Starting out on Silver Bear

Silver Bear
Ray Lawry
Sun 23 Aug 2009 16:33
Like everyone else I was beginning to think we would be spending the summer at Millbay marina. As nice as it may be I never thought we would be living there. Anyway with a lot of help from my friends that know (thanks Phil) we eventually cast off clutching a long list of things to be done.
The channel was a bit bumpy but it was a quick crossing that took us into L'Aberwrach after approx 18 hours So the trip had begun and Ali and Keith settled into a mountain of lobster and crab.
About a week later we arrived in the Morbihan having met up with some of the Lympstone mini fleet, Jan and Danuta, together with friends and family. A few days later and we were to R/V with the rest of the fleet , Chris, Jayne and family at Croisty and what a party we had with Jan as our host and a mountain of freshly caught mackrell. A feast and plenty of wine. Thanks again for your hospitality.
We made it across Biscay from La Rochelle after almost 3 nights sailing. Approx 327 miles with reasonable winds and only a moderate chop. Easy really once it became clear Ali could'nt sleep- it meant I could get my head down and leave her to it! (maybe not). So far so good. We are still speaking and the grog eases most of the discomfort.
Claire left us in La Rochelle and is now back in Plymouth doing her student thing once more. I think she enjoyed her trip, although would say it was more of a Duke of Edinburgh gold award scheme than a holiday, but then again that girl has been brought up in the lap of luxury so one has to expect such remarks. My brother-in-law Keith was with us from Plymouth to Vannes where we left the boat for a few days and dropped Keith in La Rochelle before going on to stay with Mike and Sandra Stephens in their beautiful holiday home near Niort. We spent 2 great days enjoying Sandra's lovely cooking and catching up on some much needed sleep. .
We arrived in the first of many Ria's that make up the NW coastline of Spain in a place called Ria de Vivero. Like so many places here it is a beautiful valley and when we sailed in at 2 am on wednesday morning there was a strong smell of pine from the tree covered hills, its a shame the buildings along the sea shore are'nt more in keeping with the natural beauty of the area. Franco can take a lot of the blame for the planning failures of the period.
That evening we found a nice little cafe come restaurant and not for the first time (nobody speaks any English here) had to guess at something from the menu. I was served up with enough meat to feed me, my son and Bob Pennington. God knows what it was - buffalo, horse or similar but it took quite a while to gather enough strength to stand from the table.
We had a few challenges with Silver Bear. The first came to light when we returned from our visit to see Mike and Sandra. Upon our return the gas alarm was sounding and the rear berth smelt like a boiling acid bath. The batteries had cooked and boiled dry due to the cells breaking up. That resulted in a few days chasing around for replacements and having the system checked over. We eventually found local engineer Eric who could not speak a word of English but smiled a lot. (No wonder when he gave me the bill). Anyway it seems to be ok now and I think Silver Bear was overdue for replacements.
The other little bit of excitement came when we picked up a mooring buoy off the Arse en Ra, a small island near La Rochelle. I woke at around 3.30am to see a small rib floating past. On closer examination it became clear that it was us that was moving with the tide and wind through small boat moorings towards the rocky shore. Before I could raise the alarm and start the engine we had come to rest on mud on a falling tide. The buoy we were still attached to had detached itself from the seabed and was happily bobbing along clinging to the front of the boat. Fortunately we only had to wait for a couple of hours until there was sufficient water to motor into clear water. Time for a nice cup of tea.
We spent a very relaxing 2 days in a wonderfully protected Ria (temporary loss of memoryfor the name) that felt like a very warm Scandanavian fjord. Lots of swimming and hitting the holiday reading in a big way.
We are now moored in La Coruna and Phil and Paddy, if you were wonderering, that expensive looking neglected yacht next to us last year is still there and has more growth than the Borneo jungle hanging from it's hull!
Hopefully this, the first of my blogs, will work but if not it may be my last!
Keep smiling