Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Wendy’s Diary 30 May 2012 – Westward bound again

After filling up with water at the tiny marina (just a couple of pontoons for the locals, not for visitors), a quick bit of laundry (by foot not hand) and a chat with a local retired fisherman re our destination we were ready to set off. The sail from San V de la B to LLanes was a little over 16 miles, so around 4 hours – not a long haul and fingers crossed for a flat sea. We had the wind behind us and for a while managed to sail, but as has often happened, the wind dropped and on went the motor again. The sea became short and I was seasick again! There is something about the swell around here that really disagrees with me.

Anyway, my chosen port of call is a tiny place, where a local artist had been commissioned to paint the concrete blocks that formed the outer harbour wall, and the town itself is described as charming. The aforementioned fisherman advised us not to go into the marina as it was pricey, but hang a right as soon as we entered the river and ask to tie up in the fishing harbour.  This was perhaps the smallest entrance yet, and with our fingers crossed for a safe entry we nudged into the fishing harbour, where we were told under no uncertain terms to go to the marina.  We decided to head back out to sea and to the next ria, a further 4 or so miles west.

The entry to Llanes with the painted stones - the entry is on the left.
Niembro was hard to spot along the coastline, but with only a few hundred yards to go we could finally make out where the gap in the cliffs was. It was almost high tide so we reckoned we would be ok depth wise as this was a drying harbour. So for the second time that afternoon we crossed our fingers as we crossed the bar. The swell disappeared and we were in a beautiful crystal clear river with a sandy bottom, giving the water a lovely turquoise colour. We passed the little quay and the river opened up with views of the mountains in the background a church, a restaurant and fields.

That's me on the right...trying to work out how we managed to sail in here!

We dropped anchor and had just the sound of birds and cow bells in the way of noise. I keep running out of descriptive words for beautiful places, but this was another one of those spots. And, unbelievably we had wifi on the boat. Having gone for a drink in the one restaurant in the bay, which just happened to be of the same name as a password protected hotspot, we collected the said password and the proprietor even suggested that we see if it worked from the boat. We did go back for another beer there before we left as a token of thanks for the use of the signal.

I have mentioned before that I am in the process of making a cover for the dinghy to protect it from the sun which as we head south will deteriorate more quickly (the dinghy not the sun). We picked up a discarded sun shade (the sort that comes out on a roll off a building) in St Jean de Luz, which seemed to be in good condition and was obviously a good material to use as it was designed for the same purpose.

Anyway, this time I waited for the tide to go out and sat on the beach in my deckchair next to the dinghy and attached the elastic clips that attach the cover in place. By the time I had finished my fingers had more holes than a sieve, though thankfully not too many of them drew blood. I got through at least 6 needles and all the pins we had left. I was determined to finish this stage so that it could start to be used.  The following day I sewed round the slits for the ropes that attach it to the davits, so the cover can remain in place in transit and just before the tide came back in it was in a state ready to be used.

The anchorage at Niembro with the tide out
And with the tide in
Sewing has never been one of my strong points, I don’t have enough patience usually for the slow progress, and tend to take short cuts and finish up with something not particularly attractive. Now that I have swapped my life around and am time rich and money poor, I was happy to take the time and do the best job I could, and I must say, that it has turned out better than I expected it to. It still needs a few finishing touches, but it does at least now do the job it was designed for and has cost us less than 20 euros in the process.  I am impressed with myself and have awarded myself a gold star!

Me walking on the beach at Niembro.
Between Llanes and Niembro is a small town with an unusual name (to the English anyway). As soon as I saw the name on the map I told John we had to go there, I wanted my photo taken next to the sign. The primary reason being to send the said photo to my sister in law in Cyprus as I knew it would amuse her. She and I play a form of scrabble over the internet, the games often take several days to complete as it depends on who is on line when, in order to play in turn. We use the game as something to talk around; it isn’t about winning, and hold written conversations alongside the games. Placing a word that would be considered rude/funny by a five year old amuses us both far more than it should and you will see from the photo why this one was of such importance.  It was only about a 3 mile cycle ride away and the effort was much appreciated in Cyprus!
The town with the interesting name
The cycle ride was useful in that we passed the nearest shop, about 2 miles away, and a fab little roadside stall selling a mixture of home-grown and brought in fruit and veg, situated directly in front of their poly tunnels. I stocked up as it all looked good quality and not too pricey. The anchorage is an idyllic spot, but without the bikes it would not be possible to do any provisioning (there is of course the restaurant).

Some caravans we passed which had been er..extended??

We spent 4 or 5 days there before I got itchy feet again, the sea looked calm and we up anchored and headed 12 miles along the coast to Ribadesella, a fishing port along a very long quayside, with places for the likes of us “yachties” to tie up alongside for free. I managed the entire journey without even a hint of seasickness, but with a very slight wind on the nose it was necessary to motor all the way. The forecast easterly arrived just after we tied up to the wall.

We are tied up on the far wall opposite the marina...see next photo
Tied along the wall at Ribadesella

Looking out of the estuary at Ribadesella
The quayside is where the locals and tourists promenade, the sea wall is high and so the view of the boat is slightly from above. Our renewable energy system has attracted huge interest amongst the passers, with many stopping to ask questions. John of course is delighted to speak in which ever language is required (Spanish French and English) to explain how it all works.
The valley we cycled up

Today we took the bikes up the valley for about 10km and on bikes with small wheels that is a reasonable distance. The road followed the river so was relatively flat; it was amazing to be cycling with big mountains all around us. My camera isn’t good enough to take decent shots of the views, but John took one with his.

We have met some more lovely people and are happy to spend the next few days exploring the area before continuing further west.

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