Yacht Pipit


A week of contrasts, Ria de Muros to Ria de Arousa, 14th August 2011

The last week has been one of extreme contrasts, from spending a full night and half the next day on anchor watch in a F7 off a lee shore to a gentle day's sail on the Ria Arousa at 2-5 knots in gloriously warm Galcian sun.

Firstly though, we mentioned in our last update that we had an anchorage to ourselves for 3 nights. Could this have been why?

Reason #1.

Reason #2.

One visitor to 'our' anchorage in Muros was the local tour boat, which crept in unseen whilst we had our instruments out (well the sun was out and the anchorage was very private!). They came inshore of us, quite close, we think they were hoping for a free concert - how disappointed they must have been...

The marina at Portosin is expensive, but their showers and laundry facilities are very good, and the Eroski supermercado is quite near by. So after catching up on the laundry, we anchored off the marina on Saturday night, where we had good shelter and holding, stunning views around the ria and we could still pick up the marina's free internet connection.

Sunday's forecast light SW winds were actually SSE, but the sea and swell was very low, so we had a really good sail down to the Ria de Arousa. As we turned into the ria, the wind shifted slightly more southerly, so we eased sheets and had a lovely run up the ria, heading for the anchorage at Escarabote. Just as we approached, the wind started picking up, cloud and mist moved over us and we had a short rain shower. As the anchorage we had planned would have been exposed (winds were supposed to have turned northerly by this stage), we opted for another close by just south of Pobra do Caraminal. The rain cleared to a lovely evening, the winds dropped we enjoyed a peaceful night at anchor.

The next day, we awoke to see a couple of dozen small local shellfish drag boats working off the beach and saw dolphins in the distance between the bateas/viveros (mussel and clam rafts). The shellfish drag boats ought to offer an aerobic bums and tums exercise class - must take some muscle tone to work the drags, which are a kind of wire basket on a very long pole. They toss the basket over the side of the boat, which is anchored, then kind of drag/shimmy the basket across the seabed to collect shellfish (clams and razor clams we think).

A fisherman pulling his shellfish drag.

An unintentionally artistic shot with the shellfish drag boats in the background.

After a leisurely coffee watching these fishermen, we got the dinghy into the water and rowed ashore - it was further than it looked, but good exercise, particularly the row back to Pipit which was to windward. It was hot and sunny, so later we donned swimsuits and rowed to the beach - the water was a bit too cold for me, but Andy had a dip and despite speaking two octaves higher for the rest of the day, reported it was quite refreshing.

That evening, as we lit the Cobb to cook a lovely marinated loin of pork, the wind was starting to rise. As the last forecast we had seen indicated 3 or 4 days of very light northerly winds we thought that it would, in typical summer weather, drop with the sun. The barometer was high and steady and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Unfortunately, the wind didn't drop but continued to rise through the evening. As it had now swung northerly, we were anchored off a lee shore with a rising wind and accompanying wind chop building. The anchor was holding well, as checking transits and the position & drag alarm on the handheld GPS proved, but neither of us could sleep, worrying and staying up on 'anchor watch' all night. By about 0500, each of us managed to close our eyes in turn and get a hint of rest, although by about 0700, the wind was blowing F7, we were very tired and hoping the wind would now drop with the rising sun. With no way of getting a weather forecast to give us a clue that we'd be waiting 2 hours, 24 hours or 2 weeks until the wind dropped, we phoned Tim & Karen in Arzal, who checked the weather via their internet connection. Thankfully, it looked like it would drop later to F4-5, but possibly not until late that evening. When, at about 1200, the chop had dropped a bit and the wind calmed to a mere F5, we secured everything on the boat, worked out the best way to tow Nessie so she wouldn't capsize (it was far too windy and choppy to contemplate getting her back on board), carefully planned our escape to Pobra do Caraminal marina, less than a mile away. Andy helmed whilst I worked the anchor windlass, using sign language to tell him when to drive forward, when to stop and when the anchor was up and we could get under way. This worked very well (even if we shouted, we could barely hear one another over the wind - Andy couldn't even hear the engine running). The marina was much more sheltered from the wind and we were very glad to be securely moored. By the time we 'checked in', we decided to have showers, a cheap meal out and then wait until night to sleep. We had a smashing tapas meal and a couple of beers at a lovely restaurant overlooking the beach before collapsing into our bunk at about 2200.

Despite the experience of the previous night, we have gained confidence in the holding ability of the anchor, and luckily suffered nothing other than a night's lost sleep and a damaged anchor ball. We had considered changing our anchor for one of the 'new generation' designs, but our CQR (although we think larger than the standard issue on a B36) has so far performed well - perhaps size does matter...

After all that excitement, the toilet seat has broken - well just the hinges in fact. We've fashioned a temporary fix with some elasticated cord (bought from Chipping Sodbury Caravans before we left - Ann said it may come in handy, but I don't think she had this use in mind...), but I hope the knot doesn't let go when I'm on the throne...

As we said, this has been a week of extreme contrasts. After recovering from our anchor watch experience, we left Pobra on Wednesday under beautiful blue skies, 10-13 knots of wind and perfectly flat sea to sail further up the ria to Vilagarcia and Vilanova. Within half an hour, the wind dropped to just 5-8 knots, but it was so nice to be sailing in shorts and t-shirts (and Andy in his 'slippers', aka Croc facsimiles), the fact that we were only going a few miles meant that slowing down to 2-3 knots was blissfully relaxing. We had lunch of cream cheese and tinned mussels on crackers under way at the cockpit table (haven't done this kind of thing since sailing in the Ionian nearly 3 years ago). We sailed up to Vilagarcia before turning back to head down to Vilanova marina. A perfect antidote to the other night.

The marina staff were very friendly, but it seemed they intended to charge us for the length of pontoon (the only space left) rather than the length of Pipit. Having been armed with the rates from a fellow CA member three boats away (thanks Nigel) and after a little polite negotiation in 'Spanglish' they relented with good grace and a smile and adjusted the rate accordingly.

Our laundry basket is again bursting at the seams as washing machines in marinas and DIY launderettes in these parts are a rarity and Vilanova is no exception. The town has, as many do, a full service launderette, but these are quite expensive for a liveaboard budget. This fact and preferring not having someone else rifle through our smalls persuaded Andy to do some hand-washing on Thursday. Apparently, marinas in Portugal more often have launderettes, so something to look forward to there...

A gentle sail up the ria.

We now have a YouTube account, so can fill their servers with our footage, rather than taking up our own space, and share it with you in these pages - you have been warned!

One of the many shellfish drag boats at Vilanova.

Finally, Cygnus III included a shot of a fine set of knockers in one of their recent updates, so we thought we'd show you our Vilanova neighbour's different but equally impressive pair:

Aren't they beauties? All 300 - 500 horsepower of them, difficult to be precise, as the owner must have ticked the 'badge delete' option - how very BMW...

Compare & contrast - actually a very impressive brand new RIB with some nice design features - we rather liked it...

We are now in the Ria de Pontevedra, after another pleasant passage yesterday from Vilanova - next stop Ria de Vigo - Portugal is getting closer...

...Stop press: we are now moving around in the Ria de Vigo...