Tuesday, 21 August 2012


Here in the Principality of Asturias, many many businesses proudly proclaim their love of the homeland by including at least an Astur in their name. It is a beautiful region, of which they are justly proud. As for sailing however... Our assessment is that it could be better.

By all accounts, the weather has been atypical while we've been here. Very little rain, sunny nearly all day every day, very warm - around 30 Celsius. So, the rather annoying (from a sailor's point of view) lack of wind might not be normal either. Anyway, it has meant a lot more motoring than we're accustomed to. If you're a sailor who aims to sail and normally disdains motoring, this can be an experience that leaves one feeling cheapened but there comes a point when the pride must be swallowed if any progress is to be made. The one windy day we've had in the last month consisted of a gale which came from nothing and blew out in about 3 hours, leaving nothing but a severely agitated sea behind and taking with it, goodness only knows how, two of our fenders.

There are few cruising boats along this stretch of coast, only the odd French or Spanish vessel, it being August and holiday time in both countries. Most of the harbours seem to be free of charge to visitors, even including electricity in some cases. That sort of hospitality, of course, is only possible when numbers are limited, so long may it last!

Amazing what can be towed by canoe.
One night in San Esteban, a large tree floated into the harbour and was causing a distinct hazard to shipping. It fell to us, on the way back from the bar in our canoe, to tow the offending article safely out of the way and secure it to the harbour wall.

It was a sad departure from San Esteban, our good friend Daniel waving from the quay as we slipped out and then bashed our way into a bit of a brutal head sea around Cabo PeƱas to Gijon. There we were amazed by one of the most spectacular firework displays we've seen anywhere - and this in a country receiving major international bailouts?? Anyway, it was nice to look at. Never mind how many young people could have been employed for a year with the same cash. Gijon is the first place that we've encountered the noisy demonstrations that have been staged all over Spain in protest at the high rate of unemployment, government spending cuts, etc. etc.

Architectural detai in Gijon.
Gijon has had a bad rep amongst cruising sailboats - more than once we were advised to give it a miss - because of the high prices at its marina. There is, however, a new marina (Marina Yates) which we had luckily heard about. It's not yet marked on the charts or in the almanac and is pretty tricky to find, but well worth the effort. Great facilities, reasonably priced, friendly staff. The one potential problem of being far from town is solved by offering free bicycles to take advantage of the excellent, off-road, cycle path into the centre. The location turns out to be a plus for those who like a bit of peace by night.

Northern Spain?? Luanco beach 
The stunning backdrop to Ribadesella
Half-tide at Ribadesella visitors' berths - surprises lurk
We are now in Ribadesella. It's a beautiful spot, with the peaks of the Cantabrian Mountains climbing up into the distance, but August is holiday time in both Spain and France and, for the first time since Madeira, we're finding some places a bit overrun with tourists. If the current forecast holds true, we may make a dash for Bordeaux later in the week.

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