Wednesday 29th July to Wednesday 5th August.
We are now in the Rías. When asked what a Ria is, Hugh’s answer was that anyone who has done O’level geography should know this. So for those of us who don’t, a Ria is a long narrow inlet of the sea coast, formed by the partial submergence of a river valley caused by a rise in the level of the sea. There are numerous Rías along this part of the coast of Galicia.
We are slowly working our way down the Rías having left A Coruña on a cold wet misty morning a week ago, as the fishing boats were returning to harbour with their catches, surrounded by clamouring gulls. We had a lumpy eight hour sail west along the Costa del Morte (infamous for the number of British ships wrecked here in the 19th century and I believe originally named the Coast of Death by the British) and then south to the Ría de Camariñas where we spent 3 nights, initially in the small marina at Camariñas. Here we ate a seafood paella one night in the clubhouse on the marina, another night we ate at a tapas bar in town where the proprieter was a Londoner, from Islington, who recommended a little pink fish, salmoneda and small bitter green peppers. We got our collapsible bikes out for a cycle ride along the coast to the headland and to the little chapel of A Virxe do Monte (the virgin of the mount). We also stopped at a deserted sandy beach. Unfortunately the water temperature here is cold as the beaches are facing the Atlantic, so at 16 degrees C it has been too cold for me to want to swim, much colder than Henleaze lake in Bristol, which was over 20 degrees in June. After a night on the opposite side of the Ría, in the huge, new and mostly empty marina in Muxia, where we had a fabulous supper of langoustine smothered in olive oil and garlic, and sharp, salty pimientos, we left in high winds the next day leaving a trail of damage to the pontoons in the marina. Not the best planned of departures. We then sailed around Cape Finistere, the westernmost point of Spain, which is often subject to strong winds. However it was a sunny day and the winds had eased off so we had a gentle 4 hour sail. We spent a night anchored in a bay a few miles past the town of Fisterra, which we now rather regret not visiting, having subsequently heard good reports, and there was clearly a festival going on. We could see a large inflatable chicken in the harbour with a noisy band playing.
A further 6 hour sunny and gentle sail south brought us to the Ría de Muros. where we anchored for two nights outside the town of Muros, white and cream houses with terracotta roofs encircling the bay and rising up the surrounding hills. This was a very international bay with yachts from France. Holland, Germany and of course Spain at anchor, and even one flying the stars and stripes. In the morning, at low tide, there was a line of people strung out along the shoreline, digging metal nets into the sand, who we decided were gathering shellfish. This is a big industry here and anchored on many of the Rías are viveros, rafts for cultivating mussels and clams in shallow water. On the menu in the local restaurants are all sorts of exciting mariscos (shellfish), including pulpo a feira (octopus), gamba (shrimp) and mejillones (mussels). We have yet to try navajas (razor clams) and percebes (goose-neck barnacles – apparently a great delicacy) but we need to bite the bullet, so to speak. The wine here is good too, and a glass of white Albariño in a restaurant is only a couple of euros. As well as the shellfish netters on the shoreline there was a small boat pulling in a long net, scuba divers and snorkelers in the bay presumably collecting shellfish too, and dinghy sailing, windsurfing, paddle boarding and two girls in a kayak who came up to say hello, what is your name? All very cheerful in the sunshine.
We are now in a very smart marina in Portosin whilst Hugh recovers from a bout of man-flu. He is convinced that he has malaria. He manfully struggled out for a meal last night. but whilst we were eating an incident took place in the playground opposite where a boy had been hit in the mouth by a swing. No blood or broken teeth but he was clearly shaken by it. I managed the ‘Soy medico, pero hablo Español solo pocito’, but whilst I was trying to think of the Spanish for ‘I expect he’ll be fine in a few minutes, he’s just a bit upset and would you like me to check him over’, an ambulance was called and he was carted off on a trolley with neck collar in place. I was relieved to return to my meal.
To anyone who is envious of us sailing in sunny Spain I would point out that it is cold and raining here today, and we’ve had quite a few miserable days, so part of me wants to push on south, but at the same time we are keen to see this part of Spain. I have also had a complaint that this blog is too much a holiday diary and wanting more tales of adventure on the high seas and fighting sea monsters. No doubt that will come in time but at the moment I am quite happy with the tourist bit and the gentle winds. I will try not to let it become too much of a food fest, but you can see this could be a problem. For a more technical account of the actual sailing I would refer you to Hugh’s very wonderful blog (the link is in the bar above).