With a great effort we finally got up the anchor and departed our first Galician anchorage in the Ensenada de San Simon. It was such an effort because the place was so very pleasant. An anchorage with no rolling! The company was also excellent as we were hanging out with a Dutchman and an Englishman who sailed up there 8 and 12 years ago respectively - and never left. It was tempting, but we're not ready to swallow the anchor just yet.
Our aim then was to move on to the anchorage off Combarro, at the head of Ria Pontevedra, but conditions looked quite uncomfortable when we got there so we cut that item from the programme and went straight on up the Rio Lerez to Pontevedra itself. The pilot book makes this sound quite a bold proposition, with dangerous shoals and low bridges to fray the nerves of the navigator and we thought long and hard about whether to venture in. Of course the pilot books are always very conservative in these matters and in the event we had plenty of water (minimum 4 m) and air draught all the way along to the Club Naval.
Pontevedra is the ancient capital of the region and has a historical centre of fine granite architecture, liberally sprinkled with tempting cafes and bars. We were particularly delighted to discover 'O Gato Gordo' - a bar specialising in British beer! For the first time since leaving Dartmouth last July I supped a sumptuous pint of bitter: 'Bishop's Finger' in this case. We'll return there shortly for the broaching of a cask of 'Spitfire', another Kentish ale from the Shepherd Neame brewery. Bliss!
Okay, so there's great anchoring, but that's not all. The sailing is also superb, flat waters without several metres of ocean swell, suggestive of a warmer version of our home cruising ground in the Firth of Forth, with dolphins.
Mussels are huge here, second only to cocaine we've been informed (not sure if that was a joke...). There are many many mussel rafts about, but they're not much of an impediment to sailing or anchoring. They yield millions of tons of mussels annually and are a major source of employment. The mussels are attached to ropes hanging vertically under the raft and amount to hundreds of tons when mature for harvesting.
|Mussel raft, weighted with blocks of granite.|
We stopped one night in Cangas, opposite Vigo, but were quickly frightened off by the marina fee (€21 for our wee boat!), though we liked the town and did some major provisioning there.
We left Cangas beating into a force 2 - slow but very pleasant - and determined to sail out of the Ria de Vigo and into Ria Aldan, a side branch of Ria Pontevedra. After about 4 hours we had to give up and fire up the 'iron genoa' as the wind dropped away and headed us all the way around. It was then a quick chug the rest of the way to a peaceful and beautiful anchorage which, however, proved to be not quite free of swell.
|Ria Aldan - fine beaches, happy birds.|
|Club Naval de Pontevedra|
|Sanctuary of the Perigrinating Virgin|
|Some cool green in the city centre|
|Sonja homing in on a tempting cafe|
|O Gato Gordo|
|Next door, a cat-dispensing hole in the wall|
|Making a deposit|