Gijon to The Fish

Dream On
Freddie Alderson
Wed 7 Sep 2011 14:03

Gijon to the ‘Big Fish’.

We were up early on the Tuesday to check the weather; and that being positive got a wiggle on. Due to yesterday having been Fiesta as well as Sunday,  we not only had to settle up, but get fuel and do shopping and hoped to be off around 8.30. Saz and I, bearing lists and bags, rushed off to the shops, while the boys took the boat round to the fuel dock. We were back pretty quickly having raced round to the usual premises; the only activity we saw were the many street cleaners with hoses getting everything spotless again. We were too early. We went back for a coffee till 9.15 when the first one opened to find the boat already at the fuel dock – a lovely large empty fuel pontoon with loads of space round it, and a short walkway to the office.


Unable to find a slot for our cards, I popped into the Marina office to find that we pay there and to use the furthest pump, the first one being for large craft who requires 100s of litres and it comes out real quick! As you can see the pontoon is enclosed by the old harbour walls and the new development seems to be very sympathetically done.


Original landing steps                                Amazingly clear water                              Harbour office above.

We paid normal prices and wifi was efficient, and both it and the showers were free. Then it is off, off and away, past the many decorated concrete blocks used to shore up moles and walls etc

We were aiming for Ribadeo and it was looking like quite a long day at around 70 odd miles, doing our usual 5 knots due to absence of wind, any less or more usually being dependant on the tides – Ho hum,  always too little or too much. But the sea decided for us that we would use our reserve refuge in Luarca. Small white crests turned into larger ones, several seas were clearly colliding and things started flying about down below.


So we went in to anchor up in Luarca at about 7 pm. Tiny, narrow entrance, with the added advice to keep to the left hand side due to submerged rocks. Inside there were no facilities as it was a tiny place with a tiny fishing harbour, but there were 4 buoys just inside for yachts, who then had to take a stern line to the (quite high) harbour wall. Once within, it was empty and it was easy to hook a buoy and relatively easy to take a rope in the dinghy to the wall, climb up and secure it round the bollards – and a fine job was done by Able-now-to-tie-a-Bowline Seaman Saz.  

Thought we’d been alone on the sea, within an hour 2 more yachts had arrived, a French one, who stayed far off the wall as we did as we’d read about underwater obstacles near the wall, and a Danish boat, with no dinghy and a lone sailor. He went much closer to the wall, but was OK anyway. However not having a dinghy, he threw his rope up to the Frenchman, who was already on the wall. Unfortunately the Frenchman dropped it back into the water, so Sir Galahad Fred leapt into the dinghy, retrieved the rope and handed it to the Frenchman, who’d climbed down the ladder and then went back up to tie it off. The Dane, Hans Christian Christensen, was very grateful, saying jokingly, otherwise he would have had to swim!  At least we though he was joking. In the end he invited us all round for a beer, once we were all settled. A fishing boat went out shortly after this and came straight back in, the seas obviously not to his liking.



The French people did not come but we enjoyed a good chat about the places we had been, and were going. He was going to meet friends in La Coruna and had sailed with other friends who had now left. He was working his way around and had applied for jobs in the Med and the Canaries in hotels to help pay his way. He sailed down as far as La Rochelle in France before crossing to Gijon solo. We exchanged contact details and may see him again. He was very nice.

Next morning, lo and behold before I was dressed  and anyone else was up, he was on deck in his swimming trunks in the rain and low cloud, sorting out his line to move his boat nearer to the ladder. And then blow me, if he didn’t jump in and swim to the ladder to arrange the slip the other end. And then he was off, quick as a flash, no worries.


We were off shortly afterwards to find a much calmer sea and headed for Ribadeo, with no problems. Did spot some dolphins briefly on the way which was nice. But they’re so fast, they are very difficult to catch on camera, and you can usually just get the splash as they re-enter the water.


We left about 10.30, with the usual variable light winds, and at about 2 pm, got our first glimpse of the bridge over the entrance to Ribadeo. Another of those ones which look low, and make you catch your breath as we go under.



Through the bridge (whew!) the marina entrance is ahead to the right, with room for us. We settle in, register with quite a fierce man, inspect  the loos (pronounced quite adequate by the crew), have home-made pick’n’mix (each person puts their own favourite topping on their quarter) pizzas for dins. Fred and I try a walk, but the road is very steep into town and we decide to leave further exploration for the morning. So a meander along the front suffices and so to bed.

Next day Saz and Jim are off to do the shopping, and luckily, find a road up to town that had a somewhat less sharp gradient, and is not so exacting on lungs and thighs. We notice our pontoon is full of lateen-rigged sailing boat, which seems to be a speciality here. And we also find live bait sold from vending machines, ‘cebo vivo@.


We find the street tamps on the main drag have the same lateen-rigged design, and later find out that the car park in the picture below and the road in front of it have been built on what was the old harbour. You can see the old wall below the white building on the right was joined to the mole on the other side of the road, and that enclosed the harbour, and formed the entrance to it with the wall opposite (below right). Everything else is new.


We all go for a stroll to the little whitewashed café that sits above the harbour, and notice some interesting decorations.


                                                                          The way up to the café………………………and Mr Calvo Sotello himself.


                                                                     7 feet and a knee having a late evening coffee/ drink  over-looking the harbour                                                               

Then back to the boat, who sits waiting for us – a real cool dude.


Jim and Sarah went for their own little explore beach-wise and discovered little caves and beaches and places where they can fish and collect mussels but the tide is wrong at the moment, and we’re off tomorrow.


But Yo! – tomorrow dawns to the remnants of a big storm in Biscay, leaving behind its remnants of strong winds and a big swell. So we have to wait another day. So Jim and Saz are off to the beach and caves, Fred is resting and I am off to explore the town, having shopped with Saz in the morning. And quite strange it is too.

Going Saz’s way to town, there is a much gentler slop, and an intermediate one, which cuts up the slope. In between these two is a house on the promontory, in the most fantastic location, but not kept up. The picture show it from behind, where the two roads join again.(below left), and below right is I really don’t know what, but it is beautifully kept up, completely freestanding and proudly displays its date, 1883 – 2007. But what is it?         The local tourist office has 2 things in it and a tiny desk. The  display of dummies (above)and a magnificent model boat.


During my walk, I am charged with finding some cream, and the Spanish equivalent of Milton. The first item sends me all round town as it seems to be a difficult concept to explain. Eventually I have to go back to where  I came from where there is a supermarket claiming to have ‘nata para cocer’, though it looks like an orange juice carton to me and I am highly dubious. For Milton, equally difficult to explain, I am sent to ‘farmacia’ after ’farmacia’, with kindly written notes explaining about cleaning baby’s bottles in Spanish. and they all deny having  it. Eventually I see a mother and baby and ask her what she cleans the bottles with as I would like to buy some. ‘Aaaah,’ she says, smiling broadly, ’Milton’. I sigh with relief. And off I charge to yet another place I am assured will have it.  This is totally unlike the small antiseptic neat and similar pharmacies I have been into so far and is more like a huge Boots. The third person I asks beams broadly and drags me after her busily to the appointed place. Where she is horrified to find they are out of stock, very temporarily, of every one of the 3 versions of Milton they usually have, and will have again tomorrow.  I give up and head home.

The pictures below show just how steep that other road was. I feel really sorry for the people I meet coming up who, without exception are showing the strain and barely have the breath for, ‘Ola’, and a weak smile. There is also a fuller picture of the very magnificent white house shown above the car park earlier. It is the old customs house and is now for sale; allowing for its lack of habitation and care, it is very impressive and huge, but right next to it in equally prime positions are two houses in states of complete dilapidation. Notice also how, just below them, a road has been built right across a staircase.



On my return, I find Saz and Jim hard at it, cleaning the mussels they have so ably collected, that we will have for our supper with white wine, cream and garlic. And very delicious it was too – unbelievably  fresh and tasty. And next morning we’re off, past the new bridge and the old, where large trading ships used to load up before ‘modernisation’.



More Fishy Tales

Before going into Viveiro, our next port of call, we stop the boat so Jim and Saz can try their hand at sea fishing. We are getting complaints about marinas and their non-fishing aspects .(though we do see people fishing in them all the time), and not having stopped at sea before for actual fishing; and of course, we have in the past made our own complaints to the crew- fishing folk about the lack of ‘ dinner actually being on the table.

So here they are, fishing away………………..and certainly the fish seem to be away, so they all ought to be in the same place,……. and we wait in expectation below………………..


They first try some vertical jigging (I didn’t know dancing was involved! And will it help, if it is?)but  with no luck due to there being too much tide. So they decided to move on at slow pace, about 3 knots, and try trolling some lures.

And 10 minutes in, Lo! Jim has a bite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He is locked in mortal combat with the fish – mortal for the fish that is, at least we hope so


With consummate skill combined with a steely  determination, Jim wrestles with the fish as it fights for its life. Jim pulls in the line and gets it on board when it continues its fight and will not be subdued (as I found later to my cost and a few moments of extreme panic)




A lovely 5 lb bonito, an eager-to-eat-it crew and a very excited and proud Jim – as were we all. Though we jest and tease, we are impressed not only by Jim’s skill, but by his knowledge not only of fishing but of fishes and their habits, and sea life in general. We have a lot to learn from him, and Saz, who learns as she goes and practices a lot.

My problem with the fish came later when it was definitely dead and lying in a bucket. It was a bucket I wanted to use, so I thought I’d just transfer it. As soon as I touched it, it started writhing. I thought it might some kind of post-traumatic stress jerk, like chickens do and waited a mo and tried to hold it down. But I jumped out of my skin, really shocked by the strength of its muscles and how difficult it was to hold it at all. I really have a lot to learn here.

After expert filleting by Fred, we all sat down to sheer heaven.