Moaña, Ria Vigo 42:12.6 N 08:44.1 W
Moaña, Ria Vigo
Neither of us slept very much the night before we were due to leave Muros. The reason was that during the day a French yacht had been towed in by Salvamento Maritimo (Spanish RNLI) with its rudder chewed off by Orcas. We thought we were now far enough south and in the ‘green zone’ as the Orcas had migrated north for late summer/early autumn. Wanting to find out more, I headed over to speak to the crew of the French yacht. It turned out that they were ‘interacted with’ around 10 miles off Finisterre. We reasoned that Finisterre was still in the ‘amber zone’ and some 15/20 miles north of where we were. Even so, in the dark of the night when one’s mind is left to its own, Orcas swimming around at high speed, making short distance of 15 miles did not seem an impossibility at all. The mate, who knows a thing or two about marine mammals, can probably tell us the speed at which such creatures are capable of travelling.
The day dawned fair and clear on Tuesday 23rd August and so we left Muros, aiming for a lovely anchorage at San Vicente. A couple of boats were heading the same way as us, but they were keeping closer in-shore. It is perceived that shallower depths are safer as Orcas don’t seem to like depths below around 20m (not sure I believe that myself!). However, here on the Galician coast, shallow depths close in-shore are a real danger. The swell is always pretty high and fairly constant, all the pilot guides tell you to keep well offshore, 2 to 5 NM normally – for hopefully obvious reasons - lee shores and all that in breaking waves and big swell. In fact, I had to ask myself if anxiety over Orcas is starting to cause poor seamanship decisions? Ourselves, we stayed well out. We were relieved, to say the least, to sight San Vicente, not only as that was our proposed anchorage for the night, but it had also put another 30 NM between us and Finisterre.
San Vicente is between two Rias, Arousa and Pontevedra, and looked a beautiful place to drop the hook. Sadly, as it was mid-afternoon, so too did every Spanish boat from Pontevedra. Nowhere is very busy (we presume Orcas for everyone and Schengen rules for us Brits are putting people off coming here?) but all it took was the eight or nine boats already there to make this relatively small anchorage somewhat crowed. I thought it best we still had a go, so we stood back from the crowd of boats in about 8.5m of water and dropped our hook twice. Both times we dragged attempting to set it. Both times the anchor came up with weed the size of haystacks – no chance of holding in that… not unless you are very lucky.
Never mind we thought, ria Pontevedra wasn’t far and there were plenty of places to go there.
* If anyone is interested, how many boats that are anchored are properly anchored? I don’t know either, but I know some sailors read this and those sailors know me as a sailing instructor. So I’ll say this: anyone can drop a large anchor and loads of chain and you could be forgiven for thinking you are anchored, when in fact the weight of the chain is holding the boat. In light winds, this would probably hold you more or less steady for quite some time. However, to be properly anchored you have to dig the hook in. We do this by motoring astern gently as the chain is dropped to ensure a straight (ish) rode. Then, when the chain tightens on the bow, we let the boat settle a little, take a transit on shore and engage half revs astern. You soon know if you are anchored properly doing this. But, maybe the anxiety left over from Orcas stayed with me and protruded into anchoring situations as it’s all well and good making sure you are anchored correctly, but if the others aren’t and the wind and swell pick up, they could very easily make their way towards you. The moral: beware busy lunchtime anchorages!
As we entered Pontevedra we aimed for an anchorage off a beach near Porto Novo. All I can say was: hideous! High rises, a packed out beach, not for us. So we called the small marina at Porto Novo. Receiving no answer from them, we were answered by marina Sanxenxo, nearby. OK, we thought, we’ll go there. The marina reminded us of Swanwick in the UK, powerboats everywhere and expensive (certainly for Spain). As it was getting late though we stayed for the night. The only problem is that the marinero placed us on a pontoon by the harbour wall. The mate, who has to keep every window on the boat open, didn’t expect (nor I, to be fair) the extent of the ensuing mosquito bites the following morning. We thought each other had chicken pox!
One night in Sanxenxo was enough. Not purely for the mosquito bites, but because some thumping music kept going all night. This meant that the mate didn’t sleep very well (nor did I) but I can tell you this – you do not want to be onboard with a tired mate – enough said!
We left Sanxenxo after lunch the following day and headed round into ria Vigo, passing the very pleasant Islas Cies on the way. As the ria opened up, it looked really very nice. The large city of Vigo on starboard and the smaller towns of Cangas and Moaña on port, along with a lot of viveros (shell fish farms) close to shore. We chose to go to Cangas as their website promised cheap mooring. We called the marina and received no response (not unusual) however a marinero was waving his hands and shouting at us. We took this as a sign to follow him in, which we did. He pointed us to a very tight berth, next to the quay side and right by a pile. He kept on shouting in a very gruff voice in a way that neither of us understood. Now, OK, my Spanish might be worse than useless, but the mate’s isn’t too bad (she did night class sometime ago). When the man had stopped shouting and left, we looked at each other in quiet dismay. What had he said and what did he want? We hadn’t got a clue… When we went to the office the following morning the English speaking lady there explained that the marinero used to be a fisherman for 20 years, something happened to him that meant he couldn’t continue fishing and so he worked as a marinero, he also spoke only Galician, not Spanish. No wonder we didn’t understand him! Apparently Spanish tourists from places like Madrid couldn’t understand him either.
Cangas beach looking out to the mouth of the ria
We had two nights in Cangas, on the second night, people were fishing from the quay, by the boat, and shouting loudly into the night. This resulted in the mate having poor sleep (as did I) with the resultant problems as mentioned before..!
Enough of Cangas, I went to pay in the office to find that the price was double the advertised price on the website (which hadn’t been updated). We left, putting it down to experience. However, the departure, being so close to the quay and the pile, nearly resulted in the mate being left on shore as I tried to move the boat away from the pile – but it was never going to be an easy manoeuvre, we knew that.
After Cangas, we motored around the corner to Moaña and what a lovely marina this is. I confirmed the price in the office and it met my satisfaction (some say this is difficult, but I am from Yorkshire). We were debating whether or not to head over to a marina near Vigo which was set in a wooded enclave, but fearing Spanish mosquitos (which take no prisoners) we decided against that, hence our decision to be in Moaña.
A rather chunky Neptune in Moaña
It is now Sunday 28th August and I am looking at the long range grib forecasts for the weather. It is a reasonably long way to Portugal and there is a weather system forecast for Biscay and south western UK later next week, bringing SW or W winds off the Portuguese coast. We can’t sensibly sail to Portugal against the wind and it would be madness to attempt entry into a Portuguese harbour in a W wind. We will have to come up with a plan…
In the meantime, I took the mate out last night to a restaurant I’d identified as pretty good (it had good reviews and all that stuff). It was billed as a beach bar/restaurant. In actual fact it was in a dusty port car park situated by the public bins. Undeterred, the mate sat there to enjoy her meal – and great food it was. It even met a Yorkshireman’s budget requirements… I’ll hand over to the mate.
Restaurant with a view!
As Orcas have evolved to swim 40 miles a day on average, then the interaction off Finisterre was a little too close for comfort! However, the French boat had been in much deeper water than we would be and the Orcas were moving north with the tuna and not south (I hoped). The more miles we travelled south, the better.
However, a problem that I hadn’t adequately anticipated was that in August the Spanish travel to the southern rias on their vacaciones. The northern rias of Camariñas and Muros seemed relatively quiet. As we turned into ria Pontevedra in the blazing sunshine we discovered where everyone else was! All manner of watercraft zooming around, packed beaches where you could barely see the sand for people and parasols, and busy anchorages. Our one night in super bling Sanxenxo (pronounced Sanshensho) marina was enough and we hightailed it to ria Vigo the following day. Despite being more industrial (most of the southern side of the ria is the city of Vigo with its port and docks) this ria is much more pleasant with sandy coves and dolphins. According to the locals the dolphins disappear from the rias (where do they go?!) when the Orcas are around so it is even more pleasing than usual to spy some dolphins! We had seen dolphins (Bottlenose and Common) on all our passages until we left Coruña and then nothing between there and here.
The marina in Moaña is much nicer than Cangas (no noisy fisherfolk) and has nice views across the viveros to Vigo. There are regular ferries across to Vigo so we’re looking forward to exploring the big city – I’m looking forward to a big toiletries and cosmetics restock (I haven’t yet found where Galician ladies (or gents) buy such things) and Skip wants to buy some engine oil. There is also the promise of lunch out in the city, which may not be in a dusty port car park by the bins (the food was good though)! We’ll keep you posted…