sail-world.com -- Letter from the Med: Bilbao to La Coruna
Letter from the Med: Bilbao to La Coruna
Mon, 3 Sep 2007
Ian and Andrea Treleaven report on the latest stage of the current European Cruise
For the past week we could be sailing the English, New Zealand or Tasmanian coast but no, this is the northern coast of Spain. Cold, wet and wind in the wrong direction, we never did see the Pyrenees. A lush green coastline with unspoiled villages, if we could see it in better weather it would be more appealing.
Our stay in Bilbao lasted six days; we left many times only to return. No matter when the next window of opportunity is to leave, we will have to put in long trips to get west and then south. One thing about ports along the coast is they have huge break water walls, sometimes two, to form sheltered bays for shipping and Yacht Marinas. They have certainly used their EU contributions very well in the marine area.
To make the most of the situation the Royal Yacht Club in Bilbao, Real Club Maritimo Del Y Real Sporting Club, formed in 1893, was very welcoming where Ian found a ‘Cable’ in the corner with his circle of friends running the CYCA, a ‘Shifty’ waiting to tick off anyone and a ‘Swanny’ having had a few, telling lots of lies. Nothing changes in yacht clubs! (For those that don’t know, this is the CYCA on a Thursday night.)
Once a grand sandstone building, it was blown up by ETA, the Basque separatists in 1973, but is now a new very traditional yacht club with indoor tennis courts and swimming pools.
Holed up here with us in another yacht is ISAF member John Crebbin, his wife Jennifer and brother-in-law John. A dinner ashore together at the club was enjoyed by the two crews with many mutual friends in Australia and New Zealand. Other nights we venture into old town Bilbao to join in with the Aste Nagusia Festival week. The bars are set up in the streets to take the overflow from the Alhambra style, chandler bars, and a favourite, Café Irvea where the queues for the Moroccan chicken skewers are longer than the queues for the bar.
Wet weather gear, safety harnesses and life jackets on, our first opportunity arrives, only 50nm to Santander to wait yet once again. Rain, rain and more rain. When we arrived we where boarded by the Guardia Civil only to be told to take our small Basque flag down. It’s only a provincial thing as we are now in Cantabria; the man who boarded us said 'this is not possible'. They even questioned our CYCA burgee.
Finally a wind direction change and we sail 70nm to Gijon a very important port for the Romans but bombed very badly in the Spanish Civil war by Franco. Only a night stop as an easterly wind will send us very nicely west. Next port Ribadeo, with 30 knot winds, we sail wing and wing, roller coasting down waves for 70nms.
No stopping Ian - I’m ‘shit scared’ alone in the cockpit while Ian’s down below fixing something. He loves this stuff, as would all yachtsman, but my nerves are shattered. Anyway, we made Ribadeo entering between breaking sand banks, lining up bridges, church steeples and leading marks in less than 8 hours, averaging 8.5 knots.
Nothing like a good restaurant and wine at Saint Miguel, a good night’s sleep and another early start to get that feeling of rounding the top of this continent and heading south. It turns out to be a good and bad day. The sun comes out and the boom comes down… what is it with Ian and booms?
One nut falls to the deck and that’s the end of sailing, good company and whatever we had planned for that day. Arriving in La Coruna and that first breeze across my face is warm, our spirits are lifted.
The boom is now temporally repaired and Janey, our daughter, arrives today from Sydney. The forecast is looking very good, spare parts are arriving and its all go for a September Summer.
Andrea and Ian
PS from Ian: In the bad weather we have had to use our radar. When a rescue tug came from astern, we were able to mark her on the chart and radar at the same time. It gave us her position, course and speed, much more advanced than our previous system and easier to avoid a collision. The radar can now be shown on our computer and also on the deck screen at the same time.