Wednesday 11th June 2014
A breath of wind, nothing really to speak of.
Smooth seas, no swell to speak of either.
7 NM (687NM)
I’m not sure about Pete, but I woke full of excitement about the days ahead in the National Park. Usual routines to get through – shower, breakfast (nearly the last of the granola from home, which we can’t find a replacement for, the Spanish, it seems, don’t do breakfast.), quick download of all the useful things before we depart (i.e. Times and weather). I’d gone to sit on the benches in the loos to do the internet. On the way, I met the English-speaking Marineros, and was able to flatter him about his excellent English (he almost blushed), and ask him why all the kids keep jumping into the water, making a video. It’s simply Social Media “Net Nominate”, whereby you get nominated to make a video about jumping into the water, you post it to Facebook, and then you nominate three of your friends. So, Pete was probably more right than me in the ideas stakes!! Anyway, by the time I’d come back, Whinchat seemed to be in bits! How quickly can the day change? Pete, I guess, had been doing the routine boat checks, and something had gone wrong. All he muttered was ‘water in the boat,’ and ‘anti-fouling’s xxxx-ed.’ I could see from his expression that this was all very bad, but I couldn’t interpret quite what had happened. There was water in the boat, where it shouldn’t be (water inside a boat is never a good thing), and in sorting that, he’d found an oil can had leaked, which had spilt over his very favourite polo shirt. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to shift those stains since. The anti-fouling system we have is pure voodoo, some ultrasonic system, but it relies on electrical connections. Somehow, the cable has bust, so now we have no active anti-fouling. On this one, Pete immediately sent an email to Mike (the genius) saying we needed a new cable sent, and I thought that this meant some FedEx emergency, but it didn’t. We will hope the grey mullet do the cleaning of Whinchat’s bottom in the mean time. Pete wasn’t clear about the water – perhaps it was because he hadn’t cleared up after the Biscay crossing, but we shall certainly be keeping and eye on things!
Anyway, far from having to remain in port to wait for a cable, we were good to go. Just as we’d arrived to school lessons in Gig-rowing, as it was when we left. They didn’t seem to notice us busying about untying warps, nor Whinchat’s engine gently pulsing. We’d even started going backwards. I wasn’t sure if the sharp lean on the bow-thruster was for our benefit or the instructors. Everyone seemed to look around, and there was a little arm- waving as a Gig cleared some space, all the kids yelling “Hello! How are youuuuuu,” and “Have a nice travel…” Bless.
There was no wind, so we were set to motor to the islands of the National Park. Vigo was covered in a haze, a heat haze. We haven’t seen much of that over the last few weeks, so it’s another indication that we are in some hot, settled weather. Perfect for anchoring in!
We followed the trip boats across the water to the island, nothing very eventful happening on the way. Pete was very quiet, face a bit set, but I think he’s genuinely very stressed by the crazy ten minutes when I’d gone to deal with internet things and he’d been preparing us for departure. I’m not sure what is to be done, except monitor and seek advice. One of the absolutely brilliant points of owning a Rustler, the customer service never stops. If we’re worried, they are too, and don’t stop until it’s solved. Anyway, I digress.
When we were approaching the anchorage – the most beautiful sweep of sandy beach – Pete wanted to aim for ‘the sweet spot’ recommended in the pilot guide, but we thought the Danes were there already, so we adhered to good anchoring convention, and tucked in behind them. It was only when we rowed ashore – clarify: Pete rowed ashore – that we worked out we could have made it without landing on top of them. Who cares, it is an utterly wonderful place to be. There is something of the Rio de Janeiro about it – bear with, bear with – where the hills drop to the sea in a perfect arc of white sand. It is a different scale, and you lack the city and the samba feel, but it’s astonishingly beautiful. It was all I could do for the next few hours to sit, varying between sun and shade (my Bedouin tent onboard, fashioned from oversized scarves and pegs), and watch the very little of the world go by. I didn’t even manage a snooze! There were boats to watch, incoming ones to worry about who might crowd our anchorage (a German cat did, but thankfully they didn’t stay into the evening to steal my sunset views), the ferries to watch, the dredger! Why would you be randomly dredging here, and what were they doing with the spoils? The people on the beach, baking, playing bat and ball (in this heat), and then the kids. A school class arrived, and squealed for the next couple of hours as they jumped in and out of the cold water (18.5 degrees according to Whinchat’s gauges = cold), no hats, no shade, but at least sunscreen. One of the ferries anchored off the beach for a couple of hours – now that’s not a bad job to have! The Guardia Civil, the Police, arrived in a massive power boat and anchored too. I rather fancied they were the Drug Squad, but we’ll never know. They had a launch RIB (much bigger than Kevin) and they boarded a Spanish boat that had anchored. We were ashore by now, and we wondered if they might want to speak to us…
Our time ashore consisted of walking to one side of the beach to the other, grimacing at the various degrees of sunburn on display. The people on the beach were beginning to thin out, disappearing with the ferries. We decided we’d try the cafe for a drink! What an experience. I went in to buy the drinks, and there were three blokes, clearly de-mob at the end of their day. The banter was high in the air, and because the guy who served me ‘liked me’, I had a great slug of wine added to my drink! I scuttled out. It was incongruous to sit in a vast concrete terrace, on plastic chairs, in a National Park. We were on top of the quay with a ferry there. The mighty boat of the Guardia Civil was there. Toasted tourists, eating ice creams. And then the music thumped out! Track after track of Spanish pop-house, which had the bartenders sashaying around the place, and a group of girls dancing on the terrace. IT IS A NATIONAL PARK. You have to have a permit to go in the waters, you have to have a permit to anchor. You can bring your dinghy ashore within guidelines. Yet you can pollute the atmosphere with this crap. Unbelievable.
Thankfully, the music didn’t carry, and would be shut down anyway by the time the last ferry left (19:30). Now, it really is quiet. No kids, no music, just distant sound of waves lapping the shore, the odd seagull in the sky. Perfect. Whinchat occasionally rolls, but for the most part this appears to be a good anchorage. Let us hope so.
Now the German Cat has gone, our view of the setting sun has been uneclipsed, so we have taken the dregs of our wine to watch the sun sink in the west. The pressure is broadly stable (1026), and we are expecting another day like this tomorrow. We need to keep an eye on the pressure though, as we shall be without weather information (trembles at the thought) until we head back to the ‘mainland’.
long arc of pale sand,
tickled by the water’s lap –
a lover’s caress