Whimbrel Sailing Adventure travel blog

Mobbing the boat

Getting near to A Coruna

A Coruna old town

A Coruna town hall in main square

Typical enclosed balconies

Hercules Tower - a lighthouse from Roman times

View from top of Hercules Tower

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral cloister

Santiago de Compostela - Obradoiro Square

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

High and dry - waiting for the tide to come back in...

30 Sept: Once again there wasn’t much wind but even less forecast for tomorrow, so we decided to go. The main excitement was when the depth guage suddenly went from 70 metres to 3.5 metres – we were well off a headland with no hazards marked on the chart, but we were definitely worried! It turned out that a bit of weed or something had got caught on it and motoring backwards and forwards cleared it. When we got to A Coruna (26 nautical miles in 6 hours 30 minutes) they only had short finger berths which were very tricky to tie up to, but the harbour master and someone from another boat helped us. In fact, we usually get someone offering to help when we arrive at marinas, which is great (as long as they don’t just stand there without securing the lines with the wind blowing us off, which sometimes happens!). The marina is very central to the town so handy for exploring and we found a way of getting the sail drives serviced so stayed here for a few days. We can finally say that we are safely round the Bay of Biscay, which is a great relief....

The old town has several old churches, cobbled streets and a quiet feel to it, whereas the new town is full of boutique shops, sweet shops, restaurants and cafes, with a lot of buildings with enclosed balconies typical of the area. There’s a beautiful sandy beach, but the sea is absolutely freezing – Jane managed about 4 minutes in the water and Francis a bit longer. The main tourist attraction is Hercules Tower which was built by the Romans in the 1st century AD and is the only lighthouse from that period that is still in operation today. The outer skin of the tower has been modified over the centuries but most of the rest is Roman.

3 Oct: We got the train from A Coruna to Santiago de Compostela, which we really liked. Out of high season it wasn’t very crowded, the sun was shining and there are some lovely buildings as well as the Cathedral. In the old town there are a lot of arched porticos lining the streets which are paved with huge flagstones. The Cathedral Museum includes historical artifacts, paintings, sculptures, tapestries and a visit to the cloisters and has a very good audio guide. Obradoiro Square is dominated by the Baroque façade of the Cathedral with other important buildings such as the Archbishop’s Palace and the government palace (see photos). We went into the Cathedral at the end of mass when they swung the huge censer (‘botafumeiro’) through the transept for the pilgrims – quite a sight, it apparently travels through the air, almost up to the ceiling at each end of the swing, at about 58km/hour!

The following day (Tuesday) we motored over to another marina for the sail drive service. They don’t have a lift big enough to get us out of the water, but they have a ramp that we can use, so we had to motor (very slowly) forwards onto a concrete ramp shortly after high tide and then wait till the water level went down so that the engineer could get to the sail drive. In the meantime we took the opportunity to scrub the hull clean of algae, etc. Once the water level dropped, we realised that a lot of the weight of the boat was on the rudders (because of the slope of the ramp, so we lowered the dinghy/outboard off the back, moved everything heavy up to the bows and Jane then had to sit in the bows for several hours as a counterweight to keep the weight on the keels rather than the rudder while the engineer worked in the stern! We eventually floated off at about 10:30pm. All in all, not a particularly good day!

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