The infamous Cape Finisterre and on to Bayona

Cape Finisterre in October

Camarinas was a just a ‘sleep stop’ but it was here that we said our tentative goodbyes to the crew of ‘Yayou’ as they pushed on towards Porto at an unsavory hour. I state “tentative goodbyes”, because we may yet catch up with Andre further south.

Another Bonito for supper

The rest of us rugged up for a 9am departure and set off in a chilly Force 5. As luck would have it, upon reaching the infamous Cape Finisterre, Aeolus let up on his puffing. The sea rapidly calmed, and we were able to motor to within a cable of the headland. What followed was a once in a life-time ‘hey mum, look at me’ photo-shoot, sailing between the mainland and Finisterre’s little island. The local fishermen must have thought we’d gone completely loco.

Fish feast (German family centre)

On route I managed to catch another whopper of a bonito, so after anchoring off a lovely beach in Muros, I set about preparing the catch of the day. Much too much fish for one person, so the usual crowd gathered on ‘Avel Vat’ and we invited everyone else at the anchorage (just one German registered vessel) to join us for a fish feast.

Force 6 with gusts of Force 7 the following morning had me scrambling to put in one reef after another. It took quite a while to find a sail combination Eileen appreciated, but when we’d reached three reefs for the mainsail and set a whisker pole on the stay-sail she settled down. Eileen of Avoca managed to glide effortlessly at 6 knots under this sail arrangement! Not too shabby for a little 23ft boat.

Life vest inflates!

Unfortunately the wind did not last, and now that we have reached Bayona the forecast is for more dead calms. Looks like I will be using the motor generously over the next few days.

Despite the novel easy-going conditions I’ve still managed to get into all sorts of trouble. The latest incident involved getting the inflation cord of my life vest stuck while lowering the mainsail.

Now that it has been unexpectedly inflated, the vest is almost useless until I can find a replacement CO2 cartridge and have the zippers reset. Naturally the type of cartridge I need is about as common as 23ft boats crossing the Atlantic!

Wind gusts reach 40kts on route to Ribadeo

No I'm not sinking

It should have been an easy 40 miles to Ribadeo from Cudillero. It certainly started out as an effortless motor-sail, but I should have known better than to completely trust weather forecasts.

With just 9 miles to go the wind made a surprise shift to the southwest and brought gusts averaging between 30 and 40 knots!

Luckily I had just finished tying a third reef in the mainsail to facilitate hauling in my catch of the day (a rather large bonito).

My friends in Avel Vat (which I’m told means fair winds in the Breton language) had motored ahead while I was busy playing psychotic killer with my fish.

Fish soup anyone?

Seeing that I was no longer making significant headway, they turned back to check if I was in some kind of trouble. Admittedly I was up to my elbows in blood and intestines at the time but other than that I was doing just fine. So long as none of the blood is mine I’m happy enough.

I feel much obliged by Frederic’s obvious concern, but he needn’t have been worried. I was having the time of my life! I held up my trophy to show why I’d fallen behind before plowing dutifully onward through an increasingly agitated sea.

Frederic took the following video of Eileen (or Eilen as he calls her) as we motored on into the wind at a pitiful 2 knots.

Eileen of Avoca in Biscay

Bedraggled and cold, we finally reached our destination. It certainly wasn’t easy. Who would have thought it could take nearly 5 hours to travel just 9 miles.

Safely moored, I quickly set about cooking my prize catch and before long an impromptu ‘bonito’ feast was prepared to celebrate our arrival.

Real sailors sew!

In port it was time to relax and catch up on some odd jobs. Frederic and I set about playing harbour haberdasher, while Vivien busied himself with conquering the world on his Nintendo DS.

Vivien is in there somewhere

There wasn’t much time to play tourist, but I did manage to take a few photos of my stay in Ribadeo. Enjoy!

Ribadeo marina

The marina is not as sheltered as it looks. Eileen has been violently tugging at her warps for days as the surge works its way around the breakwater.

The eyesore of Ribadeo

Not only is it ugly but it smells too! I’d have expected to see dozens of would be rock climbers doing their thing all over this elevator. Instead it seems to be used by local drunks emptying their thing all over it. phew!

Ribadeo town center

But it’s pretty enough in town though surprisingly uninhabited. Only one in three houses seems to have anyone living in it. See for yourself!

Empty houses in Ribadeo

Crossing Biscay in late September

Sainte Marine near Benodet, France

It seems I’m always running late with my planned itinerary. Having a slow boat doesn’t help much but this time it’s definitely not my fault that I’m crossing Biscay in late September. Not that it’s such a big deal, but the appropriate weather windows grow few and far between this time of year.

Oh, and it’s now decidedly frigid after sunset.
I waited three days in the seasonally busy (read currently devoid of all life), but charming holiday village of Sainte-Marine until my chance to reach Spain presented itself.

Weather situation leaving France to cross Biscay

  • Day 1: Up to Force 5 Northwesterly winds in moderate to rough seas.
    The Aries wind vane steered Eileen effortlessly toward Gijon. I spent most of the time bouncing off the cabin fixtures (usually head first) and shivering despite my five layer wardrobe, but that’s a small price to pay for getting under way.
    Hats off the the 65+ sailing set. They must be made of sterner stuff than I am. While I’m certainly not finding my spiritual self alone at sea, I’m certainly discovering the measure of my physical self. This via a series of bruises, bumps and assorted muscular pains or strains. My trim office physique (hard as marshmallow) is having a hard time adapting, and if I hit that particular bulkhead one more time I’ll undoubtedly risk a serious concussion before the day is out!

The fishing vessel Magellan came rather close!

  • Day 2: Force 3 to 4 Northwesterly winds in settling seas.
    I’ve had to switch to my electric Tiller Pilot as the apparent wind is not strong enough to persuade the Aries vane gear to cease it’s incessant zigzagging.
    I’m at last far enough from any shipping to risk a good four hour sleep. With my new AIS system set to wake me if any vessel draws dangerously near, I snore to my hearts content as Eileen of Avoca’s automated systems take command. Bet you wish you could do that with your car!

Safe with Avel Vat at the visitors pontoon in Gijon.

  • Day 3: Force 2 Variable winds on a smooth sea.
    I’m motoring along at 4kts trying to decide whether to turn toward La Coruna or continue with my current course for Gijon. NAVTEXT weather forecasts are usually the adjudicating factor but in this particular case it’s my stomach that insists on having the final say. I eventually defer to it’s interminable grumblings and make haste for Gijon (in order to gorge myself on pizza and to stock up on Chinotto).
    On the horizon I spy another sailing vessel and interestingly it stays on an almost parallel course for much of the day. I say interestingly, because I’m used to being rapidly overtaken by just about anything that floats. Driftwood has been known to overtake my yarmoth23 in light winds! I conclude that they obviously have engine difficulties.
    By sunset I’m tying up alongside the very boat that has kept pace with me all day. It’s the French registered Avel Vat with it’s one man, one boy, crew.

The fearless crew of Avel Vat

I introduce you to Frederic and Vivien on their way to Martinique and blogging all about it (in French) here:
They’d been watching me with equal interest and even took a picture of Eileen of Avoca on route: