Cangas to Ensenada de Barra (via Illa do Sur ou de San Martino)

Sunday 15th June 2014

To Illa do Sur
0-2knots of wind (F1), direction = uncertain, and glassy seas

To Ensenada de Barra
Northerly F5 and slight seas

12NM (708NM)

The day was in two parts. After finally getting hold of Tom via FaceTime (great tuition from his sister) we were able to achieve what we most hoped for from the morning to ‘see’ Tom, Mary and George. Although George was being a bit too busy, having been to RAF Brize Norton’s Family Day on Saturday. He proudly showed us his toy ‘airplane’, and a newly acquired word, we think. Another success was having booked ourselves in for two days at one of the other islands of the Marine National Park, Illa de Ons on Monday and Tuesday. We were planning on an anchorage near Ons, but one of the other things we did was pick up a current weather forecast. There’s wind piling in later (and potentially overnight) so Pete thought we’d head for the same bay (the nudist one).

We were going to sail over there, not very fast (because we knew there wasn’t much wind), but had not expected soooooo little. We had the main up, and the Yankee, and for about two minutes sailed quite nicely, until the 4knots of wind became nothing. The wind dial was circling on itself, not sure where to point to. If it could have shrugged, it would have done. But Skipper Pete was in no rush, as a fleet of boats passed by. We think this has been the first ‘nice’ weekend of the season, and therefore every boat from Vigo seemed to be heading out to the beaches…. and notably the Ensenada de Barra. As we drifted within sight of them, I counted 48 boats at anchor, with another 9 coming from behind us. We had anchored with about 7 the previous night. As Pete said, they’d all be gone by 7pm, but the thought of jostling for position wasn’t inspiring. I looked through the bins (binoculars) ahead at the island, and saw fewer boats. “Why don’t they just apply to go there?” I thought, out loud. “It is probably too much hassle” replied Pete. Anyway, I thought I’d go and see if my iPhone would yield to a 3G signal (activating my £2/day Vodafone thing that I can then use my minutes). It worked! So, using Pete’s login, I was able to add another day in the National Park, with permission to anchor in the same island. Result! No delay, sails wound in, engine on and off we tottered, with a real sense of purpose.

We decided that we’d go to the little island on the south, for a change, and were quite surprised to see that as we got closer, there were quite a few boats in! Mostly power boats. Whereas we’d seen two boats in when we’d been there, in the same bay were now 40! So, we formed along the outer line, and dropped the hook. 30m of chain. I couldn’t believe it watching other boats that only seemed to put out about 10m, just over the depth of water. I hoped we didn’t swing around too much, but now the conditions were so benign. No wind… and hardly any shade. It was really too hot. Pete and I drifted about the boat, trying to snatch out some shade. I’d rigged my scarves, which helped, but you can still feel the sun’s heat through it. It got too hot for me at one point, so I lowered the ladder and thought about going in, but it was too cold (less than 20degrees still) so I lowered myself to my knees and cooled my feet down. The teak decks are like hot sand, and quite uncomfortable to walk on, and a boat is not the sort of place that you can hop about on easily.

I sat and watched the world, or the weekending Spaniards in the bay. Many were on their boats in the shade, tables laden with food, wine. Kids were mostly in and out of the water (no wetsuits), or paddling on blow-up kayaks. A few (mad) people had taken a dinghy ashore and were lying baking in the sun. It was full, but not really noisy, as it had been on this island’s neighbour. No great parties of school kids. And when I’d had my fill of that, I finished my book (People of The Book). A great read.

The exodus began about 17:00, as boats weighed anchor and made their way back to the mainland. We’d decided that there was no point in trying to anchor across the water until after 19:00, so as this hour approached, we weighed anchor and left.

We were treated to wind! And what a wind! We had an awesome sail for about 45 minutes, as we made the few miles of water. First was the job of hauling the main, which I did, but ended up having to grind up the halyard for most of its length, as I couldn’t pull it up. That was agonising! Then grinding in on the Yankee, and because of the 20knots of wind, there was more winching than pulling. (When the winds are light, it’s relatively easy to pull the sails through, but with the load that any strong breeze brings, then you need the assistance of the winch to help with the mechanics). However, the starboard side sheet had got caught on one of the cleats, which needed releasing, so in 20knots of wind, with Whinchat heeling over, I went forward. It’s the first time I’ve been ‘deck monkey’ in such conditions, and it was very exciting. I always had in mind the ‘one hand for the boat’, but I realised up there I wasn’t wearing a life-jacket. I was there only to release the Yankee sheet, and then back to the cockpit. It was only when I was back there, I noticed we were still flying the anchor day-ball (best practice is that you hang a ball, a circle of plastic, from a halyard). So I deck-monkeyed my way back to that. Pete said only to clip it on, but the string securing the ball was too tight, so I couldn’t just clip the halyard on – I had to stand and untie it, being careful to not let the spinnaker halyard fly into the air! Even more exciting!

There were boats coming out of the anchorage, and we were coming in like a steam train, and a fishing boat coming across us too at one point. I’d thought Pete was stressed, as he kept on asking for lookouts, but he says he wasn’t. I think it was mere exuberance, he was dancing about on the helm. We knew there was a line of viveros (the mussel farms), which we knew to avoid, but they’re so hard to spot. I was trying to look through the bins, but the boat was bouncing around a fair bit. I could see what I thought was the limit, but then Pete spotted some closer, and yelled “Tack!” So, we did a swift tack, and were fine, a long way fine, but it meant lots more winching. Another tack back took us into the calmer waters, and calmer winds (15knots, rather than the 20knots), and more winching! I’ve done more winching today that I have in the last month afloat! Very reluctantly we had to take the sails down, as we were running out of water! We were making for the cliffs, as we had done previously, but I was looking at the boats anchored (only five or six now) and could see a line of wind near the cliffs, and less wind out in the bay. I said to Pete that I thought the wind was funnelling, so we might do better in the bay – which is where we headed for. We anchored in about 15knots of wind, in 11m, so letting out about 40m of chain. It was after 20:00 when we anchored, and 21:00 when I put the generator on so that I could use the Remoska. The paprika-ed mince with sweet potato gratin = delicious, washed down with a lovely Duero wine.

The wind was slowly dying, but at least the wind meant less chance of bugs, so we were able to throw open all the hatches and let some air run through the boat. Lovely.

Today’s haiku:

El weekend sol shines
City empties – beaches heave
It’s sunburn central!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *