30th July 2005

Back to La Coruņa: toilets, waves and rain

After a few days stuck in Portosin, we were under pressure as Derrick had to get to Santiago de Compostela somehow for his flight on saturday 29th. The options were from Portosin itself or from La Coruņa, 100 nautical miles to the north. I was also aware that John Carlson was arriving on sunday 30th night to begin the trip back to Bilbao. So if the weather did not improve by thursday Derrick would have to leave early on saturday and I would have to do the 100 miles alone, presuming the weather was good for saturday and sunday. So each day we studied forecasts looking for improvements, and anxiously looked at the sky trying to look for signs of clouds and wind abaiting. We weren't the only ones, other sailors heading south and north were stuck as well. Our best source of information was a couple returning to Swansea from a 3 year round world trip. They were looking at the internet a lot looking for a 3 to 4 day window of good weather to cross Biscay and the English Channel in one hop.

While all this was going on, Derrick and I read a lot and did odd jobs on the boat. Derrick has always been talented at finding little jobs to do, things that I generally put on the long finger, but which make a big difference to the appearance of the boat when done. One awful job that took up most of two days was a dismantling of the forward toilet. When the girls had left I found that the holding tank which stores the waste from the toilet when we are in harbour, was not emptying. We started by trying to poke a cable into the tank from the top, no joy. Then I got my diving gear out and tried to do the same from the bottom. Some chunks of toilet paper came out (remember, I was swimming in it!!!!!) but still no joy. Lots more foostering followed until on the second day I realised that the whole system would have to be dismantled. This meant pumping the tank as dry as possible from the deck above it, removing shelves, tools and a wall, disconnecting the pipes (smelly) and removing the outlet pipe which was gunged up baldy with toilet paper. Obviously somebody didn't hear my instruction to be very sparing in the use of toilet paper. Anyway, lesson learnt, make sure the skipper is very firm next time and nags people about it. One skipper suggested making the offenders do the dirty work as an incentive!!!

So, as you can see life in Portosin was interesting, although the town itself was not. But eventually the forecasts started looking better for a thursday departure. We had swell of 1.5 metres, moderate to slight seas and a SW wind which would drive us north well. We left at 8am to cloudy skies with the sun trying to break through. By the time we were in the open sea, the sun gave up and we were back to wet weather gear for the first time since leaving UK waters over a year ago. The morning forecast at 1045 was a bit worse that expected and we found ourselves creaming along in reefed sails with swell going from 1.5 to 2 metres. The wind rose to a steady force 6 creating confused seas and so we chose to divert to Finisterre, arriving there at 1130 am when the skies opened and we were drenched while trying to drop sails and then anchor in the harbour. By 3pm the skies looked better and the wind had dropped so we decided to resume heading north. On rounding the headland, under motor with light winds, we found the swell bigger and more confused. But we felt that we had come this far and didn't want to turn back. So we ploughed on and found that after an hour or two, the swell eased a little. We arrived into Camariņas tired and hungry after a long day with 2 difficult sails under our belt. We were so tired that we just anchored and didn't bother to launch the dingy to go ashore. We relaxed and tried to dry our wet kit, before dinner, wine and bed.

Friday dawned a little overcast with light winds and on departing at 8am we found the swell greatly reduced. The distance today was to be about the same as yesterday but under engine. So we relaxed a bit on passage, read, made bread and enjoyed the views as the clouds lifted to give sunny skies to admire the stunning coast we were passing along. In many ways it reminds me of the rocky coastline of west cork, which still remains one of my favorite cruising grounds.

I am glad for Derrick that he was able to finish on a good day, albeit one without enough wind to sail. This years trip has had lots of variety for him, from creaming along in gentle seas and rough, big swell and almost none, and then there was the drama of me going up the mast at sea to retrieve a petulant sail. And we though sailing in Spain was meant to be relaxing and predictable !!!