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.