Vilagarcia, the next Ria

CR and KN Williams
Wed 19 Sep 2018 19:07

42.36N 8.46W

Vilagarcia (Ria Arousa), arrived on Monday, 17th September, 2018

The “local knowledge” beloved of Pilot Guide writers declared that a fog-free morning would stay that way all day. This advice proved as inaccurate as it is annoying ubiquitously to read. The fog came down two miles from the marina and stayed for 30 of the 35 nm as we motored from Baiona to (for us) the penultimate Ria. The sea was flat all day, thankfully with none of the predicted swell. The wind did get up to 12 knts briefly but only on the nose and we hadn’t booked a slot to go to so we wanted to press on.
A friend spent two winters here some years ago and said it was very good and quite busy. The marina is next to a large port but that is, on arrival, completely empty, no big ships at all and the massive cranes all sit idle - It looks as though it’s been ‘Boulogne’d. Hopefully for them we’ve just hit a quiet patch. The marina is pretty much full of locals.

We’ve now been here a few days and there is commercial life in the harbours, but infrequent and very brief. Most large ships are in and out within two days; mainly containers and aggregate. It really sad to see so many unused cranes, steel tracks (not railway but for the cranes) well inland and otherwise vast areas of obviously filled-in docks turned into unused park, playgrounds and a massive McDonalds.
It’s strange but nowhere we’ve been has anyone done anything good with unused docks; London is a mixture of banking and industrial wasteland with the Olympics added as an afterthought, Lisbon is just a wasteland, Liverpool is pretty grim (it always was!), Cadiz I think was always small but does retain some shipbuilding (well oil rigs actually).
They also have no fewer than 5 ocean-going tugs around; all painted orange but much too big to be lifeboats. The town is excellent with loads of good ironmongers, supermarkets and even a barber! Food is a bit disappointing but one can’t have it all.


No fog on Monday morning and the guy in the marina assured me that means it will be clear all day. Not true! 50m visibility is definitely scary but with radar, AIS and a modern chart plotter which you know is accurate for the area, quite doable. Weird seeing small boats looming up out of the murk but the radar seemed to spot them, sometimes even fishing pot bouys. It was nice being in a town with proper shops for a few days. K has an excellent haircut done by a girl!