Ria de Pontevedra, Sanxenxo

Sat 11 Aug 2012 11:33
42:23.77N 8:48.22W

We set off for the next Ria this morning in flat calm, hoping that as we got out of the Ria the wind would fill in a bit so we could enjoy a sail. It did indeed fill in, but on the nose so we ended up motor sailing down the coast. We were aiming for Isla Ons and had a small passage to get through so we didn't fancy trying to beat our way in with rocks and shallows either side of us. As we approached we saw a big ship at anchor in the shelter of the island, with four massive cranes on it. But just as we started to enter the passage we also saw a fog bank rolling in quickly from the sea. Within minutes the ship was slowly engulfed, leaving just the tips of the cranes visible above the bank. We changed our minds - anchoring in a busy bay in thick fog didn't sound so attractive after all, and we decided to try going up the Ria to find a shelter anchorage at head of the Ria. However, we could soon see nothing of the ship, the island behind us nor the headland ahead, so, with radar on and a lookout posted forward, we crept carefully into Sanxenxo marina instead. The thought of dodging those shellfish rafts in the fog didn't appeal! I would add a picture of the marina but it's just boat moorings fading into a bank of white.

We were treated to a rather entertaining spectacle when we arrived: opposite us an Oceanis 373 was being helmed into a bay between two fingers. It was clearly his mooring as there were fender lines left on the fingers and he had no fenders, but had installed those white buffers along the edges of the fingers and the pontoon. However he seemed to have no idea what to do. He was going far far too fast, jamming on his engine and spurting his side thrusters furiously, missing the mooring then panicking and jamming into reverse, just to bump into the boat on the opposite side behind him, ricocheting off that and continuing to bounce from one side of the lane to the next, smashing into the pulpit of a motor boat and breaking his ensign off as he went, his wife shouting at him to stop, to slow down, whilst she fended off the boats when she could. The marinero was stood on the pontoon trying to shout instructions to him and all the while the daughter was trying to comfort a dog in her lap, who had picked up on the tension and confusion and was adding to it by giving out continuous high pitched yelps. The more embarrassed he got as he messed up, the more mistakes he made, turning the wheel the wrong way as he tried to reverse. They had a dinghy strapped up on the transom, which helped as it served as a massive fender behind them. When he did eventually get alongside the finger, I thought it might pop as he hit the pontoon rather hard.

It was such a spectacular performance that we didn't bother with putting on the sail covers, or hooking up the electrics, or even booking in the marina for a while, but instead we cracked open cold beers, opened some crisps and the four of us sat in a row on the coach roof, like we were at the cinema, and, clutching a roving fender as a precaution in case he headed our way, we resisted the temptation to cheer and applaud. I don't think we helped. There is a wonderful fascination in watching these things, a 'there but for the grace of God feeling', combined with a smug 'Well, hopefully, I'd never be as bad as that' feeling. Schadenfreude at its basest.

When he finally was safely moored we could see his ensign slowly floating across the marina in a rather forlorn way, we felt that someone should retrieve it as a trophy, like Nelson would have. In the interests of diplomacy and continued good relations with the wonderful Spanish.........we didn't.