough as we closed in on the way point, we saw a couple of pods of at least half a dazen whales each.

About 10 minutes later the wind rose abruptly to 20 kts then 30kts. Allan and I were busily reefing down La Mischief, allowing Joan to man the camera. She did however come over to our side of the boat, just as two or three whales decided to surface just under her nose. After letting out a loud sheik (whats he doing in this blog?), she managed to compose herself and the camera and got a good shot as the whales rounded up behind us.

By this stage the wind was climbing past 40kts and heading towards 50kts. Not again. Not when the forecast said light winds. Damn the spanish Weather Bureau. And for that matter the UK Weather Bureau – or whoever it is that provides the Navtex forecasts.

So now we had to find somewhere to hide. We were still a way off our destination. There was a big alumina port at San Ciprian ahead of us that looked promising, but Mike was on the radio and was advised not to go there. There was a small fishing village next door and this was also ruled out.

We finally settled on Burela, which is a commercial port with a fishing fleet as well as cargo and grain. They weren’t that keen to have two catamarans role up, but eventually they conceded and found some space for us. Once we’d decided on our overnight destination, we turned and ran for the coast and the apparent wind dropped below 35kts with the wind on our hind quarter. With 3 reefs in again, it was not that unpleasant as we sped into port.

Once inside the breakwater, we were directed to a spot on the wall that we managed to tie up to. We had plenty of fenders out and there was a ladder close by to climb up to the top with. Ooroo came in half an hour later and rafted up beside us.

And then the whole town came down to have a look at the two Australian Cats that had pulled up in their harbour. We were quite the tourist attraction. The Ooroo crew and Allan and Joan had a walk into town and came back with little to report.

We then sat down to try and work out this weather. We figured that if the weather on the grib that was 200nm to the north of us had slipped down and tripled in strength then this may have been the cause of our high winds. Then Mike remembered reading something on the JimB website, which said you should always look to leave early and be in by 2pm when the winds picked up.

So that is our new 2pm rule…leave early and get in by 2pm. And its turing out to be a very good rule in this neck of the woods.

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Al’s Spanish Hideout

There are two problems with wind – “no wind or too much wind”, well actually four problems if you then add “wind on your nose or wind directly up your bum”. Today we had little or no wind right up our bum.

So with the motors on we kept overrunning the little wind there was. Despite that it was a nice easy 30nm run to Luarca, our stay for the night. As usual Ooroo charged off in front, Mike had paid for both engines and was prepared to use 100% of them. Us, we like to potter along at 6-7 knots on just the one.

We made our way into the outer harbour at about 4pm and found Ooroo attached to one of the visitors buoys. There was talk of going into the inner harbor but at the end of the day, the locals didn’t want us in there (there really wasn’t any room for two big cats) and they had the hindsight and generosity to provide us with the choice of three visitors moorings.

The local marine rescue guys came out in there boat and helped tie our stern up to the seawall, with our bows secured to the mooring buoy. Our first Mediterranean Mooring type experience.

Then it was into the dingy and into town. Rounding the corner into the inner town was an OH WOW moment.

It was the prettiest little harbour you ever did see, filled with colourful painted wooden boats of all shapes and colours, casting brilliant reflections into the water. Surrounding the harbour was a quiet street full of cafes and shops, with the village running up the surrounding hillsides.

First stop was one of the little bars out the front, and then we left the girls shopping whilst we headed up the hill to get some great photos. Allan declared (several times) that if he ever went missing then this was the place to look for him. He even found an old very rundown house on the side of a hill that only Al would think he could do something with.

Dinner with the Ooroo crew capped off a perfect day.

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Out the Front Door and In the Back

After our night of wild parties (not ours), we dropped our mooring and headed off towards Gijon, 50nm away. We once again had to cope with a kno or more of current going against us. The sail was non-eventful – much have been as its only a couple of days ago and I can’t remember anything memorable about it.

But we made good progress and got to Gijon around 7pm. 16nm out of Gijon we saw Ooroo on AIS coming into Gijon – they’d come across the Bay of Biscay from Royan and had caught up with us in one big hop. Along the way they’d seen pods of 200 dolphins, sun fish and whales. Wow.

The marina had plenty of space and we pulled up next to Ooroo. The Ooroo crew were pretty whacked so we walked into the old town and found the nearest restaurant we could. Turned out to be a bit of a tourist trap with prices approaching normal. We’d got so used to eating and drinking cheaply in Spain that anything remotely approaching Perth prices seemed exorbitant.

Next morning things got even more expensive. It turns out this marina charges by the square metre – ie. length x width and thats a lot of square metres for a cat. 78 Euros a night in fact – the most expensive marina by a factor of 2. And then there was a 30 day cruising tax of 60 Euros. This was a bit of a surprise – also charged by the square metre, for all boats over 12m.

Wallets well and truly cleaned out, we headed off to explore the town. We walked around the headland with its old fortifications and caste iron sculptures (something quite common in these parts including at the Gugenheim – must be something about the iron ore they mine). Then we headed into the old town and found a Spanish Sim for my iPhone and a 25 Euro Nokia for my Travelsim. Having found a SIM card (vodaphone) that actually worked with prepaid data – took a few goes – it turns out that Vodaphone in Spain (and elsewhere) have blocked Viber – which I use to talk to Cas. So now I have an Orange Sim in a Wifi Hotspot that is slow and unreliable, a Vodaphone Sim that blocks VOIP and a TravelSim that is too costly for day to day data.

That night we decided we would try and find Tapas bars similar to Bilbao. In fact we sort of did better as we went into a few bars that provided free Tapas provided you drank their Crianza. No problem. Three bars later we were full of Tapas (and wine), and all it cost us was 6 Euro for 3 glasses of wine at each bar.

It would have been 4 bars if not for the fact that we inadvertently tried the same bar twice. Having found a really nice bar (our first one), we said our adios’es and decided to try a bar on the next street. So we turned the corner and a little way up we found another nice bar. We walked in and quickly noticed we were in the SAME bar. We had a laugh and so did the girl behind the bar. We quickly headed for the exit door and couldn’t stop laughing when we got out on the street.
Next morning, after a few chores, we cast our lines and left for Luarca, 30nm westwards.

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