Yacht Pipit


Gijon, Ribadeo & Viveiro, 6th July 2011

Traditional Asturian pipe & drum band in Gijon.

We stayed in Gijon for 5 nights to rest from our Biscay crossing, plus do the usual chores. We didn't see many of the tourist attractions - the Roman baths (now a museum) were closed for the afternoon siesta time when we went by on what happened to be one of the many fiesta days in Spain, but we did see a traditional Asturian pipe and drum band.

The forecast was giving us F4-F5 winds from the east, so on Thursday we set off from Gijon for Ribadeo, a long day passage of 65 miles. With just the genoa set, we were doing a good speed but as the seas, forecast to be 1-2 metres, were very short between crests we were doing a bit of rolling. The motion became quite unpleasant as the wind rose to F6 gusting F7 and the waves built, often breaking at their crests. At one point, a ship coming up directly astern of us altered course to pass inside us and seemed to be rolling (he was empty) as much as we were!

We were glad to turn for the entrance to Ribadeo, in the first small ria of Northern Spain we have visited. After having a rest (aka beer) for a while we headed out to find somewhere to have a meal, and fell into the first restaurant we encountered, about 2 minutes from the boat. We had an excellent 'tapasy' meal, including a bottle of very drinkable vino de casa (€3.50 a bottle) sweets and coffee for €27 - we like Spain already!

As the supermarket in La Rochelle had been a very long walk away, and the one in Gijon small, we needed to do some stocking-up shopping. The town of Ribadeo is uphill from the marina, most easily reached via steps near the yacht club office, not ideal for heavy shopping, so we just got the essentials - you know, beer, wine, cheese etc... The marina, which is run by the yacht club is friendly and had superb 'free' showers and WiFi, but was the most expensive marina we've visited to date at €37 per night! We stayed for just three nights before moving out to anchor. There are a few anchorages marked on the chart and pilot book; one near the mouth of the ria, one on the eastern side of the sand banks, which are reported to be shifting, and one further into the ria from the marina. We set off for the latter, but found the depth insufficient for our 1.95 (2 with all Ann's beer and wine on board) metre draught. We saw several boats anchored whilst fishing in what initially appeared to be the middle of the ria, but in reality was just outside the channel, so anchored there in about 5 metres at low water in sand with excellent holding, even with a surprising amount of current running at the peak of the tide. With the mountains in the background and lateen rigged local boats tacking up and down the ria, it was a picturesque anchorage, and actually calmer than in the marina! We were still able to receive the free marina WiFi rays, so could watch the men's Wimbledon final - any excuse for another Pimm's!

Not a derelict bridge, but a viewing platform providing spectacular views of the ria.

Conspicuous red-domed church - one of the transits approaching Ribadeo.

Plenty of space in the marina - perhaps €37 per night explains it, although everywhere we've been in Spain so far has been pretty empty.

Not seen these before...

Well we found them interesting anyway...

Lovely boat - Royal Corinthian, Royal Cornwall or one of the numerous other RCYCs?

Pimm's o'clock watching Wimbledon - isn't modern technology wonderful? Who left those towels there?

Looking to seaward (i.e. Ireland next landfall due North under the bridge) from our anchorage in the middle of the ria.

Looking up the ria, if you'll pardon the expression...

Traditional lateen rigged local boats tacking past us at anchor.

Impressive looking slate tower - actually a lift up into town!

On Monday when we saw the forecast that indicated we would be motoring or motor sailing all the way on our next passage from Ribadeo to Viveiro, we decided to set off as it was only about 30 miles and, as we had motored for only 18 hours of the 48 across Biscay and none for the previous month, didn't mind the prospect of 5 or 6 hours motoring, especially as the wind for the rest of the week was to turn westerly and quite strong. The seas were as forecast, 1-2 metres, but of much longer wavelength compared with our previous passage and just off our bow, and the wind F1-F2, so we motored easily for a while until enough wind sprung up to sail and as we approached the entrance to Ria de Viveiro, we had the best sailing of the day. Funny how the best sailing is often in the last hour of a passage...

Spanish ria or Scottish loch?

The marina in Viveiro is, as we found with both Gijon and Ribadeo, fairly empty of visitors. The price here is low, with an even better deal for a week, but there is no launderette, the showers are in Portakabins and fairly poor (so we'll be showering aboard) and there's no WiFi. Swings & roundabouts I suppose. On the plus side, the vista is quite pleasant, the town has some interesting history and we can sporadically pick up free WiFi rays from elsewhere... Also, there is a superb supermarket very close by with a great fish counter, excellent fruit and veg and everything else we need for stocking up the non-perishable supplies. Chillies come in 400g bags for €1.50, raw prawns at less than €6 a kilo, drinkable wine from €0.99 a bottle and very drinkable from €3 - happy days... In fact, in our brief experience of Spain so far, food & drink seems noticeably cheaper than in the UK and France.

What more could a chap need (apart from a Spanish maid to move those towels)?

Another week of strong westerlies begins, so we'll take some time to explore Viveiro before heading for La Coruna, probably via an overnight stop at an anchorage. We do keep having to remind ourselves that we are in Spain as we enjoy the view from our cockpit - after a year in France and just two days across Biscay, it seems slightly surreal...