A new experience.
Neither Amanda or I had never been to Northern Spain or the Rias so this was going to be quite an adventure. We had researched as much as we could and now it was time to head off and explore.
As you can probably imagine, the natural beauty was amazing, but we were struck by how under developed this part of Spain is. The small fishing villages nestled into hidden coves reminded us of Corwnwall.
Our first landfall would be A Coruña, famous for its Lighthouse Torre de Hércules. This stands proudly on the headland as you approach and has been guiding mariners since Roman times. It stands on a rock 57 metres high and the lighthouse itself then stands another 55 metres on top of the rocky promontory. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The marina we were heading for is tucked around the corner of this, protected by one of the longest breakwaters we have encountered so far on this adventure. The harbour and marina also have a very impressive control tower which is a huge white building standing out for miles and although not as historically important as the Lighthouse, is still very strikingly impressive.
Clearing in to Spain was a fairly quick and straightforward process, but in not too many days, I would soon be very pleased that all our paperwork was in order.
We spent a few days exploring, before heading along the coastline, stopping for a night in Camariñas and Fisterra, before arriving in Ria de Muros. We arrived in Muros late afternoon and decided to anchor off a beach called San Francisco beach. I quickly jumped in the water to have our first swim around the boat since leaving France. I suddenly became aware of a very officious looking patrol boat lurking offshore and it wasn’t long before it began heading our way! It was almost as if they did one of those cartoon style double takes, thinking “That yacht wasn’t there before!”
Even though I was fairly certain we had done everything correctly, I wondered if we had broken some local ”No anchoring” rule?
There was no radio communication from them and the patrol boat came straight over to us, the skipper skilfully holding the patrol boat inches from CA, whilst two Customs Officers boarded us! I wasn’t sure if they needed permission, but I certainly wasn’t going to question it. They seemed very forthright in their actions.
First problem, they didn’t speak English and our Spanish was poor and only extended to ”One takeaway Chicken and 2 beers please” I wasn’t sure this was going to help much!
The first rule of dealing with foreign (to us) officials in their country is to give them only the documents they ask for, but I hadn’t read that memo and decided the best thing was to hand over all our boat papers and passports. After much deliberating and pouring through the mass of paperwork I had given them, one of the officers made a phone call and then passed the phone to me. A voice on the other end in broken English said ”Hand over your boat registration” Having complied with this request, things seemed to the progress at a pace and I was given all our documents back and an official looking piece of paper stamped with the days date. The officers then left with happy smiles and much shaking of hands.
“That went well”, I thought!
From San Francisco Bay, we then headed in to Muros marina and had our first encounter with Pedro the marina manager.
I have a certain way I like our mooring lines and so does Pedro. It’s Pedro’s marina and he won! Pedro turned out to be one of those guys that as long as you comply with his marina rules, everything is fine and we quickly became best of buddies. He treats the marina as if it is his home and is very proud of it. Nothing is too much trouble for him and if you didn’t get back to the washing machine the second it finished, you would usually find all your washing dried and beautifully folded!
Muros was unlike anywhere we had previously visited. The marina was right in the town, a short walk to anywhere and you could get almost anything. Yet it was also very authentically old Spanish and very untouched. We wandered around the cobbled streets and wondered at the fabulous architecture. The place was spotless. It reminded us a little bit like a compressed version of Vannes, without the French Je ne sais quoi, but with an untouched by the developers feel.
The crazy thing was, just 30 miles away in Santiago de Compostela was a wonderful new international airport and a fabulous new road network feeding it. All that is missing are the people!
If you are ever in need of some funding for a project that will require a lot of investment and uncertain return, I would seriously look in to finding the person who put forward the business plan for this area development project. They must be very convincing!
On one of our bus ride excursions we found out that this particular part of Spain is where the Camino trail ends. Santiago de Compostela is the last 100km of the famous Camino Pilgrimage.
The below passage is an excerpt from the “Camino Ways” website.
“The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, is a renowned pilgrimage of medieval origin that sees pilgrims journey to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in the northwest of Spain.
Legend has it that the remains of the Apostle St. James the Great were buried in the Cathedral and discovered by a shepherd in the 9th century. The city of Santiago is named after St. James: Santiago de Compostela means St. James of the Field of Stars. If you’re a history buff, make sure you discover the history of the Camino.”
We would eventually meet several people who were on the Pilgrimage and many others who knew where we meant as soon as we mentioned Santiago de Compostela.
From Muros, we then decided we should try and visit each of the Rias individually.
We spent several months pottering about the various Ria’s of Muros, Arousa, Pontevedra and Vigo. Each had its own character and charm, but all beautiful.
On one of our excursions, we headed to Ria de Pontevedra and specifically a marina recommended to us by some other Brits who were passing though Muros, eventual destination the Caribbean. The Marina was called “Real Club Náutico de Sanxenxo” near to the entrance of the Ria de Pontevedra. I still have no idea how to pronounce ‘Sanxenxo’ but remember there is a lot of “sh’ “sh” in it! As we had entered the Ria mid afternoon, slipping quietly through the gentle waters, we became aware of some quite loud disco/house music.
The closer we got to ‘Real Club Náutico de Sanxenxo’ the louder the music became. It became apparent a large function was taking place, possibly a boat show and didn’t appear to be ending any time soon. We decided to give ‘RCNS” a miss this time!
We continued up to the top end of the Ria and pulled in to Marina Combarro. A beautiful and quiet sanctuary. Excellent.
After we had explored each of the Ria’s, we inevitably kept returning to Pedro in Muros who welcomed us each time with open arms and recounted our trip to us! He had been watching our AIS trail on Marinetraffic.com
What a guy!
After what was most definitely not long enough time though, to explore this part of the World and with a little sadness, it was time to move on again. We had enjoyed Galicia and feel sure we will return one day!…………………………………………….
But we had come up with a new plan, to sail to the Algarve!
Next stop Portugal, Yeah!