Well, that would be about right. I lived in London for five years, and the only time I experienced anything akin to ‘heat’ was when I went back home to Australia, or joined Nick’s parents in their house in Greece. Now, there’s a bleeding heatwave! Today the temperature in London is 35 degrees! They’re actually issuing public health warnings. It’s only 20 here, and I’m in Spain, for crying out loud. Where is the justice in that?
Actually it’s lovely here, weather wise. We have had some scorching days, but it’s cooled down today and there’s some cloud cover and a pleasant breeze. Warm enough for shorts, but cool enough to avoid unsightly sweat patches. Ideal. So I’m trying not to be too jealous of the weather in London. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say!
So, where’s ‘here’ exactly? Well, we’ve moved south since I saw you last. We left our idyllic anchorage in Muros, and sailed to the next ria along, Ria de Arousa. Now, according to our trusty cruising guide, Arousa is “not only the largest Galician ria, but also the most attractive for cruising, with many pleasant anchorages.” Well, large it was, but we were unimpressed. It was far more developed than Ria de Muros, and although it did have plenty of anchorages, few were suitable for us due to weather conditions. We decided to make for a town called Pobra do Caramiñal, which the cruising guide describes as “Gaining reputation for good restaurants in town. Well liked marina.” Sounded good.
A long beach curves away from the marina, which is where the recommended anchorage is. There were several other boats anchored here when we arrived in the early evening, so we joined the party- only to realise that our chain counter had broken, meaning we didn’t know how much chain we had put out. We made an educated guess, then Nick spent the next hour fiddling with the small handheld device trying to get it to work again. You know the drill: take it apart, swear a bit, get your iPad out and look something up on the internet, change the parts you happen to have, put it back together, swear a bit more, connect it up to the windlass (the electronic bit of kit that saves us from having to let out or haul up the anchor ourselves), turn it on, swear quite a bit more, then announce that you’re giving up. That process takes about an hour, during which I wait impatiently, occasionally tapping my foot or looking at the clock and sighing loudly. Sometimes, when I’m really over it, I actually ask the dreaded question: “How much longer are you going to be?” I’m either rewarded with silence, or I get the expected reply, “It will take as long as it takes, now either do something useful or be quiet!”
Did I mention that we were both starving, had very little food on board (apart from frozen cornish pasties that somehow survived the Bay of Biscay passage, and we are now saving for a special occasion, or possibly some kind of ceremonial festival of english food, complete with Marmite and Branston pickles), it was extremely hot and we were knackered from a full day of sailing. So, I made myself useful and got the dinghy ready to go. We needed food and a cold beer, and we needed them now.
But after his unsuccessful repair of the chain counter, Nick decided to opt for the next best thing: to go for a swim. More specifically, to swim to where the anchor was (hopefully) embedded in sand and weed and make sure it was secure and we had enough chain out. Well, that took a bloody long time, not least because his flippers and snorkelling mask were down the bottom of our stern lockers. Out came everything in that locker, including, but not limited to, folding bikes, baskets for bikes, extension lead, hose, wetsuit x2, lifejacket, a BBQ, a broom, the attachment for the hydrovane, a bucket and an extendable ladder.
Finally Nick was happy with the anchor. He dried off, got into the dinghy, we wrestled the outboard engine onto the back, and I was just about to drop the painter, mouth practically salivating with anticipation of my impending dinner, when the wind went from almost nothing to really quite something. Our boat swung around with the new wind direction and we were now on a lee shore.
Nick: “Wait! We can’t leave the boat like this! It’s far too windy.”
Me: “Like what? It’s fine!”
Nick: “No- what if the anchor drags? We’ll go straight into the beach.”
Me: “I’m willing to take that risk. I don’t think you realise quite how hungry I am.”
The conversation deteriorated from there, and ended in me eating weetbix and Nick making the decision to go into the nearby marina. He also ate some weetbix. We felt a lot better after that.
So, out came the lines and fenders and into the marina we went, wind howling. We had two options. To go into the marina proper, or to moor up to an outer pontoon which was about 100 metres long and had only one motor boat on it, with all the space in the world for manoeuvring. Clearly, we chose the more difficult option, which was to go inside. Nick was heading to a berth directly ahead, but we were distracted by a tiny man on the opposite pontoon, all skinny brown limbs and an straggly long white hair and an impressive white beard. He looked like Tom Hanks after he spent all those years on that island, except Spanish and about one hundred and ten. We couldn’t understand his words, but his meaning was plain enough: “I’m the boss, come over this way and moor up here.” Fine. That’s what we did. And it wasn’t quite our worst mooring. After much discussion and debate, we decided it wasn’t even our second worst mooring. But we agreed that it was almost certainly our third worst, and we’re just thankful the boat survived unscathed, unlike our pride. The wind was pushing our boat off the pontoon, and it took about fifty lines, and five people to get it sorted.
[Nick: actually it is debatable whether our Spanish captain Ahab was a help or hinderence. Our boat has high sides which means it is always blown downwind when turned to the said wind. As such we have a technique where we lead a midline through the mid cleat and back to a winch. The line has a bowline on it which we place over a pontoon cleat with a boat hook. Then in a blow, we winch ourselves in. Simple . Yes? Except señor Ahab sees us on a mid cleat, attaches a stern line then releases our mid line. Off goes the bow downwind. I think that left to our own devices, we would have taken a downwind pontoon finger and been blown on, like we did when we arrived at combarro marina. But there is nothing like a shouting,gesticulating,Spanish version of uncle Albert to put pay to our fine ideas.]
Minutes later, the wind died off. Of course it did.
Well I can’t complain about the marina, but how this town has a reputation for good restaurants is beyond me. We could barely find anywhere serving food, let alone good food. There were more bars than you could shake a stick at, but few of them had a menu. By this time we were so tired that we made do with the free food you get with your drinks. We found one place that brought out the beers, then a big bowl of crisps, then an equally big plate of olives, and then a fried egg each with a piece of bread. That would do.
The town wasn’t overly offensive, it just didn’t have the charm that Muros did, and we were disappointed. It did, however, have an excellent supermarket, and the marina had very good wifi, so we stocked up on food and drinks, downloaded Jonathon Strange and Mr Norell from BBC Iplayer, did our laundry, and moved on.
I’m delighted to report that our next destination, Combarro, is as charming and beautiful as one could possibly wish for. We arrived yesterday and will stay until Tuesday, as Nick’s parents are coming out to meet us over the weekend. The sail was painless, with barely a breath of wind or a hint of swell. Predictably, as soon as we came within sight of the marina, the wind increased to 15 knots, gusting 20, as suddenly as flicking a switch. We were like, “Seriously!?” However, this mooring went far more smoothly, so our confidence is restored. A quick walk around the old town revealed numerous restaurant options, one of which we sampled today and were not disappointed with. But I will leave a full description of Combarro until my next post- gotta keep you lot wanting more, after all.
Until next time!