The Spanish Rias

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in Spain for three weeks already, so I’ll keep this blog entry brief and let the photos do the talking.

After crossing Biscay and arriving in Ria de Vivero, we stopped overnight at Ria de Cedeira as we travelled west back along the coast to La Coruna, our originally intended port of arrival in Spain. I’d been to La Coruna earlier in the year as part of a delivery crew, so it was nice to be able to spend a few days getting to know the city rather than dashing straight off to the airport to catch a flight back to the UK.

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From La Coruna, we rounded Cape Finisterre, and headed down towards the southern rias. Finisterre is another feared headland which has claimed many ships in the past but the conditions were ideal when we passed it:

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Heading south we visited Corme, Camarinas, Muros and Portisin. On the sail from Muros to Portisin we fished for mackerel and managed to get our supper for the evening.

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This area of Spain is where the Spanish spend their holidays and I’ve not heard a word of English spoken anywhere – they’ve managed to keep  this charming area a well guarded secret. One of the highlights for us was the old town in Combarro, a beautifully preserved traditional fishing village:

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From Combarro, we stopped at Ria Alden (a lovely anchorage) before heading down to The Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park where we spent a few days anchored off a white sand beach, and took long walks through forested hills:

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We are now in Bayona, yet another charming Spanish city and just a few miles north of the national park, enjoying more Albarino wines and great seafood. We will depart to cross the border into Portugal later today.

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Crossing Biscay

We set off from Trebeurden in northern France on Wednesday morning and managed to sail most of the day under light winds. We rounded Ushant at the most north western tip of France just as the sun was setting that evening, then turned left and aimed the boat towards La Coruna in Spain. From there, the crossing took another two days.

On the first day there was very little wind and we motored all day in the company of dolphins. That evening, as Maarten was lighting the oven to prepare dinner, there was a deafening scream of airplane engines and we were buzzed by a twin engined plane that had dived down to take a (much) closer look at us. I don’t know a lot about planes, but it looked to me like the plane from Raiders of the Lost Ark except that it was grey, not silver, and had ‘Marines’ painted along the side. I don’t know whether it was in active service or if it was an older restored plane, but it was a pretty spectacular sight either way.

We were expecting about 20 knots of wind from WSW on the final day of the crossing so motored out as far west as possible whilst keeping clear of the traffic lanes and the big ships. Positioning ourselves this way would allow us to sail into the wind at a fair enough angle to reach La Coruna.

The next morning when the wind arrived it was stronger and more southerly than forecast. Under heavily reduced sails and battling confused seas in excess of 3 meters, we beat our way on to Spain. Our original destination of La Coruna was no longer an option unless we wanted to motor directly into the wind, so we made course for Ria de Viveiro instead – a wide natural harbour that we could enter safely in the dark. Feeling exhausted, we arrived there and set the anchor for the night just after 0100hrs the following morning.

We’d like to say thanks to Maarten, who joined us for this trip. He has sailed with us many times before with his family. It’s always nice to see him, and having the extra hands on deck proved invaluable given the conditions this week.

If you’d like to see more photos and movies from our journey, then take a look at our Facebook page.