Cabo Negra lives up to its name!
Tacking against the waves, current and a changing wind . We first made a long tack out from the coast, the wind changed and we had to head back to where we came from - an hour of sailing wasted!
The harbour fee in Aviles amounted to 27€ for us. The harbour was near the city centre, quite and a short walk from the next Mercadona-Supermarket. Next to the Mercadona we found an excellent veggie-and-fruit shop. However, it also had its negative side: the harbour office with WI-FI and showers was about a km away and just opposite the harbour there was a factory handling carbon powder, which left our boat covered with soot.
The shell pickers are not scared of the waves!
One of the squares in the old town of Avilés
The city centre of Aviles is a charming place with pedestrian area, churches and plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants. Our dinner consisted of a "cachopo", an Austurian speciality which does not come in small sizes.
All in all, a good place to spend a couple of days.
San Vicent del la Barquera-Lastres
The Picos de Europa were still visible today.
Lastres old quarters.
Good shelter, the breakwater is at least 12m high!
Lazy sailing to start with, but in the end we had to go for engine.
The harbour in Lastres has one quay for visitors (transito), without water, electricity, WI-FI nor any harbour fee. They wanted information on the boat though!
However, behind the tall harbour walls it provides good shelter and there is also a restaurant with a very good lunch menu (and WI-FI).
We had a walk through the town or rather a climb! The town is hanging on the hillside and provides more cafes, bars and restaurants: all in all, a good place to stay.
Santander-San Vicent del la Barquera
Still tacking against the westerly winds, waiting for the fog to lift so we could see the Picos de Europa.
Approaching San Vicent del la Barquera, the Picos de Europa (2648m) came out of the seafog.
Seafront view with the Kings Castle and Church.
According to our version of the Reeds nautical Almanac, the bay of San Vicent del la Barquera was not navigational for us. After having seen some beautiful pictures of this town with the mountain range Picos de Europa as background, the first officer, however, wanted to visit this place, studied the maps and decided, that we should give it a try. So we did, and we did it right. San Vicent has a harbour with place for 2-3 small, or one big guest boats, and the berths, which one seem to have book via the tourist information, had been taken. It might have been just deep enough for us.
We filled up petrol and were rafted outside a fishing vessel at the fishing quay, which was no problem, as it was weekend and no-one going out.
The captain set over in the dingy to the camping place at the large beach and bought gas and then we hit the town, or better: the medieval part of the town, which consists of the Iglesia de Santa María de los Ángeles, were a choir was performing that night, the old city walls and the kings castle. At the seafront one can find plenty of restaurants and bars, and again, just in Laredo: no landing side for dinghies. There was an old large stone staircase next to the bridge, perfect for landing, but a locked gate prohibited the use of it, because - as the man of the petrol station told us - boats were landing there. Yes, that is the purpose of a landing, or?
Iglesia de Santa María with the Picos de Europa in the back.
Nice tacking against the westerly unstable wind.
Leaving the river of Santoña
Santander city harbour - not deep enough
The city harbour of Santander was not deep enough for us. However, the city has a long, almost unused waterfront - why not put out in floating stage for guests - so they can leave some money in the city?
There were also no visitor landing quays, so the message we received from this place was, that travelling sailboats are not welcomed here - and accordingly we reacted, and skipped a visit to Santander, and only admired it from a safe distance.
Idyllic in the river
The Marina Yacht Club, which lays just beside the airport and at least 5km walk away from the city wanted €50 per night from us.
We had a tip about anchoring just behind the airport - a perfect spot with landing for the dingy just meters away. And we had a quiet night!
During the walks with the dogs, the first officer past the official harbour: Many berths were empty here.
Turn around and the airport is there - on the other side is the Marina Yacht Club
Slowly tacking against the wind today - good to be at sea again!
Laying on anchor just outsided Laredo Yacht Club in Ria de Treto o Ason
Silly fish swimming with their head above the water
The harbour in Laredo charged about 42€ for a place, and we were kind of fed up with paying high harbour fees, so this time we opted on lying on anchor. And we were not the only one: in total 6 sailing boats were lying here on anchor and avoiding the official harbour. We had a very calm night, however, landing in the town with the dingy was not simple, for the simple reason that there was no public landing quay. Obviously visitors by boat are not welcome, unless the lay in the official harbour.
Just opposite the town a half island with a sand dune can be found.
Harbourdays in Bilbao
Boat out of the water
Working time - boat out of the water - rust on the keel removed, primer and two layers of antifouling is on and gearoil for the saildrive exchanged - all in less than 24 hours! Now we are ready for another two years in the water! We hope!
Sunset over the harbour at Getxo, missing the water though!
The seafront town Getxo is also a good place to stay. It offers a long sea promenade with beautiful "palaces" originating about 100 years ago, build by rich Spanish families and nowadays serving as hotel, private house, ... or falling apart. Bars, restaurants and shops are near-by, and a beach is just at the side of the harbour. A metro takes you to Bilbao in about 20min.
Bilbao is certainly worth a visit. We walked around the old town and admired all the old buildings, palaces and churches. There are large walking areas, parks ... and dogs everywhere.
We started our roundtrip at the old quarter with its beautiful city houses, which unfortunately, despite being just cleaned smelled of piss (and that was no dog piss). From there we crossed the bridge, stopped at the tourist information and continued along the Gran Via, with its tall trees perfect for a walk. The way back let us along the river passing the world famous Guggenheim Museum.
The day was sunny and warm and we saw the best side of Bilbao.
Bilbao is surrounded by green hills
Bilbao is about art!
Even the old Catedral in Bilbao is celebrating the US decision.
Harbourday in Bilbao
Preparations to leave the boat for a couple of weeks. We'll be back by the end of June! In Getxo we were staying at the Real Club Maritimo de Abra.
About 10 days ago, the first officer started the tasks of finding a marina in this area, were we could leave the boat for 3 weeks and also get some work done on it. The tasks proved to be quite difficult, not only because of language issues:
Firstly, around here there are not many harbours. Secondly less than half of the requests send via email and in spanish, got answered. So we had to make plenty of phone calls and discovered the third issue: sometimes the prices included VAT (21%), sometimes not, and most of the times there was no information given if the VAT was included or not, just as if paying VAT in Spain is something optional. (maybe it is?).
The Real Club Maritimo de Abra was answering to our email requests, the prices included VAT, and everything worked out correctly and fine.
The location also provides some special amenities, like club restaurant, outdoor pool, which we, however, did not use.
Lovely sailing today along the Basque Country.
Entering the harbour at Getxo, Bilbao lies 10 km up the river.
The hermitage on San Juan de Gaztelugatxe dates from the 10th century.
The green lush landscape ragged with rock faces and with mountains behind followed us along the coast of the Basque Country.
Getaria is a picturesque fishing village, well worth a visit. There is a nice sandy beach next to the harbour.
The price: €27 all included, but the WIFI didn't work, so we visited a restaurant a couple of hundreds meters away, got the access code and connected via our WIFI booster.
We were lying in the inner part of the harbour, which is not to be recommended, as we were looked at by passing tourists as if we were some attraction in a zoo. Privacy: zero!
The formality with registration is getting more and more complicated. In some of the harbours in the North of Europe, you pay in an automat, but here they need all your personal details. They forgot to ask about my parents name and job though!
The harbour of Getaria.
Left at the crack of dawn (06:30) to navigate the channel around HW and when the current was slack.
The second long leg was done entirely on engine, we had some current and swells with us, but the wind was too weak to sail on. Quite boring day, except for a small group of Atlantic Bottle-nosed dolphins riding our bow wave for a while.
We also had a complete crash of our plotter, navigation instruments and autopilot. Due to another leak, this time through the deck above the electrical panel, there was a bad connection. It was temporarily fixed at sea. The leak is sporadic - only apparent with spray and water on deck - another task on the never-ending work list for the boat. It also turned out that that the plotter was affected by this and have since worked perfectly.
'Dune du Pilat' - the largest sand dune in Europe. The first mate has a 30year old picture of herself sitting on top of this dune. And now we have another one, taken from the sea.
Several Atlantic Bottle-nosed dolphins riding our bow.
'Anglet' - a cosy small harbour, 5km from Bayonne.
Once we arrived in Anglet and the first mate handled the registration at the harbour, where she got a bit annoyed, because the registrations forms are getting larger every day - this time they even asked for the profession of the sailors! (the damage was €31.40, everything included) We sat out to hit the town. Unfortunately we had no success in buying a Spanish guest flag, but we found again an excellent French patisserie, where we bought some 3-chocolate-cakes. Yummy. How we are going to miss this.
Again, it came as a huge surprise, that the woman in the patisserie spoke perfect English - again, a clear sign that things are changing in France :-).
For the next 140nm (almost to Spain) there is only one harbour, so we have 2 long legs for the dogs. The first leg was along 60 nm of sand beach.
Part of the 129km long sand beach outside 'Bordeaux'
Whale safari in the bay of Biscay - this time a humpback whale and it can get up to 40 tonnes??
During the journey while the captain was below deck and the First Mate on watch, without really watching but busy with whatever, she was put on high alert by a sudden loud splash, and then noticed something real BIG at the corner of her eyes. Has an airplane lost it cargo right on top of us? Eyes focused on sea and sky she then saw it again: a gigantic tail rising out of the water and splashing down with full force again. Her scream made the captain come hurrying up fast, and while he was amazed by the whale, the first mate could not stop wondering, what would happen to all of them, if the tail were coming up and splashing down a little bit closer.
Paragliders having a ball at 'Dune du Pilat'
To be on the safe side we called the signal station at Cap Ferret to get the latest info on the channel into the Arcachon basin.
At sea, the swells were around 1m, so they made no problem over the shallow entrance of the channel. The channel itself had moved and according to our plotter we were on dry land! Luckily the buoys, we were following, where according to the channel's present location.
About 30 years the first mate spent a holiday here on a camping place at the Dune de Pilat. How time flies.
We first searched for anchoring place, because the harbour was supposed to be really expensive, but we found none, so resigned, we headed for the harbour.
The harbour in Arcachon is BIG, but has very few guest berths.
A pleasant harbourmaster greeted us at the quay and told us he was closing and in a hurry, but he assigned us a place and when we told him, that we want to be off around six the next morning, he said we didn't have to pay! If you want a permanent berth in this harbour, you have to join the queue of almost 10000 persons and wait about 26 years!
La Rochelle-Port Mèdoc
We motored out past the point of 'Ile d'Oleron' and on the way we could see Fort Boyard in the horizon - if anyone still remembers the gameshow.
Still swells out there, as one can see from the pictures below.
Pleasant sailing in T-shirts before the wind died away.
On the way up the channel towards Bordeaux our new plotter stopped working and we had to get out the tablet for navigation!
'Fort Boyard' in the distance
Lighthouse 'Antioche' by 'Ile d'Oleron'
The surf is up! at 'Pointe de la Coubre'
It is the shallow 'Banch de la Mauvais' (the bank of the bad) that rises the swells at 'Pointe de la Coubre'.
Our brand new plotter got a heatstroke and needed some cooling!
The rookie sailor's corner
This should stop the damned rolling!
Yesterday it was with t-shirts and today was the FIRST day in shorts! The harbourmaster confirmed it too - the first hot day this season! After arrival the first mate was sent away to do the shopping. 2km distance in quite some heat. The shop was only open until 19:00, so it was good, to go there right after arrival.
Afterwards we took the dog to the near-by beach and now we have sand all over the place: in the cockpit and below deck!
The jetties all had their own AOC name; Medoc, Margaux etc., however, we didn't actually see any wine!
The harbour was again quite gigantic and new, without laundry - for the moment. The harbour fee amounted to 35€, again electricity, working internet, water, toilet and shower included. The female harbour office spoke excellent English, so communication was no issue.