Coruna to Vigo - A Challenge or Two

Jon & Carol Dutton
Mon 19 Sep 2011 17:04

Monday 19th September – Vigo

Having feet on dry land after a wet and very blowy four days at sea was a pleasant experience and the warm sunny weather in Coruna enhanced the experience (sorry, to those of you suffering autumn gales in the UK!).  Inevitably, much time was spent mending things broken on passage and ordering parts to be sent to future ports of call.

Moored next to us was Peat Smoke, a Rustler 44 also entered in the ARC.  David and Caroline Thompson had set off from their home port in Islay and had suffered far worse conditions than us across Biscay – F10 gusting F11 – and with a broken auto helm – but they and their companions had dried out and were in very good spirits.

We had some very pleasant meals and strolls in Coruna – a small city with an impressive combination of modern and classical Spanish architecture.  Bob and Andy took time out to visit the Roman lighthouse Torre de Hercules.  That nod to culture completed they went in for some serious grockling on Segways – see photos attached.  By Thursday, after three days, it was time to move on.  We were to round Cape Finisterre and put into a small harbour, Portosin, some way up the Ria Muros.  What wind there was came from the west, but after a few long tacks even that died.  However, the tedium was relieved by our first catch!  A bonito – see photo – no chance of fisherman’s tall tales of being at over six feet long!  But, at about 2 feet long it was the perfect size for four of us for dinner.  Bob wielded the lethal filleting knife and produced a delicious meal with Galician overtones.  That beat the planned pasta dish by some margin.  For a little time we were joined by a pretty tired robin who hitched a lift for a while and once rested in Andy’s lap, flew off homewards.

After an otherwise uneventful overnight passage in beautiful moonlight, we berthed in Portosin at about 0400 on Friday.  We’d noticed, on passage, that the large alternator, which charges our domestic batteries, appeared not to be doing its job.  A local electrician confirmed that we had a problem – disappointing since the alternator had been completely rebuilt in 2009 and shipped to France to join us.  Fortunately we have alternative means of charging the domestic batteries but, clearly, we need to solve this issue.  Vigo is by far the best place to get this done – so Vigo firmly joined the itinerary.  It’s about 10NM up the same Ria as Bayona and we have to get the wind instruments seen to anyway.  But, no rush.  The plan is to see a couple of other rias on our way south.  These rias – the Rias Bajas – constitute a really wonderful cruising ground in a national park area.

Late morning on Saturday we set off with plans to explore the next ria down – Ria Arousa – and either anchor there or duck into a marina well up it.  The conditions looked just right – wind just aft of the beam and blazing sunshine.  Time to rouse out our Parasailor spinnaker.  That saw a useful increase in speed but the gremlins were plotting.  It transpired later that when rolling away the foresail the spinnaker halyard had taken a turn or two around the forestay with the spinnaker hoisted.  Y’see, you’ve got this wretched snuffer thing that puts the head of the kite about 2 feet below the sheave.  We didn’t notice the wrap and neither did it affect the way the spinnaker worked.  Then we gybed.  We have to use 2 spinnaker poles on this boat.  It’s a bit of a palaver but makes gybing extremely safe.  However, no sooner had we done so but the carbon fibre pole onto which we’d gybed simply folded in two about a foot from the mast.  We still have absolutely no idea why.  We turned well off the wind and got it down and stowed.  Meanwhile, the kite decided to wrap itself around the forestay.  It defied all attempts to unwrap it.  So we thought we’d drive the boat around in a few tight circles to help it.  But, there was now quite a lot of rope hanging around the place and, of course, you never put stopper knots in spinnaker sheets.  So, whilst most of the crew battled on the foredeck, the gremlins showed a spinnaker sheet how to find the propeller and wrap itself around it.  So, no engine now.  Excellent – things could scarcely have been going better.  Right, let’s get this thing down.  But, of course, it won’t come down because, as we now know, the spinnaker halyard is wrapped around the forestay.  Eventually, after being hoisted up the forestay three times and some fairly ruthless use of a knife, a somewhat battered Jon managed to get the thing released.  Carol, Bob and Andy, who had been fighting this monster for about 40 minutes by now, wrestled the kite aboard from the sea.  Spiffing; job pretty much done.  Now all we had to do was add the repair of the spinnaker pole and spinnaker to the job list for Vigo, sail into Bayona marina after dark, find a berth and come alongside under sail.  So, that’s what we did, thanks to some very good crew work.  Well done, all.

Sunday morning involved a certain amount of PT as we, firstly, washed, dried and bagged the spinnaker ready for delivery to the sailmaker in Vigo and, secondly, Jon donned a wetsuit, mask and snorkel and dived with a knife to clear the propeller.  Serious knitting down there – add a new spinnaker sheet to the jobs list.  Fortunately, we’d met a fascinating Dutchman, Marcel, who was sailing around the world with his dog.  He understood the problem intimately, having battled with it frequently.  Moreover, he had a really phenomenal knife with which to sort it out and was more than happy to lend it to us.  Success here called for a celebratory paella in Bayona.

We also took time out to look at the Parador Baiona.  It’s quite stunning.  Bob was so drawn by the thought of a night ensconced in its luxuries that it was clearly time to get going.  That afternoon, at about 1715, we sailed for Vigo.  We had a great couple of hours steaming up the Ria de Vigo under foresail alone in a very decent Force 7.  Andy, at the helm, was in his element. We berthed at the Marina Davila Sport.  It’s a bit out of town but it is just the place to be if you want technical support.  

It is now Monday morning.  The marina manager could not have been more helpful and his production manager was aboard 30 minutes after Jon reported to the office.  So, it’s a one stop shop for all the repairs.  An engineer has already been to begin to sort out the alternator and reckons to have it done today.  Meanwhile Bob and Andy have disappeared into Vigo to sort out their travel arrangements.  They fly from Lisbon on Wednesday morning and so need to travel from here to there tomorrow.  They’ve been a really great team to have aboard and we will miss them hugely.  The bilges will be ratless.

Photos attached:

Bilge Rat Team Work

Bilge Rat Maximum Effort

Bilge Rats at Play

Our First Fish

Andy’s Newest Best Friend

m_20110915 Team Workm_20110915 The Happy Crewm_Segwaym_Our First Fish


  m_20110915 Robin