The Last of Spain
W. Eric Faber
Tue 6 Aug 2013 10:51
> After an invigorating sail last Thursday from Moaña (nr Vigo), my first port of call after leaving Falmouth, to Baiona, a popular port of call with ocean sailors, being on the very end of the Vigo Ria, I needed a little rest. In a straight line it would have been only 12 miles and since the weather forecast for the day had contained nothing untoward, I set off on the outgoing tide at about 14.30hrs. However, the wind, which was from the Southwest and right on the nose from the Atlantic, unexpectedly piped up to Force 5/6, so that the power from the engine was soon engulfed by the power of the head-on waves, which themselves were battling an outgoing tide. They became short, steep and aggressive, being funnelled from the Atlantic into the narrowing estuary of the Vigo Ria. Just as I was considering what to do, the engine suddenly protested, spluttered, then stopped and refused to come back to life. I could go back to Moaña, but would not be able to negotiate the marina entrance without engine power or go on to Baiona, which lies in the lee of a prominent headland and sail in. I decided on the latter and deployed half my genoa to tack into the wind. The 12-mile stretch became an exhausting 25-mile tacking ordeal. I had planned to be in Baiona by about 17.00hrs, but got in only by 20.30hrs having accepted a tow for the last half mile from a tiny plastic fishing boat with a tiny outboard out in the sheltered and beautiful Baiona bay for an afternoon's angling. As soon as Luna Quest had fallen into its lee, the wind and waves fell away and the sails became useless; a sudden change from 25 knots of wind to zero breeze. There was no time to lose; the few little boats about were rapidly becoming fewer at that time of night and the nasty reefs on my right seemingly closer. The fishing boat was occupied by an elderly couple out for a couple of hours' fishing in the gentle bay of Baiona. The wife looked terrified as her husband complied with the fundamental rules of safety at sea in offering his help to tow the 12-ton Luna Quest. I think his outboard may have been 8 horse power, but whatever it was, it managed to keep Luna Quest on course for the harbour entrance in the still waters of the bay, even if his own little boat could not. People on the pontoon observed the spectacle and shouted much Spanish advice to the poor old man, who had great trouble in keeping his own nutshell from swaying from left to right as it valiantly tried to put some speed into the colossus it towed. Eventually it managed to bring Luna Quest alongside.
> The south westerlies persisted day after day and there seemed little point in planning a new passage with the wind not cooperating, but Tuesday, August 6th, the winds were going where should be at this time of the year. From the North. Soon after my arrival in Baiona, I had decided I would not call into any ports along the Portuguese coast, but sail direct to Madeira. This morning, Tuesday, 6.8.13 at 08.20hrs, I left the marina, crossed the beautiful Baiona bay with its beaches all around and mountains beyond these, to face a turbulent and restless sea. It made sailing in the early morning wind impossible, so I motored for 2 hours in a south westerly direction when I found the seas in a regular and gentle pattern. At 10.30hrs in the northerly breeze I poled out the genoa to starboard and the set the mainsail to port. We are goosewinging towards Madeira, a distance of some 660 miles, in 13 knots of wind from the North.