Yacht Fathom - Setting off from England in May 2016 on a single-handed voyage somewhere a bit warmer

Ria de Arousa & Santiago de Compostela

The next destination after Ria de Muros was Ria de Arousa which at 8 nautical miles wide and 15 nautical miles long is the largest of the Galcian rias and apparently one of the most interesting.  As the weather was so settled I decided on taking the shorter route into the ria though the narrow Canal de Sagres and weave my way through the rocks and shallows. No dramas and decided on anchoring for the night in a pretty bay to the north west of Isla Arousa. It was so nice in fact that I had the first swim of the trip.

I’d read a lot about Santiago de Compostela and how a trip to the old city and one of the greatest shrines of Christianity couldn’t be missed when in this area of Spain. So on Friday morning I motored over to the marina at Vilagarcia and caught the train to the city. 8 Euro for a return trip and it only took 20 minutes each way. Since the discovery of the tomb of Saint James at the beginning of the 9th century, the city has been the focus of thousands of pilgrims. On entering the hugely impressive cathedral I joined a queue which I assumed was to get into the centre of the building. We slowly shuffled through a doorway and up some stairs. It was only then that I realised I was in a queue of pilgrims who were passing through the ornate baldachin and taking turns to hug the statue of Saint James the great behind the altar. We were in such a narrow space that I couldn’t pass by or go back and not being religious I was feeling increasing uncomfortable as I got closer. When it was my turn the best I could do was give him a quick nod of respect and dart off. I’m sure I heard a couple of murmurings from behind. Anyway the cathedral is a magnificent building (see photos) and the old town built of local granite with its narrow alleyways is definitely worth seeing and i’m glad I made the trip.

I was keen to go back to anchor and on Saturday morning motored over to A Pobra do Caramiñal and put the hook down off the beach. I had been reading up on the best anchorages in the ria and one in particular, to the east of Isla Toxa, stood out. The pilot book described it as ‘a chance to stray off the beaten track, however the approach has numerous shallows, rocks and fields of viveros and the area is prone to silting’. In view of the calm settled weather I decided to give it a go and early afternoon on Sunday approached the shallows on a rising tide just to be safe. A few interesting moments when the water depth suddenly went from 15m to 2m but Fathom weaved her way past the shallows and we made it to the anchorage. Slight drama yesterday afternoon when I realised I had run out of bread. There are no shops around these parts so I resorted to baking a loaf onboard which turned out surprisingly well. The only trouble is i’ve eaten it already.

Decided to go ashore and stretch my legs yesterday evening so pumped up the dinghy and fired up the outboard for the first time since last August. The Island of Toxa is very well groomed and contains a golf course, couple of hotels and a health retreat. As I walked around I couldn’t help feeling it was all very artificial and aimed at the smart set. Got chatting to a couple and their daughter from the only other boat in the anchorage who set off from France a few weeks ago in their large catamaran and are aiming to arrive in Greece in September. Their widescreen TV is so large that after it got dark yesterday I could see that they were watching an episode of Game of Thrones.

As I type this Fathom is surrounded by a flotilla of small workboats who have anchored with divers down searching for shell fish on the seabed. I am waiting for a permit to come through giving me permission to visit Isla Ons and Islas Cies which are protected national parks. The weather has been extremely settled for the last week with the wind never rising above 5 knots from the SW. I hope this continues for another week so I can visit the national parks which have exposed anchorages. After Isla Ons I intend to enter Ria de Pontevedra and visit Combarro and the historic town of Horreos which come highly recommended.

Posted on 06 Jun in: Logs 2016, Spain (4 Comments)

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