The last two weeks have been slow as the weather has been mixed. We have had both glorious sunshine, rain and fog. The winds should be predominately north along this coast at this time of year which would be ideal for us but they have been either non existent or southerly. Progress has been a little slow over the last few weeks, but we are making our way south. We have now reached our first port of call in Portugal and have another new country to explore plus a new language to try and fathom.
We enjoyed our stay in Spain but there are a few puzzles we have been trying to work out about Spanish life over the last few months. One thing we have noticed a large number of houses have water bottles tied up on the front steps, tied to pipes and recently we noticed some tied to some new tree saplings. Looking at the internet these seem to be placed to discourage cats and dogs having a pee on the doorstep or pipes. If any one can throw further light on this or comment on whether it actually works that would be interesting.
Combarro was a charming place, historically it was a large fishing community and the houses were built on narrow streets right down to the water side, The defining feature of this town is the large number of stone grain stores that were built along the shore line. It was very popular with tourists and on a warm September afternoon. They also had a disco boat that decided to park itself in the bay and entertained us until 2am.
Whilst having dinner we were entertained by a flying display from the local fire fighting aircraft practising taking on water outside the marina.
Ria de Alden
The next day we sailed down the Ria to anchor in the Ria de Alden, we fiddled with our cruising chute but unfortunately the wind was not in the right direction to see how it really worked and we never pulled the sock (cover) off the sail.
When we arrived in the Ria de Alden it was quite busy but there was space for us to anchor off the beach. The weather was perfect and the beach busy. We took the dingy and had a look down the coast and then went ashore for a walk along the sands. As evening came the other three boats all left and we had the beach to ourselves for the night. It was still and peaceful all night.
Leaving the Ria de Alden Monday morning we were treated to the sight of dolphins swimming close to the boat. Reading other blogs we are always reading of other boats close encounters with dolphins. We have seen none since Cherbourg and were beginning to think everyone else was making up dolphin stories.
Cangas was an old whaling port and we ended up staying 4 days as fog set in and no one was going anywhere. Cangas is still a working fishing port. We enjoyed the novel name of the local launderette with a good play on words “Canwash”
We took a short ferry ride to Vigo rather than taking the boat over. They run every 30 minutes all day long and many locals commute for work.
One of our readers is reading a book “As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning”
by Laurie Lee recalling a walk he made through Spain in the late 1930’s This journey started when he arrived in Vigo from Southampton having learnt the Spanish phrase for “I need a drink of water”.
Vigo was a vibrant city. We walked up to the castle on top of the hill and had lunch in a cafeteria. The decor was amazing consisting of mirrors and carved wood work it looked like a grand restaurant rather than a simple lunch stop.
We wanted to see if there was any tributes to Laurie Lee in the city but enquires at the tourist information point just elicited blank expressions and they clearly had never heard of him. There was however a great statue of Jules Verne the French science fiction writer sitting on a sea monster.
Viana do Castelo
After waiting for 2 days for the fog to lift we moved on from Spain to Portugal. Waiting until the next day would have meant sailing through a day of heavy rain and this did not seam like a good plan. It was our 33rd wedding anniversary and we made the trip to Viana Castelo, the sea was flat and the wind non existent so the engine stayed on, but we made good time.
As we left the Ria we once again we were treated again to a pod of dolphins (or are they porpoises?) between 50 and 100 must have swam past us. This time we even managed to get some photos.
As we arrived it seemed like rush hour as there were two other boats heading to the marina.
The marina at Viana do Castelo has a Mediterranean style berthing arrangement where you have to position the boat stern (back) on to the pontoon and pick up a line from the water (all covered with slime and weed) and secure this to the bow (front) of the boat. One benefit of having no wind was that this operation was made considerably easier and we were soon tied up securely.
We had travelled south about 35 miles but it is very clearly a different country in the style of architecture and the people.
We went out Friday night to celebrate our wedding anniversary and enjoyed eating tapas in a bar. The show dish was a flaming chorizo that was brought to the table with alcohol burning and cooked in front of you.
Saturday rained as predicted, we also had trouble with one of the hatches deciding to leak (the one in our cabin above the bed) I think that I have managed to seal this up now so hopefully no more drips in the night.
On Sunday, the sun shone and we took a ride up on the funicular railway to La Basicila de Santa Lucia Temple overlooking the sea. Monday we went and explored a hospital ship museum that used to support the fishing fleets when they fished in the waters off Newfoundland.
On the ship there were photos of some of the old fishing vessels. One of these dating from 1972, the Praia De Santa Cruz is still in operation as we had seen it last week in Cangas.
We have also visited a splendid church in town and walked across the double decked road / rail bridge opened in 1878 and designed by Gustave Eiffel of the tower fame.