Ria Vigo – at last


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.


Muros Canna

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.



By ajay290

Vigo Slowly – south to Ria Muros


Approaching Ria Muros

Argentina had just escaped from 2018 World Cup ignominy as the barque Belem weighed anchor and slipped out of the Ria under sail, the setting sun igniting her canvas in a blaze of white.  So gentle was the evening breeze that I am sure her John Deere diesels were chuntering quietly below decks, probably as her 48 trainees ate  their dinners


 (Caesar salad and burger on Pippin for her one trainee).  Being keen on nerdy facts, I was impressed to note that Belem has 4,500 metres of rigging and could motor for 24 days.

Despite various trials, I have concluded that finger nails are best for waterline weed removal, a job I performed before breakfast and a leisurely start for Muros under sail.  Adhering to the KISS principle I decided on a course of 172 Magnetic, departing early afternoon to catch whatever wind was destined for us, as it usually comes after a lengthy morning siesta.

Masts are pretty important for Yachts and usually they are of aluminium, held up by stainless steel wires, or they are of composite materials held up by high tech ropes if you have very deep pockets and are concerned about that extra fraction of a knot.

Robin Knox Johnson didn’t bother with convention when he entered his yacht Suhali in the original Golden Globe solo round the World race in 1967 – his masts (Suhali was a ketch) were telegraph poles held up by galvanized wires.  But then RKJ is RKJ, not a mere mortal.  Deep in the Southern Ocean where no sane person wants to be in any kind of vessel, he found himself in a Force 12 storm, the wind blowing faster than the motorway speed limit.  Feeling he had done all he could and not being one to worry unduly, he set to below on the preparation of a curry and a whisky.  Incredible.

I mention all this because on this trip  I have come across types of mast I had not seen before.  Raz’s boat Noa sports a stainless steel lattice mast, cheap, strong, great for climbing aloft and you can attach anything anywhere – even your washing.  You can also make a jury rig relatively easily.

In A Coruna was a very serious little ship, a tiny pram bowed mini-transat, designed to race in long distance solo races fast, if horrendously uncomfortably.  It was French of course for they are the best sailors, probably because they are all mad.  What to me was interesting was that she sported a tripod mast with two fore sails and no mainsail.   My grand father, who raced most unsuccessfully out of St. Peter Port in his gaff rigged cutter Banshee would have been amazed, not to say confused.  Mind you, he could have done with a few cheeky mods, to move from tail end Charlie to leader of the pack.

Mr Rocna appeared on cue caped in multi layers of weed and Pippin sniffed the wind before elegantly setting off across flat seas watched by steep intimidating hills, black in the overcast light.  Wind generators stuck out of the hill tops, like hairs on a gooseberry and I guess in winter, Galician houses will be ablaze with power from these windmills blasted by winter gales.

A 50 foot Amel ketch hugged the coastline, as Pippin took a more seaward route, soon overhauling the much bigger yacht.  Winds were between 5 and 11 knots out of the NW quadrant, quite enough for Pippin to stretch her wings.  Just as the wind speaks through the rigging, the wake under the stern tells it’s own story, beginning with a tinkle, then a chuckle before becoming an insistent gurgle.  Once it’s foaming and hissing, I am well reefed, cowering inside and thinking of home.

Pippin passed neatly between two reefs off Punta Lens and tacked inshore up the mouth of Ria Muros at a canter in the late afternoon, as Germany lost against South Korea in the World Cup.  Hercule the iron soldier kept a dead straight track as the wind began to ruffle the sea, like a parent’s fingers through a childs  hair and Pippin  charged on a reach up the Ria in winds that briefly touched 16 knots.  Great sailing but there are enough rocky dangers tucked in the mouths of the Rias to prevent complacency, and there is always the worry of a dragging anchor or lurking undersea debris, that might imprison the Rocna.

News on the radio of the Army being called to help fire fighters with the heath fires near Manchester reminded me of my time during the first firemen’s strike.  Based in a disused maternity hospital in Bootle, we did our best after a fortnights training with already outdated Green Goddess fire engines.  We fought fires well enough, though the Police vehicle escorts sometimes suffered.  A Green Goddess full of water easily overwhelms it’s brakes and we modified the rears of quite a few Police cars at roundabouts and junctions.  Relationships between us were very close however, for we shared much, and our REME Workshop would slave long into the night rectifying damage.


Muros Front



Muros Out Towards Mussel Farms

I sent Mr Rocna down to do his bit, 120 metres off the southern end of Muros Marina breakwater and got to work with Mr D to prepare dinner, whilst checking for anchor drag.  It was sunny, peaceful and Germany were out of the World Cup, though I wasn’t crowing.  As you know, sailing plans are shaped by many factors, but right now there is an unusual but important extra one.  England play Belgium in the World Cup, so my plans will ensure I am huddled safely over my radio at the appropriate time.

Seventy four years before HMS Captain turned turtle off Finisterre, Captain Maitland, RN, in command of the frigate Loire was approaching Muros near where Pippin lay.  It was the same month of a naval engagement off Finisterre between British and French Spanish fleets, and Maitland had received information that a French privateer was fitting out in Muros.  A French corvette and a brig were also there, as he soon discovered.  The coastal fort opened fire on Maitland’s ship as it entered the Ria, fire which was returned and seemed to put off the defenders.

Anchoring, Maitland despatched a raiding party under his First Lt. to take the fort, which they duly did, whilst he took over the French vessels.  Maitland then agreed with the local bishop to allow him to take the provisions stored ashore for the French vessels, in return for which he would not interfere with the local people.  Sailors and locals parted on good terms and Capt Maitland was understandably much praised for this action and later was promoted Rear Admiral.  His First Lt. was promoted Master and Commander and further rewarded with command of the captured French corvette, the smallest ship of the line, below a frigate.  I discovered that 10 years later, Maitland took the surrendered Napolean aboard the 74 gun HMS Bellerophon and took him to Berry Head in July 1815; an exciting and distinguished naval career by any standards.

By contrast, I was not fired on and took no ships or prisoners in Muros.  Fifty metres from Pippin, as Mr D slow cooked my dinner, a little old fisherman in a wide brimmed hat cast his line from a tiny rowing boat.  As the familiar grunts and cries of a female rowing crew carried across the Ria, he rowed a few yards before retrieving his line and repeating the motion.  I guess he would return home with supper.


Muros Razor Clam Gatherers

Mussel farming is big business in the Galician Rias and I found Muros much more crowded with ‘bateas’ than the Pilot Book indicated.  To my eyes the seried ranks of the mussel rafts looked like a mini Spithead Naval review of low slung immaculately positioned dreadnoughts.  I discovered that a raft can produce over 40 tons of these bivalve molluscs in a year.  Ropes are seeded, hung from the rafts and thinned perhaps 3 times during the year between June and October.  3 1/2 ounces  of mussels provides a person’s daily protein needs, so that enormous bowl of mussels in white wine and cream sauce commonly served is a tad over the top – nice though.  Other molluscs and fish are also increasingly being farmed, including Turbot.

It was tricky to find ungated access to the quayside (as on previous occasions), but providing you don’t mind shinning up mussel encrusted ladders with your rucksack and rubbish, you will manage.   People stop before you step onto pedestrian crossings here and everyone is very friendly in an understated laid back way.  Muros I found to be a quaint little village, with all the basics for cruiser or tourist and preparations were in hand for a festival; four musicians strolled the streets playing their goat skin Galician Gaitas, very much like small bagpipes, as I pottered about.

Out in Ensenada Muros, people young and old  in wetsuits towing rubber rings worked busily with what looked like shrimp nets, the water up to their chests.  I guessed they were after razor clams, or navajas de afeitar, which I have yet to try.


Muros Memorial to Sailors

Back aboard I looked across at the derelict stone boathouse and slipway and idly wondered about its past.  Whilst in this reflective mood I again reached for Wickipedia to understand what the name ‘A Esmorga’ was about, for it is the name of the Restaurante above the boathouse.

It was a novel by the prolific Galician author Eduardo Amor about the 24 hour drinking spree of 3 friends, a busy day of celebration, fire, a brothel visit and violence.  Back on planet Earth, and just in case you thought I was a clever dick, my inadequacies were again revealed by the absence of the sausages in my shopping bag that I had gone ashore to get.  Oh and I lost a vital piece of a rowlock, so if the outboard cuts out, its overboard and swim back with the dinghy.

Meanwhile, as England complete final preparations for this evening’s clash with Belgium, several yachts have arrived to anchor beyond the little harbour, no doubt to e


Muros Town Hall

njoy the festivities in Muros this weekend.  Instead, Pippin and I will, God and Mr Rocna willing, be heading 40 nautical miles south to Ria Vigo, our turn round point and journey’s end for the outward voyage.


Muros Old Man of the Sea


Muros Chapel


Muros Musicians


Muros Party Time


By ajay290

Vigo Slowly – Costa da Morte


Bimini, washing and fenders – if you look closely

A feeling that I wanted to press on had overwhelmed me, so I decided to put some miles under Pippin’s keel and head towards Cape Finisterre, with options along the way.  Passage planning often brings unwelcome information from the various guides used and the Costa da Morte, that stretch of coastline between Coruna and Finisterre, has plenty of terrifying stuff written about it.  Finisterre is derived from the Latin ‘finis terrae’, the ‘end of the World’.  It is studded with shipwrecks, but then so are the Channel Islands and it helped a little to remind myself that there are around 300 wrecks scattered around Les Casquettes, off Alderney.

This coast is barnacle collecting country and many ‘percebeiros’ (barnacle hunters) foraging at the water’s edge have been scooped out to sea over the centuries by that unexpected ‘7th wave’, a rogue often double the height of its predecessors.   You can only harvest barnacles legally if you are licensed, though there are restrictions depending on barnacle numbers.   Recent hard times have meant many unlicenced perceiberos taking their share illegally out of necessity.  Having said all that, its profitable work, 50 barnacles going for around 60 Euros and I look forward to trying one.


In 1870, HMS Captain, a revolutionary steam and sail powered British naval gun ship turned turtle in a gale whilst on naval manoeuvres, about 15 nautical miles south of Finisterre, the same distance out to sea.  One year old, she capsized in the heavy seas because she lacked the inherent stability necessary to resist the heeling induced by her sails, not surprising as her freeboard had been reduced by 2 feet to a mere 6.5 feet, and her centre of gravity raised by 10 inches during build.  This meant at 14 degrees heel, her decks were awash and at a mere 21 degrees she was over!  By contrast, HMS Monarch, a similar vessel of the time had 14 feet of freeboard and could tip 40 degrees before capsizing.

Pippin is 330 feet shorter and 7,600 tons lighter, but her maximum freeboard is only 2 feet less, she won’t flood until she is heeled more than 100 degrees and she retains positive righting effort up to about 135 degrees.  I know which boat I would rather be in when the weather blows up.  Very sadly 480 out of her 500 crew perished, more than the total killed at the battle of Trafalgar.

Back in the present, I discovered that a merchant ship had lost 30 – 40 containers overboard off Finisterre in January this year.  These things are longer than Pippin and weigh several times more so no contest in the event of a collision, but fortunately I am not a worrier once at sea.

Encouragingly, Ria Coruna was quiet at dawn, the wind still abed as Pippin slipped out to sea and into a thick blanket of fog, not really what was wanted for I prefer to eyeball the enemy.  Visibility was less than a mile, but at least it was calm and peaceful, my instruments assured me that the coast was where I wanted it to be, the radar displayed any boats in range, and the bacon sarnie was just the job before my espresso.

When the alarm went off in the cabin at 1130, my first thought was of equipment failure, but it was much more serious – a VHF DSC (digital selective call, which allows a prepared message to be sent at the touch of a button) man overboard message from Coruna/Finisterre coast guard  radio.  It had happened the day before when a sailor fell from a yacht almost exactly where my first way point lay.  It took me nigh on 4 hours to get there, and when I did, it was no surprise to see other yachts converging as they passed through.  I was pleased not to find a body, but my thoughts were very much with the other crew members of that yacht, who must be going through Hell.

Sadly it was a day of very light headwinds, despite forecast tail winds,  so we motorsailed the 69 nautical miles to infamous Finisterre – that doesn’t sound so far, but at Pippin’s gentle jogging pace that is the thick end of a 12 hour day.  After that, there was a Ria to navigate and an anchor spot to find.  Strangely every other yacht seemed to be heading the other way, so I did wonder whether perhaps they knew something I didn’t.  Whatever, I always plan an offshore route and only close the coast during the journey if I am happy with the conditions and today I was, so gradually I closed to within a mile as the evening brightened to finally reveal the awe inspiring landscape.

It is quite extraordinary how often I get up to look out to sea and immediately spot a vessel, even though I might not have seen it’s tiny trace on the radar screen – or more likely couldn’t find my glasses before looking at the screen.  It is a sixth sense, no question – what made me look out just in time to avoid 2 bobbers off Bajo Leixon de Juanboy (appropriate name!) at precisely the right moment, even though they were probably the only two for miles around?  I can’t explain it, except to suggest it’s my old mate, lady luck in a good mood, looking out for me.

Pippin off Finisterre

Cable Finisterre

Cape Finisterre was resting as Pippin approached, just as Cape Wrath had been on my Shetland journey in 2015, and I said a prayer for the 480 sailors from HMS Captain who lie on the sea bed in their iron tomb not far from Pippin’s track.  The fog had lifted and the Cape was clear when I sent the Rocna down to explore in 7 metres at low tide in Ensenada de Llagosteira, in the Cape’s lee,  my journey’s end.  I shared this lovely spot with 3 other yachts and had no immediate deadlines, as Vigo is now an easy hop south.  Guernsey is an awfully long way north from here though and potentially all up hill.


Pippin off Finisterre

My thoughts returned to the tragedy of HMS Captain next morning as I looked across to Corcubion, the Ria in which the 18 survivors came ashore after 12 long hours on their battered steam pinnace during that stormy night in September 1870.  Naval officers travelled through nearby villages and combed the rugged coastline in a futile search for more survivors or bodies, and understably there was outcry about the loss of life.  Widows were to be paid a year’s salary equivalent immediately.


Barque Bemel off Finisterre

Extraordinarily, history returned to Corcubion as I stood there, in the form of a beautiful French barque which dropped anchor opposite Pippin.  She was the Belem, built in 1896 as a cargo ship, though she had also served as a private yacht for the Duke of  Westminster and on another occasion, Sir Arthur Guinness.  Now a sail training ship, she is 190 feet long and personally I can think  of no worse an experience than reefing her topsails 100 feet up in a gale!  But for now, she lay at peace.


Beautiful Barque Bemel

The little fishing harbour at Finisterre looked more business than leisure, with a large modern warehouse and busy little fishing boats.  On the hillsides the buildings seemed more for locals than visitors.  In the Ensenada it was still, overcast and peaceful, which suited me just fine for I prefer my excitement in small doses, and not too often these days.

A run ashore revealed Finisterre to be also a holiday village afterall, a down to earth sort of place favoured by walnut faced knarled legged hikers with ski poles, little back packs and sub 20  BMIs, earnestly tracking the old pilgrimage routes.  Its Spain’s Land’s End, a place where the road to nowhere ends and the lighthouse keeps guard over endless ocean.


Titanic Pub Finisterre

Searching for a store, I passed the Titanic Pub (great place to sink a cerveza.  Gedit!!??) nearby the London Pub and not an estate agent, tatoo parlour, legal or accounting practice in sight.  If you like walking, want a bed in a pension, a plateful of calamare with a glass of cerveza for not a lot and won’t miss designer shops, or posh hang out spots, Finisterre is for you.  I liked it.

Communications with the outside World have been remarkable on this trip – I could log on to the internet miles out to sea and have missed none of the World Cup.  I also caught the words of my old contemporary, Gen Sir Nick Houghton ex Chief of Defence Staff, with whom I had once shared an office as a young staff officer in 12th Armoured Brigade.  It was clear even then that he was destined for greatness and his subsequent career trajectory was somewhat more vertical than mine.  Anyway, there I was sitting in a Ria listening to him comment on current military issues.  Amazing.

Its been very peaceful since I arrived in A Coruna and partied with my new friends – I hope that doesn’t mean I am due a little excitement tomorrow.  Whatever,  I have an embryonic plan for the continuation of my journey here on my chart table, but supper is the next thing on my list so until next time, adiós familia y amigos.


Finisterre Town Square

By ajay290

Vigo Slowly – pause in A Coruna


Across Coruna Ria to Ensenada de Mera (Hi Res)

It was a priceless morning when I rejoined the World, even better after a bacon sarnie and pint of rosey lea.  Pippin was soon rolling gently across Ria Coruna, as I transmitted my message on VHF Channel 09 to the marina office, which was met with stunned silence as my email had been.



Coruna Docks, and the final Approach to Real Nautica Marina (red cube shaped building is the yacht club)

I don’t mind revealing my faults, one of which is to not to connect one end of a mooring rope to the boat when docking on occasion, which tends to surprise the person catching it, not least because sometimes they think it is their fault.  Family will be familiar with this party trick of mine; anyway, Pippin was soon snugly alongside as the neighbouring French skipper said he had stood and watched, rather than helped, because I was doing so well.  Little did he know.  The probable reason for no response to my VHF call, I discovered on arrival, was the single charming gentleman of a certain age in the marina office, who did everything and seemed happier with paper and conversation.  He claimed his English was ‘catastrophic’, to which I had to say my Spanish was ‘apocalyptic’.

Next door to Pippin was a wonderful Van den Stadt design yacht from the 1960s, an Excaliber 36, which I happily explained was a favourite of mine to its friendly British crew from Oban.   As I erected the bimini they said I was the first person to have identified her, which definitely puts me top of the anorak class – though I am definitely bottom of the bimini erection class.  After much cussing and 2 false starts that had me looking for non existent extra bits, I had it up.

I managed to last until 1300, before diving into a cafe for a spot of luncheon, just as a band and procession passed by, a group of very pretty witches to the rear.  Quite why anyone should feel like jumping through fire during the Festival of St. Juan (today) to ward them off, I couldn’t imagine.

I soon learned that you don’t need a bowl of fish soup as well as the calamare house special for lunch, unless you are either incredibly greedy or haven’t eaten for a week.  As it arrived, I had an audience for the cafe was full and my meal was first to be served, probably by an hour, and my  neighbours indicated vigorously that it would be delicious, which it was though I could barely move on leaving.  Everyone I encountered was so incredibly friendly and first impressions were that Coruna is a very beautiful city, even in 31 degrees of almost windless sun blasted heat.


Evening on Coruna sea front

Determined to enter into the spirit of things and to be around when whatever it was happened, it being the festival of St. Juan, I took myself off on a 2 hour hike GoPro in hand.  Back aboard with sore feet and a feeling I had been at the festival’s epicentre, I was just tucking in to smoked salmon on artesan bread, with a squirt of lemon, when I was interrupted by a loud “HOLA!!!”

Standing on the dockside was the young man whom I had rescued in Ensenada de Mera and his lovely girlfriend.  They had also passed by an hour before, so determined were they to find me!


Peaceful Coruna evening

30 minutes later I was in A Coruna’s poshest yacht club, feasting on sardines, blistered padron peppers, sausage and spicy potato, with a decent glass of red.  My host was a sharp lawyer in the property business, who was clearly still embarrassed at being rescued, his girlfriend a science graduate student.   I had brought my chart to clarify where Guernsey was; it looked tiny and descriptions of 60,000 people clinging to a rock like limpets,  battered by 6 knot races and 10 metre tides had my hosts wondering why anyone would want to live there.

He explained that his father’s Swan 48 had been bought as a shell, after it had been abandoned and robbed after being involved in a swash buckling drug smuggling story.  He had lovingly refurbished it and still sailed her at the age of 75.  Outside was my host’s previous boat, a lovely vintage Fjord 33, which naturally I told him all about – I will have to learn the Spanish for ‘nerd’, or ‘anorak’.

From there we strolled through the seafront part of town, watching the fireworks and swapping anecdotes.  The beach is of imported sand, refreshed each year, and every square foot was taken by groups of people,  old and young, who had built bonfires ready to be lit when the moment arrived.  They explained that this still, very hot weather was not normal for these parts; it was usually wet, cold and windy though I did get the impression that what we would class as a good sailing breeze they might even describe as ‘storm’.  Certainly they reckoned I would be heading out into one, though every forecast I could see suggests otherwise.



Coruna yacht club, and Coruna sea front, late evening

As the night progressed little paper air balloons with candles suspended below were sent skywards, as people thronged the streets.  At a predefined time, after the main fireworks display, all the beach bonfires were lit and my hosts and I leapt three times over a fire on the beach.  This was fine for my hosts, who cleared the fire with ease, less so for me, as my shoes met embers at each leap and my Calvin Kleins were all but smoking.  But I tried, and those lovely witches are now well and truly scared away for the year.

At 0100 by my reckoning, my hosts found another bar, and we relaxed again, this time with rum and Coke Spanish style – a hint of Coke, humungeous ice cubes and as much rum as the bar tender could get into the glass.  We agreed we had things in common, such as being a Guernseyman is different from being English (own laws and no VAT helped with that differentiation), just as being Galician is different from being Spanish.

Not a cent was I allowed to contribute, which to my mind added up to a hefty price paid for a simple rescue.  My foot sore hobble back to the boat at 0230, after fond farewells, was not quite straight, though my mood was mellow.  Great place Coruna, even if I will remember my Spanish hangover for a while yet.




By ajay290

Vigo Slowly – 7

I was disturbed after supper to hear cries out to sea, and rushed into the cockpit only to find another rowing 8 powering past Pippin, guided by a very stylish Cox posing at his steering oar and boy!  Were they moving!  I thought the ladies, who had elegantly powered past earlier were quick, but this display of grunt and muscle was awesome.  They moved  faster than Pippin chasing dolphins off the back of the biggest Atlantic roller.

Somehow the wind always seems to keen louder in the rigging as darkness falls at anchor and you are alone.  Pippin has a lot of rigging, so the hum starts at 10 knots, it keens at 15, moans at 20 and I put the pillow over my head after that.  In the morning off Mugardos, I hoped it would be gone but the forecast was for more.  Mr. Rocna has a pretty strong grip once he has dug into the seabed, but even so, I had put more chain down to help him out, but more importantly, to relieve skipper stress.

The Rocna anchor, was the brain child of New Zealander Peter Smith (a friend of Raz), who walked away from his successful boat building business and went cruising in his boat.  100,000 nautical miles later, he decided no anchor was good enough, so designed his own, the Rocna, and after it had successfully held his boat in 70 knots of wind for weeks, he shared it with the world.  I am grateful, though I will hang up my life jacket for good if I ever have to face and survive winds like that!!

Life is never dull at sea, Rocna or not.  By mid morning on day 2, my anchorage (Mugardos) was untenable and dangerous.  I had been on anchor watch most of the night and it was decision time, for my lee shore was a dangerous stone breakwater, off which waves were bouncing with ever greater force, as the wind gusts funnelling down the Ria rose into the mid 20s (knots).   Delay meant I might not later be able to weigh anchor, before Pippin smashed into that breakwater.   With the engine slow ahead, I worked quickly on the foredeck raising Mr Rocna, who cooperated beautifully, and soon off we went in good order, but not far.  Coming up the Ria was a truly humungeous leviathan towed by tugs, and a Guardia patrol boat rushed over but buzzed off when he realised I was keeping out of the way.

Eventually down the Ria we went towing the dinghy I had prepared optimistically for a  run ashore – I don’t ever tow a dinghy at sea, but had had no time to stow it, and  as we  entered open water, the full brunt of wind and the ocean waves caught us.   The dinghy predictably took off and inverted, Pippin dipped her toerails under – a very rare occurrance – and the oranges escaped, not such a rare occurrence.  I let Pippin drift, righted  the dinghy and lashed it right way up, tight along the leeward quarter until I could manhandle it aboard, and went off to find a safe bolt hole, leaving the oranges.  By now the wind was gusting top end of Force 6 and big confused seas in from the Atlantic kept me alert, though I managed to grab some lunch and a cup of tea.

I had decided that if a safe bolt hole was not available, I would head out to sea and do a long sail south, sleeping at sea.  Fortunately a few hours later, I found a spot and despatched the Rocna down to explore in 7.5 metres of  windblown water at Ensenada de Mera, opposite A Coruna and relaxed with Mrs Woodman’s fruit cake – very tasty, though I say it myself.  Looking back it had

IMG_20180621_171854been a challenging few hours, made worse by lack of sleep and being solo.  These days, I increasingly prefer the quieter life, though my First Mate pointed out on the phone later that if I always had it easy, I would get bored!  She’s right, of course, usually is.  Sadly, that day I was now too far away for my mother in law to meet me before her return flight after her days work in El Ferrol, but we’ll all meet up in Vigo in July.

I realise now that I had been almost the only cruising skipper at anchor in these parts and suspect most others were in the near by marinas awaiting the decline of the notorious noreste, though the forecast is for better times now, which pleases me.  Tomorrow I will treat myself to a little time ashore.  “Challenging sailing and occasionally daunting” – not my words, but an informed opinion on these parts, and I’ll agree with that.  I haven’t reached the Costa da Morte yet, which stretches from here to Finisterre, but I look forward to that challenge.

These 3 pictures are of the bolt hole, idyllic looking, but they don’t show the shrieking noreste whooshing off the hills in the gusts, though those clouds offer a clue; nor do they  show the big seas round the corner.  Raz had described battling this noreste for 3 days and nights at sea, a wind he said blew for 3, 6 or 9 days; I’ve lost count but suspect the latter this time.


This lovely Ria is guarded by the Tower of Hercules, built by the Romans in the 2nd Century AD.  It stands 55 metres high and is the oldest lighthouse in use today, though I guess the lighting technology has moved on a bit since then.   Quality building work for sure, and no lean like that other famous tower.

I had lost my discipline list, so worked on another in Ensenada de Mera, which began with a check of the little Yanmar, which looked quite happy.  Another task was the composition of an email in Spanish (Willis style) to arrange a berth in a nearby by marina for a brief rest – I could understand it, but we’ll see what others make of it.

I have done a few rescues at sea, but wasn’t expecting to do one here, but the site of an empty dinghy whizzing seawards, chased by a fading swimmer clutching a single oar caught my attention, as I was washing up al fresco in Ensenada de Mera.  The young man eventually caught his boat and I told him to paddle the few yards to Pippin to rest, for he would never have got back to his yacht.   So I towed him back to his father’s elderly, but beautiful 48 foot Swan (called, interestingly, Gesture) to join him, his young girlfriend and tiny dog Chicco Flacca, for a cold San Miguel.  I suspect my reputation in these parts was now of a higher order than it had been at Ribadeo!

Tiny Flacca wanted to demonstrate how tough she was, by removing as many of my fingers as she could, but we were pals by the time I left.  I asked about swimming off the beaches and learned that there was no restriction, but Spanish people sensibly don’t like cold water.   When I told them my name, they told me that the festival of St Juan was the next day, so an appropriate day for me to be in Coruna.  It is to do with jumping in and out of rings of fire to ward off evil spirits and witches, and is celebrated widely and noisily by families, I was told.


My yellow clothes peg hanging from the outboard, slightly at odds to the professional looking set up on Pippin, caused interest as I left, though my Spanish vocabulary doesn’t include “DIY kill switch”, so a demonstration had to suffice.  As their boat is berthed in the very posh yacht club marina, adjacent to where I am soon headed, we’ll probably meet again, which would be nice, though I cantc remember their names!

It was an idyllic afternoon to begin reading Laurence Rees seminal work on the Holocaust, I thought,  as gradually the bay filled with visiting local and visitors’ boats.  Later a recent British neighbour of mine from Viveiro, an Oyster Mariner 35 if I am not mistaken (I’m not), anchored nearby.

It was very early by local standards, but even so, I began to think of supper and wondered if it might be a Fray Bentos night tonight.  I suspect I’lI be in touch next from A Coruna (Real Club Nautico Marina), but you never know.

As my Fray Bentos sizzled enticingly, a rescue boat arrived to tow a small motor cruiser with 9 aboard (!) home.  Never dull at sea.







By ajay290

Vigo Slowly – 6 (Some Hi Res Pictures)

Pippin Heading to Cedeira

Cedeira Bound & Looking for the Sun

Cedeira – Found the Sun

Cedeira, Cute

Cedeira up River



NOT Where I Wish to be!!!

Long Way Down

You can Zoom in on these Hi Res Images, if you want

There are a number of inshore dangers along the thirty nautical miles of coastline  between Cedeira and El Ferrol,  including reefs, headlands and shoals, the latter 2 being particular dislikes of mine – particularly if located  in the Irish Sea.  Here, at least, you can feel warm whilst you struggle with the elements, though best stay out to sea on a bad day as I chose to do today.

Pippin gets a Wiggle on


George Clooney Aboard

I chose the quiet of early morning for my potential fight with the anchor, but Mr Rocna appeared without struggle and a belly full of mud.  Outside the Ria a sloppy beam sea annoyed as I headed seawards to clear all dangers.  Pippin was rolling so heavily, that the oranges broke loose one by one and the mushrooms poured off the work surface en masse to join them, like lemmings off a cliff.  But I was more than a match for them and used the leaks to hold the recaptured mushrooms.


Then the gas ran out – it always happens when you are busy at sea, never in harbour but I had spares, so the coffee ritual was held, on time and with due ceremony.  A  lady at A Coruna told me on VHF radio, Channel 10, to expect NE Force 5/6 and a moderate sea.   She was right and  I was glad to have headed a little offshore, for we could make maximum use of the wind; so off Pippin went, telling me quite clearly that she did not need the mainsail, as she took off into the high 5s pulled by the Yankee fore sail.

Pippin is much too posh to plane off the ‘big daddies’, but she was very happy to lift her skirts and gallop neatly down the 2 metre high wave fronts, heading into the high 6s as she did so, impressive with wind just off the stern and only the Yankee in action.  I call her ‘Teflon Girl’ now, for she  just slips along whatever the wind strength and the inadequacies of her skipper,  and by now I was having so much fun that I relegated Hastings to bit part player.

Six nautical miles out, off the entrance to El Ferrol, I adjusted course to close the new breakwater in between the hazards of Bajos Tarracidos to port and Banco de las Laixinas to starboard, both marked by fishing boats.  Occasionally a ‘big daddy’ offered me a salty but friendly handshake in the cockpit, but in a much more  friendly way than their cold, aggressive Guernsey cousins.  We’d covered the best part of 30 nautical miles at nigh on 6 knots; I was happy with that.

Pippin headbutted 1.5 knots of ebb tide as we headed up the Ria to Mugardos, opposite the commercial harbour, where I sent Mr Rocna down 6.5 metres to explore.  It was hot, I was starving and my 2 day old chicken curry was ace!  Even better,  I had received welcome news that Emi, my Spanish mother in law, may be able to visit me here tomorrow.

Below are Three Pictures Taken in Mugardo, where Pippin is at Anchor




EI Ferrol doesn’t have many good write ups that I can see, which perversely is partly why I headed here.   After all, others might be put off from coming and it is a naval base, so for me, interesting.  Franco liked the place too; he was born there, though I suspect that may not be an attraction for some.  Anyway, I am anchored off Mugardo, a mile or so across the Ria from El Ferrol.  Its a tight spot, though picturesque and I’ll see how it goes.  Certainly officialdom appears to be welcomely absent, always a blessing and there are no signs of any other visitors.  In fact, it is so quiet, I suspect everyone is on lunch break at 1530.

I’lI inflict this on you now and post again from the next spot.

Adiós from SV Pippin



By ajay290

Vigo Slowly – 5


Cedeira Beach (Hi Res pictures to follow)

Economy in all things is crucial aboard, which is why I wash up al fresco, using a bucket and water from the Ria.  This is all well and good, but one does need to retrieve the utensils, before emptying said bucket over the side after washing up, or it can become expensive.  It hasn’t been too bad thus far – just a galley knife, spoon and cup.


Cedeira Riverside

Incredibly trawlers travel as far as South Africa and Canada from here to catch mainly tuna, which I believe they do or did process and can here.  Cedeira is a municipality  of A Coruna, and its population of around 7,500 has been in slow decline since the 1960s, but as with Viveiro, it has become a resort so numbers       IMG_20180618_105058

probably double during summer holiday months.

An ancient pilgrimage route passes south of here, headed for Santiago de Compostela, where St. Francis of Assisi founded the Franciscan Order in 1214.  Life is a journey or journeys, of course, but a phrase attributed to St. Francis struck me; “The journey is essential to the dream”.  Even if that dream is as simple!e as crossing Biscay or arriving safely at the chosen Ria, or something much more significant, you cannot achieve it without journeying.

Oddly, legend has it that the Milky Way ended near Cedeira and the people here were descended from whales and fish – and no, that wasn’t written on a Rioja label.


I thought Again of Granddaughter Izzy Here!

Runs ashore confirmed little Cedeira to be a beautiful spot, immaculately presented, a combination of small town resort and fishing harbour.   A picnic on the beach seemed a sound future plan, though I have never seen anyone doing that and very very few swimming.  Typically I  was too early for many things in the little town on my first visit, but bread and a pastry were readily found as was the lottery ticket seller, whom  I felt was also a tad early but perhaps he worked a long day.

Going ashore has its potential hazards, such as having enough rope on your dinghy to ensure it is not submerged on a rising tide, or left hanging down the sea wall on a falling tide.  Another, of course, is a slippery step, one I fell foul of on return from my first run ashore, sliding very neatly down the weed covered steps into the water and under the dinghy, with barely a splash: Tom Daley would have been in awe.  Fortunately vitals were in a waterproof bag, the water was warmish and pride undented for no-one was watching.

The kids were out in rowing boats over the weekend, 4 to a boat with an adult cox, all trying furiously hard – very sweet.  Earlier, burly young men had cut across the Ria at speed in similar boats, a complete contrast to the youngsters on jet skis who shot noisily around the bay, which Pippin and I owned for a couple of days, until a huge French catamaran joined us for a night.  I have to hand it to those young jet skiers – doing 30 knots whilst operating a mobile phone is no mean feat.

Cedeira is reported as sometimes being a gusty Ria, and I found it so though never to a worrying degree.  It gusted well ‘north’ of 20 knots on occasion, which never troubled Mr Rocna, as we lay tethered to the the seabed 4 or 5 metres below, though I never like leaving Pippin at anchor for long.  It was a little rougher than Viveiro, perhaps because it is so much smaller and roughly circular, so waves bounce off the walls.


Pippin is in the Background

The very large French catamaran couldn’t raise its anchor next morning.  I puttered across to help the two older ladies, as the skipper descended down the anchor chain very professionally in his wetsuit, and snorkel.  Standing high on the foredeck of the 50 foot catamaran, I was reminded how small – and to my biased eyes, how pretty – Pippin was.  The anchor chain was humungeous, the winch looked under sized and both the crew barely topped 5 foot – both had seen as many years as me too, but they were tough and frankly I was superfluous.

Anyway we, or rather the skipper, eventually succeeded and I learned this was the second successive time, for their anchor had also caught in a submerged boat at their previous anchorage.  My witty joke in bad French that things happen in threes wasn’t rapturously received and they left for Finisterre.  I don’t have a wetsuit, or snorkel …….. so I might just check if there are any divers in the fishing port, for there are no boat support services here.  A little sketch will be of more use than any attempt of mine to explain in Spanish!

Tattoos are popular as I have pronounced before, so perhaps it wasn’t surprising to find a tattoo parlour, the ‘Smog Tattoo’, which nestles alongside the ‘Chelsea Pension’, two star (probably generous).   Google ‘Smog Tattoo – it’s  5 star rated! – so if my anchor gets caught, perhaps I’ll have an anchor tattoo done.

Boat checks included the usual, but I like to throw in a surprise or two, so I checked out the place in the bilge where the foot of the mast meets the hull and cleaned out the shower tray, useful, as the shower sump pump can help drain the bilge in an emergency.  Pippin had no surprises for me, all was in good order.

Now if that is the sort of stuff I am reporting to you from pretty Cedeira, it’s time to move on very soon!  The Willis master plan – simple as always –  is to drop the hook in Ria El Ferrol, 30 nautical miles or so to the south.  Plans are but the intentions of the moment though, as I am want to pronounce,  so we always head ‘towards’, never ‘to’, at whatever date and time I get that anchor up.IMG_20180618_114933

A nice spot for a cafe negro and a play

Hasta la vista



By ajay290

Vigo Slowly – 4

DCIM100GOPROFishing Boat in Viveiro and below, Raz stands Guard at the Viveiro old Town WallDCIM100GOPRO




Pictures above are of the Little Fishing Port, Celeiro, next to Viveiro.   The Church is in Viveiro

In my last 2 days at Viveiro, Spanish weather seemed finally to replace my personal weather system dragged south with me, but now hopefully off pestering yachties somewhere else.  Sunshine with  wind gradually rising during the day predominantly from the north, before reducing around bedtime with delicious warmth seemed the order of the day.  A touch of sun burn added to that holiday aura.


Viveiro anchorage.   Pippin is the yacht to the right nearest the breakwater.  Credit for the picture goes to Raz, who is prepared to walk miles for a good picture!

As well as deciding to depart just after an unsociably early high tide, the weather Gods threw in their Joker too, in the form of a front resulting in a soggy and breezy early start, with visibility of barely a mile.  But hey!!  Pippin’s batteries were flushed with excess and every tank and locker was crammed full because – well, you never know.  I might be imprisoned aboard for a month, shipwrecked on a desert island, or need to barter with natives.

I bade farewell with a touch of sadness to Viveiro – after all, I had almost become a permanent fixture, and I left new friends behind – Raz heading east and Renee staying put, as he has done for more than 3 years.  My visit had passed quietly, my presence barely felt by the locals except perhaps by the check out ladies at Gadis, on whom I inflicted my excruciating Spanish.   Up ahead, well more new friends and adventures, but nothing too exciting I hoped, for Raz had filled my head with scary sea faring stories from his earlier times on this coast.

I should never have mentioned excitement, for it arrived as Pippin was rolling around off Ria Viveiro and I was busy – too busy to notice the intimate embrace going on between main sail halyard and radar reflector, at the top of the mast.  Both are essential members of the team,  but they are not meant for each other.  This, I shall admit, was caused by skipper error, but it was not the time to sort it, so we motorsailed ‘downhill’ with the Yankee jib pulling whenever the wind wasn’t turning in circles, going at a good lick, for I assume we had inadvertantly chimed just right with whatever tide was out there.

This is not a friendly coastline; its all ominous cliffs falling straight into the sea with few bolt holes and and it did not look its friendliest, in the mizzle and big confused seas.  Fortunately pretty little Cedeira looked much more welcoming, a tree lined little cove tucked behind a little fishing harbour, where I joined 6 other yachtsIMG_20180616_143105rolling gently at anchor, after 6 hours at sea.


Raising the ball must be a Willis thing, as once again no one else bothered and frankly, I can see why.   If you spot a yacht static in a bay with anchor chain down, what is it doing?  Its either tied to a buoy, or its at anchor and you don’t need a black ball to tell you that.  Like the official description of the sea state, it is a custom probably designed for ships but I’ll stick with it.  I used to take down and raise my ensign each day too, but gave that up as it seemed pretentious and anyway, now I would just plain forget.  Mind you someone did say that your ensign would last 3 times as long – perhaps if I set that rumour going in this anchorage, it might be fun to sit back and watch the results.

“Time offers its fruits to those who know how to take their time” – I don’t believe every homily I read, but this one must be true as it is written on my Rioja (half!) bottle label.  And I was taking my time – to retrieve that halyard, as 2 different methods failed on the first day in Cedeira, before I paused to research that Rioja and sleep on it.

Next day it had to be operation mast climb, something I viewed with considerable trepidation – I don’t like heights at the best of times, but needs must.  I used to be pretty hot at pull ups and push ups but now I am much better at sit downs.  I had of course long forgotten how to use the climbing equipment and there were several false starts and much cussing before I managed to fit me into my Top Climber.  It took even longer to climb up,  so I was eventually feeling pretty chuffed swinging around 35 feet up, as Pippin rolled gently – until I realised I hadn’t slackened off the main halyard.  Well you can imagine the cussing as down I went!

Second time up went much more smoothly, though the increasing wind meant I swung around and bruised more.  Pippin didn’t even notice around 80kgs hanging from near the top of  her mast, which speaks volumes for her stability, though she might have wondered what on earth I was doing.   Job done, I paused on the way down for pictures and to polish out the scuff marks I had made – Heaven knows what my German neighbour thought, for one always seems to attract an audience.  Anyway, the important lesson learned is the I have the kit and ability to get up the mast solo.   A cockpit strip wash was refreshing though I suspect l looked like a maggot with a hairy gooseberry for a head – anyway,  just the job before lunch.

You can take your dinghy up to the little village here if the tide is up, otherwise it’s a brisk walk but well worth it for its both a peaceful and pretty place and deserves my attention.  Tomorrow I shall explore properly, until then “Adiós”.


By ajay290

Vigo Slowly – 3


You Misbehave at your Peril

Being a restless sort, I usually wake with the urge to move on, as I did on days 1 & 2 in Viveiro, a little on day 3, ambivalent on day 4 and then – new feelings of happily staying put, like Renee, my new Belgian friend who arrived 3 1\2 years ago and shows no signs of moving on.  Indeed, days have become a blur, so I have to check regularly to remind me of the day of the week.  To be so  is both a privilege and a pleasure, though of course it takes will, determination and yes, a little selfishness  to create the opportunity.  As if to encourage me to stay,  the sun did occasionally visit me in Viveiro – it is amazing how friends met and weather shapes ones view of a place or situation, so departure kept slipping back.  Manana.

One keeps on learning lessons in life, particularly at sea,  and skipper’s error  is to be avoided, though it is  a not infrequent occurrence aboard Pippin and being solo, you all know where the buck stops.  Thus it was that Raz and I happily squelched back from a tapas bar to a flooded dinghy one evening,  and puttered most of the way home in darkness and pouring rain.  Now it is true that my little Suzuki has visited the bottom of the sea (skipper’s error arguably the cause), so I was not so surprised when it faltered then spluttered to a stop in the wet darkness: I  was quite sober once I had sweated back to Pippin, having dropped Raz at Noa.  Suffice to say that even a Suzuki needs fuel to run, as I discovered next morning; perhaps a little label with “fill me!!!”, to be hung from the yellow clothes peg?  I feel a book coming on here – perhaps titled; “skipper’s errors – true stories you won’t believe”.


Raz’s Ocean Going Home


Raz has a Washing Machine!!!

I have never met anyone with a washing machine on board, but Raz has  one for use when plugged in to shore power; nothing fancy, just a hose stuck in the back when in use.  He has an engine room I can  stand up in too and a chest freezer which I can almost stand up in,  but then Noa, all 14 tons of her, is his home.

We are an unlikely pair, with all the advantages on his side it peeves me to say, but a nicer, more modest person you could not meet and we enjoyed many laughs over tapas together.  He is heading East to explore, before returning to Vigo for the winter, though he is clearly a bottle short of a six pack for his plans include sailing in Patagonia.  In my humble opinion, you don’t sail in Patagonia – you get beaten up by monstrous seas and weather and probably don’t survive, if you play in Patagonia.    A software developer, he also has practical ability I can only dream of – but I’m not jealous; he is too nice.  And I don’t want to sail in Patagonia, or play with Albatross in the Southern Ocean.

Talking of power, this is something that you need plenty of if you are running a fridge and charging devices as I discovered during many days at anchor.  Aboard Pippin, I need to run the little Yanmar for a couple of hours a day to recharge the battery bank, something I need to sort before the next long trip, probably by installing a sizeable solar panel.  This of course is a good reason to stick with Rioja tinto, rather than a chilled white, at least for now.

From the Viveiro anchorage, there is little evidence of the pretty little town with its steep streets leading up to an old Church, but persevere and step through the ancient arched remains of the old town wall and walk up the ancient  narrow streets.  Catch your breath as you look up at the nondescript frontage of the Church, then step inside and you’ll find real beauty and peace – and respite from the rain.   A little beer in a small bar off the square rounded off that visit perfectly.

There were lots of healthy looking power walkers, male and female in Viveiro.  The Willis top prize went to the bronzed gentleman of a certain age  on the beach, whose Speedo swimming trunks barely did their job.  On each arm was a white weighted cuff, which he swung vigourously as he marched along – try as I might, I couldn’t find a set of arm weights in Gadis Hipermarket or fake tan either.  I continued to  creep up on the Tourist Information Office, during opening hours, but they saw me coming each time and I remain defeated; so I shall pass by this way again some time, in the hope I’ll catch them out one day.


Pippin Takes on Power and Water

Farewell from Viveiro in the sunshine!!!!!!


By ajay290

Vigo Slowly – 2




Approaching Viveiro top picture (the higher resolution pictures allow you to zoom in).  Viveiro from Pippin

Viveiro, in the province of Lugo in Galicia, is a very nice spot and others understably think so too.   On the first day, joggers ran along the beach and horsewomen galloped their steeds across the sand as a dogged swimmer crossed the bay, towing an inflatable orange carrot – at least that’s what it looked like.  Just in case I hadn’t got the message that this was quite a place, a red  striped helicopter flew in and out, as fishermen did their stuff  and people perambulated along the pier at their leisure.

Around 16,000 people live here, though this number probably triples in summer when holidaymakers come down to rent a flat of which there are many.  It is reckoned to have some of Spain’s best beaches and stands at the estuary into which the Landro river flows.  Its medieval walls, of which bits remain, apparently saw much action, including assault by pirates.

Along the fish quay is a line of fresh, modern lockups, which I imagine were built with EU money for the fishing and general cargo (aggregate?)  industries, though the small number of trawlers here suggests times have changed.  Some of the lockups seemed unused, as had been the case at Ribadeo.  Up in Lochinvar, Scotland, huge Spanish trucks had sat parked outside the quayside lockups in 2015, serviced by the few remaining Scottish trawlers – so quite possibly the prawns I buy here might be Scottish.

Its so nice, that Pippin and I are in no hurry to rush onwards to our July family rendezvous in Vigo.


Looking down stream from Viveiro

Anyway, my ball was out and up the mast sharpish after anchoring, for a good skipper should always raise his ball skywards, to signify his vessel is at anchor.  The mast head  anchor light was on at dusk too, but in truth I was trying to outdo my rufty tufty Belgian neighbour (I always mix up German & Belgian flags) in his Banjer 36, for that is what his vessel is, but he had beaten me to it on both counts.  Ketch rigged, the Banjer is a heavy weight long keel motorsailer, whose canoe sterned hull is loosely based on the North Sea fishing boat.  Not a lot of people would know all that, but I have already confessed that my Mastermind specialist subject would probably be something like, ”fibreglass yachts 1973 to 1980″, and this Banjer was of that era.

If you really really want to know, the boat moored to seaward of Pippin is a swanky new 54 foot Amel Maru, a ketch rigged French Rolls Royce of a yacht, that would probably have a bath, a maid, carpet and a washing machine on board.


A Banjer in Ria Viveiro

Back aboard Pippin with no bath, maid or washing machine,  I found I still had a pack of Army spiced sausage with potato slices left from my Biscay crossing, which went down a treat, as the sun sank below the yardarm on my first day in a Spanish Ria.  Thankfully the bay remained at peace, so very different from my experience of the north British Isles.


Organised chaos aboard Pippin

I rejoined the world as rain squalls came through on Day 2, as indeed they did almost every morning here and got the  dinghy inflated and the little Suzuki outboard going at the second pull, after 12 months idleness, though not before a Willis bodge job with a plastic clothes peg, necessary to get the engine to start.  I can now tell my dinghy from afar, as it is the only one with a yellow clothes peg sticking out of the engine.

It was grey and overcast, but warm as was my reception at Gado, the little supermarket, where I practiced a little of my excrutiating Spanish.  Still, at least I now know not to use the word Excusado for excuse me, as I have discovered it is a euphemism for toilet.

I also wish to apologise for an earlier rant about the lack of sliced white bread for toast; Gado does have it but Spanish bread makes even more brilliant toast, though it doesn’t last as long because a. it is so nice and b. its actually bread, not air and chemicals.


The Tourist Information office was closed on my first 3 visits, and I was beginning to wonder if  I needed to check out the Spanish for “Open when we feel like it”, but then I saw the opening times.  So  I’ll try manana whenever that comes, as there is a bus station here, which might just be the means for a mini adventure though there doesn’t seem to be much around these parts.  Meanwhile I had an appointment with Mr D and the preparation of supper to get back to, but not before a good scrub up al fresco in the cockpit.  I won’t elaborate.


Discipline, each day.  That’s what was needed I reckoned, and that had to begin with a list, so that I could work out what to be disciplined about.  Big list done, for it needs to last awhile, a postponement of outdoor tasks was agreed, as rain had inconveniently stopped play; which was fine as I still had 350 tea bags to get through, but eventually most of the initial jobs got done in my usual forgetful, disorganised way.

My reward was a trip ashore next morning, one which began differently for I could see blue through the roof hatch when I awoke, at the same time my  German neighbour was enjoying a strip wash, he a real Viking lookalike, his boat Noa, a no nonsense workhorse designed for playing with albatross in the Southern Oceans.  We would meet later and become friends.

Breakfast and shore going preparation at saga pace meant the rain was back by departure time, but hey! it’s only water and I don’t mind being the only shopper in full, dripping oilies and squelchy shoes.  Back at Pippin, my neighbour came for tea.

The plan, as it currently stands, is to remain here until the sun arrives sometime next week, as there might be a blow over the weekend and I am not in ocean bashing mood.  Then perhaps I’ll head for Ria Cedeira, 25 or so nautical miles west and set up camp there – or maybe not, for like all plans, mine especially, they are but the intentions of the moment.



By ajay290