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Aisling I
08/07/2007, Ilas Cies (Off Bayona)

Hello All:

You've heard us all wax eloquently about the bounties we have seen, tasted and experienced. Most of it is true. Five days have now passed since our arrival in Bayona. The passage was easy in the end, though six days is still a long time at sea for us. Little or no wind was the norm, as well as the hum of the diesel. It was hot near Sao Miguel, but as we climbed higher in latitude, the evenings and nights started to get cool. I was wearing a fleece with shorts and socks most nights on watch, as were the others. Lots of stars and the moon was with us as well. Al is a great fisherman and eventually was lucky with the tuna landing.

No vessels were sighted on the passage except a sailboat heading west in the distance, until we entered the shipping lanes heading north and south from the English Channel and Gibraltar. Then it became very busy with many crossing situations one after the other. These are busy lanes and one would want to try and pass through them while it is light, as even with AIS and radar it was a challenge keeping track. The fastest vessel was travelling at 25.4 knots, with our AIS system showing a CPA (closest point of approach) of 2 miles.

We had hoped to arrive in Bayona in daylight but it was not to be. The entry is straightforward and well marked but with all the shore lights it was very difficult to see many of the marks except for the lighthouses until you were right on top of them. The stars were especially brilliant that night and as we closed the harbour, the moon rose directly on our bow. It was beautiful. There are two choices for marina and we chose the commercial marina instead of the Yacht Club. Perhaps that was a mistake because the Yacht Club was old and well established with lots of history on the walls. They had apparently sponsored at least one America's cup boat as well. We were fortunate to be invited there to lunch by Bill Foss (CCA), yesterday after a RCC bus tour of the area. A local friend of the RCC and the CCA, Alfredo Lagos was gracious and invited us along for the tour although we were not taking part in the rally itself.

Bonnie and I were sad to see my two brothers go and honestly it is taking us a while to adjust to being alone in a strange land. It doesn't take long to get back to normal over Chiperones and beer, though!

All the best from Aisling I

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08/07/2007 | Grant Tabbiner
Congratulations on successfully crossing "the pond". More importantly, you`ve been able to maintain the joy & enthusiasm to continue to fully appreciate the opportunities in front of you. Thanks as well for doing such a wonderful job of keeping us entertained as well. You`re both great writers as well!

Happy for you. All the best!

Donna & Grant
Hola Espana
08/04/2007, Baiona Spain

Arriving in Spain seemed even more exciting than our landfall in Horta, in spite of the greater length and difficulty of that first passage. Having wondered at times whether our dream of sailing to Europe was achievable, I felt a surge of pure joy as we sailed through a confusing array of lighted buoys and into the harbour at Bayona, with a beautiful moon rising over the hills at our bow and the 2500+ nautical miles we had traveled at our stern.

Bayona (Baiona) was a neat spot for a landing- Christopher Columbus landed in this 800-year-old town when he returned from his passage to the Americas. He would find a few changes if he could visit now, when it is a hopping resort area frequented mainly by the Spanish. From the marina we can see beautiful sandy beaches on both sides and rolling hills in the distance. In addition to a medieval fort and some lovely old-world architecture in the town center, there is lots of tourist kitsch along the waterfront, and a concrete jungle of condominiums above the beaches on the outer edges of the town. The weather is hot and sunny, and there is a festive atmosphere on shore- we've seen a couple of impromptu parades with musicians, costumes, and people on stilts. Around noon today we saw the smoke of fireworks being set off above the harbour- we've been told that this is are the town's way of announcing there will be fireworks tonight, so we'll be on deck waiting for that!

We hated to see Al and Rob leave- it had been wonderful to have them on board for more than a week, and we rarely have an opportunity to spend such an extended time with them. After dropping Al off at the Santiago de Compostela airport early yesterday, we took the opportunity to explore the town before taking Rob to the Porto airport in the evening. Santiago de Compostela is an important pilgrimage destination, since it is believed to house the bones of James the Apostle. As we approached the area, we could see pilgrims arriving in small groups along the "Camino de Santiago"- many would have hiked hundreds of kilometers to reach this point, and I hate to imagine what they were thinking when we hopped out of the car to take our photographs beside one of the trail markers! Inside the town, the 11th century cathedral is awe-inspiring. As non-Portuguese-speaking Protestants we could not fully follow what was happening during the mass we attended, but the spirituality of the service was very moving.

The town of Santiago de Compostela is a confusing labyrinth of narrow streets and old buildings. The scene outside the cathedral is a startling contrast to the sacredness inside- bustling with buskers, vendors and pilgrims in all shapes and sizes. There was also a wonderful market with a huge selection of fresh fish and meat, and delicious-looking fruit and vegetables, so we took the opportunity to do a little food shopping. But in spite of the lovely array of fresh vegetables on our bags, we were so tired when we arrived back in Bayona at 9 p.m. that we couldn't face the idea of cooking a meal, and went to a restaurant on shore for paella instead. After a good rest last night, today we are dealing with some of our mundane boat chores, and trying to decide where to go next.

It is a great feeling to have achieved the goal of the Atlantic crossing, and we owe a great deal to Dave, Wally, Al and Rob for helping us complete the passages (and to their wives and families, who were willing to accommodate the effect this had on family life and vacation plans.) The disruption of normal sleep rhythms during watches can be exhausting- especially for those not accustomed to living and sleeping in such a confined space. We hope the happy memories of beautiful sunrises, dolphins at the bow, moonlight sailing and successful fishing will outlive the memories of the middle-of-the-night wakeup calls! We are also grateful to Wilson, Iain and Lesley for helping with the "shake-down" passages and we were sorry they could not be with us to experience the more enjoyable parts of the journey.

Rick will post his thoughts on the passage and arrival later- stay tuned

All the best from Aisling I

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