This is it, the adventure has begun. We will be popping photos here as we sail as well as a written record of the highlights of the trip. We hope that we will be able to communicate our sense of excitement, terror (!) and awe for our universe so that you may live our adventures vicariously - and perhaps for some, we may also inspire you to have a go yourself.
We are now safely back in Marina Coruna and preparing Ocean Rainbow for a short layover while we return to England for Andrew's wedding. A few more photos to round off the trip and close the First Leg. Claire and William were great company and passed on lots of tips to enhance our trip further south. and a view of the anchorage in Cedeira - beautiful backdrop!
We had a lovely sail from Playa de Santa Cristina with the help of Red Passion and Humphrey. The entrance to the Ria is reminiscent of Norway but the Ria then opens up and we motored into the harbour and dropped an anchor. We took ethe bikes ashore and investigated and then back to the boat with the promise of a picnic on Wednesday. Sadly it was a bit overcast but we did some jobs on board, James went up the mast and taped some potential snagging areas and then we packed up a picnic and went off to the nature reserve, (Ensenada de Esteiro leading into Ensenada Marisas de Esteiro), which is magical - almost amazonian with the emerald green water and overhanging foliage. This evening we're entertaining Claire and William from Melos II for drinks on board and then it's back to Coruna.
The spaniards really do enjoy their Fiestas. We had a lovely day just strolling through the streets having a truly relaxing Sunday. We'd even left the bikes on board! Having watched the Festival of the Sea parade we then continued our relaxation ... no winching, no hoisting of sails, no unpacking and blowing up of dinghies, no lifting and lowering engines, no anchoring! James spent the afternoon doing what he loves - cleaning bits of his boat! Claire got creative in the kitchen. Unfortunately still no 'free food' so it was shop bought pork for us! Elliot on Swallow has gone one better than fishing and has been diving for scallops. We were all set to try ourselves but the weather has churned up the sea bed so you can't see anything. However, we now know what to do so we will bide our time - one day we will catch something!
Strong wind warnings had been issued for Saturday and Sunday so we decided to head for a safe haven near Coruna. When we set off from Malpica we had lovely winds but they evaporated after about an hour. We then had a very calm morning mixing motor-sailing with slow sailing (so slow at one stage a mass of swimming crabs were definitely making faster progress!) but we were rewarded by having a pod of dolphins playing around Ocean Rainbow for almost an hour. Humphrey managed to wield his not insignificant charms and coaxed three dolphins almost onto our swim platform. Very special. Our intention on the route north was to see as much as possible so we made our way past the Ria de Ares into the Ria de Betanzos and the marina at Sada. There we found Kookaburra (last seen in St Agnes, Scilly Isles) already moored. Philip and Joy took our lines and we were set to stay and weather the storm alongside them .. that was until we discovered the marina didn’t have WiFi, the showers were a serious bike ride away and the pass key to the marina gates would cost 20 Euros … all this before we had asked the price for an overnight stay! It didn’t take much discussion for us to decide to move back to Ares, where we knew we could have a berth in the marina with WiFi and the showers a mere stone’s throw from the yacht. So we ‘upped wharps’ and left even more quickly than we had arrived! As it transpired we arrived in Ares to find Swallow already at anchor. We dropped an anchor nearby. We caught up with them for breakfast (OK a really late one…actually lunch, after we had done all our chores!) and we stayed chatting and enjoying the lunch together. They then set off for pastures new while we rugged up for the strong winds and a fiesta in Ares! The strong winds certainly came and it was very rolly but Manson, our trusty anchor, held his own and is proving a seriously good investment. We’re intending to head off again on Monday – as long as we get the slow puncture in Puddle repaired with the help of industrial glue from our friendly local engineer (the one of outboard engine repair fame)!
We had a lovely gentle sail from Laxe to Porto Malpica. We didn't use Red Passion as we were sailing between islands looking for a place to drop anchor, have lunch and swim. As it turned out the little spot we had earmarked was already occupied and the wind would have put us on a lee shore so we kept on going to Porto Malpica. This is a lovely little port with very limited anchoring space but we have been lucky and hope we'll have a peaceful night! What I didn't dare put on the blog was the fact that we managed to sail from Laxe to Porto Malpica and do the doby at the same time! The absolutely brilliant Wonderwash came out again and Wonderman, ably helped by Wonderwoman, did three loads of washing!! Ok, so the third lot was a bunch of manky rags but we did manage a white and a dark wash. Then in horribly un-British fashion Claire (well, she is welsh so maybe can be forgiven) hung the doby on the guard rail to dry! We didn't actually sail into harbour looking like Mother Riley's launderette but we have left the boat this evening looking like something from the back streets of Naples with serried ranks of organised laundry hanging under the sprayhood catching the last of the sun's rays!
We set off from Sardineiro and had a lovely run with Red Passion until we had to change direction and head in to Muxia. The best laid plans went awry! On approaching Muxia we furled the genoa - or at least, we tried to! Unfortunately we managed to catch the spinnaker line in with the genoa and our furling came to a grinding halt. By the time we had worked out the problem we were steaming down the Ria heading for Camarinas! We decided to pop our head into the harbour and check out the anchoring. A few other yachts were anchored off so we decided to take our chances - although we had heard that there was a serious weed problem. Safely anchored we got out Puddle and set off for shore and an investigation. Not a lot to show except exquisite lace and we did find a supermarket so managed to stock up on wine!! There was a spectacular sky in the evening - now we know, a harbinger of stormy winds but not rain.
We only stayed one night and set off on Wednesday morning for the Ria de Corme. A great sail with the habitual 2 reefs in the main! The winds were gusting in excess of 30 knots again and the sea was rather lumpy but Ocean Rainbow seems to thrive in these conditions so who are we to argue! We did come in to the Bay of Laxe at a fair old lick though but the harbour wall provided a bit of respite so we could sort out the sails prior to anchoring. A quick bite of lunch and then it was out with Puddle, the bikes and the computers and off to explore. We had seen some extraordinary gun emplacements on our way around the headland so we set off to investigate .... I ask you .... picnic spots! Well, James did say they were positioned in a rather unusual fashion! All in all, a lovely spot and delighted we have been able to have a night here.
We had a wonderful sail from Portosin to Sardineiro thanks to Humphrey and Red Passion. A great sail and worth the investment (we think) as there is none of the alarming cracking of sail that you get when flying a cruising chute and no need for a spinnaker pole either. Once in Sardineiro we went ashore for the normal WiFi connection and a beer! Then back on board for supper (Claire style tortilla). And, we have finally solved the mystery of what we thought were raised sarcophagus' .... they store potatoes! Very fancy edifices to say the least.
Wednesday early afternoon, Jon on Hecla set off south to try and catch up with some friends. It’s been great to have him around with his dinghy and faster engine, mechanical experience and workable Spanish. Now we are left to charades and dictionaries! Claire’s Norwegian and Macedonian just don’t seem to do the trick! Later in the afternoon we also departed Sardineiro and headed for Ria de Corcubion (the next Ria round). We had a cracking sail (reaching 8 knots with reefed genoa and 2 reefs in the main) - so lots of wind and sparkling seas. Entering the Ria we had bolts of wind in excess of 30 knots – reminiscent of the Norwegian fjords – which made our approach to the towns of Corcubion and Cee quite exciting. As you will have noted from the blog, we were underwhelmed by what we saw. The wind didn’t die down so we took the safe option and dropped our anchor well away from everything and stayed on board just in case our trusty Manson anchor decided to go walk-about! In the event, we did not budge an inch.
The winds carried on all night, only dying off in the early hours of the morning. By the time we awoke on Thursday the sun and calm seas had changed the outlook and we feel we may have been a little unfair to Corcubion! There was an old part of the town with what looked like an ancient church and it was surrounded by some pretty houses! On the other hand, the Cee side of the Ria definitely was industrial and derelict. We didn’t venture ashore as we decided to head off for the Ria de Muros instead. If you happen to be following us on a map you will note that we missed out the Ria de Camarinas (just after Ria de Corme). Jon had been given a report by friends that the Ria is covered in thick weed that fouls the anchor and invades all the boat’s seawater inlets so we decided to give it a miss – no point asking for trouble!
We had an extremely leisurely trip to Ria de Muros with all sails set. A couple of yachts passed close to us, a few fishermen too but despite James’ best attempts there were absolutely no fish to be found in the sea! We really do need to take the fishing rod back to the shop and get one that works. On arrival in Muros we took the advice of a fellow Portishead Cruising Club member and went into the new marina, where we found the staff really helpful. However, after filling our tanks with water we decided we wouldn’t stay as the marina was airless and we thought we would be more comfortable at anchor, so we upped sticks (or warps) and dropped an anchor outside in the bay. A run ashore enabled us to have a welcome beer in a wifi café before returning to a delicious and stylish supper onboard! By 10pm we were tucked up in bed…so exhausting, all this adventuring!
We spent a really comfy night at anchor and awoke this morning (Friday 19th) to find a mist shrouding the mountains and the most bizarre sight on the near shoreline. The sea was heaving with fully clothed folk, waist deep in the water dragging what look like big plastic buckets along the surface! We make an assumption that this strange ritual is a form of fishing – if we find out what they were catching, you’ll be the first to know! We intend to head off on the bikes today for a bit of an explore and then on Saturday we will start the trip back north to La Coruna in preparation for leaving the boat in order to attend No 2 son’s wedding.
The afternoon in Corme was enlivened by a little with a fire on the shoreline! No one was in a great rush to extinguish the flames which was a little alarming as we were in the direct path of any debris! Needless to say, our fears were unfounded but our trip to investigate the surrounding shoreline was a little delayed. We went ashore to have supper - as planned and discovered that fiesta was the order of the night! We set off with Jon in his dinghy to join the festivities. We parked the dinghy safely at the foot of some stairs and sauntered off intending to return in an hour or so … we got caught up in the moment and returned considerably later to find the fishing trawlers had come home and the line for the dinghy had disappeared! It wasn’t a drama – the fishermen had just moved the line, adeptly parking their trawlers either side of the dinghy!
Tuesday we set off for Cape Finisterre. Fog is actually quite tiring as you are continually straining to see if there is anything in your way but radar and AIS are a great help. Two Spanish fishermen had a narrow escape! We passed within metres of their two little wooden skiffs and the net they were working between them – apparently completely unphased. We were seriously upset to have call from Jon on Hecla announcing that he had caught a mackerel. We had been fishing, but obviously not hard enough! James was urged on to try harder but all to no avail. We did spot one lonely dolphin fin and a few crazy crabs who were swimming heaven alone knows where – but that was our lot. Once we had rounded Cape Finisterre the fog lifted and we motored into the Bay of Sardiniera in scorching sun. We dropped an anchor and then took Drip Drop (the kayak) ashore to investigate. The first sight that greeted us was the bench of oldies! They were delighted to have their photo taken but not sure they would be quite so chuffed with the caption: Bench of Sardines in the Bay of Sardines.
We set off from La Corunna at midday. This was slightly later than planned as we met up with Paul Molyneaux! What a small world. He was in La Coruna to take ‘Adventurer’ from Hornet off on a sail training trip to France with a bunch of CCF cadets.
When we finally hoist our sails we found we had more than enough wind! In fact, it was rather too much so once again we put in a couple of reefs. The seas were really bumpy so Claire’s plans to cook supper on route were rather scuppered – we didn’t even get a cup of tea! It was a beautiful day though so the sail was fun and we had the added challenge of racing other boats (not just seagulls who are our normal competitors!) and found ourselves neck and neck with a 46’ Ovni for a lot of the way. We did have a couple of bad tacks (!!) and lost some ground but it was all good fun.
We arrived at the entrance to Ria Corme & Laxe with the wind blowing 26 knots and gusts up to 30 so a fast run into the port of Corme! A distance of 35nm travelled. We dropped anchor and Claire created supper – by the time we had tidied up the boat everything was ready and Jon came on board for a quick beer, macaroni cheese (Spanish style) and salad.
Monday morning we set off in the dinghy to shore and bought a few provisions. Lovely little town and populated totally by locals. Sign language and charades were the order of the day with a smattering of Spanish – much easier to understand than speak and that’s for sure. We found somewhere for supper tonight, hope it’s OK! Then it’s on again tomorrow heading for Cape Finisterre.
Oh my word, what a complete and utter nonesense I made of trying to do the 'doby' yesterday. I was let loose in the dinghy to go ashore and put on yet another load of washing ... no problem you might think. Well, you aren't me! Although I have powerboat qualifications and I learnt to sail with a tiller and I have oodles of experience, I think I left my one and only brain cell behind in Portishead. All was fine on the trip to shore, it was the return trip that was a total nightmare/fiasco/embarrassment. The only mitigation was the onshore wind but the rest of the hysterical performance was mine and mine alone. The engine started but from that moment on everything went wrong - I accelerated into the rocks, made a correction, headed for the moored fishing boats , bumped off one, pushed myself off another and then managed to avoid the propellor of another. Relief came in the form of a vaguely amused spanish fisherman who came to the end of his boat, fended me off and then gave me an enormous shove into the harbour where I finally sorted myself out! Jon Lister's comment - well you have a rubbing strake, that's what they're for! Just really relieved neither James nor Jon actually witnessed my dismal performance. Suffice to say - there is room for improvement! But at least I got the washing done!
On Friday, as forecast, the weather changed for the better – in fact glorious sunshine and the islands resembled the Caribbean – so we set off for Spain. However, for once the weather forecast was accurate, there was no wind at all but, ever hopeful, we pressed on to open water. We got as far as Bishop Rock before we called it quits and headed for St Agnes to wait a day. St Agnes is a wonderful island which we have visited before so we knew its secrets; the hummock where mobile phones work; the tea shop with totally yummy ice cream and the whereabouts of the local pub serving Turks Head and Hunny Bunny beer.
That evening, after supper, we discovered that we still hadn’t quite mastered our iridium phone so we decided to head back to St Mary’s wherethere was internet access and we could read up on the instructions again. A bit of a bore to spend another night in St Mary’s, but it was free as they have a ‘4 nights for the price of 3’ deal! We made good use of the time and the next morning we refuelled, topped up the water and then headed back to St Agnes to wait for the wind.
At 3.30pm we raised anchor for Spain and at 4pm we hoisted Red Passion – our new parasailor – and, in the lightest of winds, we were sailing along at 4 knots. The sail is so easy to manage with none of the worries of a spinnaker pole, we practised snuffing the sail which was easy and fast, Humphrey had no trouble holding the course so found ourselves sailing through the night with Red Passion flying – not something we had envisaged being able to do on the parasailor’s first outing. After 17 hours the wind increased in strength & changed direction, so we took Red Passion down and reverted to our normal downwind sail pattern of genoa and main.
Cooking was a challenge but we had a varied diet even if it was eaten out of dog bowls! (And, believe it or not, the bearded Cap'n is definitely 'Darling').
The next couple of days were fairly routine. Dolphins came alongside to entertain us, Claire tried to entertain them …
We listened to parts of the Andy Murray match, read a couple of books and the time passed quite quickly. Shortly after dawn on 8th July a horrid sea fog developed with visibility of only 100m or so. Not very pleasant, especially as there was a fair amount of cargo traffic, but visibility did improve after a couple of hours so we were more relaxed by the time land was spotted. Northern Spain has a beautiful coastline, with lovely sandy beaches and very little development. The sun shone and we couldn’t have asked for better conditions in which to start the Spanish leg of our adventure.
We were a couple of hours out of Ares when Jon Lister on Hecla of Uist called us up on the VHF. It was great to hear his voice and it was even nicer to see him just outside Ares Bay in his dinghy with fog horn at the ready to welcome us. He managed to take a couple of photos too.
Ares is a lovely little port which remains unspoilt. There is a marina, but we are bobbing at anchor and enjoying the sense of freedom. Hecla is moored some 50 metres away – it’s lovely to see the two Warriors back together! Jon joined us for supper and filled us in on all the information. We are now settling into our new life aboard – abroad! (Don’t you love the english language!!).
What we saw on leaving Portishead:
After the plethora of blogs posted prior to Ocean Rainbow’s departure, there’s been a deafening silence since, but we’re about to put that right with a bit of info about our Portishead to Scillies passage. As planned, we did stop in Barry but we only spent a few hours there to wait out the tide, so we set off at 2300hrs on Saturday evening for the Scillies. Not much luck with winds which although forecasting a north-westerly remains south-westerly and therefore “on our nose”, so we spent the whole time battling the winds which resulted in us covering 250nm instead of the 145nm we’d anticipated. Still the Skipper saw dolphins on his watch, the crew wasn’t so lucky but she did get some ‘down time’ and on her watches she spent many happy hours singing away to Dickie’s music – apparently lulling the Skipper to sleep!
First challenge: raising the mainsail was a bit of a problem on our departure, the gate that keeps the sliders in the track on the mast kept popping out and the mainsail sliders, as a result, had to be fed back into the track by hand! Quite a challenge when we changed sail (reef in, reef out) so often on the crossing trying to take full advantage of the wind. Nothing else amiss with the lovely Ocean Rainbow; however Claire managed to twist her knee which slowed her up somewhat and meant a visit to the Doc in St Mary’s to check the damage – nothing rest and ice won’t cure! Not a lot of rest on a yacht and ice is a mirage, so Claire’s now sporting a knee brace and taking advantage of the wonderful inventions of Messrs Ibuprofen and Paracetemol. One other small mishap, Claire managed to slice her knuckle whilst chopping red peppers – what a lot of blood from one small cut! – and we’re still not sure where the chopped skin went but supper was delicious! James is well and hearty and growing a very distinguished-looking beard.
Our arrival and safe mooring in St Mary’s was celebrated with a full English breakfast (OK, for those of you who know us well – without the smell of cooking bacon!) and once recovered went ashore to see what we could do to repair the mainsail gate. Mark, the Deputy Harbour Master, was a star and drilled the extra holes needed – sadly our template wasn’t accurate enough so we were directed to Clinton Perry at The Forge and he has filled the holes, then came out to the boat to check the template before he went back on dry land to drill the correct ones. The result of his handiwork is excellent and all now works as it should.
We have kept ourselves very busy with admin – everything takes so much longer when you are bobbing up and down! Claire made a fruit cake and flapjacks to keep her hand in but no need for home-baked bread as yet. Other than that, the weather is fairly miserable to say the least but tomorrow is supposed to be beautiful so we are going to set off for Ares (just north of La Coruna) to meet up with Jon Lister on Hecla of Uist. We will post our position on a daily basis and you should be able to see where we are via our ‘Where we are Now’ tab which links you through to our webdiary on mailasail.