Leaving my Muros Anchorage
Typically I had wriggled Pippin into a tight little spot in Muros, great for town, not so good for restful sleep as your sixth sense remains on alert for anchor drag; when it reaches amber I am on anchor watch, red and I am off. You pays your money and makes your choice – and push it a bit in fair conditions as I had enjoyed to now.
Weather is a science that largely escapes me as I have often admitted, so it’s good to find excellent internet weather sites and not surprisingly, one of the best is a site for fishermen. It is quite amazing, covering every conceivable aspect from what’s going on upstairs to wave height and whether the fish are on parade. This isn’t surprising when you look at a Guernsey fisherman, for example, huddled on the end of the harbour pier all night, face into a Force 6 and waves over the top at high tide. He wouldn’t be there if he didn’t reckon he had a good chance of a catch; this is real passion and determination and clearly it isn’t just a Guernsey thing, as this site is world wide. There is a downside to this though, for sometimes sites disagree and then it really is a case of take your pick, hope for the best and have plan B in your pocket. You really can be spoilt for choice.
Maitland wouldn’t have been spoilt for choice, for he had no such data available but would have had knowledge born of experience and survival. He probably also had a crude mercury barometer aboard, though other liquids could be used; Pascal, a Frenchman, had predictably made one with red wine inside. Being less dense than mercury, it created a minor problem, as it had to be 13 metres long – and thirsty sailors would surely have drunk the wine.
Sailors then would have been more reactive than proactive compared to today’s yachtsmen, but for the most part they managed even if they did have to wait a fortnight to leave a Ria, as their ships were so poor to windward. It wasn’t until Fitzroy, a naval officer, scientist and depressive, set up effectively the forerunner of the Met Office some 50 years later, that skippers had access to what had become known as ‘forecasts’. Much undervalued, under funded and under recognized (in my opinion), Rear Admiral Fitzroy took his own life in 1865.
Fishing Boats in Muros
It was the Festival of St. Pedro in Muros, Steve with the 50 footer later told me. Pedro was clearly a night bird for thumping celebrations had continued until dawn of the festival’s second day, apparently, for I had long since descended to Gollum’s cave in the land of sleep, lying at anchor off the town. Amazingly all trace of the festival, including staging, had disappeared before breakfast – which was about the time the Willis Plan A had bombed. My destination, Cangas Marina in Vigo, was full for the foreseeable I discovered, just before weighing anchor.
Rocky Mountain from Muros (the alert amongst you will have noted the Westerly Discus in the foreground
Ever flexible, Plan B was to head into Muros Marina and make plans for right now I needed a break. As I suspected, Mr Rocna appeared completely entombed in multi layers of weed, shells and a grain or two of sand, so a move would have been necessary anyway if as predicted the wind picked up. Steve had helped me come alongside and informed me that Pedro, the marina boss, didn’t emerge before 10 so time for egg on smoked salmon with mushrooms. Then it was time to stable Pippin properly.
Star of the show asleep in Muros
Pedro was clearly having an extended lie in, though by 1130 he couldn’t have still been asleep, for explosive maroons were fired skywards for 30 minutes and Church bells tried to keep up with the noise. We don’t have a lot of festivals in Guernsey, but I wondered whether a secular festival d’âne (a donkey being a very Guernsey symbol), with maroons fired in the direction of that other Island, Jersey, might be appropriate.
My other neighbour was a friendly Galician from Muros, who had worked for many years in Falmouth as a marine consultant. In perfect English, he told me to check out Sail the Way, a cruise in company from La Rochelle following the pilgrimage route of St James. This might be a grand idea for 2019.
I finally caught up with Pedro, who was stressed through singlehandedly managing marina pontoon and office matters. I discovered that he was assisted by a German sailor, moored in the marina, an unofficial arrangement I was sure – certainly it seemed to allow Pedro to be elsewhere at festival time. Timings I am increasingly discovering are flexible and like everywhere else I have sailed, people have ‘never known weather like it’. Here in Muros, it was the fog and overcast that brought such remarks on.
Muros Old Gaffers Join the Party
Tonight is the third consecutive Muros party night and it is clearly a popular place, judging by the coachloads of visitors that flowed into the town and the over flowing car parks. Running between June 27th and 30th, the festival of St Pedro is a Rioja soaked battle I learned with some excitement, ‘La Batalla del Vino de Haro’ (150 kms NE, where 40% of Rioja is made), literally a wine-drenched celebration of the Feast of San Pedro, though apparently you’d be lucky to find a local who could tell you so. Each year thousands of thirsty locals and a handful of lucky tourists climb a mountain in La Rioja, Spain, and throw the red liquid all over each other, which seems a real waste to me. After the wine throwing, everyone descends to the town to consume food, drink and to dance with, no doubt, Spanish hangovers next morning such as I had endured in thanks to generous hosts in A Coruna.
Muros Racing Rowers at St Pedros Festival and a Muros Fishing Heavyweight
I don’t mind admitting that clouds crossed my foredeck here in lovely little Muros, not unexpectedly, which resulted in a mildly manic programme of positive activities. Pippin sparkled, though annoyingly I have since spotted a single weed on her waterline, the Yanmar was suffering stress from too much amateur attention, my washing was nearly threadbare from the pummeling I gave it, and I had again pounded round the town, triumphantly discovering that Galician baguette is better than French – with Irish butter.
Those activities included careful passage planning, for it is a tricky 45 nautical mile inshore route from Muros to Ria Vigo and the hazards a sailor is likely to face include myriad bobbers mainly over shoals and reefs, fog and outlying rocks. As you close Ria Vigo, you also enter the National Park of Isla Del Norte and Isla de St. Martin (Islas Cies) which straddle the mouth of Ria Vigo. You must follow the buoyed Canal de Norte if approaching from the north, or risk the wrath of the wardens I was told.
Not a route to follow carelessly and it would be an early start for Marina Moana in Ria Vigo, where Emi, my Spanish daughter-in-law, had very kindly helped me negotiate a berth for Pippin whilst family visit for 10 days or so. Winds were likely to be very light from the south until afternoon accompanied by rain, so little prospect of a decent sail – but you never know.
Meanwhile its ‘heavy metal’ tonight on the sea front, groan. From a pulsating Murios, Cheeri as we Guerns say.