FW: 24 July - Diplomacy in Vigo
Monday was an odd day in Galicia. Tuesday is a provincial holiday to celebrate the life of St James of Compostela, so many people take a super-long weekend. For us, this impacted the pulpit repair which we simply rescheduled for Wednesday, but hopefully would not delay the outboard motor repair. The large building at the top of our pontoon at the Marina Davila Sport proclaimed itself as the Mariner agency, so I was optimistic. Unfortunately, it was not possible to gain access; we were firmly pointed to Marina Reception where everything would be organised for us – after all, it was all one company (albeit French owned). All I wanted was to talk to the mechanic and have a look at possible replacement engines, but apparently that wasn’t an option. Julie adopted full diplomacy mode as I got grumpy and we were about to take the engine back to the boat and go elsewhere when the mechanic miraculously appeared. Turns out he’s a sub-contractor and nothing to do with the ‘main agent’ at all. The engine disappeared into the back of his van without a receipt and a vague assurance that it would be back before dark…
So, anxious to avoid a small nuclear explosion, Julie suggested we should take advantage of the ‘free bikes’ offered by the Marina to go into town for some supplies. Not possible, I’m afraid. There were four serviceable bikes in the rack, but keys for only one. It’s one way of keeping them serviceable, I suppose. I’m a bit old to sit on the handlebars, so we walked. I actually thought fondly of Southampton, briefly.
Not the Marina Davila Sport or Southampton, but a soothing pic of Islas Cies instead!
It was HOT but not that far, and the little town of Bouzas, indistinguishable from the sprawl of Vigo from seaward, turns out to be rather characterful. Morale was swiftly restored by some ‘churros con chocolate’ – deep fried, sugared batter sticks dipped in thick hot chocolate… and we had a successful pair of hours buying fruit, vegetables and meat in the town, with engine oil, new fishing lures and some flippers for Julie to go snorkelling in at a genuine Aladdin’s Cave of a chandlery called ‘Jesus Betanzos’. We enjoyed some ‘Brit watching’ in there: the hassled husband buying a new bilge pump and feeling guilty about spending money on his hobby whilst the rather gushy wife swept through the clothes aisles running up a bill for several hundred Euro’s worth of nautical-themed clothing in about three minutes of highly efficient retail therapy. Those who complain that boating is an expensive pastime often follow this model…
The engine did return, but not without further interference from the Marina side of the business. Apparently it would be with us by seven, but since the staff all went home at six thirty, we would not be able to take it away as they would not have prepared a bill in time. As Tuesday would be spent celebrating St James’ birthday, that would mean staying in their festering marina until Wednesday – at a cool €50 per night. So much for the ‘same day service’ advertised by the ‘main agent’. We pushed back against this classic piece of small-minded bureaucracy and Julie actually managed to gain access to the engineer’s workshop/showroom. It was a vast cavern, the size of an aircraft hangar, almost completely empty. A pile of brand new furniture still in its wrappers in one corner, a shiny 25 foot cabin cruiser thing in another, and two 3hp outboard motors on a rack. I’m not sure how they were all related. Oh, and four people peering anxiously at their computer screens hoping that we would not engage them in conversation.
A bill then emerged; it was clear that there was little communication with the people in Marina reception and the engineers were bemused as to why we had left the engine at the other place in the first place. I refused to pay the bill until the engine reappeared, which seemed reasonable even to a man about to celebrate the life of St James, so they focused on trying to sell me a new engine instead. At roughly 50% more than the UK or Gibraltar prices, and nothing to actually look at, I was unenthusiastic. They were persistent though; the price dropped a few shekels and then the salesman (who looked uncannily like the wet upper-class philanderer in ‘Cold Feet’) tried to sell me a secondhand one – ‘special price for you, but no paperwork, I’m afraid’. Do I look like a visitor from Mars?
Finally, the engine reappeared. The duty Marinero was on a mission to recover some ground and we were driven around in a golf buggy (sic) with the outboard clamped to the place where people in comedy trousers usually stick their trolleys. Fortunately we did not have to strap in as nobody was wearing a lifejacket as the budding Aryton Senna showed us its paces along the jetty…
Bottom line: the outboard was repaired (loose pipework), the bill was roughly what I expected and at just before 10pm we executed a perfect ‘white water departure’ from the berth, despite being pinned on by a 20 knot breeze.
We spent the night for free at anchor off the beach at Cangas.