|The two catamarans are visible beyond the big sand |
bar as are the mountains in the background
So my last entry ended with the arrival of our friends on Aquarelle, another Cornish catamaran. Very good timing that they did as the wind picked up and blew and blew and blew and blew (do you get the picture) a rather cold northerly westerly wind. The wind of course made the swell rise to a rather interesting 4 or more meters, which is something that keeps us well and truly in port. San Vicente de la Barquera was an excellent choice of harbour to get stuck for a week in a wind like this, and we found ourselves an anchorage in a channel between 2 sand bars which spent more time out of the water than under it. The boat sat on the sand for a couple of hours each day but never completely emerged from the water. The night the gale was due to arrive I spent in wakeful sleep worrying about it, to find that our spot was so sheltered that it was not an unpleasant anchorage at all except for at the top of the tide.
|The waves on the sea wall.|
|An finally the calm after the storm - Aquarelle in the mid picture.|
The town also has a good selection of shops and bars, so we didn't go without anything and
kept in touch
with family and friends through the wonders of the internet in bars providing
free wifi with the obligatory beer or two (ok coffee if the sun wasn't over the
yard arm). We shared several meals with Richard and Chris on either our or
their boat which went down very well with a selection of wines and sangria
during the week. 4 cooks all providing tips on the best way to cook paella
could have led to “spoiling the broth” but the end was a tasty feast of seafood
|A visitor on the deck|
|View of the Picos on our last walk|
|John ignoring the no walking sign as he was cycling|
- the waves at their largest were coming way above
all the rock you can see behind him.
I mentioned the wind – but somehow omitted the rain – it rained and it rained and it rained (how many people reading this have heard John retell the Stanley Holloway story of “3 hapence a foot”?). This of course meant we had no shortage of water on board as well collect rainwater, something John is always keen to point out when it rains. In between showers Chris and I went for a few hikes, the first couple of times were laps of the big sandbar – for the most part the sand is firm and timing the walks to start just before high water we had just about enough time for two laps before the tide encroached too far. One of the few things I miss by living the cruising life is my girlfriends from the UK, so nattering away whilst wandering was fab. Our last walk went out along the coast path with spectacular views of the Picos de Europa. I measured it at about 3 miles when we got back – not bad 2 months after ankle surgery.
By the end of the week the wind and swell were dropping and the forecast for Saturday looked good for us to go our separate ways, a northerly wind allowing us to travel east whilst Richard and Chris headed west. After nonstop high winds for a week rattling the rigging it was lovely to wake up (although early at 6am) on Saturday morning to near silence. But something was not quite right – I was aware of what I thought was the sound of water “chuckling” as it passed under the boat, John however became aware that one of the bilge pumps was permanently on. He shot out of bed in search of the problem to find it under the galley sink. The top pointy bit of our Bruce anchor was poking in through the hull, bringing with it a nice stream of water that the bilge pump was thankfully dealing with rather well. On calculating times afterwards this had been going on for a good couple of hours before we awoke – very grateful that we have automatic bilge pumps. A towel stuffed in a cereal bowl, wedged in with a couple of pieces of wood over the hole halved the inflow of water - we were concerned what would happen as the tide came further in increasing water pressure.
|The hole on the inside -|
after the boat had dried.
The minutes ticked by very slowly until high tide, and we made our way around to the slip, threw some lines to Richard and Chris (who had chosen to delay their sailing) and carefully settled ourselves between the old tramlines on the slipway to avoid any further damage. Time ticked by slower still waiting for the tide to go out again so that we could inspect the damage from the outside. It was market day and the town was very busy and John retold our story time and again to passers-by who were wondering what a British flagged ship was doing on their slipway on a Saturday morning!
|The damage on the outside|
We have a reputation for being the heaviest Heavenly Twins yacht in the water, and whilst this is quite likely true, it is also useful when you can pull out an electric angle grinder, electric sander, big tub of fibreglass repair and all the other bits and pieces required at a time like this. We had everything on board to carry out the repair and as soon as the hole was out of the water John set to work. In the meantime I set to on a job I have been putting off for a while, of scrubbing off some weed and slime that had grown just above the waterline making the boat look less pleasing to the eye. In between making the Skipper cups of tea etc it took me about 4 hours to clear both of the hulls outer sides and the rudders, by which time I ached too much to tackle the insides. Oh and just for a break in between, I scrubbed the barnacles and a couple of small settlements of mussels that had taken up residence on the underbelly.
|Nice working angle!|
|preparing the hole for repair - it is a bit bigger now!|
By the time the tide was coming back in the holes was no more and a local boat owner who also had his boat on the slipway thought that John’s work was of a very professional standard. If you are going to do a job well, choosing to do it on the one that might sink the boat otherwise is a good place to put in the effort and he was pleased with his work. We rewarded ourselves for a hard days labour with a beer, followed by a Spanish variety of caramel ice-cream from the local parlour which was amazing. At around 10.30 pm we floated out and sailed round to the fishermen’s quay, in anticipation of setting sail in the morning.
The forecast was still OK for sailing on Sunday so after a good night’s sleep we finally set sail for Santander, Aquarelle already on her journey eastwards in search of warmer weather. The sea was a little lumpier than we thought it would be (will we ever learn), even though the swell was down to less than 2 meters. In the 6.5 hours we both took a nap still recovering from the previous day’s hard labour, before anchoring behind the sandbar sheltered from the northerly wind.
|A walk on the beach|
In the morning the sun came out – blue skies, gentle breeze – this could only mean one thing – washing day! Rather a large bag of laundry had built up during the recent rainy spell so I set to by jumping up and down in my bucket (new model this year after the last one blew away in the wind) having a work out and getting the clothes clean. John meanwhile headed over to the Yacht club to collect a couple of parcels delivered there. Avid readers of my blog will recall that the some of the wind genny blades were snapped off in a very lumpy bit of sailing a few weeks earlier. All that time we spent in San Vicente with the wind blowing like mad, we had no wind generator. The parcel had arrived and within a couple of hours of returning to the boat we had it working again.
In the afternoon we took the dinghy up the river beyond Pedrena, although we had left it a little late and the tide turned before we had got as far as we had set out to and we turned back downstream. We stopped at a little quayside for a drink (brought from the boat) and went for a stroll up the hill through a very expensive and luxurious estate of individually designed mansions. At the top of the hill we reached a very grand set of (open) cast iron gates, and on passing through spotted the sign that told us we had just walked through a private road with no entry to non residents (on foot or by car). We carried on a little further until the view opened up again over El Palicio, our boat and another little vessel passing by called the Pont Aven. After taking a few photos we went back through the gates, the only signs of life we had seen were gardeners and the like, so thought we could risk it – especially as it was the only way back to the dinghy.
In the evening we went enjoyed a beer in the salubrious surroundings that make up the Royal Yacht club in Santander, with the sun beating down on the windows overlooking the bay. Playing “words with friends” on facebook in such surroundings makes me feel a little cheeky – so I made sure a flicked between that and the weather forecast if anyone happened to pass me by!
|Yours truly! The deck chairs turn into mini sun beds.|
Today has been dry and sunny again although the cold northerly wind continues to blow. We went ashore at Pedrena for fresh bread and to check out the local chandlery which is still the best one we have found in Spain. We were anchored about 150 meters off the high water line on the beach, but it was still enough for a lumpy fetch, so we took our books, a couple of drinks and our new deckchairs ashore and sat on the beach instead. With the backdrop of the Picos Mountains and Freya Frey in the foreground it was certainly a pleasant spot to spend a couple of hours. On returning to the boat we decided to try and find somewhere a little calmer and are now anchored off of a beach with the rather curious name of Fango!
If you have managed to wade through my ramblings this far – well done. Whilst I write this diary for our benefit as much as anyone else’s, it is always nice to hear feedback – so do let us know what you think or just like the link on facebook if nothing else. Thank you.