The Magical Cies Islands 42:12:17N 08:54:26W

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Sun 10 Jun 2007 11:47

Yesterday we departed Club Monte Real de Yates, after a thoroughly enjoyable experience. We visited the club house earlier the previous  evening for  an aperitif, and to see if we could find any of the crews from the two “other”  Bluewater Rally boats (Baccus and Tapestry), who were also participating in the Rally Portugal. The Rally Portugal boats had started arriving in Bayona a couple of days before, after their Biscay crossing.


Shortly after our arrival in the bar, Jennie “found” Ian and Lesley from Tapestry and Keith and Suzanne from Baccus. So we all teamed up to go to dinner, in “down town” Bayona.  Keith selected what turned out to be an excellent restaurant, and we enjoyed Salt Sea Bass and local seafood Paella. All washed down with Alberino and Rioja wines. It was a good laugh and I am ashamed to report that we were so noisy that the people on the table next door to us asked to be moved to the other side of the restaurant.  Well at least our noise drowned out that emanating from the crying baby!


The party then decamped back to the club house where we indulged in a night cap. It has to be said that the spirit measures in this club are still as outrageous as they were last year. They use full size brandy glasses half full when dispensing Single Malt whisky. One of these guarantees a good nights sleep. Two, renders the victim senseless!! Needless to say they closed the club at 3am and we were all still having a ball, but we agreed (eventually after the third time of asking), to call it a day at that point (very appropriate, as it was nearly dawn).


Now back to the matter in hand. The Islas Cies. Having headed north out of Bayona, to the Las  Estelas Islands and the rock hopping Channel de la Porta, we proceeded to the larger of the two main islands in the Cies group. This is in fact two Islands, joined by a sand spit. These are rather imaginatively referred to as the North and South Islands!  But this does not detract from the sensory extravaganza that awaits those who venture ashore.


Having anchored in 5m off the beautiful Playa Arena das Rodas beach, some 300m south of the landing jetty, that is used by the tourist ferries. We erected the dingy and landed on said beach. This is not like your gritty Devon beaches. The sand here slips between your toes like raw silk. Warm too, which is more than can be said for the crystal clear, Atlantic waters.  Having looked at the very informative tourist information map, prominently displayed at the head of the beach. We opted for the 1.2km walk to the centre of the island and up to the highest (viewing) point on the west side.  The Cies are a protected nature reserve so access to quite a large section is restricted.


As we headed up the slope away from the beach, we were surrounded by Scotch Pines (with masses of Fir Cones strewn all about), and Eucalyptus trees. In amongst these were large areas of wild Honey Suckle. The aroma from these plants and trees was quite intoxicating.  On  the pathway in front of us small dark green Lizards were sun bathing on the patches of ground where shafts of sunlight had penetrated through the canopy above us. They would then awake and dash off under the nearest cleft in the surrounding granite boulders. These same shafts of light would catch the silica in the sandy ground, so at times the pathway seemed to sparkle and scintillate. As we climbed higher we were welcomed by a plethora of wild flowers, and astonishingly, they all seemed to be in flower at the same time. There were Milk Thistle, Cornflower. Fox Gloves, Daisy of various sizes and colours, wild Holy hocks, and many, many more that we did not recognise. But rather than this being some sort of visual anarchy, all the colours were contrasting and at the same time complementary.


The Cies are also a bird sanctuary, so there were flocks of Chaffinches, cheeky Chiff Chaffs and Stone chats, and the joyful sound of song birds all around us.


As we reached the summit the view (and the breeze) was literally breath taking, as the picture attached shows. So impressive was this view that for once I managed to get a picture of the First Mate without her eyes closed!!


This truly was our Shangri La.


We then headed back to the boat riding at anchor and we grind like children as we watched a number of the tourists taking pictures of her, proudly flying the Red Ensign and our Bluewater Rally battle flag.


After a spot of late lunch and a siesta, we once again raised the anchor and headed for the smaller Islas St Martin, where we planned to anchor off the beach in the NE side, to spend the night. As soon as we arrived I spotted a boat we meet up with last season. This is a Lauren Giles designed boat, some  40 years old, with wonderful classical lines, and is called Moshulu. The couple who own her are from Cork, and have the charming names of Joseph and Mary.  So we had a good natter with them on the VHF radio, before returning to the all important matter of what to have for Dinner. Fresh Sea Bass won   the day, and was stunning.


And so to bed, what a day!



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