Cherish update #5

S/Y Cherish
Peter Gray
Thu 15 Sep 2016 11:51

Have slipped a bit, updating the blog, as it’s now 15 Sept and I’m back in the UK. Timed it perfectly, as weather has improved here.

First, an apology. Claire and partner Brett were terrific company and crew, but my brain decided that Brett should have been christened Greg and I kept calling him by his “other” name, much to his and Claire’s amusement and my embarrassment. So just guess how I felt when I reread the last blog the morning after I had filed it and found I had consistently called Brett, Greg. No way to change! OMG! Finally got to tell Claire on Sunday (see below in later blog) and, bless, her, she roared with laughter. So in public, Greg (whoops, Brett!) I apologise!

29 Aug Santander - our son Tom and GF Anna arrive late evening. Boat now fairly full, with Claire & Brett in the fwd port cabin, Anthony & Cat fwd stbd, Carrie & Anna midships cabin and WJ and I aft with Tom sharing in the aft pilot berth. Had a great, late, night, though.

30 Aug: Santander - slowish start and sad goodbyes to Claire, Brett, Carrie & WJ. The rest of us set off for San Vincente de la Barquesa, a small fishing port 31 miles down the coast. Tide is ebbing when we arrive and the claimed anchorages don’t look as if they’ll be too sustainable at low tide in the middle of the night. So we try the fishing dock, which is full of fishing boats, apart from a British boat with a small Spanish yacht inside it. David on S/Y Louis wasn’t too keen to have us alongside - he’d had a fraught time of it, moved from pillar to post for the previous two hours, but the Spanish guy inside asserted - at the top of his voice that the world would come to an end - and much worse - if we tied up. So we motored up and down an increasingly narrow channel until David moved his tender and helped us tie up alongside. The Spaniard - who had been mobilising the locals to send us packing - finally recognised the inevitable and, in a magical volte face (or however you say that in Spanish), came bounding over the foredecks with a leather sack of wine - from which we were all required to drink -  to welcome us to San Vincente. He announced that, if there was a problem in the night, it wouldn’t be his problem, so peace returned. I set up a tide watch for overnight, but apart from adjusting the lines to take account of the  >4 metre range, nothing was required - neither of the other boats appeared to do the same. The promised early fishing departures did not materialise.

31 Aug: Early 8 am departure, saying farewell to David & Inga, for Gijon, just 48 miles, all motoring again. Start to see the impressive mountainous coast of Northern Spain! A few dolphins, but nothing spectacular. An attempt to troll on the way ended in disaster when I recovered the lure and carelessly brought it in by the stern, instead of (as usual) over the quarter. The large lure was creating a lot of drag, so when it broke free, it shot up and one of the hooks went straight into the new tender, puncturing one of the tubes. Fixing that was the first job after berthing in Dijon! Service was brilliant from the marina: we were directed by tender to our berth, which then waited for me to take me over to the office to save me the walk! Then he took me back! As we arrived early, those who were not repairing the tender - everyone but me, since I punctured it in the first place - went off for a leisurely shower. Showers and repair finished, into town to find somewhere for dinner. After interviewing a number of restaurants, we settled on the one we went to first, which was excellent. Poor Anna was suffering from a bug, so probably didn’t appreciate the food as much as the rest of us. She did, however, 'appreciate' as much as the rest of us the serenading we enjoyed from a local busker. While his proficiency was questionable, his tenacity certainly was not. As we were dining, David and Inga of Louis (see 30 Aug) strolled by and we had a good chat. Back to boat, stopping for ice creams on the way.

1 Sept: Gijon to Ribadero. Again the wind did not behave too well, but out of the 8 hour, 44 mile trip, we managed to sail for some 5 hours. Just before the Porcillan marina, we encountered another bridge. We didn’t go under it backwards this time, but it still looked a lot tighter than the 10 metre or so clearance the chart said we should have! No doubt we’ll start to get less nervous about bridges - but not too much, I hope! Not so organised here as Gijon: we were directed to a berth that seemed to me too narrow and too short, but they waited until we had jiggled our way in  as far as we could go before agreeing and sending us off to the hammerhead, which was much better. With a shorter run the following day, I went into town to get some more Camping Gaz - which is available all over the Continent. But not in Ribadero - anywhere. I was directed to 6 different places by different people. The last place - which was a kilometre out of town, finally told me Camping Gaz was not available anywhere in the town. So don’t ask me for a favourable report on the place - I’m biased. It does have an impressive tower - with a lift - which enables pedestrians to avoid walking up the switchback roads to get into town. The walkie talkies really came into their own here, saving lots of mobile phone time.

2 Sept: Ribadero to Viveiro. Just a 26 mile run, sailing and motorsailing. On the way, we encountered the largest dolphin pod (or pods) I have ever seen. There must have been 40 - 50 of them, stayed with us for 15 - 20 minutes. At one point, the crew reported 9 riding the bow wave all at the same time! We considered anchoring off the pretty Playa del Covas, but in the end decided to go up the dredged river to the marina. As we approached the visitors’ berth, we were hailed by a British boat the other side, so went straight into a nearby berth, where there were a number of Brits. Two of them - John and Val, of “Seize the Day” ambled over and said we should join their pontoon for a party. So, after a visit to the nearby supermarket to get booze and nibbles (and some exceptionally cheap Tanqueray gin), we did. See below, photo of John & Val, Andrew & Angela, Paul & Carol, the Jools, James & Gail and us - Anthony & Cat (though she managed to be out of shot!), Tom & Anna and me. 

3 Sept: Viveiro to La Coruna via Ria de Cedeira. A 48 mile run altogether, with a stop on the beautiful but windswept Playa de Cedeira beach. Far too cold to sunbathe or swim, but it was nice to go ashore in the (repaired) tender. The one mile trip back to the anchored Cherish in the teeth of a stiff breeze had me worrying about the battery endurance on our electric outboard and ladies about getting soaked, so Tom - who rowed for his college at Cambridge - started rowing to help and Anna - who is a cox - encouraged him. A local Spaniard thought we looked in trouble (which we weren’t), so hared over in a high powered rib to offer a tow. As he surged towards us, with us waving him off, he miscalculated and rammed us, breaking an oar before Tom could pull it in. Maybe he spoke English or maybe expletives are international, but I think he worked out how grateful we weren’t for his intervention. We reached Cherish without further incident and he returned, again at high speed - but we by then had the tender on the davits out of harms way - with a pair of folding paddles - his way of saying sorry.

The passage from Cedeira to La Coruna was another motorsail under conditions of gradually deteriorating visibility and by the time we reached Cabo Priorino Grande with some 9 miles to run, it was well under 200 metres. So we had the lights on, radar running and crew taking turns on the foghorn and at reduced speed. I called the port’s traffic control on the VHF and they were brilliant: excellent English and very professional. They talked to us as we came in, advising on visibility in the port and on one occasion persuading an emerging fishing vessel to alter course to avoid us. It passed us 300 metres to port, unheard and unseen (save on the radar). Viz improved as we came in and we berthed without incident. The pre-dinner drinks were very welcome!

4 Sept: We asked the very helpful Roberto if we could move to a berth nearer the office and further away from the swell and he was happy to oblige, although the one we asked for proved at the last minute not to be available, much to his embarrassment. But we finished up with one on the main pontoon with the narrow fingers that require windsurfer-like balancing skills to negotiate! Ant, Cat, Tom and Anna left today, leaving me alone to carry out some make & men. First job, according to WJ’s parting instructions, was to launder all the bedding used over the previous 2.5 weeks. This only took a whole day, leaving Cherish festooned with sheets, duvet covers etc like a Chinese laundry! John & Val (Seize the Day) and Andrew & Angela (Millie) showed up and the former very kindly invited me over for a drink that evening -  it proved to be more than one…… As we discussed our respective histories, it came out I had been a partner with Linklaters. “So do you know Alexandra Marks?”, says Val. “Very well indeed” say I! Alexandra - now a judge - was most amused that I should bump into a work colleague of hers on a boat in NW Spain!

5 - 8 Sept: Excellent curry dinner with John & Val, more make and mend then a flight back to Heathrow in the excellent company of Andrew & Angela. Spanish airport security looked askance at the bilge pump taken home for repair and confiscated my pen knife (oops!), but otherwise an uneventful trip home. Email from Carrie Kesterton in the taxi to say she’d like to do the whole trip, which was a great home comer!