Category: Ports and Places
No, it’s not a new place, but certainly a strange one we find ourselves in. I write on the last day of August 2020. We are in St Martin, Ile de Ré . It’s sunny, its warm and hardly a breath of wind. The holiday season has come to an end. It’s unusually quiet on the water and in the port.
Covid-19 has something to do with it:
Everyone, and I mean just about everyone, has to wear a mask in busy public places as well as everywhere indoors. It’s probably similar in the UK.
There are very few boats on the water and hardly any British boats. Covid-19, the threat of another lockdown and 14 day quarantine for those (including us) returning to the UK has meant that so far, after nearly 3 weeks we’ve only come across 3 other Brit cruisers to talk to.
Has been cool, but we’ve done a lot of sailing: of the 137nm covered so far 80% has been under sail. Nice. Cheap.
It could be worse. Meteo France included this report of the dire weather afflicting Ireland this year:
With its second storm in less than a week (Francis after Ellen), Ireland ends a well-watered, cool and little sunny summer of 2020.
The resort of Valentia, in the southwest of the island, received 53mm of rain in 24 hours, bringing the July / August total to 415mm (double the already high normal).
It has certainly rained less in Dublin, but the only hot day of the whole summer was observed on June 2 with 25 ° C and, since the beginning of July, the sun has been shining there on average only 3 hours a day, i.e. a deficit of more than 40%, while in May, it had shone 9:30 a day.
And that’s why we came to sail in France.
Belgians, Dogs and Stinkpots
So, has there been an upside to compensate for the downside? Well in a gross generalisation we have noted the following:
- There are many more Belgian boats than previous (this may be linked to travel restrictions for Belgians heading to Scandinavia).
- Stinkpots (liveabord motor cruisers): definitely more of these around. And from far away places (for example our neighbour in La Rochelle had a boat from Nice.
- Dogs. Too many. Of the ugly sort. We think this might be related to the point above
Les Minimes – even bigger Mega Marina
We’ve just arrived from the now expanded les Minimes: with over 60 pontoons capable of accommodating over 4500 boats it is huge.
1st / 2nd September. Saint–Martin–de–Ré
It’s warm, sunny and nice here. A section of the Tour de France finishes a few hundred yards away on the 8th. We might want to see it, masques et al.
The long range forecast shows weather remaining warm, sunny and nice here. It shows something very different for home.
Our original plan was to return home on 17th September, which would mean being quarantined until going on holiday on 26th. And on return another 14 days of quarantine. That’s the best part of a month locked up. We can think of better ways to spend our time.
Our thoughts turn to thinking about staying out here in the nice, sunny warm for another week. mmmm. it’s a tough one.
I wonder what might help with that decision?
Or possibly all of these – so we have indeed delayed our return from France by a week.
Weather and Covid-19 progress permitting.
I write from Bourgenay (pron Bor-jen-ay by the locals) on 19th August 2019
It’s warm (low20’s ) and with light following winds so we motored the whole 33 miles from Ile De Yeu.
But of the title “La Grande Migration”? This week is the last full week of the holidays. Schools go back on the 1st Sep and many French businesses resume normal operations next Monday.
Many tourist dependent restaurants & shops simply close down on the 31st August.
So, in short, boats that have been on holiday make their way home. With more than a dozen large marinas containing thousands of berths within a few days to the north the northward migration is well under way. To the south there are 1500 in Les Sables D’Olonne (1 day away) and Europe’s largest marina in La Rochelle with over 4500 berths and boats heading for these 2 ports tend to peak toward the end of the week.
And there are a few places that are so “en route” that they become natural watering holes for those on the Grande Migration.
Port Joinville on Ile D’Yeu is one. We’ve just done 4 nights there.
Each morning the marina empties.
And then fills again with transiting boats.
The busiest migratory nights will be around Tuesday & Wednesday. Sometimes the marina is so full, later arrivals are denied access and parked on the fishing boat quays.
We had arrived on the 15th just before 3pm and went straight into an empty pontoon berth. Each day after that the marina filled completely and no pontoon berths were left empty.
Moral: if you want a place during La Grand Migration week, get there early.
It’s not what it seems.
I finally publish this wrap up of Spain almost a year on (14 Aug 18): The journey back was demanding and we lost interest in blogging.
Right now we are in Piriac sur Mer heading south, slowly, toward La Rochelle.
Onward from Ribadesella
28 Aug 2017. We’re back in France. We speak the lingo, we know the supermarkets and we are in the comfortable but dull Les Minimes Mega Marina.
To cover the rest of N Spain from Ribadesella onward:
Santander (via St Vincente de la Barquera ) 75nm
On St Vincente the pilot guide basically says don’t bother. We did bother and went in the hope of breaking up an otherwise very long haul to Santander.
The guide was right. There is only one place to anchor and it was already full. Press on, it’s going to be a long day.
So we arrive around midnight at Santander. Of the first marina the guide says “it will be fruitless hoping to charge in, hoping for the best” and is again right. At midnight there is a security guard armed with a whistle and he knows how to use it.
It’s more than his jobsworth to let you stay, even though there were spaces clearly available.
Marina Del Cantabrico was all he could say. So orft we went a further 20 minutes away from the town. Marina Del Cantabrico has no guard, plenty of space etc. Crash out at around 1230 after 75nm in about 14 hrs…..
We met Timothy Spall and Shane 2 boats up taking their new boat down to the med.
We noted that it was probably a longer walk inside Gatwick than it was from the marina to the Airport
We slept like a log, but otherwise didn’t do anything but recover.
A massive investment has created a large and empty marina.
The journey here was wind on the nose for most of the way, reaching F6. A lively arrival aided by neighbours to get Filibuster secured.
A quick check of the forecast for Bilboa showed rain. Curious, from sunny Laredo that didn’t seem right, and our destination was less than 20nm away.
Until we got the spelling right….
Our chosen marina was full, so we ended up in the outrageously priced (€54 a night) Puerto Getxo. Taking advantage of the free laundry big time seemed to make things better.
Mojo Lost at Sea!
It’s fair to say that after yet another non sail, we were beginning to wonder about Mojo and where it had gone to.
Things were not helped by the Bilbaon B***stard fly. Smaller than a mozzie we woke up before during and after the night being bitten to death. The resulting blisters were “angry”, itchy and bloody….grrr
We didn’t venture into the city….
Next stop Bermeo
Charming and pretty and very much Basque Country. Suddenly we are in another country. The language of which is so alien to Anglo/Spanish/French we can’t understand a word of it.
So the new finger berths look OK, and are OK: water and electricity as normal.
The pilot guide is again out of date and has no mention of the above. Fortunately we have local knowledge from Jerry & Aggie.
And the things we should add to anyone coming this way are:
a) the locals are fishing fanatics
b) at all hours many of the boats in the first photo above head out to fish. Most at a speed that creates a significant wash. And they come back..
c) they all pass by your bow (or stern depending on which way you moored).
A recommendation is to moor stern in. We didn’t and our mojo took another knock that night.
And so farewell to Spain
In Bermeo we looked at the options. Option A was to carry on around the coast then head North along the French coast. Reaching the Gironde in around 10 days. Option B was to regard Bermeo as the closest point to the Gironde and go for it.
B won. We left aiming for Royan well after low tide. Motoring the whole way we got a bit too early for Royan and ended up across the way in peaceful Port Medoc.
Two days later we are in La Rochelle. Familiar places beckon and unless something interesting happens, this will probably be the last post.
The end of the adventure
By the time the boat is parked both of us will have covered more than 1000nm. Virtually all under motor.
Here’s a summary of what we liked and didn’t like in Spain.
- The Spanish. Always friendly & helpful with a smile and good sense of humour
- The temperature: generally mid 20s
- Food – excellent seafood in Galica, great quality meats everywhere and never expensive.
- The scenery
- Cleanliness. Seems to be a passion
- No problem with the language. Quite often they don’t do English or French and we don’t do much Spanish. But if you want to buy a loaf of bread they want to sell you a loaf of bread. No problem.
- The scenery: often spectacular / mountainous. In more ways than one it’s like Ireland without the cold & rain.
We didn’t like
- The wind: always in the wrong direction and often on the nose with resultant unpleasant conditions
- Distances between stops can result in tiring days
- The amount spent on diesel: in a good season we can get away with €150, sailing as much as possible. This year, with adverse conditions we spent just under €1000 🙁
Should you be following in our footsteps maybe it’s worth thinking about doing the trip the other way round to get more favourable winds and currents. However the traditional winds will nearly always be on your stern, again uncomfortable 🙁
And will we go back?
With all those pros of course we will. Perhaps not with Filibuster
I write this post from
Gijon, Ribasedella, Santander, Bilboa, Port Medoc in France. It’s Friday 25th August and the journey across Northern Spain has been hard work with little time spare to update the blog.
In our need to move Eastward there have been many full days on the move with spare days consumed with maintenance, prepping for the next journey and the boring but essentials such as getting food, doing laundry etc etc.
Even salty sailors like clean clothes!
We left home on our multi stage trip back to Filibuster in Muros: car, train, train, hotel, 4am start for Easyjet to Santiago, taxi, bus to Muros and on board 1230 in the afternoozzzz….
The reverse journey was via places already visited on the way down: Muxia, A Coruna, Cedeira and back to Viverio. No need for more on those suffice it to say the pic below was taken on the way into Viveiro and marked our only sailing.
In fact, many hundred miles further on (nearly 600nm from Muros) the above represents our only good sailing in 3 weeks.
From Viveiro: (all these places have some notes in the “we are in section”), and bearing in mind our need to make ground and push Eastwards at a pace.
Nice town, could have spent another day but the visitors berths are directly in the entrance to the marina and subject to a lot of wash, from inside and out. Not pleasant.
Some stunning architecture in the town.
Gijon (wow! 66nm)
One of the great things about visiting places by boat is that the charts and pilot guide are functional and don’t help you gain an impression. Places are just dots on the map. Even the popular guides (such as Dorling Kindersley) cannot prepare you for the like of Gijon.
Gijon (pron Hee-Hon) is from another world. The habitation is mainly 4-5 story blocks of many ages. Most seem not to have cars: and this begets a shopping culture consisting of a myriad of small, personal shops, fresh food markets, interesting places to visit.
We loved Gijon.We stayed extra to find out more:
Gijon is a “happening place” in the photo above you can see a miasma of people to the left of the white marina office.
The noise,even on Filibuster, just said: loads of people chatting. And drinking…and drinking what?
Cider. They come here to enjoy a sunny evening, chat and drink local cider. Of which there is plenty.
Gijon is full of it. Interesting older buidlings that survived the civil war (and Gijon has a past in that). heres’ a few we saw:
There’s many more and it all helps to create a fascinating visual environment.
There’s a lot of it about. Take a look at these two aerial photos of the port. The visitors pontoons are on the left:
The one on the left comes from the marina’s web site and tells you as it is. The one on the right comes from the Royal Caribbean web site.and is more or less the same view but has been modified to increase the level of “activity” in the photo.
The Royal Caribbean (owners of huge cruise ships such as Navigator of the Seas) photo has been modified thus:
- additional vertical lines to suggest a visitor’s marina full of masts on the left
- additional activity (very blurred) to suggest additional activity on the street to the right of the marina
Closer inspection of the Royal Caribbean image shows further modification, and if this one shot has been neavily modified then, by assocation the rest of their web site is likely to have been as well.
Such is promotional material. There’s no rule saying it has to be true and clearly Royal Caribbean know that.
One more knock on RC. On one of their cruises they’ve invented a new port called Paris- Le Havre. That’s a bit like the new port Brimingham-Southampton I’ve just invented 🙂
Guidelines issued as we are away suggest we should all take a brisk walk regularly. Take a look at this:
Taken at 1045 am. The vast, vast, majority of people on the beach were walking briskly. A healthy activity we have seen across much of Northern Spain
Gijon was a delight in every respect: go there.
Literally Sella River. Ambleside by the Sea. Mid way from Gijon and wherever next.
Start of where the Picos Europos get closer to the sea (the whole of N Spain seems to be like this: sea, a small strip of land upon which people can live, then mountains )
Ribasedella is one of those places that was previously just port, but has a beach, and with new road access to the world is opened up.
It was dull and grey on our day, but I found these on the internet:
The first is on older shot, but shows the placement of town and mountains beyond well.
The second is more recent and shows the sheltered nature of the port, the entrance and the marina. The only info to add is that the long pontoon (running NE-SW in the second photo welcomes visitors).
The pilot guide is incorrect and probably deters many visitors: The long “transitos” pontoon has space for around 8 boats alongside with excellent shelter, water + electricity. The club that runs it are charming and friendly and lack of English, or your lack of Spanish is irrelevant. The facilities are there, are clean and in excellent order.
The normal transits otherwise are Santander and Gijon, a 65nm hop. Ribasedailla is perfectly placed half way.
I leave you with one other shot. Ribasedella has a supberb beach and along that beach live the rich and famous of Spain. Possibly including the Adams family.
I’ll publish this now – brings me closer to actuality and not such a big post next time.
Here we are back in Muros. It’s just after 1 o’clock on a warm Saturday 24th June . We went to bed 12 hours ago after Pedro Snr (marina boss) invited us and a few other yachties (French, Irish and English) to a street BBQ last night.
We’ve surfaced. Most of Muros, some of which partied until dawn, has not. it was a good night, there is a distinct air of quietness about…. but from leaving Sanxenxo to here:
Rapidly departing Sanxenxo we headed 15m across to Isla Ons, the largest of the Islas Cies group off Vigo.
To stay you need to register at the National Parks office and then apply for a permit with date of stay: all done, all done efficiently. In our case at the office in Vigo followed by online permit application.
To ensure the area is not overwhelmed by visiting boats.
We anchored, went ashore, walked up to the lighthouse:
it’s a long and winding road to the top
There’s a lot of talk about autonomous cars these days: I can confirm that it has already happened in the boat world
The dinghy in the foreground had autonomously decided to head to Vigo, away from it’s Irish owners.
The more distant yacht was doing the same.
Out of shot, stage right, are 2 Belgians, previously enjoying the beach until that “oh firkit” moment when the realised their boat was off on its own… now very determinedly paddling as fast as their blow up beach dinghy would allow…..and yet to come was the 45ft Irish yacht at speed…
Both caught their respective runaways.
And finally, our most distant point south:
Beautiful as it was, the Islas were uncomfortable at anchor. Besides the now re-parked Belgian, a Swedish boat came by at night. He dropped hook about 100yds away. By morning he had autonomously dragged his anchor to about 20yds away. We upped and left for Porto Novo.
Porto Novo (Ria Pontevedra)
Not much to say. Nice marina, with nice beach, nice bar overlooking the nice marina and nice beach. Very little left of the old town and much given way to modern buildings with restaurants.
So exciting we didn’t take any photos.
Portosin (Ria Muros y Noia)
Friendly, well run marina spoilt by adjacent fishing port working all hours. We went for a walk in the town but gave up due to lack of anything interesting and turned back.
More autonomous boats: We stayed 1 night. On the next hammerhead seagulls decided to congregate and were doing well when we crashed out around 11pm.
The next morning an autonomous boat had snuck in and sunk itself. We heard nothing. The seagulls said nothing. The marina night watchman saw nothing.
And back to Muros
One night in Portosin was sufficient: 5 miles away lay our final destination – Muros. It was a tough decision but we set off late and arrived before mid day.
Pedro Snr warned us about yet another noisy night to come: Mid Summers night / Festival of the Witches: bonfires everywhere: beach, streets, gardens. A little evidence of religious artillery to be expected…
Invited to a BBQ by Pedro in the small main square starting at 2130 we ate and drank along with a few other crews until 0100.
The knockout blow being the Witches Brew. it goes like this:
- take one cauldron, apply a load of coffee beans, lemons, oranges and a few other flavourings
- sling in a flammable spirit and set fire
- add a few bottles of wine and keep alight
- serve hot, very hot
All this done on Muro’s genuine celtic / pagan statue
The French are coming…
And still haven’t worked out how to arrive at port: just now a very nice Jeaneau 42 DS arrived, winds gusting to F6. 2 people on board. No lines ready!! Takes 2 attempts to land, crunch neighbour a bit, 3 people ashore to hold them whilst they get lines out and ready attached…Incroyable…
And then a French HR42…expensive boat…medium winds…missed his pontoon despite having bow thruster and a powerful enough engine.
And that’s the end of boating until August. Filibuster is being looked after by Pedro. I’m back at home.
Santiago de Compostella
I’m now officially “an old git”. Hooray – I can be grumpy without being guilty. This change of seniority happened whilst in Spain. Family came out to ensure the transition happened smoothly, stayed on the boat and in these 2 incredible locations:
Paradores Hotel des Reis Catholicos (Hotel of the Catholic Kings)
Some superlatives to describe this incredible hotel:
- Built in 1499, claimed to be the oldest hotel in the world (??)
- On the main square of old Santiago de Compostella, next to the Cathedral and envrions
- Has a 79 point historic tour inside the building
- Has sufficient space for a full size church within its’ walls
We stayed for one night to celebrate my birthday. It’s a true 5 star. It’s not cheap. It’s worth it.
More about the hotel on their website. Paradores is a range of superb hotels, largely using old building and is state run. Well run from our experience.
BTW A key reason for choosing Spain to celebrate my 60th was to avoid the problem encountered on my 50th whence it rained cats and dogs and the outdoor events were all cancelled. Spain had to warmer, drier didn’t it? Well no. It rained, as some of the pics above show 🙁
Never mind, Santiago is a great place to visit, Easyjet and Ryanair both fly there, it’s €3 by bus to the airport and you can easily fill a weekend. We filled our boots with a multi course tapas meal for 4, 2 bottles of wine and some beer all for less than €60!
Casa Grande de Bachoa
The only reason we stayed in the hotel was after seeing it in a TV Programme by Alex Polizzi. “Spectacular Spain, Episode 5 on Ch 5”. I had fancied a villa in the mountains with a swimming pool.
My prayers were answered on our last night at Casa Grande de Bachoa . Only half an hour from Santiago airport. Spectacular again.
And the sailing Martin?
You may have noted that this blog has become a bit of a travelogue. Sailing has not featured much. Neither in the blog or reality. Our log shows 660nm covered. Sailed proper about 60nm. Have consumed about 225l of diesel, which is about the same as the 2 past years combined…. not good.
But that’s it for part 1 in Spain. Let’s hope for better sailing in part 2 starting in August.
OK, so it’s a stupid title meant to be a play on the placename of Vigo (pron more like Vee-ho) but it’s a sort of celebratory reflection of all the planning that went on making last winter’s dream of “we are hoping to go to Spain in 2017, maybe as far down as Vigo, near the Portuguese border”.
And there was a lot of planning. And buying: charts, pilot books, new liferaft, ferry bookings, flight bookings, hotel bookings, getting a crew together, a week of boat prep, crossing the Bay of Biscay – which port to arrive at, which port as a backup, getting crew home, getting crew on board when arrivals plans changed dramatically…..and so on.
Besides the obvious facilities it has it’s own bar, restaurant, social & functions rooms and large swimming pool.
Sadly not party of the Passeport Escales scheme means we have to shell out at the rate of €35 per night to park. Not too bad considering Vigo was the objective and we stayed 2 nights.
More of Vigo in a mo, but first some notes from Muros to here.
If you like old fishing ports with good facilities, you will like Muros. If you like winding old streets with interesting back allies, you will like Muros.If you like Galician seafood you will like Muros. If you like more remote towns that still hark back to the past, you will like Muros.
We liked Muros.
The port has been organized to facilitate the large (huge) sea going fishing vessels away from pleasure craft. The harbour side has had some money spent on it and it shows.
Transport links by modern bus to Santiago are good.
Our plans include leaving Filibuster there for July.
How to broach a boat in no wind
The forecast was typical – no wind and it was on the nose. A light drizzle was falling. We left Muros expecting to motor all the way to Caraminal, but set up the main & genoa as a stabiliser against the swell.
Heading dead south, the rain stopped, the wind started to build. We were perplexed: looking up high on the mountain to the East the wind direction showed a NE, but we had West winds.
And they kept building. First reef then second reef. Winds topped 35kn…eek, or even double eek. Boat speed topped 8kn and with the 3m swell that became, shall we say, of concern.
Then we broached. (that’s a sailing term describing an over powered yacht becoming dangerously out of control ). We haven’t broached Filibuster since Bantry Bay in 2008 – it really can be dangerous to boat and crew.
What’s going on? A yacht passing on a reciprocal course only a few hundred yards away had no sails up due to lack of wind….
Wind off the mountains – to our left peaks of 600m steep down to the sea. That’s what was going on. A gentle wind on the top can create a massive eddy at the bottom and that’s what happened. A mile or so later we were clear of the mountains and the effect had passed – back to no wind…
Pueblo do Caraminal
Not much to report. Functional, marina, town, port. Seems to be favoured by Irish yachts for some reason.
And so to Vigo.
One stop further on is the Ria de Vigo, the last of the Spanish rias.
And we actually sailed the whole 30 miles! Wow, more than the rest of the trip so far.
And what a stop.
Vigo is a large port city and not somewhere we would normally go to, but it was the destination of this trip.
The Real Club Nautico de Vigo is close to the the old town: an easy walk away. In the old town centre there is a plaza given over to eating – and it is very very popular.
If you order a drink you get a little tapas to go with it…
And the loudness of all the chattering is almost deafening. We ate at the restaurant roughly in the middle of the shot. Michele had Octopus, you can have Octopus, you can have it many different ways. It’s texture is a bit like chicken, but the flavour is generally created by the cooking method.
I had delicious mussels.
Along with the earlier tapas the whole evening’s food & drink came to about €25.
We came the following evening and eat on the quieter periphery for even less.
A few other shots from very interesting Vigo:
We loved Vigo. If you can get a cheap flight it would make a fascinating weekend break.
We loved it so much that we stayed an extra night. The next morning we went to the office to pay. It was closed. it remained closed until well after it was open. What can you do when they won’t take your money and have to go? Answer: Leg it.
Pron San-shen-sho. The pilot guide says it is a large marina with full facilities.
They omit to mention the beach next door:
Or the lack of olde worlde Spanish style nooks and crannies….
Or the total sun block caused by the BFOB that parks next to us:
Or indeed the fact that in this part of the world the like to use explosives to ward off evil spirits. The explosives are religous, rocket propelled and in come in 2 types:
- The Trinity rocket: 3 smaller bangs
- The God Grenade: with 1 humongous bang, guaranteed to scare the wits out of any spirits, evil or otherwise
Sanxenxo clearly has more donations to spend and it’s artillery demo certainly scared more spirits than any other.
Listen here for a small portion that exquisitely includes the echoes rolling around the bay. Stay with it, it’s good at the end.
Or indeed about the fact that there are 2 marinas in the same space. Curious? It goes like this:
- We turn up early afternoon on Saturday, assisted by a marina man. We’ll call him Pedro. Pedro helps us tie up onto the long pontoon with other visitors.
- Pedro tells us the office is open at 4pm.
- We head officeward after 4pm. The office, in the very first building reached after stepping off the pontoon, is closed. It remains closed until Monday.
- We go back on Monday. They say they cannot accept our Passeport Escales (magic card offering free stopovers), but the “other office” at the other end of the marina does.
- We toddle across to the “other office”. They don’t speak English or French, we don’t do Spanish. A passer by is accosted to assist.
- Allegedly, because we didn’t register on the day of arrival at the “right” other office we can’t use the card for free stays.
- Then we are asked where we moored – pointed out the other side of aforementioned BFOB.
- Ah, that’s not our part of the marina – you need to go to the “other, other office”
So we schlep back across. The people in the “other office” have seen that we have gone back to the “other other office” to pay.The people in the “other other office” have seen that we went to the “other office” to pay.
Confused? we were.Quickly to get back on board and do the yachty equivalent of “legging it”. Again.
We don’t make a habit of, in fact have never done it before, but it does seem that in some of the bigger marinas here in Spain the park and place staff and the office staff are not in tune.
Enough for now…these posts are getting a bit lengthy and I haven’t quite caught up with the travels: National Park Islas de Cies and Porto Novo still await.
But still no wind to sail with since Vigo and the temperature as I write in Porto Novo is 34 deg C…
The wind, if we have any, is in the wrong direction tour 2017.
Quite simply it means we haven’t done a lot of sailing and we have done a lot of motoring.
Filibuster’s engine is, unlike road vehicles, monitored by number of hours. Since leaving Arzal we have done 82 hours of motoring. At an average say of 5.7kn that means 467nm (nautical miles). Our log says we have covered 477nm. Leaving just 10 under sails… 🙁 It’s not quite as bad as that…we might have done 20.
Motor or sail, we have visited some fascinating places and I write this post in Muros.
A gem of a place enclosed in an huge mountainous amphitheater, up market and livelier than any previous with the exception of A Coruna. It is so enclosed that there is no chance of any waves, any swell, any disturbance getting in. The town itself can be overly warm due to it’s sheltered location.
The marina at this off peak period is full, of empty berths. All is peaceful following last night’s Muros Music & Punk night, which allegedly finished at 3am. zzz, we finished earlier
Top Tips for Spanish Marinas
Should you be coming down this way you will need 2 items not normally used in UK and French ports:
A few words on the places visited since Viviero
Bustling city. Marina Coruna in the heart of it with nearby shops, bars and restaurants. Plenty to do and see and eat.
Handy little anchorage. Watch out for the flat bits in the water: they are weeds growing on rocks that appear at low tide!
We had high hopes for this small and sheltered marina with town. In the end it didn’t really live up to it. Although the pontoon for larger cruisers was well occupied I suspect the attraction was diesel available on the pontoon. Everyone had left before we got up the following morning.
A few boats anchored just off the marina.
Just across the ria is Muxia. A completely different kettle of fish. Larger, but not large, with bars, restaurants and interest. Billed in the guide (Passeport Escales) with top attractions of:
- “le monument du Prestige Oil Spill”
- The English cemetery
- The rock shaped like a boat (sinking, upside down)
How could we not go the 2.7nm across the bay?
And it was a delight – we didn’t find any of the attractions above. But did find plenty more. Muxia is on the Santiago-Finisterre Pilgrimage route and has plenty to offer the weary.
Finisterre – the end of the world
Allegedly, but incorrectly, the most westerly point of mainland Europe. The end of the known world in Roman times. The end of the Pilgrimage.
Anchorage only, protected from the unseasonable Southerlies and seasonal Northerlies. Back of beyond regional port mainly given to fishing and pilgrims.
The gem is the 3km walk to the Cabo de Finisterre with rewarding views of sea and pooped pilgrims.
In times gone by the aforementioned pilgrims used to burn their clothes at the end, however the absence of naked bodies and subsequent clothes shops suggests the warning as per right is nowadays taken seriously.
….And finally…the Gin test
Both are made from grain alcohol (in the case of Bombay Sapphire it is French) flavoured with “botanicals”.
In the Filibuster blind taste test each member of crew sampled both. No ice, no tonic, just neat gin.
And the result? Consistent to say the least. Click here to see.
And on that bombshell I’ll leave you to it and write about Muros another day.
You will of course be pleased to hear we sort of made it across. “sort of”? Well we didn’t quite make it to A Coruna, more of which later.
The 5-6-7-8.30 plan
A plan that runs thus:
- 0530 alarm
- 0630 depart home
- 0730 pick up Gav at Poole railway station
- 0830 depart on Ferry
And it all went to plan: arriving on the boat at 1800, unpack, eating, sleeping, or not as the case may be.
Or not? = When I set the time on my trusty new SuperDry wristwatch it decided unilaterally to continue advancing Japanward a further 1 1/2 hours. Midnight became 0130. etc
How many F in Frenchmen?
To the residents of Arzal berth S111 the answer to that question is 4. There were 4 F in Frenchmen 2 berths down who decided that night was the perfect night to a) get drunk b) play music c) natter away to 4a.m. (Sorry I mean 2.30am due to incorrect setting of watch).
Your truly not happy at 4am/230am. 🙁
And so the night progressed, sleep came, sleep went, the watch said 730am… PANIC. We want to be in the 8 oclock lock….Wake the crew. Notice the time zone in the saloon is 1 1/2 hours behind Superdry.
At that moment it dawns. Superdry is wrong. Dawn is upon us. Literally. See photo
Panic over. We go to the shop, get some fresh food, out through the lock and off. Next stop A Coruna 360nm away.
The Brutal Bay of Biscay…
….was on holiday when we crossed. There was no wind to sail by and we motored pretty much the whole way across. Boo.
And following the sunset the night watches were rewarded by a view of the Milky Way undiminished by other lights for as far as could be seen.
Fuel Burn rate
Indeed so flat, so calm for so long we became concerned about the fuel burn rate. I thought we had enough (we did) but Prudence popped up half way across and said thus:
- If the burn rate was 3.0l/hr and that gave 5kn and the distance was 360nm then we have just enough fuel to get across
- If the burn rate was 3.5l/hr and that gave 5kn and the distance was 360nm then we run out of fuel on arrival
Optimism says we do 3l/h, Prudence says 3.5l. Our fuel burn records have never covered running the tank dry and we are not about to risk it.
Change course to the next nearest port of Viveiro, which is 40nm nearer. Arriving around 4pm on 1st June.
And what a result. How to describe Viveiro:
- very helpful staff
- fantastic tapas / restaurant.
We ate the seafood of the gods ashore, had a night cap on board, and after 3 broken nights slept the sleep of the gods. In heaven.
The next morning we fueled up, left the marina and spent the day at anchor in a nearby bay. Still no wind.
The final problem
Viveiro is in mountainous lands – getting crew to Santiago and back is not so easy with no simple public transport – it has to be a rather expensive taxi. Ah well.
And the fuel rate?
For anyone interested we took 135l of diesel so the figures work out thus:
- 56 hours motored, 308nm covered
- 2.4l/hr or 5.5nm/hr or about 2.3nm/l
We had over 100l left in the tank before filling and would have easily made it to A Coruna. The difference is probably mostly accounted by the fact we had the mainsail up all the time and that gave us a small, but useful lift.
Ile de Groix, part 2
We visited Ile de Groix last year and much already written in part 1 remains current.
In that post I mentioned it was full, always full. But this time, around 2pm on the 5th September we got our timing right and went straight into a vacant pontoon berth. As did 2 following Brit boats and a few others to boot. Brilliant we thought, this is the way to do it. And the marina filled to full. And so did the outside buoys. Ram packed one would say.
And come in they did…. No space again.
In the outer port there were as many as 5 boats attached to mooring buoys and some late visitors were turned away.
High Season? French style.
So, it’s warm, the port is ram packed with visitors. High Season here formally ends on the 15th September.
Perhaps you would expect that port side bars and restaurants would be falling over themselves to attract custom before it all ends.
like this bar: photo taken at the same time as the others.
It’s something I just don’t get with the French. In some places we visit there seems to be a belief that the High Season (normally ending on 30th August) is the only part that tourism reliant shops, bars and restaurants should stay open for and cannot be bothered to work beyond it.
Other bars and restaurants around the port did open but only until 9 o’clock by which time the place was deserted and dark.
I can only contrast that with most UK and Irish ports that have life in them until late (examples like the Chain Locker in Falmouth that would be absolutely buzzing at that time)
Rant over – ile de groix remains beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed cycling the Southern part of the island.
And so to Port Haliguen
It’s before dawn, dark. You’re asleep, dreaming of women or boats or women and boats. The drunken Frenchy having an argument with the world in the middle of the night is now long gone. Your dream morphs to women and/or boats in Ile D’Yeu as a familiar whirring sound reaching the dreaming brain informs that Kazam, the builders supply ship in Ile D’Yeu is unloading.
Brain replies “you’re not in Ile D’Yeu”. Brain rationalises “must be cos that noise is Kazam unloading, in the dark, before dawn, again”
Dream morphs to women and/or boats and Kazam in Ile de Groix. That’s not right. You wake up: Kazam has a sister ship right here in Port Tudy.
Noisy unloading just 50m away could go on all day. Decision made: – off we go to Haliguen toute suite.
I haven’t said much complimentary about Port Haliguen so far – especially noting the 1km walk to the loos – but for some reason it’s growing on us.
We had a pleasant sail down in a F4 South Easterly: as the track below shows cutting back toward the coast to get into calmer waters, about 3/4 of the route was sailed before the wind died.
That night an unforecast F6 blew up from the west and disappeared in the morning. We cycled across in warm sunshine on Groix – style cycle tracks and took the video below.
And cycling and walking is perhaps the key to our newly found liking of this area. There’s plenty to occupy.
And the marina? Well the above excellent Creperie du Port was worth the visit.
And the 1km walk to the loos? Will eventually become history as the port is remodeled, distant and unpopular visitors pontoon will go in favour of spaces closer to the facilities.
What’s the weather been like?
Unlike last year at this time the weather has been largely fantastic. No real storms, lots of sunshine make the days warm and a distinct lack of serious rain make them usable.
But the lack of rain has caused an unforeseen problem :- the Villaine River in which Filibuster lives is the supply of fresh water for much of North West France has seen its levels drop.
To the extent that the lock that lets us in will be closed for 9 full days in September and restricted on others.
It’s time to head back out of the sea, a bit early, from a beautifully warm and sunny Piriac sur Mer where I write from
First of all a bit about the Golfe de Morbihan: Oft written about in the sailing mags it can be just a tad too far from the UK to fit comfortably into a 2 week holiday.
Effectively a tidal lake about 10 miles by 5 miles. Top right is the ancient and interesting city of Vannes (which can be reached by boat for a very pleasant stay)
Bottom left it is connected to the sea at it’s south west corner at Port Navalo / Port Crousty by a channel just less than half a mile wide.
And it has islands which somehow contrive to amplify the tidal streams to such a point that care is required.
The chart shows just how fast the tidal flows can be:
So this brings me to a final useful bit about tidal planning:
a) you will go with the flow or go backwards
b) the flow doesn’t change at low tide or high tide: all that water rushing in or out carries on going for a full 2 (yes two) hours after low water / high water.
it’s odd to think that the tide can still be ebbing well after low water, but that is exactly what happens!
Ile aux Moines
And with that useful bit of info let’s cover Ile aux Moines:
- it’s the largest island in the Morbihan roughly 3 miles by 1.5
- it now has a small marina with floating pontoons (see 2 short lines of boats in pic below)
- it has a beach
- it has some prehistoric stones
- and is otherwise a charming little island
“An otherwise a charming little island”. Well it might be out of high season.
Ile aux Moines is less than 1/4 mile from the mainland and the tourist industry in this already popular region has developed what can only be described as an industrial scale ferry service to bring tourists onto the island in vast numbers.
And on arrival tourists run the guantlet of restaurant / bar/ ice cream shop /cycle hire, repeated several times before reaching the safety of the island itself.
Ambling around the narrow lanes is not for the faint hearted either: cyclists, scooterists and a modicum of vans & taxi are all occupying the same narrow lanes as you.
So if you are considering a visit to this part of the world, then:
- Arrive at the entrance 2 hours after low water and your passage will be a joy
- Visit Ile aux Moines out of season if at all possible to best get that “charming little island” effect
- Visit Vannes any time – it’s a must
At the time of writing, in the last week of August, blessed by fine warm weather the high season has been giving a bit of a fillip and the French are making good use of the last week before school holidays finish on the 30th.
We might go back to Ile aux Moines soon…..