Fickle weather, People of La Coruna

Thanks so much to everybody emailing support and for commenting on my last post, it was all really encouraging. I was hoping to have left today... But the weather has been bizarre. Just two days ago, the forecast for today was huge swell (7.2metres!) and high winds, which is not conducive to making it around Cape Finisterre. Just yesterday, local Navtex stations were reporting gales at Force 8 - Which I think was completely off the mark, as there was barely a draft going through the washboards. It's very confusing, trying to make a decision on when to leave. As of today the next five days are looking good. Swell is still up through till Thursday or Friday, presumably from conditions created by the low pressure system that has been hanging around. I wish it would just go away already. Conditions 100nm down the coast are much better - La Coruna is clearly a magnet for bad weather.

Constellation really wants to leave, she is starting to look like a messy houseboat, it's horrible. Although strapping loads of stuff to the deck does make her look somewhat impressive to some, I suspect the majority of the Real Club Nautico (local sailing club) think I'm a smelly singlehander that should be at anchor, not in their impressive white-boat-marina. Couple Constellation's chaotic appearance and the big Australian flag, it really does look like I've just sailed from Australia, as opposed to the other way around. Finely dressed Spaniards walk along the pontoons, regularly checking mooring lines, as I slouch up and down with bags of pasta from Gadis, saying 'Hola' with far too much enthusiasm.

This isn't to say I haven't met some really amazing people here. Not long after tying up, one of the marina staff took a shining to my boat. He really liked her. Several days later, he said there was another boat, just like mine, on the opposite side. I thought he was daft, maybe confusing Constellation with something of a lesser pedigree. But, I did wonder over for a look nevertheless. And what did I find? Nothing other than a really lovely white Contessa 26, her owner onboard, flying the Spanish flag. I tried to explain that I had a boat exactly the same, pointing to the other side, however we both just stared at each other blankly, having big 'no comprendo' looks at each other (hey, what happened to Esperanto?). In the end, he made a phone call, and gave me the phone. 'Errr, hello?' It was his son on the other line, speaking perfect English. I explained, he explained. It turns out, this little white boat, had sailed all the way from England, through the Med, Suez, around the Cape of Good Hope, and then back up to Alicante, Spain! Wow, another impressive Contessa voyage. Funnily (or, not really) enough, he was in trouble with Spanish authorities, because he had no paperwork for the boat, it had all drowned. How you ask? Much the same way my boat filled up with water when on the hard: The cockpit filled, and flooded the interior, taking the paperwork with it. This lovely Contessa owner invited me to lunch the following day. His son picked me up, drove me at breakneck speed to the family business. Which, as it turned out, was vinegar factory in one part of town, and in another part a spirits refinary! I had a tour of the vinegar factory, which still uses big oak barrels, admiring the family collection of strange cars, with a Uni Mog in the front garden, and a beautiful 1950's Mercedes restoration in the shed. We went out for a stunning lunch, and he invited me out again the following day! Here, he offered to loan me his spinnaker and spinnaker pole, as well as a mooring in Alicante (the Mediterranean) if I decided to stay in Europe. What amazing generosity.

Later in the week, I saw someone poking around my boat. I looked out of the hatch, and saw a man double bent over, trying to read the transom stickers. He popped up with fright when I said 'hola!', and we chatted for awhile. He came back several weeks later, holding the hand of a very young and pretty girl. He exclaimed 'this is my sister!!' and I sort of looked at him oddly. Later he told me he meant to say it was his daughter, which made much more sense. He took me out to coffee, and explained (there were some communication difficulties, so the story may not be quite right) that the OSTAR singlehanders used to come in near his house after the long race. He would row out in his boat to greet them, and chat about their craziness. He then took a look at my legs, and exclaimed 'oh yes, all solo sailors in small boats have tiny legs. I think you have tiny legs'. I laughed. I guess I do. Unfortunately that probably just has more to do with my anatomy than my sailing, since I've been spending more time walking around aimlessly than sailing great distances...

And then I met Monica, at a local cafe. She works there, the cafe is called 'Gasthof', which I must have been attracted to because of the German name (it means Guest House, if I'm not mistaken). Eventually after I kept showing up every once and awhile over the month I've been here, she started asking what I was doing in La Coruna. I explained, and Monica took a great shining to the idea, also after finding out I was not a 'sailing bigos Pijo*' (I don't know what the word is or out to spell it, but I presume it is Spanish for 'snob' or something to that effect!). Not long after, she left for Madrid for a holiday, but not without sending me a present of great generosity, with some photos of my boat to stick to the cabin roof. Thank you again Monica, you've been so generous.

While I have loved it here in Coruna, I really do hope my next post is from another port. It is time to move on. Constellation is biting at the bit, we must go.


* Tudor, my official trip advisor, and official translator (gosh, he's so official!), says: "Pijo, you have correctly guessed is a snob, but it has a slightly different demographic in Spain. More like a "conformist middle-class snob", as these are the people that wear tweeds, Burberry, Barbours and such, looking like thay have just come off a stag hunt in Scotland."