Today we went inland to Santiago de Compostela. I know our journey by boat and service bus doesn’t qualify as a pilgrimage. I looked up a definition just out of interest…..”A journey especially a long one made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion”.

We chatted to a guy in the Cathedral who told us to qualify officially for the ‘Pilgrimage Medal’ (not sure exactly what the honour is really called) you need to have walked at least 100km or cycled 200km to reach the city.

The Cathedral itself is remarkable. Massive, incredibly ornate and rammed full of what I considered to be three merging groups of people. 1. Backpackers, walkers and cyclists easily recognisable in their lycra kit and possibly from their smell?! 2. Tourists, which is the category I’d put us in and 3. People there for religious reasons and to take part of the daily services.

Even today in 2016, the bling of the ornate gold in the centre of the Cathedral cannot go unnoticed. Who knows what your average local Spanish peasant thought of it in the 1700’s if indeed they were allowed to look.

There is an extension to the walking trail from Santiago to Cape Finisterre. Having had a cracking sail round the lighthouse into the bay, the following day, which was Dave’s birthday, we walked from the village out to the lighthouse on the headland. We pondered how many countries have their own Lands End / Finisterre equivalent. And do they all sell their own variety of tat?

On the way back we sat in a beach bar in the sun having a drink looking out over a beautiful sandy beach framed with hills and Eucalyptus forests.. I’m happy that our sailing journey so far had taken us to some amazing places. Such a view is enough for me. No need for ceremony and bling.

On a more practical note, we have starter motor problems which is pretty key in starting the engine. We may be in Muros which is in one of the Spanish Rias for a few days.

Stories to tell

Some folk are just natural storytellers. Our friend Miv has some great personal stories to tell about bus driving and watermelons in Lincolnshire. If you catch him in the right  place at the right time, (he’s a busy man) he may regale you.

On this trip, we’ve had a few notable stories told to us. Danny and Emily are proper sailors. Their current boat has journeyed from Mexico to the States to the Med and upto Portsmouth. This trip of several thousand miles was all done without an engine. They ‘hove to’ off the Isle of Wight for two days waiting for the northerly winds to abate. That’s proper. They had an engine fitted in Portsmouth. We met them in El Ferrol in an anchorage off a sandy beach. They plan to sail to Chile, Danny’s home country as he wants to sail round Cape Horn. In comparison, we are ‘nanny class’ with our bespoke mattress and Earl Grey teabags.

Another tale which kept us laughing for ages was told by a chap who admitted in his younger days that he was a bit naughty. He was obliged to do Community Service as penance. His supervisor took him to a flat that needed painting which belonged to a thalidomide victim. Fair do’s. he thought. Armed with tins of gloss he started his many hours of payback.

After a couple of days he thought there’s always lots of people to-ing and fro-ing from  the flat. And even above the vicious fumes of the gloss paint, there was always a lingering sweet smell around the place.

it then dawned on him. He was painting a thalidomide drug dealers flat, under the instruction of the criminal justice system.

Today we’re heading west towards Camarinas but it won’t be long before we round Finisterre and head directly south along the Spanish and Portugese coastline.

The list of breakages and things to mend is increasing every day. Guess it’s mostly wear and tear. Living on a boat is substantially different to the odd holiday or weekend afloat. More free nights at anchor are calling to pay for running repairs. Having said that, we stayed 5 nights in La Coruna for €73 which works about £12.60 a night. British marinas take note!

International Rescue

In our time messing around with boats we’ve done the odd little good deed helping people out or even when they don’t believe they need helping. A few years ago in the Solent we came across a couple of teenage lads in a tiny inflatable with one paddle about a mile offshore oblivious to the fact they were heading out on a flood tide towards the Needles Channel. They’d been towed out by some so called mates and left to drift. We motored up, said “Hi lads’ where are you going? Isle of Wight came the reply. We pursuaded them it was unlikely they’d be able to paddle there and to come on board. We called the inshore lifeboat who came and took them away. I think potentially they were more scared of the reception they were going to get from their parents rather than the life boat crew who also gave them a bit of a stern talking to.

Last Saturday night we were in Cedeira, a small fishing village which boasts an army of deck chair sitting, chain smoking, cardigan wearing women who sit on the pontoon at night fishing with hooks and lines mostly gossiping. We’d been out painting the town red, okay a very faint pink, and returned to the pontoon to row back in our tender to the boat which was anchored in the bay.

A couple of French guys were doing the same thing. We’d seen then in a bar earlier in the evening engaged in intense conversation, calamari and Rioja. Dave was just pulling the tender in when there was an almighty sploosh. We turned round to see a drunk Frenchman was in the drink. We fished him out and he went straight for his iPhone. Guess it wasn’t one on the new ones just launched which are supposedly waterproof to a certain depth.  There was some spluttering and thanks but what was most notable was the army of women pi**ing themselves laughing and not stirring from their deck chairs. I don’t think they’d move for a nuclear blast. Love ’em.

Holed up in La Coruna right in the centre of town. It’s another lovely old town with squares and traffic free streets. I went to the grand and ostentatious post office earlier. Cromford Post Office is a little under whelming in comparison. Service in La Coruna not a patch on Carol though.

Local Hero

Local Hero is one of my all time favourite films: British, quirky, small budget, great message and low key. And if you ever go to watch Newcastle United. play football, which I know most of you quite rightly won’t, you will hear the film music  by Dire Straits played as the ‘Toon Army’ run out onto the pitch. Brings a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye but that may be about the quality (or lack of it) that I’m to witness over the next 90 minutes.

The setting for Local Hero is a small unsophisticated but very likeable village. We’ve been to such a place on our travels. Cudillero is the Spanish equivalent. A fishing harbour with some local boats and space for passing yachts. Normally you’re expected to pay marina fees when you park up. Not here. “You’ve come by boat. You deserve to stay” the slightly dishevelled and maybe a little bit drunk Spanish gentleman declared in a local bar as Dave looked for a Marina Office that was non existent. I like the logic. The pontoons are a bit ramshackle, there’s a bit of swell coming in under the breakwater but the place has no pretensions and boasts a pretty village that clings to the hillside. If you want sophisticated pricey marinas with all the services this place is not for you. It suited Dave and I just fine.

We’re now in Vivaro, about 50 miles east of La Coruna. Today is a work day. We’ve been in the library till we got thrown out for siesta at 2pm so we’re holed up in a cafe using their wifi and eating calamari. Dave has been chatting to clients too on passage. Photo evidence above.

We’re entertaining tonight so need to buy some food for dinner. Still no fish caught even though we trailed a line and a rod with a delicious looking plastic squid on the end of it for most of yesterday.  Fish seem to be very fussy as to what they eat in French and Spanish waters.