29 July - Vigo repairs and some cool jazz
We roused ourselves early the morning after the Irish Party to put the boat alongside in Vigo for a couple of days to repair the pulpit. Removal of the bent metalwork turned out to be very straightforward, thanks to the fine build quality at Oyster and within a couple of hours it was being persuaded into the back of Alberto Lagos’s family car and off for surgery.
We went ashore for lunch to mark the occasion; strangely we both had a craving for a good hamburger – probably a reflection of several weeks of eating fish in one form or another. Galician beef is supposed to be a cut above, but I think I’ll stick to chipirones and Padron peppers in future.
Our lunch venue in Vigo
We made good use of the time waiting in Vigo, doing the standard liveaboard chores and conducting the first major piece of maintenance of the trip so far, servicing the generator. Touch wood, it has been very reliable, but I’m a fan of preventative maintenance and get great satisfaction from changing the oil and seeing the new stuff appear on the dipstick. I’m getting better at controlling the resulting messiness but it’s a feature that marks me out as an enthusiastic amateur. I plan to do the same with the main engine in Gibraltar, before we set out into the Atlantic.
Jules Verne based his famous novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea here in the Ria de Vigo
Alberto brought the pulpit back at lunchtime on Thursday, but it did not quite fit so after a bit of screwing, unscrewing, cursing and discussing the merits of 12mm anchor chain, he took it away again. Not entirely unexpected and the enforced delay gave us the opportunity to make some further progress with refurbishing the teak decks – a project that last saw the light of day in the Golfe de Morbihan.
Determined to get that screw out of the bilges…
Finally on Friday afternoon, the pulpit was back onboard and fitted beautifully. If you look very carefully, you can see the repair, but it’s strong, straight and, after a couple of hours spent upside down in the cable locker, it was rewired and good to go. Escapade was straining to depart, so we set sail fairly late in the evening and went across the Ria to our regular anchorage at Cangas for the night.
On Saturday, we had a fine sail north to the Ria de Aldan. We had visited earlier in the week as part of the ICC ceilidh, but the wind was in the wrong direction to linger. Today it was perfect and we anchored at the head of the ria about half a mile from the main town, off yet another glorious sandy beach. An American boat (members of the OCC and the Cruising Association) who were stuck there with expensive-sounding engine trouble, told us that it was Fiesta night in Aldan and we would not be getting much sleep, so we went ashore to investigate.
Half past seven in the evening is ridiculously early in Spain. Most restaurants do not even open the kitchen until half eight and we wandered around for a bit looking for the action. Round by the fishing port there was a large funfair, aimed clearly at the under-tens, a beer tent of similar proportions but completely empty and two huge stages stolen from Glastonbury or somewhere. Apart from the Romanian stallholders in the funfair, the place was deserted. Tripadvisor told us that the smart restaurant was a couple of miles up the ria, but there was a ‘cheap and cheerful’ on the harbour wall somewhere. We eventually found it behind the Glasto tentage and grabbed a formica table before the crowds arrived. Simple fresh seafood was all that was on offer, so we took the plunge and tried the razor clams, steamed with half a lemon as garnish. Quite delicious: the texture of asparagus, the taste of… the sea. I’m sorry, these are way better than the noble Percebes, significantly cheaper and an absolute delight. By the time we left it was half eleven and the funfair was in full flow with small children everywhere. The bar had about twenty octogenarian patrons but there was no sign of either band or any live music. It was starting to rain so we made our way back to the boat.
The noble Razor shell…
The music started at midnight. At four in the morning I got out of bed to find my earplugs. At four thirty, the musicians retired to the bar. At five, the rain stopped and I squashed the mozzie who had been dancing away by my left ear since two. The Americans were right – much to my chagrin.
Sunday was great, though. Unsurprisingly, the morning was really quiet, but by early afternoon there were signs of life on the jetty and eventually the ‘Parade of Fishing Boats and the Blessed Virgin’ got underway. Most of the inhabitants of Aldan were afloat in the big fishing boats that service the Viveiros and we joined the procession somewhere near the back in our rubber boat, with one eye on the cooling water outlet on the outboard. It was like the start of a big ocean race, only with far more gunfire and fireworks. Inspired, we weighed anchor and moved the mile or so down the Ria to the Playa Menduisa where the smarter restaurant sits just above the beach. It was packed when we tried to get a table for lunch, but we did secure a table for the evening when a jazz band was due. We returned onboard and went snorkelling: not an unmitigated success – the water was a bit cloudy and Julie’s new flippers are more like clogs than mermaid’s feet…
Dinner ashore, looking out at the boat as the warm sun set behind it, listening to a jazz trio and eating mussels grown just five hundred yards away, was pretty sublime. We’ll be back…
The view from ashore and afloat at Playa Menduisa