Sanxenxo - Pedaloes, Midnight swimming and Spanish Festival/Fight
18:08.10, 42.23.81N 08:48.73W
After a peaceful night in San Vincente - next day we set off a short trip around the corner to the next Ria and 'Sanxenxo' (apparently pronounced Sanchencho) where we had arranged to anchor and meet up with Mike and Denise who we knew in the UK and who also crossed Biscay in July to sail the Spanish and Portuguese coasts.
We arrived and Anchored off the beach between the two towns of Sanxenxo and Porto Novo. . . I did remember reading somewhere in the pilot book for the area that Sanxenxo was a bit of a resort for Spanish folk but didn't think much of it. . . . however - the activity on the beach increased steadily and by 4pm we were being circled by pedaloes, we had water ski-ers being dragged between all the anchored boats, we had a beach party blasting music across the water to us and, most terrifying of all - we had about 10 small children learning to sail dingy's right by the boat. When the instructor in the support boat shouted 'TACK' - they all tacked in a regimented fashion. The thing was - the instructor seemed to only shout 'tack' as late as possible as several children in boats bore down upon us. I could see the whites of the eyes and the fear in the face of one small boy as he sailed straight toward the middle of our boat, but daren't tack before the instructors say so. He got to about 6 feet from the boat when 'TACK!' and he turned - you could see the relief in his face (and in mine) as he whipped the boat around and sailed back off the other way. .
We met up with Mike and Denise later in the evening for some wine on their boat and it was really good to catch up with someone from the UK that we knew before we left, they ended up anchoring about 200 yards from us so it was a short dingy trip over. Returning that night after a few glasses of wine we climbed back on board our boat and I started to tie the dingy painter on for the night. Dingy was floating a bit further away from the boat than I would have like so I pulled the line. . . and pulled the line. . . . and pulled more line. .. . (it was quite a long rope) - however - after what seemed like an age of pulling line - I got to the end, which was looped around a metal hook that should have been attached to the dingy. . . . the dingy was merrily drifting away from the boat in the moonlight (luckily it was a pretty still night!). No sooner had I shouted the subtle hint of "someone's going to have to go in and get it" but, splosh, Adam was in, clothes and all - as we have mentioned earlier - the water here is 5 degrees colder than it was in the solent before we left - I have never seen anyone cover 15 metres and propel themselves into an inflatable boat as quick as Adam so the day was saved, and a whisky was required before bed in celebration.
The next day at Sanxenxo was cool and foggy at the start which actually made a nice change from the heat, all was quiet on the beach with no pedaloes in sight. . . but as the afternoon wore on we realised that something was definitely afoot as chanting, cheering and noise from the other end of the beach increased. So it was off to investigate in the dinghy. Turns out it was some kind of strange Sanxenxo festival - there is a rock with a statue on it in the bay, as far as we can work out the celebration involved people in blue and white shirts attempting to land on the rock and pull down a flag from the statue. The statue was ably defended by people wearing clothes any colour other than blue and white. All manner of vessels approached the rock - we saw a bunch of guys rowing and old skiff made to look like a galleon (somehow), drinking whisky from the bottle, old fishing boats done up like floats, power boats, dinghys and they were cheered on their way by spanish bag pipe sea shanties (they seem to like bag pipes around here). The boats were all full of people who would throw themselves in the water once they got within 100 yards of the rock and swim for it in order to join the brawl taking place on the rock. This went on for about 4 hours and was spectated by loads of boats and folk on the shore - we were in amongst the boats in our dingy trying not to get drawn toward the brawl or toward the drunken rowers. But we cheered at appropriate times I think. Finally at about 7pm the blue/white shirts swarmed over the defenders and the flag was destroyed. Hurray. I still don't quite understand the purpose but seems like one of those events that they have in places like Orkney where someone has to get a cheese to the top of a hill or something and it involves a village brawl.
Next day was time to say goodbye to Mike and Denise who are going down to Portugal and to move on from Sanxenxo in case the pedaloes returned en-masse.. . .