St Jean de Luz is in a stunning location, but, like Cornwall, the wind blows and it rains a lot. The reception from the locals was truly amazing, we were treated like guests of honour in the local fishing club which became a regular haunt. We are not accustomed to drinking out much, living on a tight budget as we do, but this really was an exception and was not expensive. During the week we were invited to an evening of traditional Basque singing by the local male voice choir which was fantastic.
The club members didn’t want us to leave and kept saying that the weather would continue to be bad and we would have to stay there. Much as we enjoyed being there, we felt it was time to move on as soon as the weather would permit, and on Monday, after the wind blew very strongly all night we woke up to a flat calm and took the opportunity of the afternoon tide to make tracks. A weeks’ marina berthing came to 51 euros and the Capitainerie gave us a 2011 almanac as a parting gift, so all in all an absolute bargain. The 6 mile sail to Hendaye went without incident, and we very soon found our way around the back of the marina and anchored in the bay, sheltered from the worst of the winds that were forecast for later that night.
In the morning we wanted to go in search of bread, and having stopped first at the local sailing club to ask permission to leave the dinghy, we found no one so moved on to a pontoon belonging to the Yachting club. A request to leave the dinghy for a while was not granted, with apologies, but the mayors orders, and by the way, anchoring is no longer permitted in the bay and if you don’t go and move your boat we will report you to the local authorities! We went round to the marina at Hendaye who quoted us 42 euros for 2 nights, with the 3rd free. Not in the marina but on a cheaper pontoon on an outside wall, no water or electricity. We walked over to inspect it, the wind was causing some steep slop, and agreed it would make a very uncomfortable berth.
These were the waves inside the harbour!
We decided to take our chances and go and enquire on the other side of the river, so upped anchor to motor over to SPAIN. At Hondaribbia we found a very welcoming Capitanerie and the offer of berthing for 11 euros a night including wifi. Another very scenic location on the odd occasions that the rain clears and you can see the mountains. Several days of high swell (5M) and SW winds followed so we stayed put exploring the area on our folding bikes. John has been delighted to be speaking Spanish again, although a little rusty and somewhat complicated with all the French in his head. My vocabulary extends to about 20 words, and I am not planning on breaking my other leg in order to be able to converse in another language.
The old walled town of Hondarribia
On Saturday the pontoons burst into life when all the locals arrived to do waht boaters do when the time permits but the weather is not good. Spring cleaning, general maintenance, catching up with old friends, checking out new neighbours etc. John went out to speak to a local couple who were peering at Freya Frey, and, as is his wont, invited them onboard for a cup of coffee. 4 hours later and with a lot of information exchanged, we moved to their boat for a very enjoyable evening meal. This was another lovely and to us typical example of the camaraderie that exists within the boating world.
Today we set off, with two destinations in mind depending on the weather. The favoured one being Getaria, 20 miles away, with Posajes, a commercial port available 6 miles away if the weather/sea turned disagreeable. Plan C came into play around half an hour after setting off which was to return to Hondarabbia as the swell was very uncomfortable. I have taken a screenshot of our electronic chart software, the purple squiggly line is our “track”, showing how we poked our nose out beyond the headland to test out the swell.
The track out beyond the headland and back!