30 April – 6 May 2007: Baiona
We left the Islas Cies on a blustery overcast morning, sad to have only managed a day there. We planned to leave early in the morning, but a huge thunderstorm was approaching over the horizon when the alarm clock went off. So we decided to have a leisurely breakfast and poke our noses out when the rain, hail and lightning stopped. There was still quite a large swell running when we left, caused by the strong winds during the storm. This made for a very uncomfortable journey and we decided to take the shortcut to Baiona between some islands to the north of the Ria de Baiona. I struggled to navigate us through this small gap with the boat swaying around in the swell. We made it through without hitting any rocks or running aground, and it was comforting to be in the shelter of the Ria de Baiona.
Baiona is a well known town among cruising yachtsmen and a favourite stop for boats going north or south along the Spanish and Portuguese Atlantic coasts. We thought we’d make it our last port of call in Galicia, and stay for a while to do some repairs and maintenance. The tranquil surroundings in the Baiona marina were also a welcome rest after the sprawling bustling mass of Vigo.
Baiona’s main claim to fame is that it was the first place in Europe to hear of the discovery of the New World, when Columbus’ ship Pinta sailed into port in 1493. So naturally the replica of the Pinta moored in the harbour was the first place to visit. The ship is a fairly basic reproduction, with wooden figures representing sailors and captured Red Indians, and cardboard ship stores. It was still fun to wander around, and marvel at how something so small made it across the Atlantic all that time ago.
The Replica of the Caravel Pinta
Below Decks in the Pinta
We then went for a walk around the parapet of Monterreal Fort, which guards the entrance to the town from atop a high peninsula. Inside the fort walls was a very posh hotel which we avoided as we were happy enjoying the amazing views in all directions from the walls. We didn’t just look out to sea though – we also admired the woodland inside the fort, and got very excited when we saw a Red Squirrel! Unfortunately we couldn’t get close enough to get a good picture…
Monttereal Fort Parapet
The final tourist attraction we visited while in Baiona was the Virgin in the Rock statue which sat high on the rocks above the edge of town, mimicking the “Big Jesus” above Rio de Janeiro (though not as big, or as high!). It was worth the long climb up to see the pretty statue and for the views of the city, sea and harbour. We even went inside the statue and climb up a steep spiral staircase, emerging at the boat that the Virgin held in her hand. I was too afraid of the height to do Kate Winslet in Titanic impressions over the bow of the boat, but James had fun reaching out and picking the Virgin’s nose…
Virgin in the Rock (and James…)
It wasn’t all play though. Every so often we need to have an “admin day” to do boring things like laundry, shopping and clean the boat. All these things take longer when you’re cruising because things aren’t conveniently located at home. It takes time to find the shop in a new town, then walk there and lug the shopping back.
That is where our new folding bikes come in! As soon as we got the bikes home after collecting them from Vigo we set them up and went for a ride. They are brilliant! It takes time to get used to riding them, because the wheels are so small, and they have a tendency to tip backwards (so doing wheelies in them is really easy!). But we took them around the town and off road and they seemed to cope with it all. We’ll see what 2 years of abuse by us will do to them though…
We also used the long stop over to get our Drifter repaired. This is our main downwind sail, and one we use the most at the moment. It was showing signs of wear, and we wanted it patched up before it ripped. The Marina staff in Baiona were brilliant. They arranged for the sail maker to come and collect the sail, and then when he couldn’t return it in time, they went and collected it for us from Vigo. The sail looks a lot healthier now, and will hopefully last until New Zealand where we figured we would need a full new set of sails.
While the sail was down James took the opportunity to go up the mast and check that all was well. He found nothing untoward which was a relief. However, once down and inspecting the rigging he found that one of the rivets on a plate connected to the wires that hold the mast up had popped. This is a potentially serious problem, and one that we will have to get repaired which we are in Portugal.
Oh well, they say that “cruising is fixing boats in exotic locations”. We are certainly learning that, and we’ve barely even got going!
James up the mast in Baiona