Montag, 27. August 2012

Rally Bayona

We were in Bayona well in time to organize a safe place for our son Felix's VW camper van at an underground car park very near the Monte Real Yacht Club, were all participants of the rally started to gather. This seemed particularly important, as it was already broken into Felix' bus in Bilbao and now it would be left alone for two weeks.

Felix and Floortje, his girl friend, had already been on an extended tour with their camper van, first to Norway, where the engine broke so that the car had to be transported back to Germany for repair, and now, with an all overhauled engine on the long trip through France to the Iberian peninsula, where they would join us for the two weeks of the rally.

The Rally Bayona is by comparison a small event, with around 20 boats. Alfredo Lagos senior, now 86 years old, had been organizing this event for many years, roughly every two years. In his function as port officer for the OCC and the RCC, Alfredo has aimed mainly at doing something for members of those clubs. Practically it is open to anybody recommended by members of these clubs.

We first heard read about this event in the 'Flying Fish' the publication of the OCC over two years ago and decided to join the 2010 rally. For us it is not a big deviation from our Atlantic islands tour that we had been doing every year since returning from our circumnavigation. Having really annoyed the 2010 event, it was clear we had to come again.

Extremely well organized by Alfredo and his wonderful family, this event is a fantastic roundtrip through the Rias of Galicia, with many excursions to interesting places.

As always one comes away, having made many new cruising friends and much sympathy for the Lagos family and having the youngsters on board, it was even more fun this time around.

As always, it starts with a trip to Monte Tecla, a fantastic viewpoint high above the river that separates Spain from Portugal, and aside from the view, one can see the remains of very early settlements that are claimed having had several thousand inhabitants. Interesting to imagine the many closely gathered round houses bustling with life. All this is followed by an incredible dinner party in the garden of Alfredo's house. Incredibly nice ambiente, fantastic food and great local wine all amplified by the warm hospitality of this nice familiy.

Then the rally moves to the beautiful Islas Cies where the group can battle through jungle like underwood to the outside of Islas San Martin or hike up to the prominent lighthouse on the middle island with a great view over islands embedded in fog patches.

Another nice dinner event was organized at a beautiful old estate in the bay of Aldan. A visit to Salvora Island, with its fascinating rock formations was a real highlight. On went the rally to Puebla del Caraminal where the fleet remained docked for 3 nights, while enjoying numerous bus tours to spectacular viewpoints, old monasteries, a wonderful palace  and again gorgeous food and fine wine all the time.

The longest leg was from Puebla to Muros, passing in fog through the tricky canal between Isla Salvora and the mainland. It turned our a fantastic sailing day with ample wind pushing us into the Ria de Muros, the last of these deep inlets, just south of Cape Finisterre. Here the highlight was driving up the winding river Tambre to a lovely spot at an old power plant. Despite some rain in the morning and the first part of the boat trip, it turned out another great day.

The rally finished with a grand dinner at the yacht club of Portosin. Mant new friendships were made during this rally and everybody praised the dedication of the Lagos family organizing this memorable event.

We took off to the south again the next morning and put in another overnight stop the Cies before going back to the marina of Monte RealClub de Yachtes, were Florttje and Felix left us again to move on with their camping van. We only remained in Bayona for one night, as now not part of the rally, the Club would charge the full fee which was the highest Taniwani had payed for a berth in 12 years. Actually way out of anything in the vicinity.

So we moved out again and into the Ria de Pontevedra, this time to the fishing town of Bueu. A bustling town with menu good shops and a good size harbor just used by a vast fishing fleet. But anchoring in front of the beach was good and only a short dinghy ride into town.

Finally we anchored for a last time in the Cies before leaving the area when our new friends on Whisper, Sandy and Noel came in to the anchorage, this time accompanied by Noel's Simon, and so we had to try the fine Rioja that Alfredo had organized for us at a great price. It was a nice last evening in Galicia before Taniwani headed out of the Rias, early in the morning, bound for Porto.

Montag, 20. August 2012

Galicia before the rally

We arrived in Galicia over a week ahead of the start of the Rally Bayona and so we started to explore the area a bit more on our own.  Our first stop was the anchorage of Isla de San Martin, the southernmost of the spectacular Islas Cies. A place we already knew and a good anchorage in southerly and westerly winds. All the anchorages at the Cies are very popular with the local cruisers and on weekends it gets quite busy but never tight on space. We enjoyed two nights at the first anchorage and then just moved across the canal to the next anchorage in the south of Isla del Faro, the middle island with a prominently situated lighthouse on top of a 180m hill. Incredible views from there, often with theater style fog patches enhancing the scenery.

Then we thought we have a look into the Ria de Vigo, the southernmost of the deep fjord like inlets that are so characteristic for Galicia. The first bay, Ensenada de Barra, seemed another popular anchorage, again beautiful and with a mile long beach populated by beach combing nudists.

Eventually on for some shopping to Cangas, right across from Vigo. There is a small marina, but we weren't sure we would get a place and so we anchored and explored by dinghy. Barely ashore, we recognized Peter Haden, also OCC, who we had first met on the previous Rally Bayona. Peter is an expert on the area here and helped us right away with getting a place in the marina and many other helpful hints. Exchanging stories over a few glasses of Albarinho wine with Peter and other OCC members, two days went by quickly.

With still a few days before  the rally start in Bayona, there was a good opportunity to look deeper into the Ria Pontevedra, the next inlet to the north. Especially so, as this Ria isn't really on the track of the rally. We went in the whole length where at the end there is a little round island called Tambo behind which there is an excellent anchorage. The island itself is off limits and belongs to the Navy. There isn't really anything military going on on the island, at least as far as we could tell, but a patrol boat comes by twice a day to make sure nobody is landing there. The rumor is, that the military is keeping the island because around it are the best razor-blade shells of Galicia and they want them for themselves. 

Wether true or not, the place is still fine as one can easily go by dinghy into Pontevedra or only a short dash north, to Combarro, a renovated old fishing village. Nice looking, but a bit of a tourist trap and with a very expensive and not particularly friendly marina. Our long dinghy trip into and through Pontevedra was nice, but as we did it at low tide, there wasn't any place where we could land without burying our feet knee-deep into mud.

In a nice write-up, another OCC member described the Tambo anchorage as 'sticky', because you tend to stay there for several days without any particular reason. We too liked it and sent two nights there. For us the stickiness inly showed when we tried to retrieve our anchor: Our anchor and some 40 meters of chain came up covered with extremely sticky mud.

After another quick overnight stop at the Cies, we finally went into Bayona and the Monte Real Yacht Club, to join the rally and to await our son Felix and friend Floortje, who were rolling in with their old VW camper van.