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#1 2018-10-17 14:52:13

From: Dublin Bay
Registered: 2011-02-24
Posts: 333

Day Sailing to Spain 2018

Day Sailing to Spain 2018
by Lynda Spencer

Shakedown Cruise

13th May - The boat has been scrubbed and polished and should now be ready for setting off to Spain. Needless to say, there are still things that have to be completed; shore power and a new calorifier, which has been on order but not yet arrived! Albertine went back into the water on 9th May having had the electrics checked, a new raw water intake sea cock and a new cutlass bearing. We had one day to get things on board before setting off to Gosport for a VSA Rally where we met up with three other VSA boats. Having had drinks on Albertine six of us went to The Castle for a very substantial meal. The following morning we took advantage of very calm weather to put our sails on while the other boats sailed to Osborne Bay for lunch at anchor. Later we joined them and other VSA boats, and were able to test the sails were ok and that the reefing lines were all set correctly. We all sailed back together and into Port Solent Marina, drinks on Albertine and a good meal at an Italian restaurant.


The following day we locked out about 10.00 and sailed to the Beaulieu River and picked up a buoy where it was lovely and peaceful.


We always pick up the same buoy where for the past three years we have been watching a Marsh Harrier who sits on a post and it was there again. Always a great sight. Our shakedown cruise has been successful with no mishaps. Let’s hope the rest of the work is completed soon and we can set off south.

Warsash to Perros Guiric

22nd May - At last all the work has been completed and we now have shore power and a brand new calorifier which will give us constant hot water when in a marina. Jan and Trevor cast us off and wished us Bon voyage as we slipped out of the Hamble with an ebbing tide.


Our destination is the Spanish Rias, our plan is, there is no plan, except to day sail and only sail when the wind is right, looks as if we’ll do a lot of motoring.

Our first stop was Yarmouth where we picked up a buoy outside the harbour. What a mistake, we bounced about all night and not much sleep was had. The next morning we set off at 06.00, a crystal clear day with winds from N F3-4. An uneventful crossing to Cherbourg arriving at the entrance at 18.00 and straight into a berth of which there were many. The beauty of sailing at this time of the year is that there are many spaces in marinas. Cherbourg Marina has been tidied up with organised parking, flower beds and seating, all looking very smart. After a very welcome shower we ate at L’Armoire a Delices, not cheap but very good.

The next day we made an early start to make the race down to St Peter Port, motor sailing until the wind was dead behind and the main was flapping all over the place. The mist was down and it wasn’t until we were in the Little Russel that we were able to pick out a few landmarks. Thank goodness for an iPad and Navionics. I bought a GPS Bluetooth tracker to see exactly where we are on the chart and that has been great even out at sea, as it works from satellites.

As we came along the North Normandy Coast there were lots of Gannets setting off for their days fishing. Let me tell you about one special Gannet. When my Dad died I believe he came back as a Gannet. He never saw the boats we bought but was a keen dinghy sailor and built all our boats in various rooms in our house when I was a child. Whenever we have been in a difficult situation out at sea a lone Gannet circles our boat as if to say “I’m watching over you, you’ll be ok”. As we arrived in Cherbourg at the entrance sat a lone Gannet just in front of the boat. Just after my Mum died last year we were having a particular arduous sail from Ramsgate to Eastbourne and I asked Mum to look after us, five minutes later a lone Gannet circled the boat! As well as seeing Gannets we watched swallows flying north, skimming over the waves, no doubt on their way from Africa to Britain. It’s amazing that such a small bird can make such a long journey. Once again we had the pick of the berths in the outer harbour at St Peter Port, where we arrived about midday. It was good to have some time ashore where there were loads of American tourists who had come ashore from Queen Victoria which was anchored off the town.

Another very early start on Friday 25th May to catch the tide west to Perros Guiric. The mist was down once more and visibility very poor. No wind so once again we motored. We were joined for a short time by a butterfly. When there’s nothing around these little things become very important!


The highlight of the day was seeing Puffins swimming on the water in little groups. I was so delighted as they’re my favourite bird. So much so that we have a new mascot on board, meet Percy Puffin.


He obviously brought good luck in seeing so many puffins.
When we first came to Perros in our last boat, Mylyn, we said it was our favourite place. It still holds that status, it is so peaceful. You have to come through very narrow gates to get into the marina which are only open for a couple of hours each tide which probably puts people off, but it’s so worth it. For the first time this trip we were able to have supper in the cockpit, it was warm with no wind. Perros Guiric is a lovely town with a good variety of shops and a genteel atmosphere. We stayed for three nights, if you pay for two you get third free! We spent our time on various repairs like taking off the light over the sink and replacing it with the one from our cabin only to discover later that all that was needed was a new bulb. Do the basics first!! We had a new mixer tap fitted by professionals before we left only to discover it was leaking and not securely fitted, so that was removed and re-plumbed.


Our last day dawned very peaceful and sunny but with thunderstorms forecast for later so we made the most of the good weather to clean the boat ready for our next leg to Roscoff.

Perros Guiric to Camaret

Monday 28th May - We slipped our peaceful mooring in Perros at 06.30 and out through the gate. Once again no wind and moderate visibility which allowed us to view the lovely pink granite coastline. The wind came up slightly but right on the nose, still no sailing! There were lots of little fishing boats out and gannets and guillemots feeding. A pod of dolphins came by but not close enough to see clearly.

The trip to Roscoff was only 5 hours so we were alongside after refuelling by 11.30. Our first time in Roscoff, it was an easy entrance and there is a good space between pontoons making for easy manoeuvring.

It’s best to come in at slack water as the water rips through mid-tide. We explored Roscoff which is a lovely old town with a lovely church with a very ornate spire.


The following day we were up early set for L’Aber Wrach, but the mist came down and heavy rain so we abandoned that idea. The trouble is with heavy rain you’re confined to the boat, more scrabble! It did clear up in the afternoon and we were able to take a walk around the old harbour which dries at low tide.


There was a long line of fishing boats along the harbour wall, it looked strange to see them high and dry. We also had a walk along a very long jetty used by the passenger ferry to the Ile de Batz, we had often seen it from the sea side when passing through the narrow channel between the mainland and the island.


Late on Tuesday 29th May our eighth grandchild was born. Sorry not to be able to visit now but it will be a priority when we return to UK.

30th May - saw another foggy morning but we decided to go anyway. We have radar so can keep a look out. We saw the marina exit and that was all. We heard the ferry coming in which was obviously very close due to the very loud fog horn! We went outside the Ile de Batz because of the visibility. We had Navionics on the iPad which we took up on deck to be able to see it clearer, Jon was steering by the compass and the iPad was telling him to go in the opposite direction! After stopping and going around in circles for a while we realised the iPad had been put in front of the compass! It was surprising how affect it had. Another lesson learnt, one we should have known about and did but didn’t think! We saw nothing until getting into the river at L’Aber Wrach and picked up a buoy in the outer harbour.


We prefer it on a buoy in the peace and quiet. It was low tide when we went in and all the moule beds were exposed and being worked on. We were able to sit out on deck for a while before the rain set in for the rest of the day. In spite of the rain there were lots of canoeists and paddle boarders taking advantage of the calm conditions. Jon heard the first cuckoo in the distance. On 31st May we woke to sunshine, which didn’t last too long but the visibility was good so we set off at 07.30, motoring, no wind again, to go through the Channel Du Four along with a few other boats. It was very calm just with the usual swell. Lots of little fishing boats around and the sea birds skimming the water.


We were through the Four and passing Pointe De Mathieu by 11.30 and across the Bay de Brest, where we were met by dolphins, and into Camaret-sur-Mer by 13.30. Lunch and a sort out then walked up to the Capitainarie to collect my passport which I had left at home and was posted out by a very kind neighbour. It was good to have a welcome shower, drinks in the cockpit and a very good meal at Hotel Thalassa. 1st June and the sun shone all day!


What a difference it makes. Camaret is a lovely stop over and a good Super U where we stocked up on food. The marina is a good walk from the town but has a pleasant outlook.


Is does of course mean you have to cart everything a long way. We took the opportunity of doing a wash which we then strung out on deck, but with good sun and some wind it soon dried. By the Vauban marina there is a lovely fort ‘la Tour Vauban’


and also an old chapel ‘Chappell Norte Dame de Rocamadout’ built in the 17th century. The timber roof is like an inverted ships hull and it’s dedicated to the sailors of Camaret who have adorned it with offerings of oars, lifebuoys and model boats.



Margaret and Jack who we know from Fareham, who had been on the twinning rally to Vannes in 2015 were in the marina on board Minstrel Aegis, we had drinks with them plus Sue and Phil (Avanti) from Poole. At the end of the day the sun was still shining!

Camaret to Ile D’yeu


On 2nd June we left Camaret out through the rocks at about 09.00 and put the main up! Only the second time it’s been up since leaving UK, needless to say the wind was almost on the nose and so we motor sailed. We had to be at Raz de Sein by 13.30, slack water, so we had more than enough time and in fact did arrive early. As the winds were light we were fine with hardly a ripple on the water, past La Plate west cardinal, La Vieille light and Pointe du Raz lookout tower on the shore.


Across the bay to Pointe Penmarch where we were joined by about a dozen dolphins all playing around the boat, what a magical sight. Into the O’Det river and onto the last spot on the visitors’ pontoon at St Marine at about 20.30 and ready for a meal on deck. We stayed for two nights there catching up on bits and pieces and having a good walk to the Pointe De Combrit at the entrance to the river. A chap came in behind us who had just sailed single handed from Antigua, he obviously missed conversation as he just didn’t stop. Neither could he sit still, he was on the go all the time. We ate at La Misaine, a creperie overlooking the water, which was very good. We are very much into boat life now, the days pass and we haven’t done a thing!

Leaving O’Det River

Monday 4th June we set off at 08.00, filled up with fuel, and headed for Port Louie near Lorient.  The winds once again were light so we motor sailed until the wind set in and we sailed with no engine for a whole hour!! It was so peaceful with the engine off. Arrived at Port Louie just as the tide began to flood and a berth was found for us and help with our ropes, what a change. We were surprised how crowded it was, maybe the word has got around that’s it’s a nice quiet place and cheap.

Port Louie

5th June – We have now been out two weeks, seems much longer.  Today is a milestone as our next port of call will be the furthest south we’ve sailed, we’re heading for Le Torballe. You have to get permission to enter the harbour here as it’s a busy fishing port. Not too much room for visitors but enough at this time of the year. I can imagine in the height of the season it would be very cramped all squeezed into a three-sided space. Shopped, ate, bed.


Wednesday 6th June, slipped at 08.30, murky weather, light winds from NNW. Another day at sea, watching the sea. Couldn’t see the coast as it was too misty but as we went past St Nazaire there were loads of very big ships waiting to go into port and we had to keep a good lookout as we crossed the approach channel.

Entrance to Port Joinville, Ile D’Yeu

Arrived Port Joinville on Ile D’yeu at 15.30 and straight into a finger berth. We booked in for three nights, what bliss, not having to go to sea tomorrow! Maybe I can get some washing and cleaning done, what joy.   This place looks more Spanish than French and is obviously a big tourist area with a helipad nearby and ferries by the dozen. The island is very low lying with Moorish style houses.  What a lovely island, we bused and walked our way round it all.


Walked along golden sandy beaches lined with pine woods and along rugged cliffs


and into tiny fishing harbours, it was so tranquil.


We also came across artists who had set up their easels by the Les Corbeaux Lighthouse, each picking a different view to paint, we stopped to talk to them asking if they were part of the French Painting Challenge!


We even managed a dip in the ocean, a lovely stopover.

Ile D’Yeu to Royan

We departed Port Joinville, after a quick visit to the Boulangerie, about 09.00 with light winds from SE under main and motor. By mid-morning the wind picked up and we were able to sail, hurray! The sun came out and it was beautiful. We entered Sablon D’Olonne, filled up with fuel and were allocated a berth. This is where the Vondee Globe race starts from so it all looked a bit familiar having seen it on TV. It’s a large marina with nice wide fairways, easy for manoeuvring. The area around the marina with bars and restaurants all looked a bit pre-season so we ate on board and the rain set in again.

Leaving Sablon D’Olonne

The next morning looked a bit stormy but no wind so we set off for La Rochelle, with wind on the nose and very light. No sailing again, although we did put the stay sail out to steady the boat against the Atlantic swell. The wind changed to NW and we were able to pull out the headsail, the sun came out and it was very warm. We had a very easy trip passing between Ile De Re and the mainland and under the 38m high Pont De Re connecting the island and the mainland.



We arrived about 16.00 onto the hammerhead of the visitor’s pontoon and checked in with the HM for a berth for 3 nights as there is supposed to be some heavy weather coming in. The marina is huge and so are many of the boats, we feel quite dwarfed.


11th June saw a change in the weather, rain, heavy cloud and wind. I sorted out all my clothes, putting away my warmer ones and bringing lighter ones to the fore, hence the weather! The royal we did some maintenance! When we were away in 2006 our hinges started to break and we had problems finding the correct ones which we never did. We found ones that nearly fit but are slightly too deep so every time I replace one I have to cut a bit away on the wood. Once again we shopped and replaced gaz which all seem to be a long way from the marina. However, we are only paying 21 Euro a night!

12th June – we walked into the old town which is charming.

Entrance to the old town marina

Arcaded street

There are many more marinas in the town with some gigantic yachts, as well as having the fast rib on the back one had a car on the upper deck, that yacht came from Glasgow.


We did a tour around the town and stopped for at a beautiful French cafe for lunch with colourful paintings on the walls and ceiling and huge great light fittings. It’s a copy of a Parisien cafe by the same name, Cafe De la Paix.


We caught the bus de mer back to the marina after buying a French sim card for my Wi-fi dongle.

13th June – we had intended to stay another day but looking at the forecast it seemed ok so off we set at 07.30, round the outside of Ile D’Oleron. The depth was much shallower than we expected, all borne out by the pictures in the marina office at Royan. As we entered the Garonne River we were doing 8.7kns and had to watch we didn’t get swept past the entrance to the marina. There aren’t many visitors places in Royan, it’s mainly on one long pontoon but not rafted up at this time of the year.

14th June – this morning we walked up to the market which is a fantastic domed structure looking a bit like the O2 arena in London but made of concrete.

The roof inside the market

The fish and cheese were amazing but so expensive, as is all the food in France. Royan is quite a modern town mainly because we bombed it to bits during the war. We also visited the Roman Catholic Church which is also made of concrete and the most amazing church I have ever seen. Impossible to describe. When they were rebuilding the town, they started with the market and the church, both very futuristic and of concrete.


15th June – woke to a very wet day and when it wasn’t raining it was misty. We were going to visit some caves today but stayed close to the boat instead. We filled up with fuel and discussed the route down to Arcachon, which will be a long day sail. We had a walk late afternoon around the coast which is littered with little sandy coves amongst granite cliffs.



We came upon a cluster of fishing huts with their nets strung out, I would have liked to see them in use. There was also a memorial to the Royal Marines who canoed up to Bordeaux to attack the German Navy. “The Cockleshell Heroes”.

The Cockleshell Heroes

Back to the boat and consumed a delicious flounder bought in the market.

Royan to Capbreton

On Saturday 16th June we set off at 07.00 for Arcachon, this part of the trip has to be done at the weekend as there’s a firing range you have to pass through, it’s also a long leg. Getting out of the Gironde and past Pointe De Grave took us longer than expected, we thought we would have some tide assist but didn’t. Then it’s just a very long leg down to Arcachon past one long sandy beach.


Coming into Arcachon by Cap Ferret was very interesting as there are many sand banks which change frequently. One of the main problems is that they have put new port and starboard marks in but the old ones, that are marked on the chart, are still there! You don’t know you’re in the wrong place until you’re in breaking water! However, we did get through and into the marina and onto the visitor’s pontoon about 20.30. Reflection, food, bed!

Sunset at Arcachon

We later learnt that you should call Cap Ferret Semaphore tower for the latest update! At the entrance there is a huge sand dune which was covered with hundreds of people practicing hang gliding and next to that, hang gliders over the cliffs by the dozens. I didn’t take photos, we were in breaking water at the time!

The following day we did the other half of the trip through the ranges down to Capbreton. We followed a French boat out of Arcachon hoping he knew the way, it later transpired it was his first time there as well although we did get out safely and not through breaking water. Another day of sandy beaches where the world surfing championships used to be held. At least we thought that getting into Capbreton would be straightforward, wrong!

Entrance to Capbreton, looking far calmer than it actually was!

Just outside the entrance is an underwater cavern of 100+m going up to 6m which causes a big swell in the narrow entrance. You just have to go for it but once in the channel going up to the marina the tide is going about 5kts, the marina entrance is ahead and you somehow have to slow down, as you get to the entrance there is a very strong counter flow which stops you dead. It was all very exciting and we tied up safely on the visitor’s pontoon. The marina is lovely and open, so nice views and has a calm feeling about it. The visitors berth is by the fishing fleet but they didn’t disturb us and it was interesting watching them come and go. The fish market is also by the fleet and the fish looked delicious.

Monday 18th June and we are staying put for a couple of days. Our first day in port is always the same, cleaning, shopping and general tidying up. I also cut Jon’s hair which was very long, he was looking a real scruff bag. The showers are interesting here, they’re by the fish market and are shared with the fishermen! Eau de Peche comes to mind! There are good showers and bad ones and then there are just showers, these were the latter.


19th June and an exploring day. We hired electric bikes, I haven’t been on a bike for over 20 years so was a bit reluctant. However, I loved it, we cycled along the coast and then inland slightly and round a lake and back. It’s quite flat here and there are cycle tracks everywhere so you’re not contending with the traffic. We ate out at one of the many restaurants along the front, it was good with friendly staff and very efficient.


From France to Spain

We left Capbreton in France on 20th June on a bright sunny morning with no wind. The entrance was very different with hardly any swell.


The mist set in for a little while but not too bad and the sun soon burnt it off. We came across two very large trees floating in the water which were longer than the boat. The shoreline is littered with them, not sure if they’ve been blown across the Atlantic or have come out of local rivers. The visibility cleared and we could see the Pyrenees in the distance, which looked magnificent. As we closed to the Spanish coast the change in landscape was dramatic, gone were the sandy beaches and replaced by rugged cliffs and high mountains dropping down to the sea, interspersed with harbours large and small and a few sandy coves. We motor sailed all day and arrived in Zumaya, Spain about 17.30.

Zumaya marina

Sorted out, showered and celebrated our arrival in Spain with a bottle of fizz. Our initial view of Zumaya was that it was a bit stark although we have lovely views of the surrounding hills as well as the town opposite the marina.

Mid Summers Day. Today we took the train to San Sebastián, the capital of the area.

San Sebastián Bay

Like most cities it has everything to offer and we were able to get a Spanish SIMS card. The “in” food here is Pintxes, which is small filled rolls or open sandwiches or small bits of all kinds of delicious food. You just help yourself to what you want and pay at the end, how they keep track of what you have I don’t know as nothing is written down! And of course, it all has to be washed down with a glass of vino. On the way back to Zumaya we stopped off at Zarautz where Jon holidayed with his family when he was about 13.


Surprisingly he couldn’t find the hotel where they stayed and thought it had changed somewhat! Once back in Zumaya we had a walk through the town which is lovely, we totally changed our minds about the place, certainly the staff in the marina are friendly and very helpful.

22nd June, another domestic day, Jon did the washing while I cleaned through the boat and then we shopped. After spending nearly a month in France I had just about mastered the supermarkets and what things were called, I now have to get used to Spanish, the shop took so long!

In the afternoon we walked over to Flysch Cliffs and beach which everyone said we must visit.

Flysch Cliffs

It’s where part of King of Thrones was filmed and the rock strata are amazing.

Lynda’s at the bottom of this cliff, somewhere




We left Zumaya on 24th June for waters new.

Leaving Zumaya

Passed the cliffs that we had seen from the land.


Light winds that soon picked up as did the swell and by the time we were approaching Bilbao Port it was gusting F6. By the time we arrived at Getxo marina, which is about an hour from the harbour entrance, the wind and swell had died down and we went straight onto the outside of the visitor’s pontoon with lovely views of the rolling hills and a large open stretch of water.


We had heard that this was an unfriendly marina and that there was lots of wash on the pontoon, we found neither. The staff couldn’t have been more helpful and very little wash. We stayed a week, mainly because we were waiting for a high to arrive and also because we liked the place. There was lots to do and the shops weren’t too far away, you get used to doing a lot of walking living on board, there’s no alternative!

We went to see Vizcaya Bridge, a transporter bridge over the river taking pedestrians and vehicles on a gondola suspended from a very high structure over the river.

Vizcaya Bridge

We also had a day in Bilbao travelling on the metro into the city. Bilbao is set in a valley so no matter where you look you can see the hills. We went to the Guggenheim museum which is amazing, the architecture is incredible, not a straight line anywhere on the building.

Guggenheim Museum


This sculpture is made completely of fabric

We had Pintxos for lunch and then a trip on the open topped tour bus to see more of the city. We ate at one of the many restaurants by the marina which are ok. We haven’t quite adjusted to the Spanish way of life yet. They seem to have their main meal about 13.30, that goes on a long time and just a snack in the evening.

The washing machine and dryer are free at the marina so were able to do everything. Our shower pump had given up so I took it to pieces and replaced the few bits that could be replaced and it worked! Although we haven’t used it yet, being in a marina. Once we start anchoring we will definitely need it. The Queen Elizabeth came in one day, she towers over everything. The local bus company was doing a roaring trade.

Queen Elizabeth

For the first time we have been plagued with mosquitos at night so have had to go into the anti mosi routine of putting the nets up before six and shutting all other windows before putting on lights. We also have an electric mosquito killer which we have on at night. It seems to be working and my bites are clearing up!

The beach is only a short distance from the marina so we have taken advantage of that to cool off in the sea.


When we came back Jon dived under the boat, knife between his teeth, to look at the prop. Actually, it wasn’t quite like that, it was more like…. no, I won’t go into that.  Ages ago we thought we had something round the prop and we could see what we thought was seaweed which turned out to be a thick plastic tape. Jon was able to free it quite easily.  We’ve had some very hot sunny days which have ended up with thunderstorms.

Laredo, Santander, Laredo!

Left Bilbao on 1st July about 09.30 for Laredo, calm sea and hardly any swell. It was a bit overcast but the visibility was good.


The scenery gets more and more magnificent with the hills and mountains higher and higher. Passing one high mountain I saw 2 eagles flying over the ridge, beautiful birds.


We passed another Victoria 34, Verity, not a member of the association, based in La Roche Bernard, France, who came across to say hello. They later joined the VSA after going on the association web site.

Laredo Marina

Arrived in the new marina at Laredo about 14.00 which was surprisingly empty for July. As soon as we arrived the heavens opened with thunder and lightning which lasted most of the afternoon but it did clear up in the evening.

We had heavy rain and storms overnight but the morning broke to full sun so we were able to explore the area.

El Tunnel

We went through a tunnel under La Atalaya, a high hill near the marina.


It goes through to what was the old harbour but never completed, way before EU money!
3rd July we were up early to go to Santander but the forecast wasn’t good so we went for a long walk on the beach which stretches about 4.5k of lovely clean sand to El Puntal where there is a ferry across the river to Santona. There are anchorages in the river but it does get very shallow in places.

The Old Town

In the evening we ventured out into the old town looking for somewhere to eat. There are many bars and restaurants serving mainly Pintxes but no proper meals so we went into the main town and ate at one of the many places, sat on the street watching the world go by.

4th July was very overcast and storms expected so we had a washing day at the laundry where we were able to get everything done and dried. Once back at the boat the storms set in for the rest of the day. So much for coming south for good weather. It poured most of the night with a leak forming over the bed so I slept with a towel over me, life is such fun on board! At least the sun was shining when we woke up and we were able to get things dry. After another shop, the rain started again. Before we left home I made some canvas covers to put over the boat during winter, so we rigged one of those up over the front of the boat in the hopes of keeping the rain out. It also means we can leave the hatch open to let air in. It worked!

6th July was slightly overcast but we decided to set off for Santander after refuelling.

You can just see the Faro at the bottom of the photo

Passed Faro de Caballo which you can access via 600+ steps down the side of the mountain. The light winds and swell soon picked up and it was quite uncomfortable.

Isla De Mouro at the entrance to Santander

It’s a wide entrance to the river and the marina is quite a way up the river passed the town and ferry port. We were met and directed to a berth which was quite a way from the facilities so a long walk for showers etc. There are no shops here so it’s a very long walk or a bus into Santander for everything including bread. It’s right alongside the airport so you get a good view of the planes taking off and landing, in spite of that it wasn’t too noisy and they don’t fly at night. We are wondering where all the good weather is, we could do with a few good days to enable us to get further along the coast without the swell.

7th July- Change of Plan! We discussed what are plans are and whether we should continue to the Rias. The next leg is a long one with little escape routes and the swell doesn’t seem to be decreasing, it was also taking over our enjoyment of the here and now. So, we’ve decided to stay on the north coast which is lovely and go back to Laredo which we liked, and make that our base.
Having made that decision, we set off by bus into Santander to have a look around. Did the obligatory open topped bus tour and checked with the tourist office about getting to Picos de Europa National Park. It will be good to see something different than the sea. We hopped off the bus at the Palace de la Magdalena which looks fantastic from the sea, right on the point as you enter the harbour.


The position is spectacular but we were rather disappointed as it’s just a big tourist trap.
The following day we caught the early bus into Santander and then another one to Potes in the Picos de Europa, a journey of 2 1/2 hours through the most spectacular mountain scenery with snow on the high peaks. We saw eagles and vultures on the ridges. The road was very narrow with gorges on one side and sheer cliffs on the other.


Potes was a very busy town full of tourists but very nice. Lots of places to eat and drink which you needed in the heat.

Rio Deva running through Potes

The weather seems to have changed for the better.

Cider siphon

Cider seems to be the local drink so we tried a bottle which came with an impressive siphon.


We covered most of the town in the six hours we had there and then enjoyed the trip back. It was a long day but very worthwhile.

We only stayed three nights in Santander as we weren’t impressed with the marina, it was quite dirty and out on a limb. So, on 10th July we sailed back to Laredo where we were met and ushered into the berth we had left three days ago. We booked in for a month and made enquirers about over wintering.

The marina and the beach

The marina is lovely and clean with views of the surrounding hills and mountains in the distance. There are lovely sandy beaches next to the marina, the shops are very close and it has easy access to UK.

The town

The marina staff are very friendly and come to say hola every day. After a lovely swim, we had a good meal in the sun on board and settled down to enjoy the rest of our holiday in this lovely place.

Life in Laredo

I would like to say that life has settled into a routine of beach walking, swimming and general mooching about, however the weather has been so awful that some days we don’t even venture out of the boat it’s so wet. We have had some good days and have rigged a Bimini over the cockpit so we can eat outside at lunchtime. When it’s good weather we do a beach walk early morning before the sun gets too hot, along with loads of other people, it seems to be the thing to do. Maybe we could join the beach walkers club! As we are staying put now and the shops are close by we don’t have to do a big shop anymore which is great. We watched the England football match while having a meal in town, nearly every cafe had a screen outside. After England scored the first goal we cheered much to the frowns from the Spanish. We kept very quiet after that, not that there was anything to cheer about!

One day we walked up through the old town to have a look at the old church and then onto the hill beside the marina.

You can see Albertine on the first pontoon in

There are lovely views from the top. Most sunny days seem to end with a thunder storm and lots of rain.

On Saturday evening there was a Mass at the fishermen’s quay for departed fishermen. We joined in but of course couldn’t understand a word of it. There were bands and choirs and a statue of the Virgin Mary surrounded by flowers was carried onto one of the fishing boats. The boats were decorated overall and adorned with flowers. A small fleet then went out into the bay to scatter floral tributes.



We went into town for a meal at El Tunel Restaurant which was very good. Jon had scrambled eggs, chips and black pudding, their idea of scrambled eggs is fried and then slightly cut up! He said it was good. I had a goats cheese salad which came with Iberian ham, walnuts, raisins and a delicious dressing. We both had ice cream for dessert and coffee. A really good meal and all for €33 including drinks!

18th July. Walked along the 4.5km beach to a point where you can get a ferry to Santoña which we did and had a look around the town, the harbour and the fish quay which is quite large and obviously one the main industries. Anchovies being the main fish, every other shop sells anchovies in one form or another.


Between the harbour and the fish quay is a structure which looks like the bow of a large boat with walkways on the top and a restaurant at the front where we stopped for lunch. We had fresh anchovies in oil and vinegar with fresh grated garlic, delicious. The paddle boarders were we’re out in force.

How many can you get on a paddle board!

We caught the bus back to be able to see something of the surrounding countryside. Once back at the boat we entertained the couple from the boat next door who came from the Hamble and are on their way to the Caribbean
19th July we caught the bus to Ramales de la Victoria to visit the Covalanes caves. From Ramales you can get a taxi to the caves but we walked the 2km, an hour later we arrived, very hot with aching legs.


Pico San Vicente
Almost at the top!

Some of the caves not accessible

The scenery was spectacular but very steep. We had booked our tickets on line and only 7 people and the guide are allowed in at any one time. It’s a 45 minute tour in the 110m cave where there are some amazing cave drawings. The walk back down was much easier and it had clouded over which helped. We saw many vultures soaring over the mountains and as we were up so high we could see them quite clearly with binos. A good day out.

Bodegas and Mountains

We have settled to our static life now with trips to the beach, shops and long walks. Maintenance continues on board and we are now officially trippers as we’ve bought beach chairs so we can sit on the beach without sand blowing in our faces as it does when lying on towels. We have decided to get a delivery crew to take the boat back to UK and that has all been arranged.
We are still buying lovely fish from the market but instead of the shop filleting it I’m doing it myself as I get far more fish off the bone.

Net Mending

We watched the fishing boats taking their nets off the boat the other day and then the women came down and sat mending them under their parasols.
2nd August. We have befriended one of the marina staff, Luis, who is working here for the holidays. He has arranged a trip to a Bodegas (winery) for us as his girlfriend lives in Logroño, capital of the Rioja region. He picked us up in his friend’s car to drive the 1 1/2 hours to Badaran and the David Moreno Bodegas. Needless to say, borrowed cars aren’t always that reliable and this one kept losing power going up hill; we had to go up through the mountains! So, we arrived too late for the tour although they did allow us in to look around by ourselves and of course the obligatory tasting at the end.


We were very impressed with the wine and I bought some for Jon’s birthday.
We were directed by the staff at the Bodegas to a place for lunch in the village. You see in films people going into a bar and then being ushered into “the back room”, it was just like that and the walls of this back room were lined with old wine bottles from many of the Rioja Bodegas.


Luis ordered for us and we ate typical small village Spanish food. Bean stew to start with followed by a lamb stew and stuffed pimentos, lovely. All washed down with a bottle of Rioja.


The plateau where the vineyards are, is huge and all you see are vines, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many.


We then went off to Logroño where I had booked a hotel for the night. After a well earned siesta and shower we met up with Luis and his girlfriend Pillar who, at 22.00 were going to show us the town! We went for Pintxos in the street of the Elephant so called because there is a picture of an elephant on the wall at the beginning of the street!

Street of the Elephant By night

And by day

The place was heaving; we went from bar to bar having a glass of wine and a Pintxos in each one. It was quite an experience but very much a young person’s venue. We excused ourselves at midnight and I think the others were also pleased to be going home! The following day we had a wander around the old town by ourselves. It’s a lovely town with a large church in the centre and some lovely shops.


The buildings are very tall and the streets narrow. The heat was overpowering and by midday we had to find shade and a cool drink. Luis picked us up from the hotel at 14.30 and we set off for another slow trip back to Laredo, this time because of the traffic.

The weather has definitely changed for the better, no thunderstorms for a while now. When it’s hot at midday we spend the time on the boat with all hatches and portholes open and we also have a wind scoop which is great. Late afternoon we go to the beach for several swims to cool down.

7th August. Jon’s 70th birthday. We were up early to catch the bus into Santander and then another one to Potes and onto Fuente De in the Pico De Europa Mountains where I had booked a hotel for the night. Spanish transport isn’t notorious for its punctuality but we should have 3/4 hour in Santander, plenty of time! Not. The bus from Laredo to Santander was very late and so we missed the only bus to Potes! The only viable solution was to jump in a taxi, which we did and had a very comfortable drive to Potes with running commentary all the way, if a little more expensive than anticipated! We had been to Potes before so didn’t need to look around. We had lunch and then caught the bus to Fuenta De and our hotel at the base of a 1000m mountain face. We were already at 1070m and the scenery was magnificent. We couldn’t see the top as the cloud was down but it didn’t deter from the wonder of the place.

Fuente De


The cable car to the top went right over the hotel and was extremely high. Being frightened of heights we decided not to go up and anyway you wouldn’t be able to see anything. The hotel had many lounges and in the evening we enjoyed a bottle of fizz in one of them looking down the valley, before a lovely meal in the restaurant.
The following day was crystal clear and the view of the mountains from our room was breath taking.

The view from our room

After breakfast we decided to walk up to a waterfall we had seen the day before. Everywhere you walk is uphill and very steep and with arthritic knees screaming we had to stay on the lower slopes. The mind is willing but the body not! With the changing position of the sun you see different things all the time and I was lucky enough to spot a vulture’s nest with a fledgling flapping its wings. There are many nests in holes in the mountain and it was lovely to see the adult birds soaring around.


I would have loved to have gone to the top of the mountain where the cable car goes and only later did we learn that you could get a 4×4 up there!


It was a lovely birthday, one that Jon said he would remember for a long time. We did the return journey back to Laredo by bus, and guess what, the bus was late!

Continuing Life in Laredo and Further Afield

Life continues with the normal round of beach walks, swimming, shopping etc. The thunder storms seem to have given up and we have had some good hot days and nights. You get used to the heat and what was very hot for us to start with now seems to be normal. On 14th August we caught the bus to Noja just along the coast where there are peculiar rock formations in the sea.

Noja Beach

It was almost low springs when we arrived and was incredible to see the rocks emerge from the sea. There is a lovely long sandy beach which we walked along for three hours in full sun and then fell into the nearest bar on our return to the town!

Refreshing Sangria

Saturday 18th August and Laredo is buzzing. Gig rowing races on the sea which we watched while beach walking. It was also the day of the Kettle contest where about 200 groups cook up a Bonita stew out in the open at the fisherman’s quay next to the marina. They started setting up their gazebos about 09.00 with BBQ’s, and dustbins full of sangria and produced the stew which was then judged. Didn’t find out who won, it just seemed complete chaos but everyone was enjoying themselves. The music was going until well after midnight.

Rock Concert with Bloque!

There was also a rock concert on the seafront which we went to, didn’t stay too long, not really our scene. The following day dawned nice and peaceful so a good long walk on the beach and a swim. In the evening in the church, St Petersburg Capella group performed in homage to Fernando Saez who was a painter! The church was packed and it was very good. The Russians must have been in town because the next night there was a Russian Ballet company performing Russian dances and all this entertainment for free.

21st August we set off early by bus to Santander to pick up a hire car. We drove along the North coast to A Coruna to see where we were hoping to get to on the boat. The drive was good with mountains on one side and the sea on the other.

Torre De Hercules

We arrived mid-afternoon and had a long walk by the cliffs passed Torre de Hercules and into town and to view the marinas.

Our hotel is in the background

The cliff side was stunning but we were a bit disappointed with the town and wouldn’t want to stay long in any of the marinas.
The next day we drove to Santiago de Compostela and went to the Cathedral square which was full of pilgrims, some chanting and singing, some having walked a long way.

Cathedral Santiago De Compostela

There are several routes all across Europe, one going through Laredo and we often saw them trudging along the beach. It was quite moving being with them all in the square. We had a quick look around the old town and then set off for Vigo. The Ria de Vigo was beautiful as we approached from the hills but once again the marinas weren’t that great.

The Marina at Cangas

We took a ferry over to Cangas on the other side of the Ria where Jan & Trevor had spent some time. The town was lovely but the summer trade with the fun fairs and masses of visitors spoilt it slightly. Back to Vigo we walked back to our hotel through the old town with its narrow streets and tall buildings and a street cafe on every corner. Although we enjoyed visiting these places we didn’t feel “if only” and are very content with Laredo. We travelled back via León across huge plains with fields full of wheat, maize and sunflowers.
After returning the car to Santander we had a walk around the city before returning to Laredo by bus. When we arrived back Laredo was buzzing with a huge market as it’s the Batalla de Flores (Battle of the Flowers). Fifteen entries concoct a theme and the floats are decorated with individual flower heads.


They work through the night so that they are as fresh as possible and at 17.30 the parade begins. This year was the 109th one, so it’s been going for some time.

The winning float – Evolution

After the parade the floats are judged and then all night there is music from live bands. At midnight there was a huge firework display which we were able to watch from the boat as it was set up on the marina wall, very convenient.


The last band stopped playing at 03.30 – we didn’t wait up!

Our Final Week

All our arrangements for our return to UK are in hand. The crew who are taking the boat back will arrive at the end of the month. We have booked an hotel for the last few days so the crew can acquaint themselves with the Albertine.

Faro del Caballo

We are still enjoying Laredo though and on 27th August it was a very calm sunny day so we went out in the rib in search of the caves by the Faro del Caballo, a tiny lighthouse we had passed on our way from Santander. It was low water springs so we were able to go right into one of the caves.

Inside the cave

The colours were wonderful and the sea so clear you could see right down to the seabed and all the shoals of fish.



By midday the wind had increased and the swell picked up so we made a hasty retreat back to the marina.  We spent the last few days sorting out and cleaning the boat in between our beach walks and swimming.

The view from my deckchair on the final day

We moved into the hotel on 31st August and handed the boat over as the crew arrived. It was good having a few days to relax before the trip into Santander on 3rd September and our ferry back to Portsmouth. We were met by Jan and Trevor who had wave us off from Warsash 15 weeks earlier.
What a fantastic time we have had; new experiences, meeting new people and visiting so many new places. Albertine was successfully returned to the River Hamble on 8th September, five days after leaving Laredo.

Albertine safely home with return crew


#2 2018-10-17 15:56:48

Committee Member
Registered: 2017-08-10
Posts: 154

Re: Day Sailing to Spain 2018

What a wonderful log! Brilliant.

Victoria 34 Cutter - 'Anitra'


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