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Date: 27 Jun 2014 11:24:00
Title: The Death Coast

> Fabulous day sailing on Thursday!
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> It was cooler, very overcast and the wind had shifted from its usual north-east (or none at all) to a brisk (for a while) westerly and we had it straight on the nose. The strange thing about sailing is that the fastest point of sail is with the wind on the beam(side on). Downwind sailing, although quite fast, feels slow whereas sailing to windward, with the boat heeled right over feels really fast even if in reality you are going quite slowly and practically doubling your distance because you have to tack (zig zag, as you can only go at 45 degrees to the wind).
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> So we were tacking, way out to sea, turn, back to the shore, turn, past the island, way out to sea, turn ... (you get the idea). Kutani a British boat which had also been anchored in Mera was catching us up motoring and a sailing boat coming the other way, downwind was also motoring! Eventually Kutani started sailing and our paths were crossing on each tack but eventually Caramor pulled ahead and left her well and truly behind (not that we are competitive or anything!).
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> As we approached Laxe 43:13.33N 9:00.13W we saw a young gannet attempt a skydive; we have seen plenty of gannets, no adults, only youngsters with their darker feathers and none performing the characteristic plunge-dive which is so impressive. I am rather fond of gannets and puzzled why the word in English is synonymous with 'glutton', 'fou de Bassan' in French or 'alcatraz' in Spanish are much more evocative. The excellent painting by Martin Ridley on our wall back at Tan-y-Coed really does do these beautiful birds justice. Our book 'Seabirds of the World' informs me that gannets breed eastern USA, Iceland, Faeroes, Norway, British Isles, Channel Islands and north-west France and that 60% of the total population are in British waters. They disperse south in the winter and only become adult at five years old. All the adults must be gathered at the breeding sites and the juveniles are on holiday in Spain! I hadn't realised, however, that the skydive is not innate and the youngsters have to teach themselves!
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> We are now on the Costa da Morte (the Death Coast) thus named because of the very large number of fishermen that have lost their lives off this coast, the furthest north-west corner of Spain between La Coruña and Finisterre. It is littered with reefs, and frequently hit by storms and strong winds. At the moment, however, the sea is flat calm giving us endless anchoring possibilities.
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> On Fridays there is a market in Laxe which turned out to be the usual junk so we went for a shuffle (to call it a run would be pretentious) to the Faro (lighthouse) at the end of the headland. The vegetation is very similar to Welsh heathland: bell heather, gorse, bracken, bramble, etc. Back on the boat, I went for a swim but thought better of it once the water got up to my knees, definitely not hot. Given that in a few weeks' time the water will be warm, I will defer gratification.
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> Heavy rain through the night. Off to Camariñas.
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> Kath


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