|One of the N Atlantic's stranger fish, the Sunfish, in Ribadesella|
There's probably no need to point out that the forecast didn't hold true, so we didn't make the Bordeaux run. In general, the forecasts have been highly unreliable along this stretch of coast, possibly owing to the presence of the Picos de Europa just inland. A couple of days after our previous post, we picked up a fresh grib file, hoping to find conditions still fair for the Gironde. The wind direction was still ok, but the strength was up a bit - to gale force for a time - but the main problem was the sea state. Swell up to 3.5m, which might not be fun on the infamous inner Biscay coast.
|Great hedge, lousy tasting maracuja|
|Ribadesella: nice beach and snug harbour|
|How it should have been|
|The weather-disturbing Picos de Europa|
|On to Cantabria|
|No, thanks. The South Biscay Pilot's view of S Vicente|
Emerging on deck in the fresh light of the following morning, we found that the egrets had laughed in the face of our puny anti-roosting efforts. Goodness knows how many or how few of them spent the night aboard, but everything was covered in guano. During the following hour's effort cleaning up, we decided another night in that spot was out of the question and that we'd have to either head for Santander or at the very least find some other place out of the roosting egret zone. The snag, of course, was the 3.5m swell expected outside. Would it even be possible to get out?
Certainly, there didn't seem to be any other boat traffic heading in or out of the estuary. The wind was forecast to be northwesterly, F3, or about 10 knots, but we could already feel that it was considerably more than that. Heading out through the entrance channel, the horizon out to sea was clearly sinuous, never a good sign, but we were desperate and pushed on. It was not long after high water, so no strong current and the waves were not breaking across the entrance, so we made a dash out.
It was pretty wild. Wind northwesterly, yes, but F6, or about 25 knots. Really though that was just what was needed to make sailing in that kind of sea an option at all. Waves certainly 3-4m. We tore over them and through them, surfing down the wave faces at tremendous speeds - up to 11.7 knots! The sun was shining and it was fun, but hard work too. The 30 miles from Ribadesella to San Vicente took us 10 hours to cover. The same to Santander was down in 5.
The entrance was well sheltered from the northwesterly swell and we tucked into the first anchorage, just inside, where all was remarkably peaceful. After seeing none for ages, we were surprised to find about half a dozen British boats in this anchorage. The scenery was lovely, we were anchored off a fine beach, close to town, had a delightful swim in the morning and then went ashore for a menu del dia lunch treat.
|View from the Santander anchorage|
|View of the Santander anchorage|
|The Astander yard, at dusk|