The wind was still in the North when
we set off from Combarro so we hoisted all sail and romped down the ria at 7.5
kts with the kids asleep. As we
came out of the shelter of the Ria the seas and wind increased until we had
24kts true from the NW. It was a
superb sail, always knowing that we were bearing off round each headland, but
partly for practice and partly for prudence I put 2 reefs in the main and left
the mizzen and genoa as they were. This made a good difference and is a good way
to reef down when reaching on Nutmeg.
We were still doing 7-7.5kts and as
the seas were quite steep I dropped the mizzen and we continued SW, narrowly
missing a warship who was coming through the traffic separation scheme (of
course I knew about the TSS, I just wasn’t going to beat into the wind to cross
it at right angles…) and, with guidance from the Dutch lot on Ch74, we anchored
right off the beach after a really good sail.
Sunset over Islas
Islas Cies are a beautiful set of
small mountainous islands which almost block the entrance to Ria de Vigo. They are bird sanctuaries and are
extremely attractive. The main
anchorage is off a sandy isthmus which stretches between two of the bigger
islands. This is one of those
unknown gems that heathen Northern Europeans like us had never heard of until we
read the pilot books but they are magnificent and just what the Holdens needed –
sand, water and sunshine! We took
the kids for a quick walk on the beach as the sun set and went back to the boat
for a good sleep ready for the next day.
The next day started with a morning
of school for the girls and jobs for Dad, followed by a well-earned play on the
beach in the afternoon. This is
what it is all about!
Emilia & Jemima on the beach at
In the evening we did a pot-luck
barbeque on the beach with the Dutch families which was a nice, chilled-out
affair. I think everyone has found
it tough at times and the chance to unwind on the beach was good.
After adding a little more sand to
Nutmeg’s bilges from our shoes, beach towels etc, we went to bed but found we
needed to wedge ourselves in because the swell was creeping into the bay and
making us roll. We definitely roll
more than some of the more modern boats, presumably because of hull
The following day was a repeat of
the previous only we went for a walk on the island rather than school so I won’t
bore with detail. Suffice to say it
was a very relaxing day!
View of isthmus & anchorage,
On our third night off Islas Cies,
Sarah and I were sitting having a cup of tea at about 2200 when there was a
sudden bang as if Nutmeg had been hit by something! There was little wind but some swell and
we rushed outside with the big spotlight to see what it was. There, ominously just below the surface
a few metres from our stern, was a rock!
We had hit the bottom! We
quickly upped anchor and re-anchored further down the beach and worked out what
had happened. There didn’t appear
to be any damage.
Basically, we were a bit
unlucky. When we had anchored 3
days ago, we had laid out 30m of chain according to the prevailing wind
direction. On the night we hit the
bottom, all the boats had swung round quite a lot and we happened to be lying
with our stern pointing towards the single obstruction in the anchorage. This would still have been OK, but the
tides had moved progressively towards springs and we hit about 30mins before low
tide on the lowest spring tide, meaning our swinging circle was that bit bigger
because the depth was less so there was more horizontal
Well that’s my excuse and I am
sticking to it. So we have hit the
bottom twice in 2 months – but who’s counting?!
One of the pilot books remarks that
people leaving Northern Europe tend to prefer
marinas until they reach around this point on their cruise, when they realise
that it is actually far preferable to anchor. We couldn’t agree more. We have anchored for 8 out of the last 9
nights and it is so much nicer.
Even with the swell in some anchorages it is quieter, cheaper and just
generally feels “right”. We’ve not
yet had any problem in setting our anchor – it has set first time, every time so
When we pulled the anchor up to
leave Islas Cies, we found 4 or 5 bright purple starfish and numerous shells
attached to the chain and anchor!
However, the urge came to push on
the few short miles to Bayona so in the morning we headed South once more. It feels odd getting to Bayona – Bayona
is one of those “milestone” ports like Coruna, where you feel like you have
achieved something major in getting there, and a whole new coastline and
cruising ground is ahead of you – in this case Portugal. To us, it felt like we had reached
Bayona almost too soon – like we weren’t expecting to reach it for a few hundred
more miles. The rias are deceptive
because the distances can be quite short if you are simply heading straight
across the mouths of them.