Monday, August 14, 2006

Swell in Galicia

From Gijon we moved on to Ribadeo and then to Viveiro, where we are now. At Ribadeo we moved out of Asturias and into Galicia, where they have their own language (Gallego), their own culture, and lots of wind. At least, according to the forecast there are gales due this evening, although there's no sign of them at the moment.

The most challenging aspect of sailing here is the swell - huge waves which roll in from the Atlantic and don't necessarily bear any relationship to local wind. Out where it's more than 100 metres deep the swell is quite manageable - Kalessin just rides over it - but closer in, and especially close to headlands, the sea is confused and extremely uncomfortable.

Ribadeo is a pleasant new marina in an attractive ria (drowned river valley) but the marina was only just around the corner from the entrance and around high tide the swell rolled in all the time, especially to the visitors' berths. The problem is not so much the movement as the way it suddenly gets stopped by the mooring warps. The resulting jerk-jerk-swing-swing-jerk woke me at 4am feeling very uncomfortable.

Viveiro is an even newer marina - so new that the pontoons aren't even marked on any of my charts, only in the pilot book. However it's right down at the end of the ria, behind an enormous harbour breakwater and then up a dredged channel, and thank goodness the swell doesn't seem to get in here. We arrived last night and were so lazy we didn't even explore the town - we had dinner on board and then watched King Kong on DVD. Actually we only watched the first half because it is so extremely long.

The supermercado we didn't go to in Viveiro - great still!

Department of Amazing Coincidences: In Gijon we spent two evenings with a really nice couple, Paul and Val Shilling, who are sailing their Sigma 400 Intemperance down to the Canaries to join the Atlantic Race for Cruisers (ARC) in November. Can you believe it, they thought we were more experienced than them, in spite of the fact that the two of them are sailing a huge racing yacht and frequently undertake four- and five-day passages in weather when we would never venture outside a nice, safe marina. Anyway, just before we said goodbye I was telling them the story of Tiare, the yacht I've mentioned before, which Ben and Emma were sailing in Hawaii but sadly had to turn back because Emma was so sick. I know about it because Ben is the brother of my good friend Sally, whom I sing with. Anyway, turned out that Paul and Val already know about Tiare - which was surprising enough - but they actually knew about it because they met Sally at a funeral earlier this year. Val's sister also knows Sally very well!!! It's the old thing about it's only six steps between you and anyone else in the world - but it was an astonishing coincidence.

Ben's favourite aspect of Gijon was the beach, where he finally made good use of his bodyboard. Surfing beaches don't tend to be alongside sheltered harbours for yachts!

The excellent view from the ladies' showers in Gijon

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