Tag Archives: Camarinas

Muxia to Camarinas

Tuesday 1st July

Winds, westerly, F4 (until we moored, then ++)

Seas, very lumpy, 2-3m swell rolling from the west

3NM (848NM)

When I went up to use the servicos this morning, as soon as I got off the boat, I could hear the sound of a distant roaring, as if it were coming through the town. It sounded just like the ocean, but a part of me thought it couldn’t possibly have transmitted through the town. When Pete went up, he heard it too, but thought it more mechanical – air conditioning units, perhaps – and as there is quite a bit of active building work in Muxia, it was possible.

When we went out to top up our provisions, I requested taking the long way around, via the headland, to see if my assessment was right. Was it the ocean pounding the little bay in Muxia? We walked through the town, and before we’d come out the other side, you could hear it – for certain. The waves were thumping into the bay, and were absolutely the sound I could hear in the marina. That’s impressive! The waves weren’t *that* big, nearer three than two metres, but enough to create quite a disturbance to the air, and the roaring. The breakers were curling, and smashing the shore in an explosion of surf. It looked great for surfing – had it not been for the rocks that studded the coastline. We walked out to the headland, by the little church, and the sea was a churned up mass of white spume – perhaps a little disappointing. The photos we had the other day were cleaner, and therefore it wasn’t worth taking a picture of.

It was a little chilly in the wind (Pete hadn’t got a jumper on, I had), so we turned back into town for a delightful encounter with an old boy and two of the smallest puppies – sort of beagle-ish – who looked too young to be out, but were so adorable. They were following us along the path, and the guy was trying to coax them back, and talk to us. I think we could have had both of them if we’d wanted (and we did, in that moment), especially the one who took to my toes! Anyway, I had to tear myself away, but was soon distracted as we discovered it was market day…. mostly cheap clothes (and a whole stall dedicated to shell-suits) so a bit disappointing. Had we needed to top up the stocks of chorizo, it would have been perfect, but there’s only so much of that you can eat (and Tom doesn’t arrive for a couple of weeks!!). So, back into EuroCity and then a stop at Cafe Marina for our usual top-up on the WiFi. It’s almost time to move on when the lady who runs it knows your order – we laughed.

Topped up with weather, and emails, it was then decision time. Should we stay? Should we go – and if so, where? The weather didn’t look that great for breaking from the Ria (and that sea wasn’t talking to me), but we were after a move. So we decided that we’d head across the water to Camarinas, all of a couple of miles, but it meant that we could do the walk to the lighthouse, Faro Villain, that we’d enjoyed so much before.

We settled up (Marcus is great, but Pedro at Muros is still my favourite), and off we went. It was barely worth de-rigging, so I flipped up the fenders, and coiled the mooring warps, leaving them on their cleats. We hauled the Yankee, as when we had got out of the marina, there was a nice breeze, and the action of sailing is usually nicer through a lumpy sea…. and it was LUMPY, with Whinchat being rolled a bit as we came across the mouth of the ria – probably not enough sail out to plough through it, but certainly not worth putting any more out given we had about 30 minutes at sea. Our timing was totally rubbish, as the most ferocious downpour attacked us mid-way through our passage. I could see it coming (from behind Pete at the helm), so had dived down to get the coats. There was no way of avoiding it in the cockpit, and there was no way I was going down below to roll around in the swell, so we both got a soaking! Pete’s shorts had a distinct tide marks, and I had rivers running down my legs as I was huddled under the spray hood. Of course, with this mad rain came an increase in the wind, so suddenly we were in 20knots of wind – with five minutes to mooring.

We were rigged for a port-side-to from Muxia, and we could see a vacant slot that would work, mooring us into the wind (always the preferred option). No sign of the marineros, so I realised that I’d have to be the one to get onto the pontoon, run the mid-ships back, so that we’d have an active spring to secure ourselves with. First obstacle was a frame at the end of the pontoon, so that I simply couldn’t drop down, but had to wait until quite late before leaping…. and then the pontoon was SOOOOOO short, that Whinchat barely took a third of it, meaning my fenders were next to useless. I got another line on (the bow, probably), and then saw how much of the rear of Whinchat was hanging out. So, now half-tied on, soaked, and bewildered. We wandered up the central pontoon to see if the finger pontoons on the ‘port’ side were longer (yes) and whether the Marineros was there to advise (no). We decided that this was not a good place to lie, so we came out and I rigged for a starboard-to mooring. Everything over the other side of the boat, in the rain. Pete was holding Whinchat in the harbour, testing her against the wind – still blowing 20knots. The other side of the pontoon meant a downwind mooring, with a slight chicane into the vacant berth. I’d rigged and was ready, but the wind… Not helpful. We made a slow approach, but slow and controlled wasn’t possible and neither of us felt comfortable, so we aborted that and went for the hammer-head on the adjacent pontoon. That was a superb mooring, with me calling the distance, getting off, and Pete using my spring to bring us alongside. We had Whinchat all tied up, but knew this wasn’t the visitor’s pontoon…. so decided to have lunch and work out what next later. Pete had tried to get through the gates to the dock, but it was very locked, and we weren’t sure that we’d ever get off.

It’s amazing how much better you feel with lunch inside you (and a totally deserved soup, as we were both pretty damp), so we felt equipped to make the move onto the visitor’s pontoon. When we’d come some five weeks previously, we were one of two visiting yachts, with all the space to choose from (not that we had any choice, as the marineros was here to direct us), but we had a couple of spots only. The squalls of the lunch-time attempts had also died down, so the wind was about 4knots as we left the hammer-head for the third time lucky. Of course the wind senses it’s time to moor, so plays games with you, so it built, and I think was about 12knots when we manoeuvred through the chicane… still no one around to help, so I leapt off with the midships, to secure a rear spring, given that we were downwind. All good. Head still down, and going for the starboard bow (as I could reach it), and that was secured. Pete then yelled, and was waving/pointing from the stern. Eh? Could I decipher it? Nope. Not afraid of yelling back, I shouted… “I have no idea what you want me to do..” (!!), so he came forward to throw the port-bow (which I’d secured, but couldn’t reach), as this one would make us more secure. Ah… I understand. He chucked it at me, but it got caught around the seagull wires, so I had to retrieve that as Pete disappeared to the business end of Whinchat (the helm). Then I dashed back and got the sternline, and that secured… we were going nowhere. Only, the anchor was hanging over the central pontoon, and was a complete hazard, so we had to adjust all the lines so that we’d dropped back half a metre…. and only then were we completely happy. Third time lucky!

As we were just tidying up, a couple came from their Bowman 40, Betsy. They were from Helford (!!) and were making their way south, so we were able to share our thoughts for the best spot – and advise them how to get permissions for the Atlantic Island National Park. Let’s hope that Ana or Pedro or other lovely chap helps them when they get to Muros.

We decided that we would walk to the lighthouse, Faro Villain, as the weather looked like it would help us out for a couple of hours. It did, almost, with one frantic unearthing of waterproof coats from the backpack, for the minute that the heavens opened on us. We could see the squall across the ocean, and were unlucky to just get caught in the fringes of it. We hadn’t hoped so well for Pete’s shorts that were supposed to be drying on the rails – in fact, because the sun was so warm, any ‘damage’ by the rain had been undone by the sun. At times it was like walking in a steam bath as we wandered back from the lighthouse.

Back in port, we stopped for a beer in the bar (no beer snacks – it must be just the the weekend), and watched the Marineros direct two boats that had arrived at the same time into berths. Both wanted the now vacant hammer-head of the visitor’s pontoon, but they’re diddy, and no way were they to be allowed on there! A large Dutch boat has moored where we were, so we probably could have stayed, but it’s all good here. We are surrounded by French boats (Pedro was certainly right about it being their month), and watching them moor is always so entertaining.

Tonight’s meal is some very thin pork chops (wafer thin, almost), in the Remoska with a sort-of Lyonnaise potato cooking on top of them – a good slug of white wine, onion, tomato, garlic and mushroom anyway. As it’s so cool (27degrees in the boat!) we will deviate from the customary salad and go for green beans. All good.

The weather looks promising for a break to the next ria tomorrow, although the sea might still be a bit on the lumpy side, but that’s not going to change in the next day or so, but like any other day, decisions happen in the morning!

Today’s haiku:

Wind laughs, blows a kiss
Pete shrugs – Whinchat is ready
Oh crikey – am I?

 

Shore leave in Camarinas

Sunday 25th May

This was a planned day ashore, after the relatively long day on passage. No alarm clocks. No schedule. No expectations (it was Sunday). We started the day with a shower – and a relatively short walk to the facilities, all of 50m, better than 500m – and unlimited hot water! When you are on boat rhythms, small things like freely running water get really exciting. For the record, the showers at Camarinas are rated highly, the water was hot and wasn’t on a time release push button. Pete, for one, was in shower heaven.

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We know not to expect huge things from a Spanish town on a Sunday, but what a wee gem of a place! We decided we’d have a little wander after breakfast, and walked over the evidently new bridge into town. Pretty much everything was shut – except a plethora of little cafes, with people scattered between them taking coffee in the sun. We were walking towards what Pete thought would be a beach, but the chart was way out of date, as we were heading towards an industrial part of town, but en route we found an Artesan Baker (Sunday opening!!!) and we went in, with me waving my few words of Spanish at the baker (thanks sooooooo much Jeannie), who preceded to sell us a glorious round of rye bread. It was all I could do to stop Pete from taking off a chunk right there – it was warm, soft, the best way for bread! We meandered back towards the harbour, and took a beer/wine in the sun before deciding what to do. We’d vaguely thought of being very Spanish and having a long lunch, but the bread we had was so tempting. We decided that we’d head back to Whinchat and have a bread/cheese/jamon serano lunch. Wonderful!

Pete then pulled out a guide book, and we discovered that Camarinas is the place for lace…. which explained a museum we’d come across (open, but not that inviting) in town. He announced that we could walk to Pharo Vilan, along some dirt road, which would be three miles. What else was there to do (except perhaps lie in the sun and read a book, but we’re not really those kinda people), so I donned my walking sandals, tied my Rustler jacket around my waist (you can never be sure of the next shower coming in my relatively small experience of Galicia), slapped on some Factor 30 (a minimum for us) and off we toddled. We headed up the hill, out of Camarinas, soon joining what felt to be a procession, a few groups of people strolling. We were clearly taking part in a typical Sunday activity. However, all peeled off at a sign for the football stadium, but we carried on. The dirt track never really revealed itself, having been replaced by a smooth tarmac surface, relatively recently you’d surmise.

It was a glorious walk. The verges were thick with wild flowers – don’t ask me to name many, but bright yellow, small blues, small pinks, the odd foxglove, and interspersed, lots of wild fennel! It was in some ways like walking at home – except the sound was most certainly belonging to the knees of the cicada, most definitely not heard in Cornwall. We walked around the edge of the Parc Ecologique, or wind farm. These massive structures towering over us, the ones we’d watched from the water the day before (perhaps Pete more than me….) They have a graceful beauty to them, and a whisper as they rotate. I never really understand quite what the fuss is all about when people oppose them, they are quite magnificent, and give power in a far better way than burning coal or in some nuclear way. Anyway, the Galician coastline is scattered with these wind farms. As we headed beyond the shelter of the trees, and towards the open coastline, we were trying to work out where we’d come the previous day. I wasn’t much help, but Pete was trying to work out the bits of coastline that we picked our way around.

As we approached the Pharo Vilan, the landscape opened out, revealing what might be a very hostile landscape. The gorse shrubs were low lying, presumably hanging on tight against the prevailing winds. There were no trees – well one or two – so the form of the landscape could be truly appreciated. And above it all, on a rocky bluff, was this striking lighthouse.

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On the path up, my shoes slightly rubbing, my legs weary and my throat parched, I joked to Pete that they should have a bar there – no chance, says he. How wrong was he? There was a small exhibition about the Costa de la Morte (three charts depicting all the wrecks, I counted 33 around the Camarinas shores, goodness knows how many in total). Somehow fitting was the sight of a wreck on the shores just behind the lighthouse, barely discernible to the naked eye (and certainly not when we’d debated it from Whinchat the day before), but to the super zoom – no problem.

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The delight of the afternoon was that there was a bar! We took water, and a leaflet that showed us that we could take a coastal path back to the port. We were all for that! The walk back was just delightful, perhaps a little longer, but we walked hugging the coastline, the open water on our right (starboard), the rugged landscape on our left, and a group of walkers to amuse us. We met them at the start of the path, when they were taking water. We passed them when they stopped to chat, they overtook us… then they stopped, we passed them… they overtook us. It was the source of much amusement for them, clearly identifying us as english. It was a case of the hare and the tortoise; the steady pace won the day, as when we made port, there was no sign of them.

What a perfect afternoon! The sun was high in the sky; no need for the Rustler jackets, and Pete even walked in his polo shirt. Remarkable. By the time we got back to Whinchat it was after 19:00, so time to unwind and prepare supper. Time just leaks on board, and it was about 21:30 when we were eating. We were debating what to do the following day – we had looked at the weather, which was forecasting a southerly blow on Tuesday – oh joy, the direction of travel, but more importantly a planned anchorage that would put us on a lee shore. I went to bed not really sure what the following day would bring. We decided that we’d set an alarm and check the weather in the morning. Laundry is getting to near critical levels, so that was also a factor in what to do. Such wonderfully mundane things to worry about. Now that’s what leaving everything behind is about!

Today’s haiku:

lone tree bows deeply,
bent double by the cruel wind,
smiles, says ‘I’m still here’

Sada to Camarinas

Saturday 24th May 2014

W 2-3
Swell N2-3 metres to very little around Costa da Morte
57 NM (519NM)

We set an alarm at 06:30, so that we would make good time leaving Sada as we knew it would be a long day on the water to Camarinas, some 55NM plotted out on the chart plotter. We wanted to check the weather, again, we had to pay the marina fees and there’s the usual pfaffing in preparing the boat for sea after a few days ashore. For the non-sailors, it’s best to stow everything away, as you never know what conditions you’re going to get, and risk things getting chucked about down below, getting damaged or damaging something else. Pretty much everything gets stowed.

We eventually cast off about 08:15, which makes for quite a lot of pfaffing! Of course it was raining, so we were in full heavy sailing foulies, me with an extra layer of gilet, as I didn’t trust the conditions to deliver ‘warm’. There was very little wind, and a little bit of swell coming up the Ria towards Sada. Was this really enough to cause the snatching of poor Whinchat in her berth? The swell predictions were spot on in direction and size. Unfortunately the wind predictions were also pretty accurate – not much! As we came past La Coruna, the wind was from the south (we think that it was funnelling), but there was enough to sail. So then began the process of grinding out the reefed main, with me on the wheel trying to hold Whinchat in the wind, with a rolling swell behind me. It seemed to take forever, but there was about 16m to grind out at Pete-speed (there are no electric winches on Whinchat), so totally understandable. This motion, going pretty slowly on low engine revs, was enough to throw my insides into turmoil, and I felt the edge of nausea wrapping its ugly self around me. Straight to the helm, in order to concentrate on something. Focus is the enemy of seasickness, if you can manage it. Pete also chucked Stugeron at me, which is a wholly chemical way of dealing with things. Pete kept asking me how I was doing, and at some point I said, “OK, but soon the Stugeron will kick in and I’ll pass out.” I clung on to the wheel, making reasonable progress, until the wind died, we started flailing around a bit, and, well, to put it bluntly, I was desperate for a pee. That was my undoing. Life jacket, outer foulie, foulie trousers unpeeled in the cockpit, and then a dash for the aft heads, eyes shut to pee. By the time I’d got back up on deck, focus had gone, and the nausea had raised its game. “I think I’ll have a lie down,” I announced.

Perhaps this is where we need another guest blog, because that was me, essentially, for the day. Pete reckoned that I was ‘out’ for seven of the eleven hours of passage. I can’t argue with that, but part of me cannot quite believe that I ‘lost’ so much of the day. Mine was in a fog of drug-induced sleep, with weird dreams and the occasional wrestle with nausea. I did wake a few times, to debate whether I would eat or drink anything. I had a packet of crisps, and later a mini mars bar. I refused to drink anything, for fear of needing to pee (which I had to again, setting off the waves of nausea). When that happened again, I said to Pete, “I think I’ll have a nap,” and so another two hours disappeared.

What did I miss? A day of motor sailing, with the wind on the nose, and not very strong, and the fact that the approach is not recommended in darkness… Blue skies (although buried underneath the sleeping bag, Pete’s foulies and my hood wrapped around my head, not much of the outside was coming in). The striking coastline of Costa da Morte, the Coast of Death (so called because of its treacherous nature and the number of wrecks and lives claimed over the years). Seeing other yachts appear on AIS. Fortunately, no dolphins were missed! Poor Pete had to do another passage solo; it’s a good job he’s as resilient as he is.

I roused for the last hour, as we picked our way through the navigational hazards – a lot of low lying rock to get around, none that you can see! The route was a kind of zig-zag, as we followed markers and leading lines. The rias here is so sheltered from the northerly swell, that is was gloriously flat calm. It is so beautiful, a rugged coastline pricked with yellow sandy beaches – I didn’t have the foresight to take any pictures. There is one huge craggy outcrop, with a lighthouse (perhaps) on top. Perhaps we will walk that way today and I can get some photos – or when we leave. By the time we came to moor I’d shrugged off the fog of the drugs, and was able to execute the tying up routines. I think Pete was a bit relieved! Mind you, we were greeted by by a marina chap, who told us where he wanted us to moor. Lots of hand signals, and the odd Spanish word. I have to do better! So, we’re in a very small marina, with only a few visiting boats tied up. There are more spaces than not. There are also four boats at anchor, including one that followed us here. You don’t pay to anchor – and you don’t have shore power, WiFi and the ability to walk and have a beer…. Which is exactly what we did last night.

The really good thing about feeling seasick is that when you make land, it goes away. It’s like the land shakes its grip. So, just what was needed was a couple of beers and some tapas. Chiperones (baby squid) and tortilla. You wouldn’t necessarily think that it was the reviver after hours of feeling, well, crap, but it is. I cooked supper – and we ate around 21:30, so Spanish – thinking about the day.

One of the things that I kept on thinking about was the crew of Cheeky Rafiki. I’d seen the headline that they’d found the upturned hull, and that the keel had basically been ripped off. In moments of lucidness, feeling the sea move us about, I thought about them. It wasn’t until we got in and connected back to WiFi that we learned that their liferaft was still in the boat. Those poor men; those poor families. They were experienced, and yet it would seem that the conditions overcame them, and took them. It is so sad. The boat that would have given them such delight in the racing, came undone. Cheeky Rafiki is a racing boat, and unlike Whinchat, is not really the design for crossing oceans. For the avoidance of doubt, and in case my mother/mother-in-law has made it to this part of today’s blog, our keel could never come off. It’s moulded into her hull, encapsulated is the term, and she really is designed for putting to sea, and dealing with challenging conditions. She will never win races, but that’s not her design, but she will and does look after us. There should be a better debate on the boat classifications, in my view, and perhaps this dreadful incident will promote some sensible reflections about fit for purpose.

Today’s Haiku – perhaps some interpretation needed! When seeking to be soothed during moments of seasickness/stress, and we are under motor, I often imagine us being pulled along by 50 underwater horses powering their way to harbour.

fifty horses ‘neath
the bucking bronto seas – oh
take us safe to port