Skippers log 2: Camariñas, Spain – Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands

After 4 days in Camariñas the cafes had been frequented and the small jobs done, freshly provisioned we set sail with view to 3-4 days cruising on the Galicien Coast. The North Westerly part of the Iberian Peninsula is ideally suited to day cruising. With several deep fjords running in from the otherwise exposed Atlantic coast, these provides good anchorages and small and larger towns have developed in them over the years.

The first evening after a great days sailing, we rounded Cabo Finistere, the most westerly of the Iberian Capes, we anchored up in a little bay 2 cables east of the Danish vessel Opal, also southbound toward the Caribbean. Some of our crew were over visiting with a gift of rye bread and wine.

The next morning after a swim, it was time to shove on Yukon’s anchor winch. A manually operated beast has the dual function of both giving excellent morning exercise to the two unfortunates winding it and acting as an unmistakable alarm clock for those otherwise sleeping below. With the 45 meters of chain finally onboard and sails set a good chunk of the morning is gone. We pity the modern yachtie with his hydraulics and electric winches the only bead of sweat to form on his brow, is that of the fear of maintenance costs. But all jokes aside, by the time we have reached open water and settled on course, it’s time for coffee and a bite to eat, with the satisfaction of having earned it.

The next evening anchorage just on the northerly coast of Ria do Vigo, a large port which we decided was way too noisy for our taste at this time. We found a little bay just inside Cabo de Subrido. Strong winds causing us to drag a bit, so we heaved up and re anchored a little closer in to the well populated beach. The binoculars were quickly out to spot the wildlife which frequents these stretches of coast in the summertime and it was casually remarked that many of the bathing suits were of a flesh colored nature. I paid this remark no mind until early the next morning with wife and sons on a sand-castle building expedition were mildly surprised to gradually see the … beach fill up with naked sun worshippers – suddenly ones clothing feels incongruous and excessive – but we maintained.

We came alongside the following evening at the fine town of Viana do Castillo. The ambient temperature at sea has been averaging around 22’ 23’ c alongside it was 32’ phew! Rig the awning find a cold beer! After dinner we took a walk in town and enjoyed the cool of the evening. A lovely town welcomed us to Portugal.

Johannes who joined us in Dublin cruised this coast on the Danish galease Havgassen about 7 years ago. He said if we sail over the bar at Rio Douro and continue 2-3 miles upstream it would be possible to come alongside smack-bang in downtown Porto. This ancient, one time capital, of Portugal is an architectural wonder and in fact world heritage listed. So it was worth a try, and sure enough, we secured alongside just before night fall on Saturday the 7th august.

Porto is charming to say the least not just because of its old buildings and winding alleyways, but because it’s full of life. It’s said that the old city is one of the most densely populated areas in Europe and I don’t think they sleep – it didn’t matter at what time of night you were up the road, there was life abundant with whole families sitting eating till the small hours.
To gaze across the river at night was like looking into an uncle’s bar cupboard, most of the world’s port wine is produced in Porto and the town of Vila Nova de Gaia´s sky line is dotted with illuminated signs proclaiming their different brand names.
After 3 nights in Porto all were in accord that it was time to get some miles under the keel – next stop the island of Porto Santo 670 miles to the south west and the most northerly island in the Madeira Group.
A good passage to say the least we put the propeller brake on after setting sail outside the aforementioned bar and took it off again just off Porto Santo 670 miles later Friday the 13th of august, giving us winds up to 35-40 knots and some large seas surfing down 4 meter Atlantic swells in a 60 foot fishing boat is good sport to say least if not a little tiring. We arrived in Porto Santo early Sunday morning. Tired but happy, we relaxed over the next 3 days, enjoyed the islands, main attraction; the lovely beach.
I was in Porto Santo a couple of times in the late 80’s and its tourist industry has blossomed a lot of Madeira’s well heeled, have built summer houses and hotels on the bather friendly coast, I’d like to have shares in the local cement company! The locals greet the change with the usual mixed reaction, money on one hand disappearing traditions and culture on the other.

Madeira was our next island. Its easterly tip providing us with an exciting anchorage, towering cliffs and the ridge of the islands outline against a windy starlit night. We shoved of next day and just around the next cape, Funchal the capital of Madeira.

No room for us in the harbor so we anchored up just outside which gave us the front row seats for a city celebrating her 500 anniversary. We wandered around enjoying her charms including a brief interlude at a recital in the main church.
Our next destination Selvagem Grande, a small rocky clump 2 days south inhabited only by two rangers, some visiting biologists and thousands of sea birds.

Cory’s shearwater they fascinated us all with their call as they returned every evening after feeding at sea for the day. A rolly anchorage with some interesting chain gyrations during the nights anchor watch our chain fouling itself around a large rock in the 12 meter water but with effort and some good snorkeling by Sune and Johannes we cleared the problem.
We enjoyed some fantastic snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of this lovely bay Kristopher exclaimed ’it’s just like flying’.
After 4 days splendid isolation we said our goodbyes and made sail for Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands where it’s hot – very hot. We found a spot in the most southerly harbor and have now packed.