Thursday, 16 May 2013

Wendy’s Diary 16 May 2013 – Hiding from the waves.

Last time I wrote we were hiding in Foz waiting for the swell to die down enough to continue our sail eastwards. We enjoyed our stay there and explored up the river as far as the dinghy could take us (where a tree had fallen and completely obstructed the river). We also found a nice bar in town which had both excellent WIFI and views overlooking the beach. We moved anchorage a couple of times, but found the one up the river just before the railway bridge (too low to go under) was the most comfortable place to be.
Surf at Foz, stopping us from sailing but looks nice.

We finally made our escape late afternoon on Sunday (12 May) having carefully checked the entrance to the river for breaking waves before heading out. At the time we were anchored just inside the sandbar and I found that a quick shin up the mast gave me the perfect place for checking the said surf. The predicted 12 knots of North Westerly wind prompted us to raise the mainsail for the first time this year, in the hope of sailing without engines. However as soon as we were out to sea, the wind dropped to about 3 knots and the swell picked up to at least 2 meters. So an uncomfortable 10 mile passage along the coast to the river Eo, nice short name for a river! We did get to see some fairly spectacular breaking waves en route, crashing into the cliffs, and thankfully the entrance to Ribadeo is an all weather one, so we had no problem getting into the estuary.
Castropol in the late evening sun

With the swell being from the North West we thought that tucked just south of the marina on the west side of the river would be comfortable enough, but after a couple of hours and nearing darkness decided we would be in for a sleepless night if we stayed there. We up anchored and quickly headed across to Figuras, passed a huge ship in for refit in the shipyard there and ran out of water with the outgoing tide just passed the town. Behind the big sandbar we were protected from the swell at least until the tide came back in, so packed ourselves off to be expecting to be woken around 2am with the swell slapping on the underbelly gain. Thankfully it was nearer 4 than 2 so we had at least had some decent sleep, and after waiting until sunrise we then headed up stream passed Castropol on the left bank to a more sheltered anchorage further up the river.
The view from Castropol out to sea. 

Last year when we came into this river we only went ashore at Ribadeo, where after buying diesel for the boat were welcomed to stay on a pontoon during the day to do shopping, showering etc so long as we didn’t stay too long. They even had wifi on the pontoons, but the swell was coming straight in from the sea and it was too uncomfortable to make any use of it. This time, being anchored on the East side of the river we decided to give Castropol a visit. The pilot book describes it as the town where all the wealthy merchants had their houses built. It is perched on a headland within the estuary, the geography giving it river and sea views from 3 sides of the town. The former merchants houses were in general well maintained and there was little evidence of the crisis (recession) which is so blatantly obvious is most Spanish towns. We treated ourselves to a beer in one of the riverside bars (whilst collected the latest weather report) before dinghying back upstream to the boat.
Early morning at our anchorage half way up the river. 

The weather report was not looking good with the swell continuing to build, which was in evidence in our anchorage. So we decided to head even further upstream to Vegedeo, where there is a bend in the river and we were hopeful of a more peaceful anchorage. There is a large old quayside here which has silted badly over the last few years, but the channel in the middle of the river was wide and deep enough to stay afloat. At high water we took the dinghy up into the town (google earth is fab for planning such trips) and sussed out the local amenities. After hitting the bottom a couple of times we thought it best to head back down stream to the boat. The following morning we took the cycles ashore and went back into town (about a mile away) in search of groceries and wifi to check the weather reports again.

Our anchorage at Vegadeo

Lilies growing on the riverbank
The following day as high water approached we took the dinghy up the main branch of the Eo. The river is adorned with lilies, which I have never seen grow in such abundance (I admit to pinching one which is now adorning the saloon table). I was given one of this variety as a moving in present to my first house in Saltash and managed to get about 3 flowers out of it in the 6 or so years that I lived there. As you can see from the photo, in one patch there must have been around 50 flowers! There was also a very cute “harbour”. This had been built on a bend in the river and provided enough shelter for about 3 small boats. It was adjacent to a picnic area in a nature reserve, which had pictures and descriptions of the local wildlife including birds, fish and reptiles. We had seen a furry creature on the river bank on the way up, but neither of us had been able to identify it. Something around the size of an otter, but it was dry and fluffy with a longish tail, and on our approach it ran and hid amongst the weeds on the bank, whereas we would expect an otter would dive under the water for safety. 
The tiny "harbour" on a bend in the river Eo

The swell was reportedly getting larger, predicted to hit 4 meters before subsiding again several days later, so we accepted our fate in that our current anchorage would be home for a few more days yet. We have now been here for 4 days, it now being Thursday and this afternoon are off to check the weather reports again in the hope that the swell is subsiding and we can sail at the weekend. Frustratingly both the swell and wind direction are ideal for sailing East, but neither of us fancy the rough ride it would entail in the current conditions.  

We have had the opportunity of meeting a Paralympics silver medallist who is a member of the local rowing club adjacent to our anchorage. Every evening a selection of 1 and 2 man rowing boats paddle up and down the river past us, training for the next major event. The team has won a multitude of world class medals in both able bodied and disabled events, with photos and extracts from the press blazoned on the rowing club walls.  We have also caught up on the laundry and John as ever has been tinkering with his latest projects, not to mention watching a few episodes of Morse and House – we have the entire collection of both on board in case of such emergencies as this. 

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