After our crew had left us in Leixoes near Porto we had to wait another three days before conditions were suitable to leave for our next port of call which would be Viana de Castelo, our last port in Portugal. At last the weather seemed to be warming up on this coast and we set off with a good prospect of fine weather. Leaving early again so we could avoid the strong north westerly afternoon winds, we set off at first light. We experienced variable conditions with some sailing and some pure motoring. Sailing this coast is a nightmare because of all the fishing marks, often small, barely visible but a serious hazard if you picked up a rope on your propeller. You sit with your eyes glued to the water ahead ready to deviate to avoid them and it can be very tiring. We arrived in Viana after 34.7 miles in hot sunshine and tied onto the waiting pontoon in the river just downstream of the road and rail bridge designed by Eiffel. I eventually found the marina attendant and had a long walk to the office even after he had managed to get the pedestrian footbridge working. He apologised for the bridge but said it was because this was their first hot day of the year and it had stuck! Viana is a picturesque town with many 16 th century buildings. We were fortunate enough to be in the town at the time of their flower festival and every shop was adorned with floral creations in a kaleidoscope of colour, which enhanced the appearance of every street.
The English first traded here selling fishing nets to the locals and in return buying Portuguese wine, ( sounds like a good deal to me ). It was here that Port wine was first developed but owing to the river silting up, the trade moved to the city of Porto on the Douro river where the Port trade now flourishes.
Another dawn start for us was made slightly more difficult because a French yacht had tied next to us in the night, but they awoke to my knocks and pleasantly moved their boat. We had another 35 miles to go to Bayona in Spain.
The trip started with the usual 2 metre swell and no wind but as we approached the entrance to the Minho river, the Portuguese Spanish border, a wind off the shore swept out at force six and speeded us on our way. It later faded away again and the sea flattened as we turned into the large sheltered bay in which Bayona sits. We arrived early afternoon having logged 33.1 miles. We had been here twice before and it was good to renew our acquaintance with the attractive town set in the shelter of the old fortress.
This was the town to which Christopher Columbus returned in 1493 having discovered the new World in the Caribbean and a replica of his ship the Pinta resides here. The weather was warm and sunny and we enjoyed walking the narrow streets off the waterfront. We had also made good progress and could swap our Portuguese courtesy flag for the Spanish one.
It looked as if we had a forecast weather window for the next four days to get us to La Coruna so we decided as we were both tired to do a shorter leg the next day and start later. It would also be within the more sheltered waters of the Rias, the deep river estuaries on this coast protected by offlying islands. The Marina at Sangenjo was our chosen destination and our course took us winding through the islands and up to the little holiday town and beach on the north coast of one of the Rias. We sailed 18.5 miles on seas with low swell and sunshine to accompany us. We had been warned that this holiday town was noted for its noisy night clubs and indeed we had been here seven years ago to experience it. It was a huge marina and not very busy although it did fill up later that night as it was a Saturday. The town beach was crowded with sun worshipers enjoying the summer sun at last! It is a fabulous protected sandy beach but the backdrop of unsightly houses ruins the image.
We went to bed early for another early start the next day and managed to get some hours sleep in before the night club noise woke us and continued until 0500 hours when we got up.
We had spotted in Reeds nautical almanac that a new marina had opened in Muros town and it was a quaint old town on the north shore of the Muros Ria. This would be our next logical step north before Finisterre and the right distance. The course had to be carefully plotted so as to pass through some narrow channels through the islands. Setting off again at dawn we motored to the first narrow channel and then a good wind came up on our starboard beam at force five to six and we flew along at up to 7.4 knots for half the trip. We managed to keep a favourable breeze almost all the way to Muros where we arrived early afternoon in a lovely, almost empty new marina having logged 32.1 miles. At one point a racing pigeon landed on our stern seat obviously in need of rest and settled down to sleep whilst we carried him further north. He was obviously a nautical pigeon because he had a red tag on his left leg and a green tag on his right leg!
He stayed there until I disturbed him when getting our fenders out of the stern locker, at which point he reluctantly flew to the shore. There were some fishing marks to avoid but not nearly as many as in Portugal. Muros town looked quaint but upon inspection is was run down and lacking in care. Some lovely old buildings were set amongst newer blocks that spoiled the appearance.
Another early start to leave the marina at first light was planned to do the next big challenge and get around Finisterre point, up to the Ria of Camarinas. Sadly the sky was overcast and it was very cool, but the winds were forecast to be southerly in our favour. Within a short distance of leaving the wind came up in the right direction and we were able to sail towards Finisterre point. This is now the third time we have passed Finisterre and on the last occasion the weather was good enough to anchor behind and walk up to the lighthouse, but not in today’s conditions.
Having made good time to the point we turned north around the headland and indeed the wind treated us kindly and turned with us. We therefore had a romping sail past Finisterre at up to 8 knots in a rare but welcome south easterly breeze. We made good time to the Ria Camarinas where we docked in the port of Muxia. The marina was virtually empty and almost new which makes you wonder why they put us on a berth as far from the office and facilities as possible! They were very pleasant and helpful and we had time to walk the town and do some shopping. Spain insists on having their siestas and shops close in the afternoon and reopen from five to nine p.m. which is good for us but I would not like to work those hours.
Our final leg of this stage was to be 50 miles around the north west coast of Spain to La Coruna. The forecast was for easterly winds, light and backing to the north as the day progressed. Again we set off at first light and the sky was clear but with low grey cloud gradually spreading in from the sea. We hoped it was not going to be foggy again. We motor sailed in the light winds as we progressed north and then north east. The wind never got above force 2 and the swell was just small and lazy. We passed many yachts making their way south to the sun but only one other going our way. As usual there were many fishing buoys to avoid, most of them little more than a couple of old plastic bottles and hard to spot. We nearly ran into what we thought was a net as it consisted of six small orange floats in a circle very close to one another. Fortunately we saw them and quickly turned to pass them safely. At one time I saw what I thought was a black stick just lifting out of the water occasionally directly in front and after a swift course change we passed alongside it only to see that it was a small sunfish basking on the surface and waving a fin at us. These weird fish can grow up to two metres across and weigh over a ton but this was a small one and the only one we have ever seen. The weather gradually cleared to sunshine and the visibility improved as we coasted along the north coast to the point where the Torres de Hercules lighthouse marks La Coruna bay. This lighthouse was started by the Romans and is the oldest working lighthouse in the World. We had been watching the sea carefully for eight hours and when we docked having logged 49.4 miles we were both pretty tired.
This ended the second part of our trip home and we wait here for Beverly and Ann to join us for the Biscay crossing to Ireland. We have logged 504 miles so far this trip and apart from getting a few things fixed on the boat we intend to get some rest for a few days.