In the last few weeks we have reached the western end of Biscay and are about to round Cape Finisterre and start heading south. This means that we have travelled about 1000 miles and are over two thirds of our way to southern Portugal. We have had a mix of weather. We seemed to send the Spanish sun to the UK for the August bank holiday weekend and we experienced a damp and dreary few days. Never mind the sun is back now.
The winds have been very light since we left Bilbao and we have only managed to sail a few times, most of the time we have been navigating along the coast using the engine.
We are now in A Coruña waiting for a good weather window to continue west. It looks like we may be able to head off Wednesday 10th September to start exploring The Costa da Morte (translated to English this is the rather alarming sounding Coast of Death).
Our speed sensor stopped working whilst we were moored up in Bilbao. We took the opportunity to fix this whilst in A Coruña. This is a rather alarming job as you unscrew the paddle wheel and pull it in to the boat. This leaves a 5cm diameter hole in the bottom of the boat and sea water rushes in until you get a plug inserted into the hole. Once it was removed the problem could be seen, a barnacle had decided to make its home on the paddle wheel stopping it rotating. Once the barnacle had been removed the process is reversed removing the plug. Watching sea water rush into the boat whilst the paddle wheel was re fitted, sounds alarming but the operation was completed with out any hitches and the boat remained afloat.
When we last posted we had just arrived in Gijón.
We spent a few days exploring this town, in common with most big town in North Spain a lot of the town consists of apartment blocks built after the Spanish civil war. Much of the old towns were destroyed in the fierce battles that took place in the area. We were in the Asturias area of Spain. This area seems to be famous for sidra a non gassy cider not dissimilar to west country cider. They had a sidra festival in progress, this seamed to consist of people on stage talking. My Spanish is not good so I have no idea what they were talking about, I assume sidra.
There did not seem to be much sidra for sale apart from in the local restaurants and bars. Near the marina was a sculpture made of old sidra bottles.
Four hours took us on to Avilés. We even managed to get the sails out for some of the trip. Avilés was a total contrast, a busy commercial harbour with a small marina. We met Emilio a friendly local chap with a boat in the marina, he took Graham on a tour of the town and showed him the correct way to drink sidra. This consisted of getting the waiter to pour the drink from great height in to the glass to aerate the drink. It was quite an art and really did make it taste better.
This was a seven hour trip in good weather, a busy town with a lot of activity on the water. There was a local type of sailing boat with a single large gaff rigged sail that were lovely to watch sailing back and forth.
The town was on a steep hill but there was a lift to make it easier to get up. The town was busy with a large shopping district. Saturday night saw the holding a nocturnal run. We are still acclimatising and adjusting to the Spanish way of life. Things start much latter in the day than we are used too. Many shops open around 10 am, close around 1pm for siesta to open again around 5 until 8pm. This makes total sense as it avoids the hottest part of the day. In the evening towns wake up and people are out walking on the prom or in the park. In Avilés they had a children’s film screened in the town square starting at 10pm.
We cleaned the boat down here. We had not realised but in Avilés it had got really dirty, there had been a number of smoking chimneys across the harbour and the boat was covered in the soot.
This was another town that looks unpromising from the marina, more apartment blocks. Take a short walk and to find your self in a maze of small winding streets with shops, churches, monasteries and homes within an old city wall. It rained here. The UK was having a great Bank Holiday Monday, I think the weather had got a little confused as it had sent us the typical August bank holiday to Spain instead.
We left Vivero with a little morning mist, we were ready to turn back if it looked like fog but as we approached the sea it was fine. We anchored in a very well protected anchorage over night. The anchor held well and we had a good night here before making the short trip on to A Coruña. It was a bit overcast in the morning and still no wind but we decided to motor on to A Coruña.
We planned to spend five nights here but it will be longer due to the weather (as there has been too much wind for a comfortable sail west).
We enjoyed exploring the town, visiting the oldest working light house in the world that dates back to Roman times.
The town has a interesting architecture with glass fronted buildings. We also found a Humour Square with tributes to many authors and comic characters, a statue of John Lennon, cranes that reminded us of giraffes and a floral calendar where someone has to change the planting monthly and daily so it displays the correct date. Judith found a new pair of boots but they were a little too large, you will see these in the pictures below.
Santiago de Compostela
We also took the opportunity to take a trip in land on the train to visit Santiago de Compostela . It is not just British trains that have problems, our train from A Coruña was cancelled. When the train left it was clean and comfortable and everyone had a reserved seat. This is a town of pilgrimage for many and there were a large number of groups who had just completed a trek in the square near the cathedral. The cathedral was smaller than we expected and unfortunately the altar was undergoing refurbishment and clad with scaffold. The large incense burner that the cathedral is famous for was also taken down for refurbishment. We queued for over an hour and were able to go behind the altar and down in to the crypt where they house the assumed relics of St James the Apostle. The town was still a great place to visit with its winding network of medieval streets.