Thursday 26th June 2014
winds initially southerly, stiffening (F4-5) going through west and north, fading F2
seas, a bit choppy with the running wind
I had a vague recollection in the night of waking with Whinchat rolling a bit, and thinking to myself it was a passing ship (unlikely really), and therefore not determining to take any notice of it. It was, however, the arrival of the south wind, and an accompanying swell. Whilst standing brushing my teeth, it was some effort to stay still (and upright). “I’m on the wobble board in the gym,” I yelled at Pete – still dozing, not really responding… until he had the same experience. “I see what you meant!” Whinchat was unsettled in the water, with a constant buffeting by the sea underneath her. It wasn’t great, but not horrendous.
When I emerged on deck to peer at the world, we were surrounded by a fleet of small boats, with buoys in the water. Each was attached to a diver (free diver, no tanks) who spent most of the morning diving for shellfish. No idea what kind, but the haul looked reasonable for a few hours work (but rather them than me). Pete reckons they had decent wetsuits on, complete with hood and gloves. At 19degrees, they would have needed it. A couple of guys were ‘fishing’ very close to the boat, so I was very reluctant to move when they were in the water (despite the rolling). Pete had watched a glass-bottomed trip boat mooch along the coast yesterday, so presumably we’d anchored above some reef (not as in coral reef).
With the pitching and rolling, Pete’s forehead had a little furrow in it. He never likes the rolling motion on the anchor, a kind of tugging, and it’s not so comfortable (although I’m surprised at myself at how unfazed I am, I’ve created more fuss in much less). I was glad that we’d gone with the still waters of yesterday and completed the walk, because I wasn’t so convinced that Pete would want to leave Whinchat for a few hours today. I figured that he might be persuaded to take a walk along the beach, and head for coffee. We’d re-checked the weather, and the sting seems to have gone from Saturday (still windy, and a lot of rain forecast, booooo), and the winds today were forecast to come in from the south, and switch and fade through to the north. Neither of us had really calculated for the wind-swell (the Atlantic swell is from the north-west, perfect for this little stop) brought by the south wind. Duh. Pete thought that my idea was a good one, so we unhooked the outboard (makes hauling the dinghy up the beach so much easier, and it was a relatively short distance to the beach, a couple of hundred metres), and set to leave Whinchat. It was bouncy getting into the dinghy, but I’ve developed a technique for doing that, minimising the growing collection of bruises on my shins (involving boat shoes, a good start), and so we cast off, down-wind. Pete wanted to check that we could get back, under oar, which he was comfortable with, and so we drifted ashore.
The beach is beautiful, a long sweep of sand, and enough activity to make it interesting as an observer. The guys diving for one, and the steady stream of pilgrims making their way to the lighthouse. The shore is littered with sea-shells, the most we’ve seen on any beach, and the small girl in me would have tried to collect all of them. Pete picked one out for me, just like the pilgrims have, and I will take that home and place it somewhere special. We crunched our way around, finding shelter from the wind in the western end of the beach, where we had spied the cafe. We were the only ones there, and we weren’t sure it was open, but I was successful in getting two coffees, which we sat outside and drank, watching a steady stream of walkers.
I took a photo of a couple (the lady was trying to do a self-timer on the bins, and said something in English, so I offered), and we ended up chatting to them for a good half hour. They were Australians (out of Sydney) and had spent the last 42 days on the Camiño. They said it was unbelievable, and were happy to give their observations and reflections. They walked from 00:60-12/13:00 each day, and then hung out in the afternoons (when it was hottest) and ate early and were in bed by 22:00. The younger ones walked from 17:00-22:00, and slept late, and took a siesta. They said there were 350 who registered when they started, and 1,000 when they got stamped in Santiago. “Radio Camiño” exists along the way, where information is passed, stories traded. Rather like a yachting community, where suggestions for anchorages, or places to stop are shared, as are the wind conditions. For the pilgrims, it is blisters, injuries and events. They spoke to us of a man who was pulling his wife in a wooden cart, with one story being that he’d been less than faithful, and that for every affair, 10 km he would pull her (he apparently did the whole route), but another said that she was infirm, and it was his ‘gift’ to her. They told us about an Italian man who was with his donkey, and a blind man walking with his guide dog and his wife pushing two small children in a cart. Would you believe than ten minutes later they walked past? They spoke of people walking with dogs, bandaged feet, and people that you’d spend five minutes with, or five hours. There is a camaraderie, and they insisted we do it. Perhaps the most remarkable story was a cellist who carried his cello all the way, complete with film crew making a documentary. Last night “radio caramiño” had broadcast that he would play at Faro Finisterre, and he performed for two hours from 20:00-22:00, amongst pilgrims who had taken their supper to watch as daylight faded. She told us that was one of her highlights. In thirty minutes we had more sense of the emotion of the pilgrimage than we’ve had all trip. Would I like to do it? I’m not sure.
We left them, like we do with most yachties, with calls of “lovely to spend time with you”, as we made our way back to the dinghy. We had our own adventure ahead, as the wind had freshened and the sea was quite choppy. Pete declined my helping with the rowing (“with all due respect, love…”) and so I was to launch us against the waves. Pete had the harder job, and I wasn’t sure that he would have the power to keep plugging through the wind and sea. I didn’t want him to look around – not only would it be dispiriting but we’d also lose ground. He had to keep going, and I think it beat any effort he’s done on the rowing machine at home! It may have been 200m, but he was flat out in a sprint, not a marathon. I was very happy to grab Whinchat and get us on board, and by now she was bucking away. The forecast was for it to fade, so I said there was no point in us moving, so we sat and read and I wrote. About 16:30 Pete was making Whinchat ready to head off to another anchorage, more for a change of scene. The wind had switched, and faded, but the sea was still running in. It made retrieving the anchor a bit bouncy, as I was now on the bow, and moving up and down with every wave. That would not have made for a comfortable sleep in the forepeak.
We motored around the headland, with a couple of places in mind. Fall back was behind the mole at Finisterre if the seas were too rolly. The first choice bay was rolly when we came into it, I think more so than the one we’d left, but there is a second bay, so we thought we’d try that… and it surprised us both when it was less rolly, or seemed to be. We decided to drop the anchor anyway and see. That was a few hours ago, and we’re still here. It is certainly easing, but it’s not the tranquil, still anchorage that we favour. It has grown less since we arrived, and I’m sure it will be fine, with touches of wobble-board about it.
south wind tickles ocean,
waves flutter; we groan.