Back in Bilbo
After 5 weeks back in the UK we headed back to Spain. The Wednesday before we had said goodbyes to Judith’s Dad at a thanks giving service celebrating his life. These times are difficult but he shared our Christian faith and it was good to celebrate all the things he had done and the lives he had impacted, one of the boys who had been part of the Boys Brigade Company he led in Wickford Essex was at the service. We believe he has now moved on to higher things so whilst he will be missed he is not forgotten. If you want to read the tribute from the Service click here
It was also good to catch up with friends in the UK (sorry to those we did not manage to see this trip). We enjoyed some trips to Leamington (although Graham did not enjoy the three trips he made to the dentist due to a tooth breaking) and Sudbury. We also spent time in Southend visiting Graham’s family.
We flew back from Southend Airport which was really convenient being under two miles from Graham’s Mum’s home. About 35 years ago Graham took his first ever international flight out of Southend with Judith,when we flew to Ostend for the day in a 4 seater single engined plane piloted by my friend Adam. The experience was a little different from the Ryanair flight we took last week.
It was good to be back in Spain and to prepare to continue our journey. We spend a few days cleaning, carrying out some maintenance on the boat and generally settling back into life aboard. One evening there was a small dance procession at the marine with very colourful costumes.
We also took a trip on the metro to a seaside town Plentzia a little to the east. There was a rehab hospital there with possibly one of the best views from a hospital in the world looking over the beach. The other thing that surprised us about this area of Spain was how Alpine the architecture was, in the more rural areas the houses would not have looked out of place in the Swiss Alps.
On Monday we decided to head to Laredo about 25 miles west of Bilbao. We started out with a strong head wind (true to the forecast) so kept motoring. After a while the winds strengthened and a rain storm started, the trip became decidedly uncomfortable and probably the worst passage of our trip so far. Spray was breaking over the boat and it was wet at the helm for the first time. We were very glad to arrive. Laradeo is a new modern marina and half empty. We found a berth as per the plan I had downloaded from the internet but apparently this is wrong and we had to move.
Laredo is a seaside town with 5kms of sandy beaches. We took a walk along the sea front in the early evening and it was really bustling, we found a Churros van so brought a bag of these to eat whilst watching the world go by. There is also a tunnel through the hill to a small bay, this was built to provide access to the bay to allow a harbour to be built but this project was not successful. It is hard to see why the marina is empty but it is one of the more expensive places on this coast. Also it is government ran so perhaps they are not too interested in having a lot of boats creating work for the employees, much easier to manage a half empty marina.
There was a curious device lying in one of the berths a few up from ours, on enquiring it was a new prototype machine designed to generate electricity from the waves. They are about to take it out for sea trial. Some of my old work colleagues would find this interesting.
We stayed here two nights and then planed to move further along the coast, we had a good sail Wednesday afternoon to Santander where we chose to anchor in the bay close to the river entrance rather than travelling the 2 miles up river to the marina. The anchorage was busy but we found a spot and anchored up. The wash from passing boats mad it very rolly, it rained all night and at 2am a party boat with loud music passed close by. Not sure how much we slept but our alarm went off at 6:30 and we prepared for a 45 mile trip west along the coast. We set off in drizzle and headed out to sea. The swell and waves seamed higher than forecast and it was hard work. After about 30 minutes we made a decision to turn back as we were both tired and did not want 9 to 10 hours of this. We decided to go up river to the marina at Santander. This is not in a great location (right next to the airport and along way from the town) but was much more comfortable than where we spent the previous night.
Thursday brought much better weather and we set off at first light to sail west. The coast here is rugged with the Mountains of Cantabria in the background (imagine North Wales with sun). We were heading for Llanes where there were reported to be only two visitor berths available but a reasonable good weather anchorage as an alternative. We were a few minutes late arriving as the second berth had just been taken. We decided that we did not like the look of the anchoring options so as the weather was good we decided to carry on, the wind was too light to sail so we had to continue under motor. We were heading for Lastres about 3 hours further up the coast. We heated up dinner on route and enjoyed the warm sunny afternoon. We arrived and found that the transit berth was available and there was no charge for staying up to three nights. (It would also have been OK to anchor just outside the harbour for the night here).
Lastres is a proper harbour rather than a marina and was a really nice place to stay, we took a walk up into the village in the morning and could have happily spent a day exploring the area. The weather forecast for Sunday and Monday was for rain so we decided that we did not want to be sailing in the rain to Gijon so we left Saturday lunch time whilst the sun was still shining. The wind was still not strong enough to sail at more than about 2 knots so we once again resorted to using the engine for the three hour trip. We used this time to make bread as we sailed along, it was the best bread we have ever made.
We arrived at Gijon and will stay here three or four days. The forecast was correct and as I write it is raining.