Daughter Sarah ARRIVED, followed by son Sam with his family to join Angie my wife and I, to make my spell ashore special and to be frank, I was ready to leave the sea for a break. But thoughts soon returned to Pippin via the Pilgrims’ way …….
James the Apostle died in the 1st Century AD, and his body was transported by a boat guided by angels to what is now known as Padron in Galicia. It was discovered by a shepherd 800 years later, buried in a Galician field and King Alfonso 2 had a church built to attract pilgrims to Santiago to visit the Holy relics of St James. A sound plan, for you needed an attractive USP, to top the many other Christian centres which were also trying to attract pilgrims.
One doesn’t need to spoil a good story by asking questions such as; “how did they know these remains were those of St. James?” and the more cynical might note that large numbers of Christian pilgrims in the area, were a useful counter to Moorish invasion, not to mention the income that might be generated for the Church.
Pilgrims would have had means, for no peasant farmer, blacksmith, farrier or peasant could spare the time for such a lengthy stroll. Pilgrims must have been fair game for bandits, though they probably travelled with protection, and it was in King Alfonso’s interests to see pilgrims safely through to the collection boxes. Anyway in those days pilgrims already travelled to the end of the World at Finisterre, so now they could just keep walking.
Back at journey’s end in Santiago de Compostel, hostel accommodation was built for weary footsore pilgrims and today, providing you are doing it as a Christian pilgrimage and have had your pilgrim’s passport stamped en route, you earn your pilgrimage certificate providing you have ‘hoofed’ at least 100kms. Over 260,000 people of all ages achieve this worthy feat each year and it is a wonderful way to bring people together in a common endeavour.
Now it was my turn to retrace my steps down Pippin’s trail, past the end of the World, along the Costa da Morte, across Biscay home to the jewel of les Isles de la Manche. Or something like that, for plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy.
Pippin was where I had left her, though my sea legs were wobbly and my resolution in need of stiffening, especially as every forecast indicated persistent northerlies, which would hinder homeward progress. To sit and wait for fair winds might mean a very long sojourn. Passage planning began with boat checks and a large mug of tea and continued with the KISS principle, always best. Out of Ria Vigo, turn right and fight the north winds to a sensible point from which to launch Pippin and I into Biscay. Somewhere along the line, a right turn up Channel for home, with variations on a theme to be played to the tune of the wind.
To Bea and the friendly team at Moaña I owe a hearty gratias, for their patient good humour and very low tariff for Pippin’s stay. I felt though that I was ‘riaed out’ by the time I left, and didn’t want to see another razor clam, octopus or sardine but the morning of my departure at least partly changed that. As I looked back at Moaña in the still early morning light, I saw the magic of this ria as if for the first time. To prove it, a pod of feeding dolphins cruised lazily past Pippin’s bows by as once again I took yards of empty film.
With little wind for now, Pippin was serenaded instead by the oily purr of the Yanmar as my second pint of tea brewed and we chugged up Ria Vigo. It looked as if the weather will break as we push up out of Biscay and we might even find a gale, but my hope is that it will push us up Channel, not out into the Atlantic. We shall see.
Meanwhile a sleepy loaded trawler came in from the ocean and flotillas of yachts nestled in Esenada de Barra and off Islas Cias as breakfast cooked. Through the narrows Pippin head butted 14 knots on the nose – I don’t have fuel for endless motorsailing so I will need to make plans, which as ever are but the intentions of the moment.