Not all bad luck

We spent two nights at anchor in Cedeira, a small fishing harbour, that was supposed to be well sheltered but there was still quite a lot of swell coming in. We took the dinghy in and went for a short walk just around the harbour.

The first night was ok, but we were a little nervous since we´re not that used to anchoring. The next day the wind started picking up, and so did the swell. We left the boat for a couple of hours to check out the town and get some groceries. It was a nice town from what we had time to see, we felt like we didn´t want to be away from the boat for too long even though we had an anchor alarm that would send an sms if the anchor started dragging.

When we got back to the harbour the swell was really coming in, we could see our boat bobbing around quite a lot. It was difficult to get into the dinghy and away from shore and everything got wet, including the groceries.
We spent the remainder of the day on the boat, not being very comfortable at all, even feeling a little seasick when we were in the salon. The wind started picking up as well but by then we were feeling more confident in that our anchor would stay in place, so we actually got a pretty good nights sleep.

The weather was supposed to get really bad and the next day was our only chance to get out of Cedeira before that weather hit. We decided to give it a go and if it was too bad we would turn back and then try to anchor further in. Getting out of the ría was the worst part, because the waves started breaking and becoming very steep. We still pushed on and after a while it eased up a little. Joel was at the helm all day while I was trying to hold on and not freak out! I trusted him though and felt much better than some times before – and it did calm down by the time we approached A Coruña!

We spent a few days in A Coruña, safe in the marina. Unfortunately the bad weather was accompanied by rain several times a day, but I felt extremely relieved that we had left Cedeira and made it to A Coruña when the 5 meter waves were roaring on the other side of the pier.

Our days were spent studying, finishing some projects, walking around town and drying clothes! We walked to the Tower of Hercules, a World Heritage site that was originally built in roman times and is still working.

When we left A Coruña the waves were down to around 2 meters and it felt okay, even though we had to motor. After a while we got some more wind so we rolled out some of the genoa and motor-sailed. The waves were still a little bit too high, so we didn´t feel like having the main sail slapping about. We spent the night in the tiny marina of Camariñas where it was very sheltered.

The next day was the first day we were able to sail almost all the way since we arrived in Spain! The waves were moderate and the wind as well, but it picked up a little just before we reached Muros. The following days were supposed to be really windy so we decided to stay for a while. Really liked Muros! The marina was nice and not at all expensive, the harbour master was very friendly and helpful and the surroundings were beatiful! It was windy, but sunny and clear.

They have a lot of mussel rafts in the ría and the fishing boats were constantly going in and out of the harbour, but we were not really affected by any waves or engine sound where we were moored.
Today we set sail from Muros, and we were fine in the ría, with rather flat water and moderate wind, so we could sail even though the wind was changing direction and intensity quite a lot. After a while the wind picked up, but we were still able to sail, even though some wind gusts were reaching 10 m/s. The prognosis had said it would be gusting a maximum of 6 m/s and steady around 2 m/s, so we were not expecting this. When we were beating towards up to 13 m/s, that´s when we feelt like we were reaching the limit of our comfort zone. So we took down our main sail and started motoring, at first we had planned to go into the Ría de Arousa and anchor somewhere (since it was supposed to be so calm) but we changed our minds because that would mean we had to go straight into the wind for several hours and might not find such a sheltered spot anyway. So we continued south, where we should find more shelter and if not – a marina.

We are constantly on the lookout for fishing buoys and flags, since they are scattered all over. Flags are unusual and often the buoys are only plastic bottles or very small floating rubber things that are hard to see until you get really close. When the sea state is not calm it can be really hard to spot them and today we ran into one!

There was a vibration and then a loud thump and we quickly lost our speed. At first we didn´t know what happened so we shut down the engine, frightened that something happened to the propeller. We suspected that we had run into something but we hadn´t seen anything, but then we saw the buoy behind us! We took out our action camera and started filming underneith the boat, so we could see that the propeller was still there but it had been folded (it is a folding prop but as you might know it folds out when it´s spinning). We tried starting the engine again and everything seemed to be working, but we ran it at low speed just in case and decided to head in towards a marina and take a better look. It seems nothing was broken, thankfully! We probably got caught with the keel first, so thats why we lost speed, and then the rope must have folded the propeller, maybe after we turned the engine off. Anyway, we were lucky!
We are also happy that we stopped here, Club Náutico San Vicente do Mar, since we were in for a real treat when we went for a walk with the dogs. There´s a 2 km boardwalk/beachwalk, along rocks and boulders and white beaches with crystal clear water, SO BEAUTIFUL!

Even though we wouldn´t mind sticking around here, if the weather is okay tomorrow we will continue. Maybe a shorter sail though, we are checking our options. The weather report for today was so totally off that we will just head out tomorrow and see what it´s like…N

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Anchored in Cedeira

Right now we are anchored, for the first time since we left Sweden actually, in a sheltered ría with the main town being Cedeira.

We stayed in Ribadeo for two days, exploring the beautiful coastline and countryside. 

Our next stop was Viveiro, a little more than 30 nm away. We couldn’t sail at all, at first because there was not enough wind. We tried for a while but the waves made it impossible. The waves (swell) also became higher with a rather short interval and after a while we started getting more wind and larger windwaves with a short interval as well. It was not at all comfortable and I was feeling a little scared too. 

Viveiro was really nice, calm and sheltered, within the marina our boat felt like it was on the hard because it was so calm. We met some friendly people that was living on their boats there, they gave us some advice and were very helpful. We took a day to explore some of the beaches and the old town, it was beautiful but unfortunately the amount of litter made me sad. We did some beach-cleaning, it was hard to stop but made me feel a little bit better.

Today we made the trip from Viveiro to where we are now. We started off with some waves but thankfully it got better. No wind to talk about so we didn’t get to sail at all. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be pretty bad with high waves and only moderate wind though, but we’re staying here in the anchorage. We’re hoping there’s not too much swell in here, we want to be confident in leaving the boat so we can go do some exploring!

Next port is A Coruña that hopefully we can leave for on wednesday if the swell isn’t too big.

Warning, super long post!

We have been really bad at updating the blog, I´m sorry, we´ll get better!

The last time I wrote was when we were still in the Hague, and so much has happened since then.

Leaving Hague, we were aiming for Bologne-sur-Mer, below Calais, but the weather turned really bad, not according to prognosis. We had pretty high waves and winds gusting up to 18 m/s and decided to turn around slightly and seek shelter. Unfortunately the currents and winds were against us and we spent four hours being beaten, doing about 1 knot in our preferred direction, arriving in Dunkirk early in the morning at a windy and almost empty marina.

After spending a few days waiting for better weather in Dunkirk, doing some exploring and fixing broken stuff, we sailed for about 40 hours to Le Havre. It was a big marina but once again we were locked in because there was no staff there. This time a lot of other boat owners were around so we could go in and out and explore the town. They really do have good bread in France and we were eating a lot of baguettes.

From Le Havre we sailed on towards Cherbourg, but after just a few hours some things broke again, a wire and some small things, because we didn´t have enough wind and too much waves. We took a reef so we could continue sailing for a while, but then we ended up motoring because of the waves getting bigger. As the sun set the waves got even bigger, the currents turned against us and we didn´t feel like repeating ourselves, also I started feeling really uneasy, so we decided to head for Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue instead of continuing through the night. It turned out to be a super busy and really crowded harbour, with many fishing boats rushing in and out at the time of high tide (when the harbour entrance was open). We were quite nervous the last bit of the way because there were unlit fishing flags and buoys everywhere and I was standing up front scanning the water with our torch! We were a bit shaky when going through the super narrow entrance at the same time as all of the fishing boats too. Also, we didn´t find any free space for our boat and ended up cramming ourselves in between two smaller leasure fishing boats.

We left the next morning, when the water was as still as ice and there was absolutely no wind at all, so we motored on to Cherbourg. The marina was large and calm, very nice with a lot of space. We got the wire fixed and also made some other adjustments and repairs. We stayed in the nice town of Cherbourg for three nights before we continued on.

This is a part of our journey that I would have done better off without, as we set sail without having really done enough research. We had focused on accurately timeing the weather, waves, tides and currents because they are super strong in this area and yes – we were having a superb sail! There were no waves to talk about, just enough wind and we were surfing the current doing more than 10 knots! So comfortable! We arrived in Guernsey, and moored at a pontoon outside the marina because the tide was still too low to enter. About then is when we read some more about the regulations in the Channel Islands and found out that dogs were not allowed to enter from sailing vessels. They had to be securely confined inside the boat at all times and we were actually not even allowed to moor at any pontoon or marina with dogs on board! It didn´t matter that they had all their shots, blood tests and everything – if found ashore they would be retained and then either quaranteened or destroyed as well as the owner being prosecuted!

If the weather had been in our favour we would have left immediately, but it was not! We spent the first night at the pontoon outside because we didnt want to enter in the dark, and it was NOT comfortable. In the morning we found one of our mooring lines chafed off, so thank god we had a few extra tied up. So we went inside the marina when the tide was high, hoping to get some shelter inside, bit it was almost worse! We spent two horrible days and nights there, being violently smashed and jerked around. Didn´t get much sleep at night but we could sleep about three hours when the tide was low enough for the marina to be closed to incoming waves. We had to sneak out with the dogs in the dark, but they didn´t want to do their business on the boat when they could see land so close so we took some walks anyway, keeping a watch out for the many police officers around.

Joel came down with a fever and a cold, making his stay even more miserable.

When we finally left the waves were still a bit high but it calmed down after a while. We had our first dolphin encounter under a moonlit sky just a few hours before reaching Roscoff, magical!

In Roscoff we spent a few relaxing days, exploring the Exotic garden next to the marina, bikeing the countryside and visiting nice little beaches. It must be a lively town with many tourists in summer, but during our visit not many of the stores or restaurants were open, the town was almost deserted.

From Roscoff we planned our sail carefully, because there are two areas south that can be very difficult if sailing towards the current or if the wind is blowing against the current. We had very little wind the entire sail, but it started blowing up just before we reached this area, Chenal du Four. Thankfully we took down all our sails and motored because it was suddenly really windy and just like that the waves got big and choppy and really uncomfortable. It was only for a short while though and we continued on towards Camaret-sur-Mer in calmer waters.
We had our first visit by the Coast Guard/Customs when we just reached the marina. They were really nice but a bit confused by our boat´s name being La Vie and us being two swedes that didn´t even speak french.

We did some exploring of the beautiful surroundings, a nice long hike with stunning views and gorgeus beaches. Otherwise the town was very calm, many stores and restaurants were closed and not a lot of people were there.

After our hike I got Joels cold and a fever too, thought I had dutched it but unfortunately not.

Again, thinking we had planned our sail carefully, we went on through the next difficult passage, Raz de Sein. Our weather forecast was kind of off, the wind was coming from another direction and as we tried to sail we lost some time cruising against the wind. We thought it would be ok though since that would mean that the currents would not be at their strongest. It started getting darker and we were motoring but feeling a little worried about our high speed, the currents were much stronger than we anticipated and also stronger than Navionics told us it would be at that time. Just after Point du Raz we got the worst experience of our lives! Waves were coming from all directions at the same time, at least four meters high and super steep. Our boat was violently thrown around and smashed up and down, sometimes it felt like the entire boat was in the air before being beaten down so low that I thought we were going to get flipped over upside down. We were holding on so hard that our fingers got numb and we were actually thinking that this might be the end of us!

We did get through it obviusly but seriously shaken up by the experience, we headed for Audierne. At that time the passage through a narrow canal to reach the town and marina was impossible, because of low tide, and we grabbed a largely over-sized mooring buoy for fishing boats outside and spent the night there.

We went in to Audierne around noon the next day. It was a nice, but small town and we spent three nights recovering, exploring and planning our next move. The beaches and surrounding natural areas were really nice and the last day we went on a long walk, had some crêpes and played with the dogs on the beach. We were completely set on sailing along the coast of Biscay, especially after the recent horrible experience, but as we studied the weather prognosis every day we saw that it seemed to be stable and good conditions for three or four days to come. So we decided to take a leap and do the crossing anyway! Our minds were also still set on reaching the Canaries and crossing the Atlantic before it was to late in the Carribbean season, so it seemed like a time saving move.

The first day was pretty windy and the waves were a little over my comfort level and as the sun set and the waves were still pretty high I started feeling uneasy and scared. We still had a long distance to go and we had about a day if we turned back (but then it would have been against the wind too) so we continued. Some dolphins came to accompany us and that made us feel better! We were rocking and rolling a lot but it got a little easier as the night passed. We met two large boats that were doing some kind of measuring or something, in the middle of the night. It was difficult to see but they left something in the water that had lights on it, but it didn´t seem to be for fishing (and the depth had just gone down to 4000 meters). No clue what they were actually doing.
The second day was ok, we tried to get some sleep now and then but it was still very rolly. The feeling of being that far out without any land in sight was weird and also not a nice feeling for me, I have been a little spooked by things breaking on our boat and I find it hard to relax, like I´m in a constant state of ”ready to act”, high in adrenaline all the time. It´s like it accumulates and I´m not really able to get rid of it, so being far from land made it a whole lot worse for me. I was dreading the night a little bit but it was actually ok, and I guess my mind and body just gave up or it was just because of the easier conditions (we had actually started to motor for a while).

But things can never be easy, so after Joel had his three hours of beauty sleep and we were both outside for like ten minutes, Yra had a slight mishap inside the boat. As soon as I got inside I senced the smell! I felt so bad for her, she must have really panicked because she had jumped up into our bed, then spun around while having diarrhéa all over the place! So I guess you can say we had some cleaning to do! We tried to rinse all of our sheets, covers and mattresses in the the sea water, just getting the worst off and then cleaning the walls too! She continued to have diarrhéa through the night and the next day, so we were not getting any more sleep but at least we had time to take her out before it happened!

So, exhausted and with a nasty smelling boat we were getting closer to Gijón, when our motor gave up and died! We couldn´t get it to start and we couldn´t figure out what was wrong. I sailed while Joel changed the diesel-filter, checked the oil and everything we could think of. We were thinking maybe it got over-heated but the cooling was working and it didn´t seem right that the temperature meter wasn´t showing anything. We also filled up with more fuel and as we took the air out of the system after changing the fuel-filter, we realized that there was a lot of air there! We sailed for a few hours, cruising against the increasing wind until we felt we really had to try the engine again and if it had been over heated it would have cooled down by then. It was a little reluctant to start but it worked up and continued to run just fine. Our theory is that we had run a little low on fuel and while rocking and rolling so much the motor must have gotten air instead of fuel in increasing amount. We were very nervous that the engine would quit working again before we reached the harbour, but it didn´t and we were finally in Spain!

We spent nine days in Gijón, celebrated christmas and did a lot of laundry! We found some nice people that we trained agility with and also to got some advice about where to go hiking. We rented a car for two days and went to Picos de Europa, a national park about 1,5-2 hours drive from Gijón. The first day we went on an easy hike around to small lakes, the scenery was breathtaking but we were not alone in thinking so, the place was pretty crowded because of rather easy access I suppose. The sun was shining and it was really nice and warm. The next day we went on a longer trail, higher in the mountains, Ruta de Cares. It is partially carved out from the side of the mountains and it was really amazingly beautiful! We tried to take a lot of pictures but they were rubbish compared to reality. It took us just over 6 hours to walk.

In Gijón we stayed at Marina Yates, a little bit outside town, in the more industrial port area. It was a nice and calm marina, with very helpful staff and a restaurant with good and not too expensive food. Unfortunately we had a lot of soot in the air from the industry close by, so that was a downside. Otherwise we didn´t mind the distance from the town centre that much.

After having recovered from the crossing and processed all our thoughts and feelings, we came to the insight that we are not going to cross the Atlantic this time. We are only two persons, with limited sailing experience and an older boat. We would have to hurry down to the Canaries, missing much of the experiences along the way, sailing longer distances without going ashore and at this time of year the weather can be unpredictable. What I felt while crossing the Biscay wasn´t enjoyable, we are doing this to feel good, explore, get new experiences, meet new people, see new places… We´ll see where this takes us in the end, but right now we are slowing down the pace, making shorter sails and focusing on having a good time! We are heading in to the Mediterranean this spring to start with.

A couple of days have now been spent in Cudillero, a small fishing village in a valley down by the sea. It is a beautiful little town but a bit worn down in places. People are not really speaking english and we are trying to learn some spanish, but we were a little isolated. We were moored on the side of a pontoon in a crowded fishing harbour, locked in once again but used the dinghy to go ashore, so it was ok. New Years Eve was the calmest we´ve ever had, almost wondering if we had mistaken the date!

And now we are safely moored in the marina at Real Club Nautico Ribadeo, where we´ll stay for a day or two.