Laxe to Baiona, Way out West

It was a little sad leaving Laxe, not because I didn't want to get on my way, but really just because of language difficulties. I couldn't express to Miguel and his family how much I appreciated their hospitality, and it really disappointed me to just be leaving without be able to say much more than 'Thank you, Goodbye'. I left two bottles of wine, and my email address, however I'm not too sure email was his preferred method of communication... I should have asked for their address to send something, but alas, it never occurred to me. Here is a photo of Miguel, who was hard at work cleaning his nets. He showed me an enormous bag of crabs he had caught, and we compared boat sizes. I think I'm going to try sending something to 'Boat Loly Uno/Miguel, Laxe, Spain' - I bet he receives it!

It was a relatively short sail to my next port of call, Camarinas. After the bad weather of the previous few days, I was treated to sunshine and little swell, albeit without any wind. I've been motoring all over the place, so poor little 'August' the mighty Yanmar has been working overtime. I'm quite certain when he came out of the factory, he exclaimed to his bigger friends how lucky he was to be in a small sailboat, doing nothing more than working in and out of port. Little did he know, he'd be motoring to Australia.

As I came into the Ria that houses Camarinas, a little wind picked up, and I launched my headsail. I tacked up the Ria, and decided to sail right into port for the first time. Sailing onto the dock must be a singlehanders best party trick, so I figured while I still have 3rd party insurance (it ran out on the 16th), I should do some practice. As I rounded the breakwater at three knots, I let her run a little, before dousing the foresail. I coasted into the pontoon area, and lined up perfectly for a free berth. As I neared, someone started shouting and carrying on, insisting that I go to another berth. I really couldn't see what the bother was about, considering the entire place was empty, but there you have it. Luckily I had enough power under main alone, and I redirected, and docked to perfection. Unfortunately no one was around to take any notice at all, except the Marinara, who was probably just really annoyed that I had just sailed at 2kts for the last twenty minutes into his marina, while he stood on the dock attempting to direct me.

Nothing of particular interest happened in Camarinas, and I had really only come into a marina to find a post office. Post offices have been causing me great pain in Spain (that's a rhyme)... In La Coruna, I couldn't find the post anywhere, and when I eventually did, the hours were beyond comprehension, it never seemed open, and then I was ready to depart, and hardly in the mood to wait around to figure it all out. In Laxe, the post office was nothing more than a post sign out the front of a house, which upon entrance, turns out to actually be exactly that: The post office is a set of scales in the front room of somebody's tiny apartment. I walked in, and accidently thought I'd gone through the wrong door... While Laxe had the facility to post mail, I really needed a big post office with envelopes, boxes etc, and so, I had to move on in hopes of something bigger further on.

A friend emailed me after hearing I was going past Finisterre, mentioning that it was the end of the Camino Trail. This trail if you are unfamiliar with it, is a walk, or pilgrimage, going from one side of Spain to the other, finishing at Finisterre. As a symbolic gesture, I am told some walkers burn their clothes at the end of the walk, which as you can imagine, results in naked pilgrims loitering around the Spanish hills. All endeavours related to the act of persuing nakedness should be heartily encouraged, so I came in close around Finisterre (to those concerned, it wasn't that close, yet for the sake of narrative...) with eagle eyes. Unfortunately all I found was a sore neck from craning, but I decided to come into Finisterre proper, as another small boat pontoon was reportedly in the harbour. As with the last small boat pontoon, I was dubious of its existence, but noted a decent anchorage nearby, if it was only a summer installation. To my luck, it did exist, and I slept cosily tied up inside the breakwater. The following day I did a scout around for naked pilgrims; rather, I mean for a supermarket so I could buy provisions, but none were open... I walked past a Churros vendor (sort of like donuts that don't connect?) and asked for three Churros please, because I knew any more would make me sick, and I have no self-control when it comes to sweet things. The women exclaimed that I had to buy six for one euro. I couldn't understand why I couldn't buy three for half a euro... The mathematic puzzle really didn't seem too deep to me, however, language barriers resisted my abilities for debate, and so as expected, I ate like a glutinous pig.

Dolphins, the greatest animals on the planet, piloted us out of Finisterre, as I made for Ria De Muros. They danced around the boat, and I would have jumped in to join them, if it wasn't for my Churros illness. I motored into Muros town, and tied up against the fishing harbour wall. No one seemed to mind, so I walked around for a bit, bought eleven tins of anchovy olives, and moved Constellation into the bay so I could sit at anchor, listen to shortwave radio, and eat my tinned olives in the tranquility of not being tied side-on to something. It was still daylight (day/night has effects on stations one can receive), so I was stuck with Christian Science Monitor, and Radio Slovakia German Special Edition on the radio. As you can imagine, I understood neither. Actually, that's a lie... I could understand about 20% of the German Special Edition, however one fifth of any conversation leaves much to be desired. As night fell, BBC World finally came online, and I lay in bed happily listening to the ailments of the planet, reported every fifteen minutes of every day, 365 days a year.

I left Muros for Sanxenxo (pronounced Sanshensho), for reasons I still don't quite understand. I think the name attracted me... I should have powered onto Baiona, but I wasn't finished with the Rias, and Sanxenxo seemed like a good place to stop. While on route, the Guardia Civil (coastguard) curiously powered past. I curled up in a ball in the cockpit to reduce my visibility. This is an instinctive animal trait, that assumes if I cannot see the Guardia Civil, the Guardia Civil cannot see me. In actual fact, they probably now think my vessel is not under command, or I have not set a proper watch, further incriminating me. I fear the Guardia Civil for several reasons, mostly because they could get me on a number of technicalities if they so chose, and I hear they enjoy paperwork, strict rules, and small red boats. In light of all my bad mouthing, they carried on, and left me huddled in a ball thinking up good excuses as to why I didn't have VHF licence or a motor cone up.

In the distance I could see the triangles of sails as I made my approach to Sanxenxo. Out here they appear to be an anomaly - I am about the only sailboat around, so I was happy to see some others out enjoying the distinct lack of wind. I was rather suprised to see several boats sailing quite quickly in the distance, past Isla Ons. How on earth they were sailing was beyond me, as the air was so still, you could see smoke rising from the villages in enormous vertical trails. All I could think of, was that each boat had it's crew on the 'windward' side, blowing great mouthfuls of air onto the sails, to the timing of the skipper cum coxon. In the interest of hypotheticals, if any physicists are onboard, could you please tell me whether or not that would actually be possible... Because if it is, I think I'm going to ditch the solo thing.

As I eventually came into Sanxenxo, which was now dark, I was admiring the surrounding hills when the most curious thing happened: They all quite literally disappeared. In front of my eyes, a huge power outage unlit an entire city. For a second, I thought it was the sneaky Guardia Civil, testing to see whether I was doing Streetlight Pilotage (a close cousin of Stern Light Navigation). Minutes later the city came back online, and I was still floating, which must have meant I had past the test, which as you can imagine, was a great relief.


Nothing of particular interest happened in Sanxenxo... I bought some more olives, and left the next day for Baiona (Bayona). I plotted my projected course, punched in my waypoints, setup my routes and sailed south in a perfect wind on the beam. This soon evaporated like a fox, putting 'August' the mighty Yanmar back on shift, to my great annoyance. It wasn't all bad though, as I kept one eye on the compass, and one eye on Fernando Pessoa, until I came closer to Baiona. Then, out of nowhere came a stiff wind and enormous choppy swell. I was not prepared to do any 'real' sailing, the boat was a mess, and I expected nothing less than calm seas and sunny weather, as it had been for the past four hours, and the past five days. I launched the foresail to harness some of this precious wind, and I started flying along at 5kts, burying the bow, and probably slightly over powered. The coffee plunger fell over, covering the floor, the cabinets flew open, and the books on the chart table ended up in the sink, but Constellation was a free bird, almost soaring directly into the wind (upwind is a long keeled, skinny boat speciality). A tanker and a tug boat went past before I could change tack for Baiona, and eventually I docked at the fancy yachtclub closest to the breakwater. The Marinara attempted to put me stern-to with a slime line on the bow, which I think is the most horrible way of marina mooring on the planet, especially for visitors. Sorry, but it's just stupid. Give me a finger pontoon please, or something else distinctly grounded. Not to mention the fact that reversing a long keeled boat is near impossible, and I've got a 1600euro windvane hanging off the back which I don't relish the thought of impaling on a pontoon... So I high-tailed out of there, and went to the lesser Deportivo next door, which was more my style anyway. The fancy one had a restaurant with leather couches, a cigar cabinet, and oil paintings of square riggers painted in pastille colours hanging on the walls. It really wasn't me... Stick me in with the fishermen any day, at least they're interesting, and are really, truly, the only genuine people of the sea.

Baiona was one of my milestones. Thinking of sailing to Australia is impossible - It's simply too far away. I can only think in baby steps... For me, sailing from Amsterdam to Calais was a milestone. Cherbourg was my next milestone, as was Camaret, and then La Coruna. Baiona was my next one, with Lisbon being my last before hitting the Atlantic islands, where my milestones become much further apart. So, as Baiona was a milestone, I was kind of irritated by how things were going. First, the unpredicted wind and sea-state-weirdness, then the silly stern-to idea, and then once in the other marina I was redirected to about three different pontoons because they were all 'prohibido', even though the place is desolate and I'm probably the first sailor from a foreign port they've seen since the end of October. And then, I put my shoes on, and the starboard shoe was full of coffee. I think it was just one of those days...

Special thanks to Cindy at Cindigo for the donation. You rock! I suspect it was a subtle suggestion that I should go by some seasickness medication! ;)

So, I need to get cracking down to Lisbon before Christmas day...