(Spanish) Maria and the other Spanish Rias

Our plans are in tatters and the boat is in need of some TLC however we have a new plan and the upside is that we took Ma-Ria to the Rias. Everywhere we go on holiday everyone thinks Maria is a local whether that is the West Indies, India, Portugal, Italy or now Spain.

Having crossed Biscay, we now have our first major sea under our belt. We have sailed for multiple nights getting our rest when we can and although tired we have overcome problems and are generally a happy crew.

At the end of this crossing, we are in a plain Ria, Puerto de currobedo, protected from the South West wind and it is time to celebrate our achievement with a bottle of bubbly. I’m sure it is a lovely place with lovely people but we had been told don’t miss the Rias and this wasn’t quite what we were expecting. There had been quite a lot of weed on our approach and the engine note had changed a few times as the prop and rope cutter dealt with it but Maria is worried and we should check that the prop is clear. The oldest member of our crew, Gerald, is clearly the most virile as he offers to jump in, inspect the prop and then swims around the boat for a while enjoying the somewhat chilly water. One thing we did notice was how clear the water was and we could see our chain for a long way underneath, now that’s different to the muddy east coast!

We have some lovely food, as always. It is a slightly boozy night but we have a relatively short hop to Vigo the next day and we will head off early.

At this time of year in the UK it is getting light at 4:30am and so we agree to get up at 5am. When the time comes, it is still pitch black and we don’t enter or leave unfamiliar anchorages during darkness if it can be avoided. Of course it is also Spanish time, which means we have effectively lost an hour, so we will get away at 6am then….. but we are a long way further south and at 6am it is still very dark with not even a hint of light in the sky. In the end it is 7am before we have enough light to depart.

When we arrived the wind was from the South west and this was a protected anchorage but overnight the wind has moved around to the south east, and now the anchorage is exposed. The previous evening two out of three weather forecasts say this won’t happen, only one suggests it might but this is much later. Not for the first or last time the short term weather forecast has been very wrong. The wind is now Southerly and at 15-20 knots, rIght on the nose, it is going to be an uncomfortable journey.

Having picked up the anchor, I am on the foredeck tidying up the anchor and lines. This includes putting two lines and a bolt in the anchor and chain, we are not having a repeat of a lost anchor with Maria’s new shiny stainless anchor. on the East coast of England, pulling up the anchor normally means pulling up quite a large amount of mud, so this work is messy. Since it is at the beginning of the day, I am normally in clean clothes which are instantly dirty. I get into trouble. Today i take my top off before starting work on the anchor. Gerald is taking us out of the anchorage into the swell and wind and we are bouncing around a lot. So much so that a wave breaks over the bow and a load of water runs over me. So much for that plan of keeping clean and dry, I will have to get changed anyway but at least my t-shirt is ok.

Unfortunately we are making little progress. It is a big sea and we can barely get more than a couple of knots. This won’t work and so we have to find a better anchorage, north facing and protected form the wind and seas. We can the sit out the bad weather and wait for the better weather following it.

Having checked the charts, we have found a lovely north facing cove completely protected from the southerly winds. It is In the ria de arousa, and I am sure maria is hoping it won’t have that effect on me….

It’s been a short but bouncy passage with wind and a sea that we are beating into but as we turn into the ria there is an immediate change partly because everything is now coming from mid ships but also because of some protection from the headland.

After a short time we arrive at our anchorage to find it protected by a large number, maybe 100, mussel rafts. These are about ten metres by five and all linked together completely covering the entrance of the anchorage. I recheck the chart to find a series of microscopic green crosses on the chart, I thought they were local indicators but the whole area is covered in these rafts.

We continue further into the Ria because surely these can’t be everywhere and also shouldn’t Ria Arouca be full of oysters! We finally choose another anchorage which again is protected but has a reasonable route through and is well protected from the weather. When we arrive it looks amazing with a beach bar at one end and a beautiful beach with gorgeous trees behind and a large ominous rock at one end. Three other boats in the anchorage, typically the last spot is adjacent to the huge rock and is quite deep. That wouldn’t normally be a problem but that means more chain and potentially a wider circle for Mariadz to swing within, did I mention there was a large rock? It means that I will be keeping an eye on our position very carefully for the afternoon.

Maria has checked the weather and it is clearing up in the afternoon up in the afternoon. We discuss whether we should push on to Vigo but are worried it will be too dark when we arrive. The place we are in is beautiful too and I am sure that influenced our decision too. The afternoon weather is lovely with glorious sunshine.

Sunset is spectacular and at 10:30pm so we would have been fine for Vigo but ho hum.

Our anchoring on Mariadz has gone well in the past and this is no exception. We are nowhere near the rock as Mariadz hangs off her shiny chain glistening in the sand below.

It’s a lovely evening and we all enjoy it but tomorrow we will definitely go to Vigo and get some repairs done.

The next morning, we are aware of what time dawn is so we don’t get up too early but we are keen to arrive in good time so we set off at first light. Now of course there is no wind so it looks like we will motor all the way.

However there are problems as we start to lift our anchor. The windlass is definitely straining more than usual and the cause is obvious as the anchor comes to the suffice. The large rafts are moored with long lines that go into the anchorage and unfortunately we have hooked one. Here is where our mooring ball comes into its own. Since it is on the roll bar of the anchor it can also be used as a trip for exactly these circumstances. I gather the buoy and tie off the line to a cleat. Then lowering the anchor the buoy line holds the head of the anchor in place while the shaft drops and the thick mooring line slides off the blade of the anchor. I am maybe a little smug that one of our ideas has worked so well in practice 🙂

We are back to our standard watch system with no autohelm, with everyone taking an hour on the wheel. I have timed it so that Maria is there for when we approach the marina.

As we approach, the marina we are told to wait and they will direct us to our berth. Having checked the plans we are sure we know where they will put us but of course we are wrong! We are waiting in the entrance drifting around for five to ten minutes before someone comes to us in a rib and we follow up into the depths of the marina. Maria’s confidence is still low after the problems in Plymouth but I persuade her to keep going and of course she brings her in astern perfectly. We hand the lines to the guy assisting us and we are now settled in. Let’s hope we can be here for just 24 hours and not delay further!

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