Yesterday’s News

Well I’m now up to yesterday. Aren’t you proud, I’ve nearly caught up.

After our walk round the peninsular where the palace was, we hopped back on board and sailed west towards San Vincente de la Barquera, 30nm away We had a nice wind angle but the wind was dropping away and soon we were in motoring mode. As seems to be the way on this part of the coast, we were perpetually fighting a 1-2 kt current.

We got our heads around the fuel tanks and how to swap them over. We haven’t actually filled up as yet, still running on the fuel that came with the boat. We have one tank nearly full and one tank nearly empty. Unlike the Seawind you can swap all 3 engines from one tank to the other, with the pull of a lever.

The motor sail along the coast was very spectacular. The sun was shining on the snow capped mountains in the background, as we passed village after village perched on cliff tops, covered with a mat of very green grass.

We had to swing around a set of “wind towers” sticking out of the ocean. Not sure what the hell these were – strange looking towers to be there.

We got to our destination – San Vincente de la Barquera, an incredibly beautiful old fishing town on an equally beautiful estuary, just after 6pm. The guide book and our English farmer both said to tie up to the fishing boats, but some animated Spanish guy on the wharf had other ideas and waved us away.

We hunted around and found a spare mooring in the estuary, a bit of a way from town. Although the estuary is full at high tide (which it was),it empties out at low tide and we found ourselves in a narrow channel with sandbanks close by either side that night at low tide. But more about 3am later.

We weren’t sure about the mooring so I (and the anchor alarm (set at 66ft)) stayed on board La Mischief whilst Allan and Joan launched “A Little Bit Of Mischief” and set off the explore the town.

There weren’t gone long and were pretty disappointed with the town.

After a quick nightcap, we hit the sack. With things quiet in the boat, you could hear the DJ and the music waft across the estuary. As the night progressed, the music and the DJ got louder and louder. We were quite a way from the town, but we could still hear it clearly. Occasionally cannons would go off and there would be a puff of smoke above the town.

A normal Saturday night in San Vincente perhaps???

With the change of the tide the anchor alarm went off a few times and at 3.30am the music was going off. Think Cas and I might have had a good time there!

Next morning we were up at 8am and off out the channel at high tide heading for Gijon.

And with that, my blog is now officially up to date!!!!!!!

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Llanes – Here we don’t Come

After checking numerous weather sites, and talking to the local customs guys, we decided to leave Bilbao and head west to Lllanes, 70nm away.

We had a light W wind up our behind and put up the geneker as we passed a few fishing boats. The coast was very scenic, but we decided to head out a touch to get a decent angle for the geneker.

Then the geneker started to misbehave as the wind dramatically swung forward and increased rapido. I quickly called Allan up and by the time we got the geneker down and packed away the wind had picked up to over 30kts.

Time to put some reefs in. Two to start but the wind kept climbing, swinging to the S blowing straight off the mountains. The third reef went in and we consulted the charts to find Santander straight in 5nm away, straight on the nose. As we tacked our way in with minimal sail, the wind climbed passed 50kts. La Mischief was handling it well – we were certainly finding out all about her capabilities in a blow.

The swell wasn’t too bad as the wind was straight off the land with minimal sea space to build up any fetch. Still it wasn’t a great place to be and we were glad as we approached the safe harbour of Santander, with the wind gusting to over 60kts. The 75HP engines were worth every cent. There provided all the power we needed without having to overtax them.

Going past the island at the entrance and into somewhat calmer waters, we dropped the main – or at least we tried to. It was stuck fast about a third of the way up. We tackled the problem as we navigated through the channel. Allan climbed up the mast away, clipped on with the wind pinning him against the mast. He got a rope over each of the cars and we slowly winched it down – car by car. At about this time we hit our record – 66kts – about 24kts higher than anything I’d experienced on Camelot.

Sail finally down, we headed for the main marina, which is down the river a bit out of town. There were a few vacant berths so we headed for one and backed La Mischief in. Even with her extra windage, its a lot easier than Camelot to maneuver in tight spaces. We tied her up and headed for the Capitainerie to check in. They ended up letting us stay put for that night, but we had to move across to the other side of the pen for the rest of our stay.

Which was good because our next step was the Tavern at the marina, where a round of drinks cost 4.80 Euro. They went down really well. It wasn’t open for dinner so we tried the only other restaurant in the marina, which turned out to be pretty average. For such a big marina, it turned out to have very little in the way of services and it was a bit of a way out of town.

The next day we headed into Santander to check it out. Not being on our radar, we didn’t know much about it so we walked about 20 minutes to the bus that came every hour, and then in another 20 or so minutes we were in the centre of town. It was a pleasant bus trip, passing through local neighourhoods. There must have been a special on pastel paints at the local Bunnings, as the houses were a patchwork of pretty pastel colours.

It as a pretty grim old day, overcast and rainy and we wandered the streets, checking out the sites and indulging in a bit of shoe shopping.My boat shoes, weren’t coping with wandering the streets in the rain, my socks were soaked and I fount a great pair of leather boots for 25 Euro. Allan outdid me and bought two pairs of shoes as well. We also found anice bar for lunch as paid 16 Euro for mains, deserts, coffee and a bottle of red chrianza, for the 3 of us. Thats ridiculous.
Lastly we found a supermarket and stocked up with a few groceries and caught a cab for 15 Euro back to the marina.

Next day, after tackling the main sail issue (which we think we fixed by washing it in fresh water and applying a bit of silicon spray after talking to both Facnor and Robert from Vicsail), I decided that I better write some blogs or you guys will kill me (if you could find me). So whilst Allan and Joan did the bus thing again, I started playing catch up.
I was doing well until Allan and Joan got back and we ran into Richard, an English farmer with an Oyster mono and Ned, his son’s friend. We were lamenting the fact that we hadn’t run into any other cruisers around these parts, and up pops Richard.

He turned out to have a wealth of information about cruising these parts. We started picking his brain at the bar at the marina and then, a he had a hire car, we progressed into town and ended up at our favorite tavern for dinner and then a few more bars around what was a bustling Friday night in Santander. We got back rather late and felt rather average the next morning.
Once our heads cleared, it turned out to be a lovely morning with clear skies and sun!!! It was still blowing 30kts so we decided we’d go around and anchor near the palace, go for a walk around there and have a look at to sea.

The palace used to be the summer palace for the King, now its just a tourist spot. We didn’t have time to go inside so we just walked around it and then down tothe outdoor maritime museum, which had replicas of a balsa raft and 3 ships that, although tiny, sailed to the Americas and discovered Haiti.

Next door was a bit of an outdoor zoo with some seals and penguins. The vista on the whole walk was amazing, overlooking ocean beaches and the entrance to the river, with a very impressive island with lighthouse perched on top. Everywhere in Santander, they sell pictures of this lighthouse in a violent storm with what must be 20m waves crashing over it.

We headed back to the boat, which was parked off a nice beach towards the river mouth. There were people everywhere enjoying the sun – there were even bikinis on the beach. And there I was in my gumboots and coat.

Back at the boat we set course for San Vincente De La Barquera, 30nm away.20130414-103219.jpg20130414-103301.jpg20130414-103433.jpg20130414-103541.jpg20130414-103557.jpg20130414-103644.jpg20130414-103725.jpg20130414-103738.jpg

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