Leg 3

Sunday  27th August, 2017

Laredo – Sailing to the West

We got up early in the morning and after breakfast Brian and I chatted about the problem with the mainsail furling.

We decided to leave the sail furled and we prepared our departure.

After settling the fees and checking out from the marina with the office, we left the pontoon at 12.20.

Our day’s destination was Santander, 24nm West along the Galician coast.

The wind was blowing at a maximum of 10 knots. from the South West.

There was still a lumpy North West swell which caused us to roll quite a bit, so we motored without setting a headsail.

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Brian at the helm

3 hours 40 mins later we arrived in Santander.

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There is a lovely entrance to the harbour with an island called Isla de Mouro just outside which has the shape of an elephant’s head on it’s South side. Beyond that on the right hand side, there’s a hill overlooking the water with a beautiful castle and some other fine imposing buildings..

The channel into the harbor is not very wide but it’s deep. The channel is quite close to a lovely sandy beach and you could actually talk to a person on the shore as you sail past.  It made for a pleasant entrance.

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Chartplotter showing our track in the entrance to Santander

We wound our way around past the industrial area with lots of ships berthed, loading and unloading their cargo until we came to the Marina de Santander.

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We just spent a night there and got up early next morning to depart for Gijon, 85nm further along the coast.

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We left the marina at 07.50 and motored out into a calm sea with only 2 knots of wind just as the sun was rising.

The forecast for the day was for light, variable winds of between 5 and 10 knots.

We continued motoring on an oily sea, running the engine at 1,600rpm and averaging 7 knots. Occasionally I increased the revs to 2,200rpm to kick in the turbo and clear the system.

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All along the coast we saw many spectacular beaches, most of which were deserted.  Behind them, the mountains rose majestically.

With still very little wind, we arrived at Gijon at 20.10, having motored the whole day.

We went into the town for a meal and walked past a huge sculpture of cider bottles.  Apparently this region is known for it’s cider. Needless to say, we had to sample the local produce.

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Next morning, on the 29th., we had a lazy start at midday because we were going to have an overnight passage to La Coruna and we didn’t want to arrive at 05.00 next morning.

Once again, the wind was light, at 10 knots from the North West as we motored directly into it, to begin.

Isla de la Gaviera was abeam at 13.50 and we slowly curved our way to the West.  However, the wind kept backing until it was in the South West. We attempted to unfurl the main as we sailed off Cabo Vidrias, taking things very gently. After some considerable time, we got it unfurled to the 3rd. batten but it wouldn’t  go any further. We decided to leave it like this and we unfurled the working headsail and headed Westwards on port tack, sailing close to our rhumb line. Our speed over the ground was 8 knots in just 7 knots of wind and with the engine running at low revs.

Kate and Brian made a great dinner of roast chicken, potatoes and vegetables.

There’s nothing nicer that a roast like this while at sea and cooked in a gas oven.

Brian and I settled into our night watches of 2 hours on and 2 hours off while we left Kate to sleep throughout.

The wind went into the North and then to 015 at 10 knots as we continued Westwards passing Cabo de Bares and Cabo Ortegal on the Northern corner of Spain..

At 23.40, we decided to furl the main and fortunately it went in without much drama.

We then unfurled the genoa and continued to motor sail to the West, gradually turning South West .

We sailed the angles to the wind which brought us away from the coast.

By 7 am on the 30th., we were heading South directly towards our destination.

The wind remained between 9 and 13 knots and our speed over the ground was averaging 6.5 knots.

We arrived at La Coruna at 08.40, tired but satisfied although Brian said “let’s have no more overnight passages on our way to Cascais”. He must be getting soft but anyway we’ll have plenty of long dark nights sailing during our Transatlantic crossing in November/December.

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Berthed in La Coruna

Anyway, there are lots of stopping off places on this Coast with some of the Rias to explore as we head South to Portugal. It would be a shame to miss these overnight stops especially since we had time on our hands.

Distance logged 143nm in 20hrs 40mins at an average speed of 7 kts.

This was better than before because we were able to motor sail using the angles to the wind.

The average wind speed was about 9 kts.

After clearing our papers with the harbor office we then had a good breakfast on board and then settled down to rest for a few hours before exploring the town.

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When we got back to the boat, Brian and I worked on furling and unfurling the mainsail but it kept jamming. There was a Dutch man in a boat opposite our berth who was watching us and he came over to suggest trying out something different which worked for him when he had the same problem. He said to harden the mainsheet, pulling the boom down and see how it furls. Eureka, it worked. We furled and unfurled a few times and the sail went in and out smoothly. What a relief.

In the evening Brian invited the Dutch man and his wife over for a drink while Kate was cooking the dinner.

They just came for one drink, but after a few more, they were persuaded to stay for dinner. Also, there was plenty food to go around.

They should have known that they were in the company of the Irish. We never allow guests away with just one drink.

A little tipsy, they crept off to their own boat after a late but enjoyable night.

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Anyway, no rest for the wicked. We were up and away at 08.00 the next morning the 31st. August.

Our next destination was Muros, some 75 miles away and we didn’t want to arrive late in the evening.

After departing, I swapped over fuel tanks to the Port forward one. All in all we have 3 tanks holding a combined total of 1,440 litres.

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A fellow traveller

Again, the wind was light as we headed out West and SouthWest towards the most Western part of Spain, passing the island of Sisarga Grande and Sisarga Chica off Cabo de San Andrian and then around the corner past Cabo Vilan. We sailed past the Ria de Camarinas and because the marina looked quite small we didn’t think of visiting it. I guess we could have anchored off and gone ashore in the rib. It apparently was a mistake not to stop as there would have been both room and depth for us and I believe it’s a lovely place to overnight.

Anyway we continued on South, passing Cabo Finisterre at 16.20.

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Calm Sea
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Cape Finisterre
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Downwind sailing
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Flying the ARC flag
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The club ensign flying in a nice breeze
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2-sail reaching
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Volvo 65 Dongfeng practicing for the upcoming Round the World race
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Dongfeng doing 15 knots to our 8
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Mapfre passing to leeward of us

We had Islotes de Nejxon abeam at 18.00 and we pulled into Muros marina at 18.50.

It was a lovely day’s sail covering 75 miles in 10hrs 50mins at again an average speed of 7 kts.

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The Ria de Muros is a lovely place to spend some time in and I wish we could have lingered for a few days there. We had a lovely meal ashore and then turned in for a good night’s sleep. Well, in my case, that was a relative thing because I was still suffering with my back and I found the mattress hard to lie on. I propped myself with pillows to try and make myself comfortable. On average, I was getting about 4 hours sleep per night with cat naps during the day. However each week I was feeling better that the previous one and I knew it would only be a matter of time until I was ok again.

Our next stop was to be Bayona but we changed our route to head for Combarro where we were going to meet up with a fellow National Yacht Club member Peter Cullen

We departed Muros at 10.30 on the 1st. September in 12/16 kts of wind  from astern with glorious sunshine. We unfurled the main and genoa and ran down wind with the genoa poled out. Finally we were sailing properly at over 7 kts.

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8 knots over the ground

We turned South East for the Ria de Ponteverda in which Combarro is situated. Yet again we were in another beautiful part of the World which certainly deserves much more time spent cruising around at a leisurely pace.

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Approaching Combarro

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We arrived safely into port, furled the sails, again, without drama, and motored across a sparkling flat sea in the late afternoon, arriving at Combarro marina at 16.40. On this passage we only used the engine for 2.5 hours and that was while leaving and entering the Rias.

Peter’s boat was tied up in the marina and we went ashore to have a pre-dinner drink with him and his wife before heading up the narrow twisting pedestrian streets of the very old fishing town to the restaurant which he had pre-booked. We sat at a table overlooking the bay and the hills beyond while the sun went down.

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We had a beautiful meal with a lovely wine at a very reasonable price.

The fish is the thing to eat in this part of the World. It’s straight off the boats and always fantastic.

What more can you ask for, nice weather, nice place, nice company and nice food.

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Kate studying the menu

We made a plan to depart in company the next day, Saturday the 2nd September for Bayona which was only 19nm away.

We set out on a beautiful warm, sunny afternoon in a light breeze.

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Pamela underway with the washing out drying on the rail
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Peter Cullen and Zig Zag motoring in company

We both motored towards Bayona where Peter had a berth booked for himself. I radioed the marina but was told that they had no space for Pamela. A major end of season sailing event was taking place and the marina was full for the weekend.

We looked at the chart and decided to spend the night at anchor to the North in the Ria de Bayona under Punta de San Benito which should shelter us from the Northerly swell.

We said our goodbyes to our friends and headed up the bay to the anchorage.

It turned out to be a popular spot with many sailing and power boats at anchor and people swimming about.

Having set the anchor, we settled down in the cockpit sheltered from the sun by the bimini and had a late afternoon drink. Dinner was cooked on the BBQ and our meal was washed down with a nice red wine.

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One by one our neighbours upped anchor and before too long we had the place to ourselves.

It was a velvety night with a light breeze and the swell managed to come around the corner to rock the boat and ourselves to sleep.

It was a nice change to be away from marinas nestled in a quiet anchorage and bathed in the light of a bright silvery moon.

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