Monday 9th June 2014
Winds southerly F4-7, not the F3-4 as forecast!
Seas, westerly swell of 2-3m in the unprotected waters, and smooth, disappearing to little swell under the protection of the islands.
It was me that went for bread this morning, a job that I thoroughly enjoyed doing. As my day was beginning in its own lazy way, Baiona was steadying itself for another week of work. The marina was already up and running, with red-shirted Marineros set on tasks, but this was no different to any other day, including the weekend. As I left the hub of the marina, there was a road-sweeper, brushing the cobbled pavements, scrubbing away the debris left by the promenading Baionians when the rain let up yesterday. A woman jogged past, her pint sized pooch tied to her bum-bag, half dragged, half trotting along. I continued across the road, and up the tree lined avenue towards the Panaderia. A woman, shoulders hunched, head slightly bowed, as if she were bearing too much walked towards me, gripping the hand of a six-year old boy, who was skipping and talking constantly. His high-pitched voice filled the air. I passed the butcher that we’d queued for the other day, his shop just opening, as he was laying great slabs of meat along the counter. A lady, heavily highlighted hair flying in the wind, was just getting out of her car, carrying a satchel, she walked across the road towards the hairdressers. I wasn’t sure if she was a good advert for her work, or not. The lady in the Pandareria greeted me with a big smile, reaching for my chosen loaf before I’d managed to get the mangled words of Spanish into my mouth. “Si,” I acknowledged as she waved a large centeno at me. She laughed. I laughed, and for the first time, handed her the right change. Heading back to Whinchat, another harried mum with a bouncing kid. An older woman, dragging a wheely shopping bag, nearly half her size. And the same lady, still sweeping the path.
All of this made me truly appreciate how lovely it is to be in a place where we have no routines. no rituals. No children to get to school. No shop to open. No deadlines to meet. Just days doing what we decide, with a bit of perhaps where the wind takes us. It’s a very long time since I was responsible for getting myself anywhere for a set time, my counselling work, probably, and I really felt like a voyeur in this town that was not really waking up, but opening for business.
Back on Whinchat, Pete had made coffee and was ready for fresh bread and jam. It would take some effort to achieve the fresh baked bread at home, but here, it seems no trouble at all to take a 15minute walk. We knew that we’d be off today, so we were both sucking what we needed to out of the WiFi (you never know when the next service will come), notably trying to get all the long range weather forecasts. The hints of strong winds for next weekend seem to have vanished overnight, and we look to be heading for a period of settled weather. That would be most excellent, given our visit to the National Park.
I went and settled up with the office, eye-watering fees (for five nights, €306), and then we were good to go. Somehow our exit didn’t go that smoothly, I wasn’t sure that there was that much wind, but perhaps I’d become desensitised over the last few days. I had to release the bow, which the wind tried to take, and then Pete yelled at me (yes, yelled) to come and release the stern. That wasn’t easy to slip as it was with someone else’s ropes, so I swore. A Spanish chap came to help, but I’d heaved it free, having to fend off against the pillar as we left. I was just about to retrieve the warp, when Pete yelled (again) to fend the bow. I did, as we shot out. Fortunately there was a lot of space around us. I tried to shout a ‘gracias’ at the man, who waved over his head at me. I wasn’t sure if it was a nice wave, or not. I chose to think it was.
We hauled the mainsail in the lee of the bay, not because of the wind, but because we thought that the sea might be a bit lively. We were right on the latter, but also hadn’t reckoned on quite how much south wind there would be! We weren’t on the water that long, a couple of hours, covering 14 NM but what an exhilarating ride! We were over-canvassed at times, but as we weren’t out for long, we both kind of got on with it. It was my helm out, and the wind was on the beam as we took ‘the long route’ around the cardinals in the bay. We came out at the same time as a boat that had anchored, and they took the cut-through channel between the island and the mainland – we don’t have the charts to do that, so would always be on the long route. They looked to have a gentle run, sheltered by the land. We were to fly in the full thrust of an excitable wind. It was 15knots at first, ploughing through the sea (2-3m), but this steadily built, 15 became 18, became 20, became 23! Crikey oh riley! I have no idea how fast we were going, as it was taking all my effort to tame the forces that were definitely trying to throw me from the course. It was like riding a powerful stallion, trying to keep a tight rein so that they know who’s boss. Whinchat was making nothing of the sea, but the wind was trying to pull us up. At one point Pete told me to steer away to mind a fishing boat “I can’t!” I yelled, as I was using all my body weight in the wheel, almost doing the side-splits in the cockpit to keep myself solid. He quickly reached forward and spilled some of the wind by releasing the main. Phew! That was better. A course-change saw us more downwind, but Pete didn’t want to be running in 25knots, so I held her in a broad-reach until we met the course line to the next way-point. That was a gybe to starboard and onto another beam reach. How much fun was that!! With the sea running behind us, Whinchat was now surfing, accumulating speed as she bottomed towards the troughs. If you saw AIS, we would have been doing 8-9 knots, and we maxed (when I looked) at 9.5knots. Crazy speed!! Pete was more twitchy here, because we were right on the edge of the TSS (well, outside of it) so I couldn’t edge to port, but neither could I creep to starboard as there were all sorts of rocky outcrops. Fortunately I’m good at holding a course, and with big fishing boats around (one MONSTER one, heading to the southern Atlantic, we presumed) it was no time too lose concentration. Over the couple miles of this leg, we hit the next way-point with a XTE (cross-track error, i.e. how off-course you are) of 2m (as in metres). I was really proud of myself…. but in my moment of joy, I realised that Pete had had none of the fun, so I asked him if he wanted to helm. I think he was a bit surprised, but then took the last hour. He had a tough job, as we were nearly running, and in fact, he did have to run (20-25knots behind) and did a brilliant job, with only one nearly-accidental gybe, when the wind went a bit ‘whoops’.
All of this wind was not forecast, nothing like, and as we were coming up the Ria de Vigo, it suddenly dawned on me that we would be mooring in THIS WIND. Our last leg took us across to the other side of the Ria, and with a beam reach, the wind was now blowing over 25knots…. 28 knots! The thought of mooring was filling me with dread, but… Pete said that we’d go and have a look at the marina. As we approached, it appeared to be behind a massive sea wall, so Pete asked me to go and announce our arrival on VHF. I did, and to every statement, I had a heavily accented “Yeeessss”. So I finished the ‘conversation’ and set about preparing for mooring. How many obstacles? The ferry was looming down on us, the wind was blowing, and there was a part of school kids having tryouts in a Gig…!!! The marineros was there, showing us to moor on a finger berth, directly in the line of a Gig full of kids. I wasn’t quite ready, so Pete turned about and we circled back out, and then I was ready. The Gig hadn’t moved! The wind was blowing! I stood on the bow and waved at the responsible adult – he waved that we should go somewhere else. I threw both my arms in the air, and pointed to him, to the marineros. The marineros pointed at us, and the Gig. I threw my arms in the air once more for good measure, and they rowed out of the way! Result. However, we still had to moor! Pete said that we’d be blown off, so to throw the bowline to the marineros, and then rush back for the stern. I chucked the bowline over, and then trotted back down the deck, with some kind of adrenaline foolery I jumped over the midships line (what happened to one hand for the boat, let alone no body parts), and took the stern, lassoing it over the cleat. Second time lucky, and only minor swearing. Pete then said to secure that and get the spring on, so I grabbed the midships and leapt onto the pontoon, running back the spring. All done. Pete was laughing, he was so pleased with my dirvishing. It was like I’d cloned myself into about three crew. My heart was pounding, and I was red hot. Pete just kept on saying, “that was awesome!” It was exhausting. What an adrenaline ride the morning had been! I’m not sure that I really have the constitution to be an adrenaline junky, and would much prefer something more serene and elegant.
The laughter has continued, because the guy at the Capitainerie doesn’t speak English, but does French. So Pete completed the registration process in French! We then decided we’d have lunch in the cafe alongside the marina, where we had the €8.50 ‘menu dia’ and the waiter and the girl behind the bar used Google-translate to tell us what was on offer. Brilliant! It’s just been such a fun feel about the place, and we’ve had a mini-saga in getting a key for the marina, which the marineros was to sort, who has no English, but needed to explain to us that it was a €5 deposit that we’d get back when we gave the key back. More arm waving! It’s amazing what you can get away with, and I so wish that I’d tried harder to learn more Spanish before we left. The Spanish phrase book doesn’t quite cover what I want – and I realise that the phrases that I had in Polish when I lived there were about right.
We’ve taken a decent siesta today, Whinchat providing decent shade against the fierce heat of the sun. We’ve been entertained by a series of groups of kids who are making movies on their iPhones of them chatting to camera, and then jumping into the sea. I think they’re on a project for school, but Pete thinks it’s just self-promotion for Facebook. We will never know.
At a respectable post-siesta time, about 18:00, we wandered into the town to see what Cangas has to offer. It’s here we will take the ferry tomorrow to Vigo (for the day only), and we wanted to work out the timetable – snap, photographed on the iPhone. We’ve found a couple of decent supermarkets, a bread shop near the port (important) and many banks. There’s also the most incredible play park humming with the sound of kids, and a zip wire!
It’s been griddled veal steaks, sautéed mushrooms and ensalata for supper tonight – Pete described himself as ‘medium’ hungry. Thankfully the wind seems to have died down, so perhaps we will have a relatively undisturbed night, if Whinchat can rest well in her berth.
south wind beats his chest,
scatters sails across the seas…
let’s do it again!