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

2 comments on “Vigo Slowly – 7

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