John & Susan Simpson
Mon 30 Aug 2021 15:03
On 1 March 1493 Baiona became the first place in Europe to hear news of the discovery of America. La Pinta was one of three ships in Christopher Columbus’ expedition across the Atlantic which became separated during a storm. Christopher Columbus, in La Nina, landed in Lisbon a few days later. (Note for Felix: the ship is called THE Pinta in Spanish as well as in German!). We have spent the last couple of weeks in the Monte Real Club de Yates de Baiona doing boat jobs, exploring the area and generally lounging about! It’s a beautiful setting in the shadow of Baiona castle (now a hotel) and the bay is almost circular, so very well protected from the Atlantic swell.
Monte Real Club de Yates, Baiona
Of note whilst we were here was the arrival of yacht ‘Mascarpone', which was taking part in the Transquadra race - an amateur race for solo sailors or double-handed crews which starts in France, has a pause in Madeira and then finishes in Martinique in the Caribbean. https://www.transquadra.com
Solo sailor Damien Jenner had set off from Lorient and was heading for Madeira when he encountered rough weather and lost steering when his rudder was damaged. He had been towed into Baiona by lifeboat during the night. We woke to find a cursing Frenchman on the pontoon who was in a bit of a dither because he had only a few hours to fix the boat and rush to the supermarket for extra provisions and if he didn’t make the deadline for reaching Madeira he would be out of the race! Team Simpson jumped into action and whilst John helped with the boat fixing, I dashed off to the shops with the list of provisions. I was pleased that my new electric scooter proved up to the task of transporting it back, including 9 litres of bottled water balanced on the footplate! All went well and Damien was able to continue his journey. We were pleased to hear from him a few days later to say that he had reached Madeira safely and within the time required by the race rules. Thus demonstrating that Entente Cordiale is still possible between France and the UK.
Damien arriving in Madeira
The e-scooters have been great fun and we have been on a number of ‘scooter safaris’. One of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela passes through Baiona. Called the Camino de Santiago or Way of St James, the first of these routes originated in medieval times. There are a number of starting points across Europe, all heading towards Santiago de Compostela, north of Baiona. We are on the Portuguese route which starts in Porto and would take up to a month if you were to walk the whole 280 km (174 mile) route. It would be much quicker by e-scooter! There are hostels along the route and a number of places where pilgrims can have their cards stamped as a record of their journey. The routes are well-signposted, either with yellow arrows or shells set into the ground, and we found the local route a helpful way to explore the quieter roads and tracks between Baiona and Vigo, the next town.
Camino de Santiago route markers
It’s this way!
Now that we are making our way down towards the Canary Islands we have started to see other yachts flying the distinctive ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) flags. Making contact with these boats is a great way to make friends who will be travelling the same route as us over the coming weeks and months. We have moved into the anchorage in Baiona ready to head south to Portugal first thing tomorrow morning. This evening, though, we will be having a few beers on board ‘Walkabout’ with Traci and Andrew from Plymouth. Cheers!