Shakura’s cruise

 

Summer 2021, Part 1

Summer 2021, Part 2

Summer 2019 – Part 1

07 April 2019 – 31 May 2019

Marina Sadamar, Sada, Galicia, Spain – to – Leixos, Portugal 

Bill, Archie and I departed Plymouth on Sunday 7th April 3pm on Brittany Ferry to Santander feeling very excited to be beginning a new adventure.

We arrived Santander on Monday 8th 12 noon to begin a 6 hour drive to Sada, or rather near Sada to a small village where we had previously booked a bed and breakfast

The Main House The Guest House Adjoining The Lady who owned the house kept chickens, so always fresh eggs for breakfast along with home made bread and an assortment of home made jams.

We lived here for 5 days whilst we antifouled, cleaned, polished and worked on Shakura in the boat yard after her long winter here she was much in need of a wash and brush up.

On 12th April Shakura was then launched into the water, much better and safer on 50Tonne Crane rather than last time on 35Tonne.

Engine started first time to general relief all round and moored at pontoon, no problem. Now for the task of unpacking, cleaning inside the boat, provisioning and general repair works. i.e, install new galley tap to replace leaking one, mend rubber seal around aft cabin hatch which was also leaking, fix bilge pump which wasn’t working . Now awaiting arrival on Saturday 13th of Mylor Yacht Harbour Raymarine Electronic Engineer to install our new radar and chart plotter.

We collected Becx from A Coruna airport 23:45 so a very late night was had by all.

She did start work on Sunday (her normal day off) to allow for any unforeseen works later on. As it happens, all went smoothly and she was able to have a day off prior to leaving on Thursday 18th

She even had time to go for a quick spin around the Ria in the RIB , and also a visit to the port area in La Coruna before journeying to the Airport for her return home.

Land and seascape of La Coruna.

The real treat is the view of the town and harbour from the top, the first photo is of the very prominent, eight pointed Coruna Compass Rose at the base.  

Next is the Tower of Hercules, this is the oldest working lighthouse in the world, built by the Romans.

This photo is BREOGAN with the windswept hair, he was a warrior of the Gaels, his descendants sailed to and settled in Ireland.

The next day, we parcelled up the old electronic equipment and wires plus now redundant tools to be couriered back to Plymouth, that was a huge task in itself as neither of us speak very much Spanish. 4 large boxes weighing a total of 80 kgs. Apart from Laundry, acting as galley slave and keeping the boat ship shape, I have been helping Bill with outside jobs…i.e. hoisting him up the mast so he could clean the mast and spreaders, and also helping to release the jammed Spinnaker pole which has yet to be used in anger, and so Bill had to cut the old rope and buy new. All now up and running.

Whilst I returned to Plymouth for 10 days, Bill had to contend with very bad storms and damage to the boat gunwale and fairlead which was ripped off by the surging in the harbour and fell into the marina during a force 9 gale which lasted two days. He had to hire a diver to get the fairlead and a shipwright to renew the split gunwale.

Damaged

Renewed

10th May – Sada to A Coruna – 13.6 NM

After many weeks of maintenance, repairs and bad weather we left Sada Marina on a damp, dull day and sailed round to Ria de La Coruna to the head of the Ria and anchored off Perillo Beach in a good sheltered spot opposite Seca Marina. It was a relatively calm night, much preferable to the snatching motion in the Marina Sada.

Our Anchorage

11th May – A Coruna to Ria de Corme y Laxe – 37 NM

Departed A Coruna 10:20 (after a rib ride to take Archie ashore) passing the Tower of Hercules, we set off for Corme as this will give us shelter from the NW. The wind at first was 4 knots then increased to10 then 20 knots by 16:00 (Distance 37 nautical miles) it was quite a wild ride with 3 metre swell not too comfortable either. The upside was that we did spot a few dolphins on the way.

We arrived at Corme 16:30 to a very welcome anchorage, the wind was blowing us about rather a lot so we took anchor bearings to ensure that our anchor was not being dragged. This was just as well because that is exactly what it did, being smothered in weed, second attempt sorted the problem. Corme is a small but very picturesque fishing village with limited facilities and none specifically for yachts.

Approaching the town

Our Anchorage

Our Journey

12th May – Corme to Camarinas – 21.3 NM

Left Corme at 10:15 wind north easterly 12 knots. However, by 12:30 the wind had risen to 20 knots. and by 13:00 had risen again to 30 knots, gusting 35. It was a hair raising white knuckle downwind sail Force 4-6 Gusting F7. Gradually during the afternoon reducing to 11 Knts. We anchored off Camarinas town in complete calm behind a very long mole.   Camarinas Ria was absolutely beautiful I am sure it is one of Galicia’s most picturesque. The town is very pleasant with shops, a bank and a very welcoming yacht club (Club Nautica). We spent a very warm balmy night and ate dinner on deck for the first time this season. Then explored the town which Archie enjoyed greatly too.

The Town

Our Anchorage Shakura is 1st yacht on right

13th May – Camarinas to Ria de Muros (via Finisterre) – 40 NM (Cruising Association discount available here)

On a sunny, warm but windless day we up anchored easily and departed Camarinas at 09:00 in 3 knots easterly wind, all morning the wind stayed the same forcing us to motor sail towards Capbo de Finisterre (just the right conditions for rounding this cape methinks!!).   This stretch of shoreline between the Ria de Camarinas and Finisterre is the most westerly point of Europe’s Atlantic Coast. The name Finisterre from the Latin finis terra meaning end of the earth – was just what it seemed to be to the Roman expedition brought to a halt there by what they imagined to be an endless sea.

The wind reduced further to 1.2 knots by midday at Cabo Nave (as photo opposite) and Finisterre below

By 12:20 the wind had risen to 6 knots from the NW, gaining in strength to 22 knots just as we arrived at our destination **TYPICAL**

After 40 nautical mile trip we berthed in Muros Marina at 14:00 hrs. We were helped to moor by a very friendly Harbour Master (Pedro), he even gets a mention in the Atlantic Spain and Portugal pilotage book. The marina has very good shower and toilets, a laundry area, sitting room, computer room and a very lovely enclosed garden for use by visitors and marina berth holders. After having lunch on board we set off to explore the town which again, is a very picturesque old fishing town with colonnaded pavements, narrow streets, covered and open air markets, a Romanesque Church and a number of bars and restaurants.

According to the Pilot book Ria de Muros is the least developed of the Rias.

Muros is where the boat icon is by the last red square ( waypoint )

Entering Muros Town

     Smaller fishing boats have a separate marina

Muros Town Square

Tuesday 14th May – (Ria de Muros) – Muros to A Pobra do Caraminal – 32.5 NM

After walking Archie, we Left Muros Marina at 10:20 motoring into light headwind south easterly 3 knots rising to 10 knots by 14:30, the wind was westerly 9 knots when we had to sail through a very narrow shallow channel Pedras do Sargo, dodging rocks, a fishing boat stopped mid-channel and an on-coming power boat which swerved round both of us –

Blooming good fun this boating lark!! Bill used waypoints to get us to our   destination, but used pilotage to enter Pobra Marina.

Pobra do Carminal is very sturdy marina with very substantial pontoons, good restaurants, two large supermarkets and a very busy street market on a Tuesday, so we had a good look round whilst we were there.

Pobra also has a very nice clean sandy beach

The next day (15th May) we were joined by friends Di and Charles on Astraia. They had been in Villagarcia just across the Ria. We had previously met them in La Rochelle and Bilboa.

We spent a very nice evening with them both catching up, eating local tapas and drinking some delicious local wines

16th May – (Ria de Arousa) Pobra do Cariminal to (Ria Pontevedera) Combarro – 25 NM (Cruising Association discount available here)

We set off from Pobra with Astraia at 12:30, at that time the wind was 10 knots North Westerly, by 14:30 it had picked up to 20 knots, we were sailing under mainsail only due to my injured shoulder, (I had injured it the previous day winching in the jib sheet) We passed the National Park Islands of Salvora and Isla Ons. Just as we were rounding the point to enter the Ria Pontevera we gybed as a 33 knot wind hit us, the boom slammed across to the opposite side of the boat and snapped the kicking strap. The wind was gusting 39 knots so was a difficult manoeuvre. We continued up the Ria as Combarro is at its head, the wind continued gusting until we rounded a small island where we were sheltered and furled the sails. I steered towards the marina whilst Bill got the ropes and fenders ready and followed Astraia . We docked at 17:00 hrs. when all became calm. Astraia on the inside and us opposite on the outside of the pontoon and joined Di and Charles for a well deserved beer. Our friends had been to Combarro previously so it was nice to have a guided tour around the old town

Combarro has a very modern marina, an anchorage and a real gem of a village. Part of it is a restored old fishing village of massive granite and surrounded by vineyards, it is very picturesque and had numerous restaurants serving locally caught seafood. In addition to the attractions it also has a good selection of shops and a morning fruit market in the square. It was a national holiday the weekend we arrived, so many places were closed due to the fiesta.

Some photos of the old town

Fishermen’s cottages

17th – Boat work: Bill spent most of the day on the pontoon repairing kicking strap. He had cut off the broken part and was hand reaming the channel in new stock, it seemed to take forever, but could not leave until the repair had been completed.

Both Di and I took a trip to the local supermarket to stock up with essentials as next stop was an anchorage. They joined us on Shakura that evening for a slap up meal and lots of wine and laughter.

Kicking Strap now good as new

Opposite the Town of Combarro is the larger town of Marin which is a commercial fishing port and the home of the Spanish Naval College. There are also restricted military areas of the west basin and Isla Tomba. This port can only be used as a port of refuge.

18th May – Combarro to Ria Aldan – 15NM

We departed Combarro 13:45 wind southerly 18 knots and sailed to Ria Aldan, in company with Astraia, passing Ria Vigo on the way. We were in ahead of Astraia when half way into the Ria I spotted dolphins surfacing just to the starboard side of our boat. Unfortunately by the time Astria arrived at the Ria the dolphins had gone.

Heading towards the anchorage in a pretty bay at the end of this Ria.

The village was very pretty.

There were many Mussel beds which we had to avoid passing through in the deep channel.

Bill and I were invited for dinner on board Astraia as this was to be our last evening together.

Bill, Archie and Di went ashore in the morning in the rib to visit the local bread shop, and of course Archie’s pit stop!

19th May – Ria Aldan to Baiona   – 17.5NM

Saying farewell to Di and Charles (we gave them a fog horn toot toot on the way) then sailed 10 knots north westerly out of the Ria heading between the Aldan headland (portside) and passing to starboard the National Park Islands Isla Cies and Isla St. Martin, it was necessary to get a navigational permit to sail these waters.

Our Permit

Not a brilliant photograph but it gives some idea of the islands Cies is the largest of the two. (That’s us in the boat) ! Had a pretty good sail though in between 6 – 20 knots wind, variable. We had to gybe to go round towards Baiona, missing all the rocks and marker.

NAVIGATION PERMISSION IN WATERS OF THE GALICIAN ATLANTIC ISLANDS MARITIME-TERRESTRIAL NATIONAL PARK (ARCHIPELAGOS: CÍES, ONS, SÁLVORA AND CORTEGADA) No. 366 Under the provisions of Act 15/2002, dated 1st July (Spanish Official Gazette no. 157, dated 02/07/02), that declared the Galician Atlantic Islands as a National Park, I am writing in reply to the navigation application made for the vessel SHAKURA (registration number),907986 by Mr/Ms WILLIAM HENRY JOCE holder of ID card/passport number.: 558875469 e-mail/fax joce37@btinternet.com/ inform you that NAVIGATION PERMISSION has been granted UNTIL DECEMBER 31, 2021, under the following conditions: Navigation is permitted in waters of the National Park delimited by the polygonal area shown in the annex to Act 15/2002, further modified by section 121 of Act 53/2002, dated 30th December, and related to Fiscal, Administrative/Social Order Measures (Spanish Official Gazette-BOE nº 133, dated 31/12/02). Scuba diving requires possession of prior written permission from the pertinent authority. Sport fishing and underwater fishing are prohibited within National Park limits. Disembarkation of non-native plant species, as well as, pets and domestic animals is strictly prohibited, except in case of assistance dogs. Maximum permitted speed in the anchoring area is 4 knots. Due to reasons of maritime safety, vessels anchored in National Park waters are not permitted to berth alongside others, except in case of dogs of assistance. While the boats are anchored in the waters of the National Park, for reasons of maritime safety, they can not remain side by side. It is not allowed to tie the boats to the buoys, nor to the signaling of the bathing area, nor to the buoys that are part of authorized mooring trains. To moor the buoys of the commercial establishments of Ons, in addition to the consent of these, it is necessary to have the corresponding permit to anchor the National Park. In case of finding or sighting cetaceans or seabirds, it is very important to behave in a respectful manner in order not to interfere with their life activity. The authorized must modify the direction of the boat to avoid disturbing groups of seabirds present in the water. The authorized must comply with what is specified in the legislation (RD 1727/2007, of December 21, which establishes protection measures for cetaceans, how to maintain a minimum distance of 100 meters with herds or with solitary animals, save silence, without touching horns or using stereo or megaphony that disturb the tranquility, should not be abruptly accelerated …, etc. It is not allowed to play speakers, use music equipment, etc … that disturb the tranquility in the National Park. The authorised person should be in possession of all the necessary licenses and permissions for navigation and anchoring. Order FOM/1 144/2003, dated 28th April, that regulates equipment related to safety, rescue, firefighting, navigation and prevention of waste water dumping, which must be carried on-board recreational vessels, requires permit holders to undertake proper management of generated waste (Spanish Official Gazette -BOE, dated 12th May, 2003). Navigation within the National Park should be carried out by respecting valid, applicable law, especially the rules established in Act 15/2002, related to declaration of the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park; Act 42/2007, dated 13th December, related to Natural Heritage & Biodiversity; Decree 177/2018, dated 27th December, which approves Master use and management Plan of the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park; and Decree, 274/1999, dated 21st October, which approves Planning of Natural Resources of the Atlantic Islands. Visitors are furthermore requested to kindly pay attention to Park’s personnel indications.

An appeal for review of this PERMISSION can be sent to the General Director of Natural Heritage of the Department of the Environment, Territory and Housing, from the Galician government within a period of one month, as established in sections 120 and 121 of Act 39/2015, dated 1th October, of the Common Administrative Procedure of the Public Administrations Vigo, 22-03-2019 The Director-Curator José Antonio Fernández Bouzas

The Approach

We arrived Bayona Marina 15.09 hrs in 14 knots wind, very good docking by Bill. Took Archie ashore for the necessary walk etc, explored a little of the town and port. stopped for a refreshing drink in a small bar down a quaint narrow street then went back to Shakura and cooked onboard.

20th – Exploring Bayona – PINTA, Castle & Yacht Club

After an early breakfast first stop was La Pinta, went onboard for 2 euros each, very interesting history, but doubt very much whether she would have been a very comfortable sail, especially all the way to the Americas.

Bill thought he would help the Captain with the navigation.

Thank Heavens for Autohelm!

And Chartplotter!

Next, as dogs were not allowed inside the castle gates, we walked around the perimeter which was possibly the option with the best views.

           The Castle

View of the bay with the mole in front of Bill.

The Bay and Marina, There are two Marinas here Porto Deportivo Baiona and Monte Real Club de Yates.   We opted for Porto Deportivo.

However, once our walk came to an end, the Monte Real Yacht Club just happened to be outside the castle wall, Bill braved the gatekeeper. He was a friendly chap and said it was ok with him to ask if we could have a coffee, but ask at the office.

Again we found a very friendly secretary who also said OK. The bar area was almost empty. The building was delightful inside and out.

We did spot the Royal Western Yacht Club pennant hanging amongst many that decorated the bar area.

In the evening we were so tired out with walking for most of the day, we ate on board and opted for an early night.

20th May – Baiona to Viana do Costello, Portugal – 36.5 NM

We departed the Dock at 09:15 and made our way to the fuel berth, excellent docking in a strong cross wind. Whilst on the fuel berth we spotted three Dolphins possibly breakfasting on easy pickings in the Marina.     Leaving the berth we were a bit too busy to take photographs, but, on leaving the marina we had to go around the outside avoiding a lot of fishing boats (the fishermen had long sticks and looked like they were hoeing the sea bed, perhaps for shellfish/molluscs.

One dolphin came to escort us from the Bay.

Once out of the Bay we were heading South to Portugal.

The wind was light 4.5 knots North Westerly at 10:00, rising to 10 knots NW under full main sail with preventer and reefed genoa.

Once at the Border at the Rio Mino Bill took great delight in taking down the Spanish Courtesy Flag   ! and hoisting the Portuguese Flag.

Boat icon shows leaving Baiona Blue Square shows Border on Rio Mino

At around 4pm we practiced a heave to drill and then carried on our course arriving at 18:00 to the Rio Lethe where we radioed ahead to the Marina as there is a swing bridge to enter. We were met at the entrance and shown onto the fuel berth next to the bridge as this was the only place for us, once again we had to dock in a very strong cross wind. The Marina staff were friendly and helpful.

Shakura is the Yacht on left of the blue crane.

Once all the formalities were over at the Marine Office for passports, boat papers etc. we went for a walk to explore the town. It is a beautiful old town, very well looked after. We did spot, on the way up the river, a building which we thought may have been a castle. It was actually a church and convent of Santa Lucia (The patron saint of eyes). We intended only to stay one night especially as we were on the fuel berth, just in case someone wanted fuel!! But we so taken with the town that we decided to stay one more. As it was getting towards dinner time we decided to eat onboard and walk more afterwards before bed. Viana do Costello is an old attractive town with a commercial harbour and a small marina on the North bank of the River Lethe – the river of forgetfulness. Known to the Romans in the 15th Century it gained importance as one of the main ports from which the Portuguese explorers set sail. As a result, in the 16th century, the town grew rich from trade with Brazil and from cod fishing on the Newfoundland Banks. The Portuguese swapped local wines for nets brought out by fishermen from the West Country. This returned to England as ‘Portuguese wine’ later to become ‘Port wine’. English merchants came in the 16th century to develop trade, and links with England. The trade moved to villa Nova de Gaia on the River Douro, opposite Porto, when the harbour at Viana silted up.

The next day we took the Funicular rail up to the Church/Convent which was built in 1898. It was a beautiful building with spectacular views over the town and coastline which was well worth the journey to the top.

View of the town and estuary from the Church

Some Shots of the town

The Swing Bridge In the distance is the double road/railbridge

23rd May – Viana do Costello to Povoa de Varzim – 23 NM

Departed Viana de Costello 10:00 once the marino had opened the swing bridge for us, had a gentle motor down the river towards the entrance whilst Bill stowed the ropes and fenders, also hoisted the mainsail and gib. Although only 1.9 knots of wind so not going anywhere fast. The sea was flat calm so by 11:00 we had furled the genoa and pottered about in almost 2 knots of wind. Bill tried fishing, he had the catch of the day, when a seagull spotted it also!! the seagull unfortunately for the fish, seagull and Bill there was a bit of a tussle, the line snapped, so, Bill lost the fish, hook and sinker weight. But, we think if the seagull had caught the lure fish with hook, so he could also have lost his life. Dread the thought. 😢 Poor Seagull.

By 13:00 the wind had risen to 8 knots North westerly and by 14:00 10 knots, so we were sailing nicely with full main and reefed genoa (broad reach) by 15:10 we were in the marina at Povoa de Varzim trying to dock in 2 5 knots of wind with the help of 2 Marinos

the wind was blowing us onto the pontoon which was far too short for our boat and had no mid cleat, so difficult to get the boat angled correctly.

However, we eventually sorted ourselves out. Whilst Bill was sorting out more ropes and additional fenders I ventured up to the Marina office armed with the usual boat papers, and the new VAT T22 form (which so far no Portuguese officials have asked for). We originally intended only to stay for one night but on our short exploration of the town in the evening, we decided to stay one more night to explore the town further.

The Town is quite modern in parts. But we prefer to explore the older areas being far more interested in the history of places visited.

To the Fishermen’s Wives

The Seafront -Towards Marina

The next day (Friday 24th) the

wind was gusting 34 knots and sea in the marina was very bouncy, so Bill manoeuvred Shakura into the middle of both pontoons, as a result was a little more comfortable, and much less groanching of ropes and fenders. We had doubled up the ropes, added springs and prayed very hard that our new fairlead and teak repair would stand the test of a storm (which thankfully it did.) In the morning we did another tour of the town and lunched in a very nice outdoor cafe. The weather all day was gusting 35 knots, white horses in the harbour and crashing waves on the rocks nearby.

25 May – Povoa de Varzim to Leixoes – 14.5 NM

We left the very next day (Saturday 25th) early in the morning 07:15 while the wind was calmer 14knots after releasing all storm warps etc. (more often than not, it is incredibly calm 1st thing in the morning and then builds up during the day). Once out of the harbour and on the open sea, there was quite a swell left from the previous day’s storm. Bill hoisted the mainsail and genoa, but, by 9:00 hrs. the wind had died

to 4 knots so we furled the genoa and motored the rest of the way arriving at Leixoes Marina at 10:25. We were lucky to get the last available berth, but alas that too was far too short!! and would you just credit it, just as we wanted to berth in this much crowded far too small space, the wind picked up to 16 knots.

The oil terminal prior to entering the harbour

Entry to harbour and containter port

It was a very tight squeeze as the marina was incredibly full. Bill was congratulated by another English Skipper who was berthed in his Fisher 34 opposite on his accurate boat skill and Bow-thruster use.

Leixoes is a large container port and fishing harbour with Marina adjacent to a very sandy beach, most days the wind was blowing northerly covering all the marina, boats and everything in-between in a film of very light sand.

26th May, Bill explored and timed the journey from the boat in Leixoes marina with half an hour walk to the Metro station, then a walk from the Metro in Porto to the bus station. When I booked the ticket there was only a limited time in which the first metro out to Porto was 6am. He made it with 10 mins to spare on the day (27th).

While Bill was collecting the car, I cleaned the boat and researched fridge compressors and refrigeration engineers local to the boat. It was very difficult to explain because of the language barrier, once we explained to the Marina Manager the problem he helped with all the translations and spoke to an engineer who was in the Marina at the time. On 28th a local gas engineer came to check the compressor, he re-gassed but concluded the compressor was dead, he explained to us that the job was too big for him to install a new compressor.

So, back to the drawing board and back we went to the Marine Manager who found somewhere we could buy a new compressor, and also a local company to provide us with a refrigeration engineer and also a second engineer who could speak English. Eventually on 29th we collected the compressor (after getting lost a few times on route to the middle of Porto) by this time our food in the fridge was getting warm, so milk went into the freezer and we ran down all food stock until we were able to get the fridge working again.

On 31st The engineers at last got the fridge working, just in time for re-provisioning for guests arriving on 1st June.

CAPTAINS LOG

SPAIN.

Sada (Ria Betanzos) La Coruna 13.6

La Coruna Ria Corme y Laxe 37

Ria Corme Camarinas 21.3

Camarinas Ria de Muros 40

Ria de Muros Ria de Arousa – Pobra a Caraminal 32.5

Ria de Arousa Ria Pontevedera – Combarro 25

Combarro Ria Aldan 15

Aldan Baiona 17.5

Baiona Viano do Costello 36.5

PORTUGAL

Viano do Costello            Povoa de Varzim 23

Povoa de Varzim Leixoes 14.5

TOTAL NAUTICAL MILES TRAVELLED PART ONE 275.9

           COMING IN PART 2 – LEIXOES TO CADIZ

 

After a smooth overnight crossing on Brittany Ferry Armorique, and long drive, (plus puncture, Bill had to change on route) we (Bill, Archie and me) arrived on board Shakura berthed in Basin Chalutier La Rochelle 15th May, the sun was shining which was a brilliant start to our holiday.

Now the hard work begins: Cleaning, commissioning, servicing and victualing!

Our friends Chris and Elayne visited on 20th which was very welcome, time to relax for an evening. Chris and Bill disappointed that no pies were on the menu but over-indulged in the red stuff nevertheless !!

Wednesday 23rd May

We left through the Basin Chalutier Marina lock gates 11:30 heading for La Minimes Marina fuel pontoon to top up for our journey of over 100 Miles as very little wind forecast. After a light lunch, an Archie walk and brief rest at 15:00 we waved goodbye to La Rochelle’s twin towers.

 

Motoring towards Ile D’Oleron as wind on the nose!! an hour and half later we hoisted the mainsail and turned off the engine, now we are gently sailing (a reach) at 4knots to get to the next waypoint 3.44 nautical miles which would take us approx 49 minutes, so Bill contemplated whether to pull out the Genoa, but decided to leave it as it is until we rounded northern tip of Ile D’Oleron as the sea was like a washing machine!!

I was chuffed at my attempt at cooking underway a Moroccan type fish stew (delicious) and fresh fruit salad. Unfortunately for Bill, his next task was washing up).

We put the sails away at 8:30 as the wind had died, Archie and I opted for the first watch we were glad not to have missed this amazingly beautiful sunset on calm waters and a clear blue sky, just starting to turn pink. 20:44 – we are sitting watching sea birds dive for fish supper, and the boat is rolling gently with north west swell.

It,s 21:07 – Just coming the south of Ile D’Oleron, and once we cross the Gironde Estuary which is the furthest we have sailed so far, we will be starting a new adventure, and to steal a phrase enjoy the “Froth Lyfe”.

21:56 – Just about to wake Bill for his watch, wind speed now 1.6 knots. Tanker passed us from the stern 30 minutes ago, not much traffic so far, getting damp now, so time for a cup of tea and a couple of hours shuteye.

Approaching The Gironde Estuary, Bill came on watch.

Thursday 24th May 02:00

Archie and I came back on watch, but two hours later as the moon went down past a dark cloud it was suddenly pitch black, the stars were spectacular, but, as the time wore on and more of the sky filled with cloud and covered the sky, it was spooky to be all alone on a massive ocean in the blackness. So I called Bill and he took over. Thank you Bill!

Unfortunately, I missed the dolphin pod which visited him and Shakura at 05:30.

07:30 –  Archie and I came back on watch, it was fantastic seeing the sky start to come to life.

The sea was rocking the boat in a side to side motion with the gentle swell apart from that all is well.

At approx 10:00 I saw a boat in the distance which looked to me like a fishing boat, but as it was getting light I couldn’t see any navigation lights, so went down to the Navigation desk and look on AIS but saw nothing!!  As the boat got nearer I could see that it was a French douane (customs) boat, they called me on the radio and requested us to let them board to give a routine check, which obviously we complied. Half an hour delay later we said goodbye mightily relieved and resumed our course.

We were conscious that we had to be at the first Arcachon entrance Landfall  Buoy (Which actually was missing) at the entrance to the narrow channel between the sand dunes two hours before high tide to ensure we had enough water under the keel to see us safely over the sand bar.  The breakers were crashing onto the sand dunes at either side as we entered into the Archachon Basin.

This is the 100 meters high PYLA sand dune, it might not look spectacular but we were 5 miles away at this point. Having successfully (phew!) managed that, we followed the next 15 markers and arrived at Arcachon 15:00 exactly 24 hours after leaving LR. We managed a perfect landing on C pontoon hammerhead (shame there was no-one watching, we looked very professional!)

As we were so tired after 24 hr passage, we had dinner on board and an early night.

Map of Arcachon, see top right, we are in  pontoon C.

The Port of Arcachon is the second largest marina on the Atlantic Coast with 2,600 moorings. It has been home to a heritage quay reserved for the basin’s traditional boats: pinasses, sailing barges and tall ships.

Friday 25th May

Bill has caught the Train  from Arcachon to collect the car from La Rochelle to enable us to drive inland and explore Bordeaux and this region during the next week.  Archie and I have been left in thunder, lightening and pouring rain which, I may say, is no joke with a massive metal thing sticking up in the air called a mast ready to catch any flashes that may come this way. Boat cleaning for me until the rain stops and I can take Archie for a much needed walk.  As the dry spell was quite short lived I thought I would write a diary of events so far.

Saturday 26th May

Just a boat work and relax day – nothing to report.

Sunday 27th May

We took the car around the Basin Arcachon,  to Cap Ferret.

The tide was out, view over the bay to Arcachon

The next stop was Le Canon L’Herbe for a spot of lunch: oysters and red king prawns, not forgetting a glass of the local Rose wine.

The village of L’Herbe is emblematic of the Lege-Cap Ferret penninsula. It is listed in the inventory picturesque sites in France. Made up of brightly coloured little wooden huts, it is inhabited by fishermen and Oyster farmers.

Just enjoying the ambience and the sunshine


Bill and Archie on Main Street   Oyster Fishing???

Birds feasting on leftovers

After lunch and a good walk round the village, we moved on to Cap Ferret.  This 25 kilometers spit offers one side of ocean beaches and on the other side, the Basin, with its oyster farming villages, maritime pines and its lighthouse.

The Cap’s landmark, this 53 m high lighthouse was built in 1947 after the 19th century original was destroyed by the Germans in 1944. You can, climb the 258 steps to the top.

Monday 28th May

We visited the Dune du Pilat (or Pyla), it is the largest sand bank on the Girondin Coast, and a stopover site for migratory birds.

Archie and I took the easy way up.

From there we dusted the sand from our feet and drove back to Arcachon, to the picturesque Le Moulleau, this is a seaside town and at the South West part of Arcachon. Although it has a small centre, there is everything you need for a good day out, small cafes and Restaurants, as well as a jetty and long sandy beaches. Most of the beaches in France do not allow dogs, so with Archie in tow we stuck to grass areas!!


Main Boulevard to Beach

Nelson’s Canon, good job it’s not loaded!!

Tuesday 29th May

We took the car once more and drove to St Emillion  crossing both the Gironde and Dordogne rivers, beautiful scenery and grape vines as far as your eyes can see. We reached the town an hour before lunch so had time to explore and pop into many of the wine Caves. Prices ranged from the affordable to the ridiculous!

View from the top of the town

One of the many narrow streets

St Emillion is a beautiful Medieval town, we visited the Eglise Monolithe but, unfortunately, we did not have time to visit the Cloister des Cordlier.

Instead we headed back  across the Dordogne to Bordeaux.  As it is a large busy city, it was very difficult knowing where to start. We decided to go to the old part of the city and very easily found a parking space by the River.


Walking towards the town we went though the gate of the Porte de la Grosse Cloche. 15th century arched gateway (Great Bell Gate). It was just one of the entrances to the 13th century walled town. When it existed,   this belfry rang out the news that the grape harvest was to begin.

This is a beautiful building

St. Michel’s Basilica, dating back to the 13th century

Walking further into the town we came to a large square, Place des Grande Homme (a former mayor) and is standing near to  the Cathedral St. Andre, in Place Pey Berland.

This Cathedral is dedicated to St. Andrew and is the most impressive of all the religious buildings in Bordeaux.

Also in Pey Berland is the Centre Jean Moulin, which is a museum devoted to the resistance and deportation under the German Occupation. The Palais Rohan, this is now city hall, but was the bishop’s palace.

We rested for a while in one of the many cafes in the square, for a coffee and cake (well, it was a long walk).

So much to see, we couldn’t possibly fit it all in, time was going fast and we needed to get back to the car before the parking ticket ran out. We made our way back to the car, through another city gate.

We stopped at the bridge for a last look at this fantastic river.


We have had a fabulous day, travelling through the Wine making regions of Graves, Sauterns, and Barsac Regions, not forgetting very importantly St Emillion and Bordeaux too, so we really are spoilt for choice.  Strangely enough, we did not purchase one single bottle.

Wednesday 30th May

Not such an exciting day, Bill did boat work i.e. cleaning, commissioning the Rib, fixing a leaking washing machine, whilst I cleaned below, did the laundry, baked bread, etc etc. ready for the off at 17:30 which was 2 hours before half tide to ensure that we had reached the bar at high tide.

We left Archachon (Most expensive marina 97 euros per night, so glad to be away) at 17:30 as planned but on way out of the bay, we noticed that a kite surfer had landed in the water and was waving, we diverted from our course to rescue him which was not easy to get him, his kite and fish the ski/board out of the water,  he was very tired by the time we reached him, apparently as the wind dropped, and so did he!

He was very fit and strong but he had difficulty to pull himself out of the water, even though we had left the step fender out, we needed to make another step for him out of one of the jib sheets.

We dropped him off nearer the shore and headed for the buoys which would mark our way out of the basin along the deep water channel.

The channel was very lumpy/chaotic seas with breakers coming in all directions, it was the case of just holding on tight.  We got over the bar with 3.4 meters under the keel and settled for a long haul south avoiding the military firing area marked on the chart. Thankfully, they start firing at 8:30 and Finish at 16:30.  But, no-one told us that at dark they did jet night flying exercises? OMG! It was a very cold uncomfortable night with large swells and with the boat thrashing from side to side it meant we did not get much sleep.  Or have any dinner.  We had rain during the early morning but stayed quite dry under the canopy.

Friday 1st June

We followed the waypoints motoring at 3 knots as wind died and arrived off Anglet,  no breakfast and feeling unwell. We followed the Pilotage up River Ardour to berth safely on Pontoon E at 09:30. Lots of heavy industry on the opposite bank of the river. Also only 40 euros per night so Thumbs Up! We are now in the Basque Region of France so Bill has now hoisted up our brand new Basque Courtesy flag.  For a lot of that of that day we slept, and walked the dog, bless him, he went 16 hours without so much as a wee!!

Saturday 2nd June

Bill left at 10:15 by bus and then train back to Arcachon to collect the car. Arriving back at 8pm, just in time for dinner. I spent the day cleaning the boat, walking the dog and exploring the area a little.

Archie was a reluctant walker, and walked at a snails pace, he did, however, speed up once on the return journey back to the boat.

Sunday 3rd June

Our day off …….


Travelling by car we visited Bayonne.  Bayonne lies near the coast on the boundary between the Landes and Basque Country where the  River Nive Joins the Ardour. (We are moored in the marina on the Ardour). We visited the Cathederal Marie, and had coffee in a typical French cafe outside


The streets are narrow  with many 6 storey picturesque buildings. It’s an interesting town which combines good shopping facilities, Ramparts and quays and a citadel which was built by Vauban.


We decided to leave Bayonne about noon and travelled to Biarritz for lunch. We parked the car on a street overlooking the beach where there was a surfing competition  going on. There seemed to be hundreds of people taking part.


We ventured on down into the beach area, where I surprised myself and decided to have Moules and Frites!!  Bill felt safe with a pizza and salad. Archie loved the moules too.

Biarritz is the most fashionable and most frequented seaside resort in Southwest France. The setting is magnificent with Atlantic rollers breaking against rocks and reefs, impressive cliffs and a tiny port.

Superb bathing beaches.

This was a favoured bathing place of Eugenie, Napoleon’s wife.

Rocher de la Veirge (The Virgin’s Rock) crowned with a statue of the Virgin Mary, is Biarritz’s main Landmark. It is surrounded by reefs and joined to the shore by a footbridge, made impassable inrough weather by the breaking waves.  It was Napoleon III who has the idea of hollowing out the rock and linking it to the cliff.


Me on the bridge

Bill and Archie too

Monday 4th

Boat and food shopping day. In the afternoon we drove to Zumaia in Spain to visit some friends who we met whilst the boat was in La Rochelle.  Had a great night, good food and good Company with Charles and Diana on Astraia (A very pretty Nauticat 44.

This is the Zumaya Villa in front of the Marina

The town is on the River Urula


A Norwegian fishing ship has been built here. They are wondering how to get it out, as the channel narrows around the corner.

Tuesday 5th

Still waiting for our package to arrive for Cmap for the chart plotter, Should have been delivered yesterday…Still, keep fingers crossed! it’s now 5:45 pm, been raining all day, it’s been a miserable wet few days, cant even get my washing dry!! Bill has been busy mending our loo, oh joy!   I have been dodging the rain taking Archie out for walks.  We went to the supermarket to buy some none slip mats so that Archie can get up and down steps without scratching the wooden floors.

Aft Heads Loo is still leaking, so, back to the drawing board.

Wednesday 6th

Our package was delivered this morning, so we now have the next chart for our chart-plotter for heading further down to the coast of Northern Spain. We left Anglet pontoon at 10:30 after a slight delay caused by a second customs visit. All in order of course, and felt that it was very cursory on their part. We motored out of a very brown River Ardour to face very unpleasant standing waves in harbour mouth as ebb tide met the wind in the opposite direction.  I was already feeling poorly with an upset stomach, and the journey past Biarritz was also unpleasant with grey skies, cold,  and no-one else around, not even on the famous beaches, Very disappointing!!
We arrived 13:30 after 13 Nautical miles and anchored in a bay off the town of Secoa half a mile south west of St. Jean de Luz, where we took the rib to the charming small town on the west side of the bay and entered the cute little fishing harbour. Archie’s morning walk etc. Hrmm!

The  middle part of the bay adjoining Secoa is a town called Cibourne, separated from St Jean de Luz by the Nivelle river.
The sun came out and after a rest we took the rib into St. Jean de Luz for a very pleasant predinner evening stroll around the town, dinner on board and quiet evening at anchor, no swell as there was no wind.


The wind did pipe up during the next day and swung round to Northerly, so we up anchored and went to the other side of the bay and dropped anchor in a more sheltered position just off St. Jean de Luz.


Again we took the Rib into St Jean de Luz for an Archie exercise and toilet stop and of course a look around the very fashionable shops, and the most beautiful church we’d ever seen.  We stopped at one of the many bars in the square for a very quick beer before heading back to the boat for dinner on board. Once again, a very quiet anchorage as no swell, no wind.

A beautiful shot in the evening from our anchorage showing the more modern end of this 12th century town.

Friday 8th

Leaving the bay and heading South, once again no wind…well 4.5 knots, not worth mentioning!  (before leaving we had even hoisted the genoa to ensure no twists – Bill thought perhaps there may be a little wind out to sea) but, alas, no such luck.  So once again we motored the 5.36 nautical miles to Hondarribia, arrived 11:30 perfect landing!

We are now in Spain.

Hondarribia is on the Spanish Side (west) and Hendaye on the French (east) of the river (Rio) Bidassoa which forms the Franco Spanish border.


The marina is a large government owned marina (EKB) very clean toilet and shower facilities, and a launderette (6 Euros) with 2 washing machines and one dryer, I spent a fair few hours there whilst Bill went to collect the car from Anglet. The new town of Hondarribia has many modern shops and restaurants/tapas bars.

Saturday 9th June

The old town however, dates back to 1203 and is outstanding,   Whilst we were visiting there was a medieval festival in progress.

We enjoyed the local tapas in the bar with the barrel outside. Not so adventurous with the drink though, Bill had a Guinness and I, a Plymouth Gin and tonic!

Sunday 10th June

We travelled by car to Sare, where we had a very nice lunch and then on to Col St Ignace where we visited La Rhune which is the Basque iconic mountain which dominates the landscape.

We took the cog train, (Le Train de la Rhune) which was established in 1924.


The journey to the summit took 35 minutes where there is a French telecommunications transmitter TDF, the summit being 953 meters above sea level.

It was incredibly windy!

We stayed at the summit for half an hour before catching the train back down the mountain.


From the top, the panorama is magnificent over the Bay of Biscay,  the forest of the Landes , the Basque Pyrenees, and southward  the Bidassoa valley.

This photograph taken from the top shows the Hendaye and Hondarribia

And this one just before we left shows how quickly the cloud can obscure the view!

We departed Hondarribia 13:30 after engine no start problem, beat to windward under reefed main and genoa, but with engine running due to the above. Hit a squall with 24 knots and heavy rain well, “it’s not all beer, sunshine and sandwiches – this sailing malarky” says Bill! I reefed the main when heel grew too much for Archie, we were headed twice by the wind.


Arrived at the entrance to Pasajes in very confused sea but found the entrance easily and was a lot calmer inside.

We were directed to the hammerhead on pontoon H, again, very good landing. After a welcome beer, and we had sorted out the paperwork at the Capitanerie, we went for a walk around the very old town.


Pasajes is mentioned in documentary records as Oisrso in 1203. The village was later changed in 15th Century to Passajes which just means port.

It is a fishing community, commercial port and the birthplace of the fighting Admiral Blas de Lezo. It lies 5 Kilometers east of Donostia San Sebastian centre and at the foot of Mount Ulia and the Jaizkibel massif.


Narrow cobbled streets, very picturesque.

Tuesday 12th June

It has been blowing a gale with heavy rain all night and the same again this morning, so our plan to go to San Sebastian has been put on hold until the weather (wind and rain) stop. Bill has decided that we will stay here another night, and see what the weather will do tomorrow.

Wednesday 13th June

Unlucky for some, still blowing a gale and heavy rain, Bill has gone to collect the car from Hondarribia. We will stay another night here methinks. So cleaned the boat and caught up with my diary.
In the evening we went by car to San Sebastian, the weather was too rough to take the boat in.

The sea was roaring up onto the walkway

We tried to go into the San Sebastian Yacht Club. We were told that the RWYC Plymouth had a reciprocal arrangement with them. We were given short shrift however and told to leave and that they had no such arrangement. But, we had a good walk around, the old town is amazing.

Thursday 14th June

We left Passajes after a quiet morning, the rain had stopped at least. We are heading for Getaria which is 15 nm, wind force 3. We had a gentle 4.5 knots under full sail, boat upright so I was happy with that, so was Archie!


We arrived at the port of Getaria to find no spaces and the Capitanerie told us they were full, we picked up a huge mooring buoy and assembled the fortress kedge  anchor (a novel experience – never done it before).


Getaria Port

It’s a bit of a beast but worked well holding Shakura head to swell.

Friday 15th June

We dropped twin bow lines to buoy,  retrieved fortress anchor laid as kedge, only practical in extreme cases as the preparation assembly etc about half an hour. Also we were wary of potential  damage to topsides. Too big to be handled by one person. We motored all the way to Lekeitia as very little wind and it was on the nose, although it did increase to F4 just as we arrived off the entrance, typical.


This is a small pretty, mainly fishing port with no room for us on pontoons.  Anchoring wasn’t an attractive option due to the swell and small area available. We went up against the harbour wall, not ideal, but the only option.  It’s a bit of a climb when the tide goes out, especially with Archie.

View of Shakura, the cathedral and the port

We only intended to stay one night, but there was a triathlon happening the next day so we stayed to watch, there was over 400 competitors both men and women.

It was a very lively day, with much celebration in the evening.

Sunday 17th June

It’s Fathers Day,Bill went to a Basque Mass in the Church.


Departed Lekeitio 12:30 after one hour delay due to engine NON start (again)!! Motor sailed to Bilbao in North Westerly wind from2 to 10 Knots. Total 31.6nm Arrived Bilbao port 18:15 met Huge supertanker leaving the to port as we entered, so stayed out of his way!!  We tried Arenas Marina first but were turned away, they were full due to J80 Racing, so went over to Getxo Marina and found a pontoon free on F Hammerhead. We have found out that our Friends Charles and Di are in Arenas marina, so invited them for dinner tomorrow evening.


Made a chicken and choritzo pasta dish for supper, enjoyed an excellent bottle of red wine and watched an amazing sunset over the port.

Monday 18th June

Bill and I went to go food shopping, walked miles and didn’t see one Supermercado!!  So had to just bite the bullet in a fruit and veg shop with my limited amount of Spanish.  Bill left me in a taxi as he thought I may get lost on the way back to the boat, while he went to find the train/bus station for collecting the car from Pasajes. We have been asked by the Capitanerie if we could move the boat onto J pontoon, so will do that tomorrow.

Tuesday 19th June

Boat work in the morning (Thats the equivalent of housework!!) We went into the Centre of Bilbao with the car (got another parking ticket to match the one we got in San Sebastian).  Dogs not allowed in Gugenheim Museum, so, I went in and Bill walked the dog.

It wasn’t really my bag of beans, but the building and surrounding water and other art effects were fascinating.


They also had a very effective Westie pup decked out with flowers, Archie wasn’t really impressed, but Bill was.

Wednesday 20th June

Lazy boat day, weather was grey and not very inspiring. Was just nice to relax. Bill had a hard time though trying to fix the stop start button. In the end had to call in the professionals. 50 Euros and a sigh of relief from him, at least it is sorted and safe.

Thursday 21st June

In the morning we visited the Yacht Club at the other side of the bay but were not allowed in. So had some lunch and in the afternoon went to the old port for a wander around, lots of olde worlde very colourful houses, enjoyed a nice cold glass of wine (Bill has a beer).

Friday 22nd June

Bill fixed the leaking toilet!!      My crown fell out while I was cleaning my teeth, good job it didn’t go down the plug hole!!**, spent lots of time walking around Gexto going from dentist to dentist and pharmacy to pharmacy to find dental cement!!  Nothing doing in either case. There’ 4 more weeks before I can get to my own dentist!!  will have to eat baby food, or use super glue – Bill’s suggestion ha ha.


While we were in the vicinity we visited the Puente Golante (A UNESCO world heritage site). This iron transporter bridge, built in 1888 has a suspended cabin for cars and passengers.


It spans the river from Las Arenas to the fishing port of Portugalete Although there are some in UK in existence,  I read somewhere that this one is the only one fully operational. There is a lift up to the top where you can walk along, great view from the top.

Saturday 23rd June

This is our last day in Getxo Marina, Bilbao. Bill cleared out and sorted the anchor locker (oh joy!) I had the mundane task of laundry. In the evening we walked round to the old port to a restaurant and enjoyed the local paella, as dogs were not allowed into the restaurant Archie was very put out and did whine! which kind of took the edge off what would have been a very nice treat by Bill to save me from the cooking. The walk back to the marina in the sunset more than made up for that.

Sunday 24th June

We left Getxo at 11ish after refuelling the boat, making our way out of the estuary and heading under sail for Castro Urdiales.
We had a gentle sail as the wind was anything between 5 and 10 knots, we were sailing at six knots at one point.  Arrived at the outer harbour Castro Urdiales at 1.30pm the vast journey of 9 miles (three of which were from the Gexto marina to the Port entrance) The harbour was busy as there was a fiesta in full swing, we anchored somewhere in the middle, got the water taxi to the port office where we paid 15 Euros per night (nice one!) this included taxi fares to and from the boat.

We had a walk around the town which was much bigger than we had read about. There was all sorts going on. The yacht club was friendly, and had good amenities. Private swimming area, loungers, showers etc. and a bar which also served tapas at lunch times.   This has been the only friendly yacht club so far.

We spent a VERY rocky rolling night at anchor especially with the fishing traffic coming in and out at speed, so decided in the morning to move and use two yellow buoys as trots to hopefully give us a better night’s sleep tonight.

Monday 25th June

Yes!, we had a much better night sleep. we picked up two yellow buoys in the morning near the harbour wall which was a little more sheltered. The harbour personnel spotted it and came to tell us us off!! ONLY ONE!!  so, in the evening we picked it up again, had a much less rolley nights sleep and dropped the buoy early so the harbour master was none the wiser.
We spent a lazy day in Castro, just walking around seeing what was going on at the fiesta today.

Tuesday 26th June

We departed Castro Urdiales 11:00 after a very pleasant 2 day stay, beat along the coast to Laredo/Santona, good sail to windward NW force 4/5. Wind freed as we approached Laredo so eased sails to close reach and made 8.5 knots in 15 knots wind  arrived at almost empty pontoon/marina at 14:00. Journey 14nm. Spent the rest of the day being lazy, Bill did wash the salt off the boat.

Wednesday 27th June

Bill went back to Bilbao on the bus to collect the car, when he got to the car he noticed that it had been clamped by the police ref car tax, because we don’t use windscreen stickers any more they thought we had no tax, he had to prove to them through the DVLA website that we did actually have tax, so after a lot of argy bargy they took the clamp off; so what should have taken him 3 hours, actually took 7!!.

Thursday 28th June

Not very exiting, we took a trip in the car to an out of town supermarket to stock up on our depleted alcohol store, then visited the old town of Laredo, very quaint.  We spent the rest of the day and evening just relaxing. Also found a vet and made an appointment for Archie to get checked for his pet passport to get back to England. Which, we have now amended with Brittany Ferries to come home a week earlier.

Friday 29th June

Tidied and cleaned boat ready for our trip inland. Bill went across to Santona in the RIB ;  I walked Archie into the town and back via the beach road.

Saturday30th June

Preparing boat and car for our trip to Madrid and the Picos de Europa.



La Rochelle to  FuenterrIbia (Hondarribia)

Fuentarrabia to Laredo

The road trip holiday from Laredo to Picos de Europa via Madrid

1st July
Left Laredo 10:00 and travelled through the mountain roads instead of the Highway, 
I can say that the views were so breathtakingly stunning, would not like so say how man times We said “WoW” or “Crikey look at that”
 
Some hair-raising bends to going  up and coming down!
 
Arrived at the City of Burgos at 12:00 ish, had a light lunch in a hotel cafe, and then moved on to see the old town where there was some sort of Fiesta going on, the old town was amazing, the architecture and avenues stunning, 
                 The Walled City entrance
Burgos Cathedral (Catedral de Santa María; Catedral de Burgos) is a Gothic cathedral. Started is the 12th Century, and later added to in the 15th Century. It is notable for its vast size, magnificent Gothic architecture, and unique history. Burgos Cathedral was added to the World Heritage List in 1984 and Frommer’s Spain calls it one of Spain’s best cathedrals.
 
The festival was in full swing when we arrived, it was very busy, and lively, with lots of different bands playing
This Group had red hats and drapes, but there were other groups with either red, yellow or blue. I think it was different Associations.
 
Some people were dressed in national costume
We walked around until about 3pm  then walked back to the car via the riverside. 
Then set off to Lerma.  (Laredo to Lerma approx 150km)
 We arrived Lerma 4pm ish at our first Parador.
 Parador de Lerma is a striking 17th-century Ducal Palace which was erected  between 1601  and  1617 instructed by the first Duke of Lerma. And converted into a unique hotel
Part of the grounds adjoining the parador
 
Bill chatting to a statue of Jose Zorilla, (A Spanish Poet)
2nd July
Still at Parador Lerma,  Storks nesting on high points in the town; we saw them later also in Alcala de Henares and Segovia. Bill thought they were storking us ! Ha Ha – (Get it! – Stalking)
           
 
              A Close up shot
 
One of the gates to the  old town
 
A view of the Parador from the bottom of the town
3rd July
We headed for the Parador at Alcala de Henares, A long drive through Mountains.  Approx 150km from Lerma
 
Arrived at the Parador which was a complete contrast from the Dukes Palace  at Lerma,
This one is a modernised monastery, decorated in a minimalist style.
After unpacking and sorting Archie out, We enjoyed a lazy afternoon with a dip in the hotel pool
4th July
From Alcala Henares to give Bill a rest from driving we took the train to Madrid for the day and visited the Prado Museum
A lot of the outside was covered in netting and scaffolding for renovations.
 
         
Goya was here
               
                          
Velazouez was here too!
 
I just liked this fountain which was in the middle of a massive roundabout
 
There are many, many beautiful buildings in Madrid, far too many to print here.
 
Meanwhile back in Alcala de Henares, we noticed that storks are also nesting,  seems they are very common in this part of the world
5th July
A Typical Street, full of restaurants and cafes 
 
We visited the Cervantes Museum, and posed between Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
(For those who don’t know, Miguel Cervantes wrote the Don Quixote stories.)
6th July
Alcala de Henares to Segovia approx 75 km  We left the hotel early and headed for Segovia via Madrid so that we could take a look at the Royal Palace, (Madrid is so huge, it stood to reason that we would get lost en Route!!)  
Eventually we found the palace,
 
The Cathedral was also impressive
we were just disappointed that we could not stay longer but did have a long drive ahead of us, destination Segovia.
 
Madrid to Segovia 75km
 
The long drive took us through very mixed scenery, from mountains 
 
to flat plains that went on for miles and miles and miles!
 
Arrived at our destination in the evening at Parador Segovia
Although the Hotel itself is quite Modern, the town of segovia is on a World Heritage site.
This is the Roman Aquaduct in the historic part of the town.
 
We had a fantastic view of the old town and cathedral from our hotel balcony.
 
Bill had a quick dip in the hotel pool prior to us going into the historic part of town to explore and find somewhere for dinner.
 
There was a folk festival going on, we just caught the tail end of it.
The Greek and Romanian representatives 
 
This is Segovia, also taken from our hotel balcony, showing more of the Roman Aquaduct and landscape rather than the town.
 
We had dinner in this square where the old buildings are just magnificent.  
 
The tourist board advertise this building as a church, but it is actually the size of a Cathedral.
Unfortunately we were here for only one night,  we wished it was longer as there was just too much to see. Perhaps we will go back one day!
From Segovia we travelled to Fuente De, stoping en route at a town call Valledoild
 
Again this is a very historic town, where Jose Zorrilla and Cervantes are still very popular.
This poem is by Zorilla   
 
The Statue is Cervantes
 
This is the University  Building,  absolutely stunning.
From here, we took to the open road once more through all sorts of terrain 
From open very flat plain , can see for miles land to mountains and very narrow roads.  All different but very beautiful.
 
 
 
We also stopped here for an Archie comfort break, I couldn’t have chosen a better one!
 
We are at the top of a very high mountain pass on route to Fuente De,  the weather has deteriorated as we are so high in the clouds, 
the roads are sooo narrow eek! and such sharp bends, 
 
          
 Going Down!              Ahh,   Much better.  
                
 
 
Almost There!
After a journey of 225 km from Segovia we were pleased to stretch our legs.  Archie too
             
  
 
                    Here we are, at last.
7th to 9th July
Parador Fuente de (looks like a  chalet in the Swiss Alps.)
Although we have travelled from Segovia, the hotel is in the heart of the Picos de Europa, in the Spectacular Cirque of Fuente de, The Source of the River Deva, Hence the name of the Hotel Rio Deva.  90 Kilometers South West of Santander.
 
The Cable car Known as the Teleferico is a fantastically quick way to the top of the mountain taking just 3 and a half minutes.
As dogs were not permitted in the cable car, we took the harder options and walked  for 3 hours to reach the top.  Very hard going when you are as unfit as I am!
We are almost at the top!
We followed a path, and did not Shin up the side!!
Yes, the white blobs on the mountains is snow!
We have now reached our destination,time for a rest and a much earned cold beer.  I am not looking forward to the journey home neither!!
It was quicker going down, only 2 hours, but just as hard on the legs and back. As you can imagine, we were whacked at the end of it, must be something to do with AGE!!!
The next day, we took it easy and strolled around the very pretty town of Potes about 18km from the hotel.
 
We were not sure whether Archie was enjoying all this activity after lazing about on the boat.      But, I’m sure he  will benefit, just like we will.
10th July
We had to Back to the boat and to a vet’s appointment at 5pm for Archies pet passport checks.   On the return journey we travelled through the mountains – again absolutely stunning.
Narrow Mountain passes.
 
 
We visited Potes as I noted earlier, now we have been to Pannes (see sign) in photograph. Oh! perhaps magnifying glass required. (Pots and Pans Ha Ha !!!)
Fuente De to Laredo 100km
11th July

Santander to ferry crossing at 21:15 was delayed by 4 hours due to engine problems.  The crossing (thankfully) as very calm and on the next day we spotted a pod of white or light grey Dolphins mid afternoon, Always heart warming to see them.

Archie had a very snug kennel on the top deck and a very nice walking area near the helipad.  Many of the dogs were quite noisy while in the kennel, but Archie was very calm and took it all in his stride. “Bless him”

12 July
We were due to Arrive in Plymouth 16:10 but again were delayed, we arrived home after clearing customs at 10:30 PM.
 
This Adventure was the best. We have been to so many wonderful places, I am sure that the photographs above do not do it justice. We can thoroughly recommend all of the above Paradores.
 
The Spanish are very proud of their State-owned  hotel network, the majority are set in historic buildings such as Castles, monasteries, palaces, convents, fortresses and hospitals and World Heritage Sites. 
All painstakingly restored and converted into hotels.
The hotel network opened in 1928 under the patronage of King Alfonso VIII. Each one having a story to tell. 
                   
    MAP TO FOLLOW
    Laredo to La Coruna
Friday 7th September
Leaving the Car behind for collection later, we left Laredo at 13:30hrs heading due west for Gijon. Wind blowing 6-8 knots not really enough to get this heavy old girl moving (no, not me….. Shakura) we motored out past the Santana headland. (See pic Below)
We then changed course slightly and hoisted the mainsail and Genoa, the wind 7-9 knots now, a little more, but nothing to shout about as the boat speed dropped like a stone to 2.5 knots!!!!
 
It is now 14:30 we are now rushing along at a massive 3.3 knots, Bill has decided to try his hand at fishing as the boat is moving so slowly, he fixed a lure to try and bag a mackerel. But, alas no fish caught today.
At  16:20 we furled the Genoa and hoisted the Geneka, we were sailing at 3 knots in 4.5 knots of wind speed but at least we were moving although not at any great speed. It’s now 19:30 and we are only just at Santander! the wind is 6.3 knots and our speed is only 3 knots, very disappointing! We are getting nowhere fast!  So, at 20:30 Bill decided to start the engine and stow the Geneka as the sails were just flogging and the boat uncomfortable broadside on to the swell direction. This speeded us up a little to 5.7 knots now wind has blown up to 10 knots, Oh well, it is what it is, we are not masters of the weather.
 
It was a long and uncomfortable trip, both of us took turns to take watch and off watch trying to sleep in the cockpit. At one point along the way (early morning) the boat was thrown by a large wave and I fell off the cockpit bench due to slippery sleeping bag ha ha!.
There was no moon that night but the stars and milky way were very beautiful.
 
The engine decided to go slow, no more than tick-over speed so made for a very long journey.  22 Hours in all.
 
We eventually arrived at Gijon 12:00 on Saturday 8th September.
Marina Dues E46.00 per night with Cruising Club discount of 30%
Nice clean Showers and Toilet facilities, laundry too!
 
Bill spent the next day fixing the engine, which turned out fine, once he changed the fuel filter. He also mended the port navigation light which somehow had got damaged.  There was a fiesta going on when we arrived in the Marina, with lots of water sports,  Paddle Boarding,
 
Jet-ski Racing,  very noisy but fun  to watch.
Our Very Colourful neighbour!
It was a long walk around to the Capitanerie ( the Cream coloured building on left of photo ) and facilities, but good for Archie. 
(It Seems that a lot of places in Spain do not accept dogs, unlike France, who seem to welcome dogs in most  restaurants)
I think this boat must have taken a wrong turn!!
 
An Aerial View of Marina
Gijon or Xixón is an historic City in the Asturias region of Spain  We spent a good few days exploring and learning about the City.   (For example …..Known to the Romans and Goths as Gigia, it was captured by the Moors early in the 8th century but was retaken about 737, and was the capital of the Kingdom of Asturias until 791.)
On the second day Bill went off by buses (change at Santander) to collect the car from Laredo to enable us to look further in and around Gijon.  Whilst I had my favourite job (NOT) of laundry!!, thank goodness there was both washer and dryer at the Capitanerie. 
On Bills return we went for a lovely evening walk along the Sea Front, which was  wonderful in the cooler breeze. Even though it was very choppy there was quite a few people swimming.
On the opposite shore in the older part of the City, known for its maritime heritage and old fishermen’s quarter. The 18th-century Revillagigedo Palace houses an international arts centre. It adjoins the Collegiate Church of San Juan Bautista, now a concert hall. 
Nearby is the 16th-century Clock Tower, with a museum about the City.
13th September
Left Gijon for Luarca at 10:30 after a very pleasant         5 day stay.
 
It was such a calm and light  wind 5/6 knots so motored with steaming lights due to poor visibility ahead, it was a very spooky feel in calm sea. 
 
The skipper and mini crew having a crafty snooze with me on watch
 
I spotted a pod of about 30 dolphins, but by the time Bill has got the camera they were just a speck in the photo!!
Approaching  Cape Penas  (I thought it looked like the Lizard)
 As we rounded the Cape the mist and seas became worse, we had  3m x 150m swell. Skipper decided to head for Cudillero instead of Luarca as the swell was making the trip to Luarca uncomfortable and entry to harbour unsafe.
Although the swell in Cudillero harbour apparently negligible caused problems docking Shakura onto pontoon due to surge. 
There are no facilities here for visiting Yachts.
Cudillero’s main economic activities are related to tourism, but it is also known for it’s fishing industry. 
 
A legend says that it was founded by the Vikings. In addition to Castillian some locals still speak a dialect called Pixueto
14th September
We cleared the pontoon at Cudillero at 9am with heavy surge due to swell, Used heavy lines, cleared in sequence and reversed off pontoon to ensure rib cleared pile aft. Used plenty of space in the harbour to stow all lines, fenders etc.
Leaving port we had very lumpy seas and light North Easterly wind. We motored all the way across the swell so very rolly poly, myself and Archie were not amused!
 
On entering the estuary to Luarca there is a very distinctive multi tiered cemetery. 
 
We picked up a mooring buoy in the outer harbour and used the rib to get a line onto 2nd buoy to pull us parallel to harbour wall. We were the only visiting yacht so had plenty of room. At low water we only had 0.5 meters under the keel. 
(It is free to moor on Buoys) – But no facilities for visiting yachts.
(NB. We are now further west than we have ever sailed before @ 6deg32W  –  Isles of Scilly 6deg25W)
Luarca is a very pretty fishing town (one of the best yet).  The photograph above shows both sides of the harbour.
We went ashore in the Rib mooring next to the fish market, they had only just landed a catch, so very interesting to see the variety of fish caught that day.
 
The town was bigger than I first thought, it seemed to go on for miles. Very quaint, narrow streets and local shops with a variety of local products and produce, especially local cider (which I wasn’t impressed with) I think possibly an acquired taste, however, Bill did purchase some local cheese and an excellent bottle of Rioja.
We headed back to the boat for supper to make use of the newly acquired bottle of red wine.
15th September
We  dropped the stern line to buoy and then the bow line and were away by 09:45 heading for Ribadeo.
There was a good breeze initially (14 knots north easterly) so hoisted the sails, Shakura was sailing well on a broad reach in 12 – 17 knots with preventer on boom, (mainsail only as genoa just flapped) at 5.6 knots very comfortable despite big swell. 
Motored at 12 noon as the wind dropped to 4 knots.
A journey of 21 nautical Miles.
Ribadeo is located in the Rias Altas, this is a beautiful estuary with Marina at the foot of an attractive town.  There are also a couple of quieter anchorages.  It is a historic town on the border between Galicia and Asturia
Pilotage went well, spotted all leading lights and marks easily. 
Approaching the Bridge
 
We berthed in the marina on the other side of the Bridge at 14:45 perfectly in ideal conditions. 
 
One very happy dog.
After a visit to the Capitanerie,  where they extracted €46 per night, but worth it. 
They had very good facilities, (toilets showers, laundry) and a few bars and restaurants on the marina. We treated ourselves to a very lazy Sunday lunch in one of them. 
We then went to explore the town, which is built on a hillside so steep  uphill climb.  
I wish we had seen this earlier!
 
The old town is fascinating, lots of renovations and conservation going on
This is the town and marina
On the opposite bank is a town called Castropol which we visited by rib
 
It is very picturesque with quaint houses and streets, not un-like our familiar Cawsands
 
A lovely view of Castropol harbour the Ria and the Bridge with Ribadeo opposite.
(There is some very dodgy shallows in the middle!! )
17th September – We departed Ribadeo at 10:30  Heading back under the bridge to light winds and calm seas (despite the forecast).
So motored 302 deg. to last waypoint in company with Thea (an english boat) heading for Viviero.
We motor sailed / motored all the way as the wind headed us and died.
Cruising at 2000rpm generally but increased to 3000 rpm when we met a weather frontal system and were enveloped in fog/cloud for half an hour before clearing, 
 
Arriving at Viviero 15:30 A journey of 26 Nautical Miles. (Just typical, the wind came up to 18 knots in the harbour as we tried to dock.)
This Ria has some of the best scenery in the Rias Altas. A modern town with a busy commercial fishing port situated to seaward .
The yacht harbour is very close to the town centre, up a 3 metre dredged channel. According to the visitors guide it gets very busy at weekends as it is one of the major tourist destinations of the northern coast.
We met up with Dave on Theo, he helped us moor, so thanked him with inviting him on board for a welcome beer. The Marina has toilet/showers and Laundry facilities with a club house and a very trendy cafe next door.
 This is the river adjacent to the  Marina Channel with a very low vehicle bridge upstream. We didn’t explore the town any further than the very handy Carrefour which is situated right next to the Marina to stock up on essentials.
18th September
We departed Viviero, Blue sky but very light wind.
 
On departing the harbour we waved goodby to Our Lady and Child.  Heading west for Ria de Cedeiria.  
A distance of 28 nautical miles
We Motored cape to cape around NW Spain. Sailed short distances, then motor sailed again (very frustrating!).  Swell 3-4 metres wind 8 – 12 knots mostly dead ahead.  Wind followed coast around, so always on the nose going anti clockwise W/NW/SW etc
 
Just prior to entering the Estuary we met an awful foamy sludge, possibly from a spill from Vessel some time ago
 
At 17:00 we arrived at Ria de Cedeiria. a beautiful anchorage. Free to anchor here, but, no facilities for yachts.
 
         Arial Shot
19th September
Bill checking the anchor prior to us dropping the rib and taking Archie Ashore.
There is an extremely good bakery in the town. So good Bill wanted to stay another night 
I just wanted to press on.!!
11:30 Lifted Anchor to find it fouled with weed it took 15 minutes to clear it all so delayed departure – 11:45 departed, heading for La  Coruna, Close reach at 6.5 knots full main and full Genoa
This didn’t last more than an hour, wind died and headed us, so motored the rest of the way.
 
Ah! the headland! Journey end is in sight.
 
We diverted from La Coruna to Fontan on Ria Betanzos after reading very good reports on Marina Sada for over wintering. This made a journey of 31
nautical miles. The Marina Sada
It is a large Marina, the staff are very welcoming.  Very reasonable rates too. Good Clean facilities and a laundry room.
 
The Shallow end!!
Marina wall on the left the beach (not shown is on the right)
 
Shakura safely in her berth.
The next day we just pottered about the boat making lists etc of what we need to do over the next few days in order to lay the boat up for the winter. 
We both had lists a mile long. Organising the wintering and lift out etc.
Bill left by early bus (8am) on the  21st bound for Gijon to collect the car, and arrived back tired out at 8pm. A very long round trip. But he did say that the scenery looking from the bus was stunning.
For the next few days we explored the town and were kept busy with maintainance/laundry/packing etc for the duration until boat lift out on 25th at booked at 10:30 we eventually got out of the water after a struggle at 14:30. (That’s another story!!) If you have half an hour to spare I’m sure Bill will be happy to tell you. Anyway, Shakura is on dry land until April 2019, we will miss her.
Bill was in seventh heaven, the rates for the winter were one third of the price we paid in La Rochelle, a very good choice.
According to Bill …..  E15 per day   YIPPEE!
We left The Marina at around 16:30 and headed out of town for our long drive to Santander and the ferry home.   We drove until 7ish and tried to find a hotel for the night, it was more difficult than we thought, tried several plavces along the way, then we took a wrong turn looking for the A8 motorway and found a lovely hotel just about under the A8. At long last a meal and a bed for the night, also, the very nice manager allowed us to bring the dog into the hotel,  
 
Our Hotel with the bridge looming over the roof and tree top
 
The next morning after breakfast we went for a walk to allow Archie time to  stretch his legs!
 
followed a river down to a beach, which was lovely in the sunrise.
Ah well all good things must come to an end. Time to hit the road once more.
We boarded the Santander Ferry 21:15 for the journey to Plymouth,  which was one week earlier than we had originally planned.
We thoroughly enjoyed our experiences and saw some beautiful sights.
Charts to follow:    La Rochelle to Fuenterrabia (Hondarrabia) –         Fuenterrabia (Hondarrabia) to Laredo –         Laredo to La Coruna (Marina Sada)