From Santander we set sail for Ribadesella, on the 15th October 2017 at 3am!!! We knew the North coast of Spain would be a challenge as the prevailing wind is a Westerly and that’s the direction we want to go we therefore had to make sure we made the most of the tidal flows. Again with a mixture of engine and sail or both we made the 58 miles to Ribadesella in 10 hours. Ribadesella is a quaint little town hidden away up a river inlet. Blink and you could miss it, but the GPS told us exactly where it was. An engine driven passage up the river took us to the ‘marina’ where the depth of water was questionable. Follow the buoyage into the marina accurately and don’t even try to turn around near the pontoon was the advice. We entered on high water and wandered what all the fuss was about. Oh boy, when the water dropped towards low tide I realised what dangers lurked under the surface of the muddy river water. To our portside was a large shingle stone bank. Not very far away indeed. We ate on the boat that evening and as it was raining settled down for a well earned sleep.
The following day, I awoke at about 9am and it was still semi-dark outside. When I opened the companionway hatch I noticed that the sun was obliterated from view by smoke, thick white smoke. Large tracts of forest in Northern Spain and Portugal were on fire, some say deliberated set alight. There was a distinct orange glow to the sky, with no sun penetrating the smoke canopy. We were beginning to see ash fall on the top decks of Money Penny but luckily non appeared to be still alit. After a couple of hours the skies cleared and the smoke was replaced by sunshine and a very dirty yacht covered in ash debris.
Ribadesella is a hidden gen with large mansion type houses lining the promenade. Each house has a plaque outside giving the history and architectural relevance of the building in Spain’s history and were mostly built from the proceeds of Tobacco money from South America. A surfers paradise, there were numerous youngsters and families along the beach enjoying the sun & waves.
Another hidden feature of Ribadesella are the pre-historic caves. Discovered in the sixties by a group of very young caving enthusiasts, the lowering of a member of the team was to ultimately reveal to the outside World a labyrinth of caves complete with pre-historic drawings and evidence of occupation a long long time ago!.
We booked our tour guide who it turned out spoke fluent Spanish and nothing else. Jude and I were left in bewilderment as he described each and every feature in detail to his audience. I would have left early, but as the guide had the only torch in the group and with the caves in utter darkness I thought it advisable to stay close to him. In truth, the Caves were worth the visit and as they were a protected historic site, were, today as they had been discovered in the 1960’s.
We spent 4 nights in Ribedesella before departing for Gijon at 7am on 19th October.
Ribedesella – Gijon (19.10.17)
The 26 miles from Ribedesella to Gijon were carried out mostly under engine! Calm seas and hardly any wind, in fact we only used the sails for an hour.
We arrived at lunchtime, giving us the afternoon to explore. The Marina was where we met a ‘mad’ English sailor. He had left the UK 8 days prior to our meeting not noticing Storm Ophelia approaching! He was desperate to talk to us as we arrived’having been alone at sea for over a week. The highlight was him showing us a video of 65 mile an hour winds and his fenders flying horizontally off the back of his boat whilst he was holed up inside the cabin!
Gijon was one of the main fortified settlements of Northern Spain before 490 BC with a number of Roman remains and is also surounded by WW1 & WW2 defences.
Gijon – Ribedeo (20.10.17)
We left Gijon the following morning at 7.40am. Sunshine, No Wind, and a slight swell. It looked like being a great day. Storm Brian was on the horizon (well in the weather forcast!) but not expected to enter the Bay as far along the North coast of Spain as we were! Anyway we should be tucked up in Ribedeo by then - Famous last words!
At 18.00 we were approximately a mile from our destination of Ribedeo. The wind was around 10 mph and our engine was on as we were heading directly in to wind. By 18.30 the wind instruments were showing gusts of 30-40 mph, waves were continually breaking over the bow of Money Penny, and we were making no headway at all. We decided to head back out to sea, past Ribedeo and eventually make our way back in towards the Channel entrance and the leading lights. It was dark by the time we managed to reach the outer mark of the channel and follow the lights in to the Marina. The channel was narrow and we could hear (not see) waves breaking either side of us. We eventually managed to enter the Marina, find a vacant pontoon, tie up and head for bed! 21.40!!!! What a day!
The entrance to the marina with the waves in the background
Our 3 days in Ribedeo waiting for the waves at the entrance to die down were wonderful. The sun shone and we spent our time exploring the area. The Galician landscape is littered with Horreos. These are long narrow grain stores used to hold and ripen all forms of grain and farm produce. Sweetcorn was the most common crop to be stored in them. There was also some interesting architecture in the village and an extremely good deal on morning coffee!! £1.80 for coffee, two cakes and a glass of orange juice.
Our first lunchtime out was an interesting one. Fish platter was the order of the day! Not what we were expecting though……
The little ‘dinosaur feet’ , Percebes or Goose-neck barnacles were the strangest looking things! A delicacy apparently but I don’t think we will order them again.
Viverio & Cedeira (at anchor) (25th & 2th October)
2 overnight stays at anchor 35 miles apart.
We then set sail for A Coruna.