43 22.073N 008 23.070W
Date: Wednesday 15th July 2015
Position: Marina La Coruna
I have come to realise that there are some things in life that are just plain right and some things that are just plain wrong. Take beer for example! You can drink it out of anything you like and it still tastes good. A can, a bottle, a glass or even a bucket which, in my younger days, I might very well have done so although I’m not going to admit it. You see beer doesn’t need mollycoddling, it doesn’t need any encouragement to give of its best, it just says, “drink me” and so you do. But other drinks need a little attention almost a ritual in the preparation and drinking of said aperitif. A dry martini is just not a dry martini if is not served in a chilled martini glass with an olive. As the English would say “it’s just not cricket old boy “. I mixed myself one, well two actually, yesterday while I was relaxing in the cockpit but even though I served it in an expensive cut crystal glass it just was not the same experience. There is something about the tactile nature of a martini glass and the overall experience of mixing and serving it that makes it special, which is why it has to be served in a particular way. I am sure you all have you favourite mug, or cup, or glass at home that you drink from so you know what I mean. Anyway, I have decided I need to find a martini glass before mixing anymore. Bobby will be pleased because it takes a lot more gin to make a martini than it does to make a G&T.
My last blog ended with me going for a well-earned rest after crossing the Bay of Biscay. I hit my bunk at around 8 am and even though I was completely knackered I woke at 12.30 pm, got up and decided to go ashore for provisions. The problem with a small boat like mine when you are cruising is everything is packed away under everything else. I had to pull the port locker to pieces to get the tender out, then go into the aft cabin to pull the seat locker to pieces to get the tender seat, paddles, foot pump and electric pump out. With all the necessary equipment assembled I set to and pumped the tender up and made ready to go ashore, remembering all the time that when I move on I would have to do all this again in reverse. Ares is a small place and as the pilot book said it is really a holiday destination than anything else. Along the beach front there were a number of bars, cafes and restaurants but as I moved further inshore there was nothing much of note. I eventually found the supermarket. It was small but had everything I needed. The fish on offer was, as my experience all over Spain has been, of excellent quality and there was a lovely whole John Dory up for grabs but a 22€ per kilo I declined, even though it is one of my all time favourite fish to eat. In the end I opted for the economy packs of meat, Ann will be impressed, so was I. I brought half corn fed chicken and it was a big half, and a pack of pork escallops. The chicken was 1.85€ for the pack and the pork, 1.70€, outstanding value. For supper that night I made some breadcrumbs from some bread I had left over and bread crumbed the four port escallops before frying them. I fried all four because I thought I would leave a couple to have cold the next day. They never saw the light of day, a late night snack took care of that. Anyway, I served others with the salsa I made some time ago, which is still holding up well and very tasty, and some new potatoes with butter. Fantastic meal!
I spent two nights anchored off Ares, which was delightful, but I decided to make my way to La Coruna on the 10th July. I motored for an hour and a half and headed for the Marina Coruna, which is the more modern of the three marinas available. The Marina Nautico, which is owned by the Real Club Nautico, is more central to the city but the pilot book said that it was more formal and theses days I have gone off “more formal” institutions. Enough said! As it turned out the Marina Coruna is less than ten a minute walk from the old part of the city and even less on a bike.
I am so glad that I decided to take my foldup bike with me in the end because it has been invaluable. It is not the small size foldup bike, because I would look ridiculous on one of them and also it take ages to get anywhere on one. The wheels on mine are 24 inches so it is reasonable large in terms of a folding bike. At one stage I was going to leave it behind because I couldn’t be bothered with all the faffing about getting it stowed and un-stowed. But now it really has come into its own. The first day at Marina Coruna I relaxed, did a little housework, I suppose that should be boatwork, and my dobby. The next day I got the bike out and decided to do a little exploring of the city. Now I should explain that I brought my bike very cheap and like all thinks cheap, cheap materials were used. The pedals, that were designed to fold up, were made of plastic and kept breaking. So when I was in Cameret, I brought a new set of fixed pedals to put on to overcome this problem. The idea was that instead of having folding pedals I would simply unscrew the fixed pedals every time I packed it away. Good idea in theory but with a ham fisted Troll like me, there was bound to be trouble ahead. Fitting the left hand pedal onto the arm I managed to get the steel thread of the pedal, cross-threaded in the aluminium arm. But a spanner and brut force got the pedal in place, or so I thought. I set off for the city and in particular the chandlers that the marina office had told me about. Chandlers are to yachtsmen as a caves are to Aladdin. We don’t necessarily need anything but we must go to have a look and poke around in all the corners just to see if we have missed some valuable sailing gem that has been hidden away from us for all these years. So I set off, city map in hand, sunglasses on, hat on and bike all rearing to go. It wasn’t too long before my ham-fisted efforts to attach the pedal to the bike began to undo itself. Slowly, the steel thread of the pedal wore away the aluminium thread of the arm and the pedal became useless and fell off, so I ended up walking with my bike in hand. I had followed the directions of the lady at the marina office and with a city map in hand it seemed simple but I was still no closer to finding the chandlers so it was time to change plan. The chandlers was of no real importance at this time and so my attention turned to getting my bike fixed. I stopped at a Honda dealer and tried to ask for help to finding a bike shop that could repair my bike. There were three guys, one obviously work at the dealership, another appeared to be a customer and the third was an older man who may also have worked a the dealership. Anyway, they were very attentive as I explained the problem to them, not in Spanish but in the international language of sign. Holding up the offending pedal ad pointing to the arm on the bike they got the gist pretty quick. The old man disappeared and moments latter returned with some spanners and set about trying to re-attach the pedal. It didn’t take any language between the three onlookers to realise that his efforts were in vane but he tried never the less. After his attempt at fixing the problem failed , a few minutes later I had clear directions to bike shop, thank my saviours and set off down the road. Well I say clear instructions but like any big city it doesn’t take long to get lost. I worked out I was in the right area but apart from that I still could not find this bike shop. As a final desperate attempt at finding this elusive bike shop I called in at a shoe shop to ask directions. I explained my predicament to the owner in the usual way buy holding up the pedal and pointing to the broken arm but instead of giving me directions he got be to bring the bike into his shop, disappeared into the back for a short moment and returned with some straw like material. He took the pedal from me and started to try and fix the pedal to the arm using the straw like material to jam it in. Of course this did not work and he looked at me, shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “sorry mate I tried”. So I left the shop and decided to give up and return to the marina. I walked down the hill and turned the next corner and as I was walking along what should I come across, the bike shop. It was just where to chaps at the Honda dealers had told me it was but I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. I went in, explained the problem in the usual sign language which by now was becoming better, and he understood immediately. I left the bike with him and went for a coffee while he sorted it out.
It is always a nice feeling when your expectations, and sometimes these can be quite low, are exceeded. So far, the three guys at the Honda dealers had been really helpful, a man in a shoe shop had tried to fix my bike and now the owner of the bike shop who, seeing the situation, could have taken advantage of me, did not. I was expecting fifty plus euros but instead he had gone through his old box of spare parts and use a second hand arm the mend the bike. When I asked him how much he said ten euros. You could have knocked me down with a feather. I gave him fifteen euros and we parted company both happy with a result. Isn’t it just great when in a strange country people exceed you expectations. I hopped on my bike and made my way back to the marina and just as I got back to the seafront what should I pass, you got it, the chandlers. I had cycled right past it on my way and must have gone a further two miles before giving up. This was Saturday though and it was half day closing so I will have to come back tomorrow.
There are two distinct differences I have noticed since arriving in Spain from Audierne, France. The sun is hot, hot, hot, and suddenly there are loads of flies about. In Audierne it was what I would call pleasantly warm and occasionally a little hot but nothing much more. Just travelling three hundred miles further south has made a huge difference you can really feel the intensity of the sun now. I am not a great sun worshiper so I try and keep out of it as much as I can but even so just going about your daily business it can sneak up on you and burn you. What will it be like in the Caribbean? The second difference I have noticed and have been blighted by are the flies and gnats. For the last two nights I have gone to my bunk in the forepeak and I have been eaten alive by gnats despite closing the hatches and spraying with fly spray before turning in. You lay there knowing exactly what is going to happen and every itch on your body feels like a gnat is attacking you. Then just as you are about to fall asleep you hear that high pitched buzzing sound pass your ear as if the gnat is saying, “I haven’t finished with you yet my lad”. After two sleepless nights of this I went to the supermarket and brought one of those plugin electric devices that are supposed to keep gnats away. To say that I slept the sleep of the just for the next two nights would, be an understatement, not a gnat in sight.
Sunday the shops are closed in Spain so I spent most of the day pottering about the boat doing chores and catching up on my blogs (the last one). Monday I decided to explore the city a bit more and ended up on the other side of the peninsular from the marina. This was obviously the holiday area with a huge beach stretching around the bay and plenty of sun worshipers enjoying the heat. On my return I kept to the seafront route and passed by the Tower of Hercules. It was built by the Romans in the 1st century and is the only lighthouse of antiquity that is still in operation today. It has, naturally, gone through several transformations over the centuries but is classed as a World Heritage Site. I didn’t go in to see it after all a lighthouse is just a lighthouse how ever old it might be.
I feel I have seen most of the city of La Coruna now. You have your touristy area, just off the old main plaza, which comes with beggars’ and all, the residential area that I accidentally ended up in looking for a bike shop and the beach area with its sun worshipers. I am conscious that time is marching on. I have booked a flight back to the UK for the 10th August from Lisbon and have found a marina to leave Celtic Dawn in for the month. So its time to move on and my next passage will be to the Ria de Vigo which is about a twenty-four hour passage from here. Best wishes to you all and see you soon.
Bye for now.
Signing off Ted