Arriving back in A Coruña I think we both have mixed feelings. We’ve both thoroughly enjoyed the ambling along the coast (for we haven’t covered great distances), some of the places have been amazing (some not so), and the stories we’ve collected along the way we will treasure. However great it is, it is difficult to leave family, friends and the place we call home for too long – and I’m happy to return home. I think Pete will be too, not only because we’ve fun things lined up in the next couple of months, including being part of the volunteer team for Falmouth Tall Ships.
This is where I disembark first, because Peter will bring Whinchat back north, crossing Biscay with his son, Tom. Tom will form the return leg of the AZAB next year, and this will be his qualifying passage. Let us hope they are treated more kindly by the conditions, and that Biscay gives them a joyous ride, unlike the testing one south. We have better weather forecasting sites in our armoury, (www.passageweather.com is brilliant) and therefore Pete will be able to look a few days out and see if there’s a good enough window to go. If we’re lucky, he’ll do a guest blog again for the return.
The absolute highlight for me was Illas Cies, anchoring in the Galacian Atlantic Islands National Park; that image of Whinchat taken from the beach, with the colours of the sea, and her… well, it’s beautiful, and it will stay with me. I loved the remoteness of that spot, except for looking at Vigo behind, but once the last tourist boat had roared away, it was so tranquil, so unspoilt. I’m so glad that we had a spell of settled weather to allow us to do that, and the prolonged stay in Baiona made it worth it. We’ll forget the encounters with territorial yellow-legged gulls, and the blisters, and indulge in a rosy view of the experience.
I’ve loved getting on the bus and getting inland to see some of the medieval Galician towns, and I think Pontevedra would be my favourite place. It was sunny that day (which helps a lot), but it had a delightful of small streets that you could almost get lost in. Noya was also a surprise, we’d gone there out of ‘nothing else to do in the weather’, and loved the market and had a super lunch. And those spooky statues (tombs) in the shell of a church. Fascinating. Vigo was the biggest disappointment, because of the run-down feel to the place, but I’ve slated that place enough.
We both think that we’ve got the balance between marinas and anchoring right. We didn’t manage it at all in Scotland (although I did point out that the weather was vile) nor in France… but there, we were in August, and it was so busy that the anchorages we did, we didn’t enjoy. Pete likes his strategy of getting as far as you want to (although he still had hoped to get to Portugal), and then ambling back, and I think it worked. I think we could have even spent longer in Ria Arousa (the largest of the rias, the most built up, the most viveros, but the most potential for anchoring), but somehow we decided to move on. Circumstance needing us to be home early means that it has worked out, but I think there were a few more nights to be had there. I wish we’d taken a closer look at the weather when we anchored on Illa Ons, as that was a real low point of the trip. Small hours anchor watch was no fun, although I cope better than Pete in that (which is why I sent him to sleep).
Given that I pretty much had last year off sailing because of my knee ligament damage, I was worried how I’d cope with some of the more challenging conditions and whether I’d find my sea legs (I still don’t enjoy the sensation of big waves), but I think I was broadly OK. Our mini-trip in April was a good test, and I think I’ve emerged at the end of this trip a more confident sailor – I was going to write competent, but I’m not sure that’s right. Pete, I know, reading this will say “but you’re brilliant love!”, but I don’t always believe it. I still wish I was more brave, although I have been mindful of the “do something at least once a day that scares you”, in order to grow and not stagnate. Rustler build incredible sea boats, boats that were meant to be at sea, in any conditions, and Whinchat continues to delight and impress me. I completely adore her.
When we are both back, August might yield a couple of sailing days here and there, with some overnights – I hope. Cornwall is so beautiful, and we shouldn’t neglect our own county. We also hope to go out with friends and family, which brings new joy, as we get such a buzz from people who fall in love with her too… On that note, we’ve heard that the Yachting Monthly feature we did will probably be run later in the year, so Whinchat will have to wait before she has her 15 minutes of fame! Peter will go to The Boat Show in September, but perhaps again we will get to go somewhere later that month. October he is diving, and by then it will be time to take her out of the water and get her ready for her maiden race in 2015. An event I am happy not to be active in, although judging by my reaction of them crossing Biscay, I shall be a nervous wreck!
What an awesome trip. How lucky are we?