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2006 Log
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The Spanish Rias
The Spanish NW coast

Final part of Spain's North coast.

Light winds and head winds seem to be the norm this year along this part of Spain's coast but Ruby takes them in her stride.

Castro Urdiales (5th June, 10 miles from Bilbao.)

Today our original plan had been to go and anchor in Santona,  a beautiful  Ria with an easy entrance with good leading lights to help you clear the shallows, but  the space for anchoring  was very exposed to the wind and swell, and as we had been warned that picking up a buoy cost 24 euro we made a hasty exit.  Once we had cleared the headland we where able to sail under headsail alone in an E5.

The Spanish Rias
Castro Urdiales Cathedral and Fort.

Three hours later we were anchored in the very picturesque harbour at Castro Urdiales in 9m, some areas outside the moorings were in 11m.

The harbour was quite crowded with local for and aft moorings, and it is not easy to pick these up as a French yacht  found out to their cost, managing to pick up a rope around their prop.  Once the French boat had anchored Barry kindly dived and cut the rope and pick up buoy free for them.  He accepted two bottle of extremely good white Bordeaux  as payment.   After that bit of excitement  we rowed ashore for a look around the town and a beer at a water side bar.  At night the castle and church overlooking the harbour are floodlight, this makes the outlook from the cockpit very pleasant.  Castro is obviously a popular Spanish holiday town as it was quite busy with holiday makers.    Unfortunately as Castro is open to the east the swell crept in during the night making the anchorage lively, in any other wind direction I guess it would be fine.

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Santander (6th June, 33 miles from Castro Urdiales.)

Very rolly passage, with everything in the galley cupboards clanking, must do something about that.  We anchored in an Easterly F5, in the anchorage off Pta de San Marco.  Pleasant outlook, lovely beach and reasonably sheltered although with wash from passing ships and ferries at times. Quiet evening.

Next morning we headed up the river to the marina.   Wind was quite blustery and berthing on the waiting pontoon was quite tricky, fortunately the marina boat came out to meet us and escort us to a quieter berth.  The marina is very pleasant but absolutely miles from anywhere.    It is also not cheap at 42 euros a night, it is however very convenient for the airport.  The bus stop for the bus into Santander is 20mins walk away, the nearest supermarket or bread shop is about the same but involves crossing a busy main road at a roundabout just off the motorway, not ideal.  It did however serve our purpose as a place to give the boat a good clean, do the washing and have a full day out in Santander. 

Cathedral of Santander.

Santander is a big seaside town with a lovely cathedral, good market and lots of cafes and tapas bars.  The Plymouth ferry calls regularly. After two days in the marina we returned to the anchorage as we intended an early start on the 10th.  After listening to the weather forecast,  which promised little wind, we decided to have another day at anchor.

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Gijon (11th June, 89 miles from Santander.)

Harbour master's aerial photo of Gihon.

Today we  did get up at 0430 and left around 0500 for an 85 mile trip to Gijon the largest city in Cantabrico.  The forecast wind did not materialise and so we did a lot of motor sailing interspersed with bouts of sailing hard on the wind. The best bit being the scenery, we could see the Picos mountains whose highest peaks were still covered in snow, magical.

Mid morning we ate the last of the apples and then realised there was nothing between us and scurvy, bar the quarter lime destined for the evening G&T's.  This sailing lark is really stressful.

Gijon is super and is a real crossroads for meeting boats who have just crossed Biscay, there were about 20 boats in the marina 15 British, 2 French, 1 New Zealand, 2 Dutch and a super yacht from the British Virgin Islands.  The majority of yachts had washing hanging from their guard rails, except the super yacht which I suspect along with its 5 crew had its own washer & dyer. Gijon is great it has lots of museums the majority with free entry.  Lots of good supermarkets and chandlers and a good cheap, albeit grubby, lift out facility which we used to enable us to change a prop anode and the saildrive anode which was about to fall off. See Boat Page - problems, Click for details, but thankfully Tex from Ocean Reign was on hand to render assistance as the task looked like it would exceed the 60 minute lift out slot. Thanks Tex.

Frogs on the lily pad in Gihon.

When we were walking through the town we came across this wonderful pond just off the main road,  a beautiful oasis with water lilies and lots of tiny bright green frogs sitting on the lily pads.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Gijon and the marina facilities are good and very reasonably priced at 26 euros a night, and as we did not arrive until 2200 on the first night they gave us this for free.  The town has everything you could need. It would be a good place to leave your boat in the winter, very helpful friendly marina staff.

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Cudillero (6th June, 16 miles from Gijon.)

Cudillero old harbour.


Nice leisurely start today, we left at 1000 for a 30 mile run to Cudillero, a small fishing harbour.  As usual lately we are making best course to windward with lots of tacks to relieve the boredom.

Cudillero is pure picture postcard beautiful.  Pastel coloured houses with red roof tiles built into the hill side. No spaces exist between the houses and they had very hilly narrow streets, the locals must be fit.

We moored on the only remaining space on the pontoons, no facilities.  We tidied the boat and then went for a walk, lovely little place, fishing nets drying on the quay and fish drying in the sun on racks outside the houses.  On returning to the pontoon we found the gate locked.  Barry had an extremely difficult climb around and over a 10 foot gate, as he was unable to open the gate from the inside he borrowed an inflated dinghy and paddled to the gate to try and encourage me to climb the fence and drop into the dinghy.  Not an easy task but with little alternative I took my life in my hands and climbed the gate and managed to get into the dinghy.  An other boats crew returning later in the evening after a birthday celebration were not so adventurous and ending up staying ashore in a hotel then contacting the local police to get them on to their boat the following day.  We were not charged for our stay but will remember it for quite a while.

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Ribadeo (17th June, 48 miles from Cudillero.)

Left Cudillero at 0930 into a head to wind situation, not to be deterred we did our usual best course to windward day and arrived in Ribadeo at 1830, way later than the boats who had opted to motor sail from Cudillero, but as Barry pointed out we are a sailing boat!  Tied up on the pontoons at the Darsena de Porcillan marina.  Good value at 22 euros a night.  The following day we cycled to Castropol on the opposite side of the Ria.

Pipers in Castrapol.

Streets of flowers in Castrapol.

Lovely old town where they were celebrating Corpus Christi.  The street were covered in flowers and there was a bagpipe band playing outside the church.  Lovely atmosphere lots of people joining in the celebration all in their Sunday best.

After we had watched the processions we went to a bar to enjoy a quick beer before cycling back on our hilly route back to Ribadeo.  Unfortunately the bar man had a bit of an accident by dropping about a hundred cleanly washed glasses as he emptied the dishwasher; poor man.

Viveiro (19th June, 34 miles from Cedeira.)

Once again another best course to windward day.  We tied up on the pontoons in the marina almost in the center of Viverio.  Very amusing harbour master, good value at 16 euros a night including our discount for buying a passport at the cost of 5 euros which entitles us to 10% discount in all the marinas in Galicia.

Thought to have been founded in the 13th century, Viveiro sits on the River Landro and beneath extensive eucalyptus forests growing on the 500m peak of San Roque. Nowadays it has the largest fish processing industry in N Spain.

Bridge over the R Landro.

Looking down on Viveiro from San Roque.

The town has two distinct areas, the modern commercial centre and the old town, some of which is in need of renovation but its not without a certain faded charm.  Well worth a visit.  And there is a brilliant supermarket only 5 mins from marina.

On the following day we walked to the top of San Roque, a local mountain with a beautiful little chapel on its summit plus a fallow deer reserve on the slopes. 

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Cedeira (21st June, 48 miles from Viveiro.)

From Viveiro to Cedeira once again a best course to windward day but at least the wind was blowing a good force 4 to 5.  Lovely coastline and Cedeira is a very attractive Ria, with easy access as long as you keep well clear of the Pta Chirlateria and its off lying rocks, and avoid the shoals of Piedras de Media Mar.  Once inside the Ria behind the breakwater  it is a good safe anchorage with lots of room outside the moorings and fishing boats.  We rowed ashore the second day to visit the town which again has a modern quarter and an old town. We took advantage of the free internet facility in the library and had a coffee in the square after visiting the small but adequate supermarket. 

Cedeiria in the mist.

We found the people very helpful, one local lady walked us to the tourist office and a local fisherman helped us carry our dinghy up the slip.

Despite the misty cool weather we enjoyed the peaceful but scenic anchorage, with its ever changing complement of visiting boats, for three nights.  We would have stayed longer but our first visitors of the season are due in La Coruna soon.

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