La Coruna and South
15 October 2010 | Portosin
Various defects occurred during the passage south. The first one to be noticed was that the brand new Sea Me didn't work at all. Mary chased this up with the company when I told her after arrival here and they have been very good in their response. Jim has taken it home and they will check it out and return it working. The man that Mary spoke to said that he didn't want me to cross the Atlantic without a working Sea Me, which gives me confidence in the company. I could have really done with it on the way across the Biscay as there was a lot of shipping about as we neared the Spanish coast and of course the ever present trawlers who always pose a threat. One night a very large tanker was on a steady bearing on out starboard side. Eventually, when he was about half a mile off I tacked to pass round his stern. We had just settled on the new course when he turned to port and put us in a very dangerous position. Despite having illuminated the sails and shone the beam of a very powerful searchlight directly at him he continued to close. A quick tack was again performed and this time he maintained a steady course to pass only a couple of cables away. Some minutes after this on channel 16 a voice came over and called the sailing yacht and told me to hoist a radar reflector. I had a Firdell Blipper on the mizzen so there was nothing more I could do. I did however call him back and told him that he should be keeping a proper lookout with his eyes. He didn't reply which proves that this was not what he was doing in the first place. It was a very clear night and my tri-colour was burning brightly. He should have seen it from at least two miles away and of course I had shone my searchlight directly at him. It was obvious that his officer of the watch was not looking out of the bridge windows for quite some time.
Also on the passage the genoa furling gear managed to jam itself up a couple of times. This was because the last couple of turns around the drum, when the genoa was fully out the line jumped off the drum and wrapped itself around the mechanism below the drum itself. Now whenever the genoa is unfurled it must be kept under as much tension on the furling line as possible, especially the last two or three turns and when it is out the tension much be maintained.
The Autohelm is also playing up and the control box has been sent back with Jim to Raymarine who will hopefully be able to repair it. Unfortunately the passage south will now be hand steering all the way, except when the wind is right for the Hydrovane.
Just before we got to La Coruna it became obvious that there was too much water in the bilge. We opened the engine hatch and saw that water was coming in at quite a rate and that the pump was only just holding its own. It looked as if it was coming in through where the zinc sacrificial anode enters the hull. On our second day in harbour Jim climbed down into the engine space and re-bedded the nuts and washers holding it in place. I could not understand why this would suddenly leak but could see no alternative ingress at that time. The following day we did a short sea trial and still water was coming in. Eventually we saw that it was coming out of the engine water pump. Once back in harbour we took it off and could see that it needed repairing as the O rings were loose.
We had to wait until Monday morning before we set off on foot to Seca Marina where Reeds had told me that repairs could be done. It took us nearly an hour to get there but they took the pump and hopefully will fix it. Everything was delayed, including Jim's flight, by a general strike throughout Spain so that has put time on my stay in the marina.
Meanwhile I have discovered that La Coruna is a very pleasant city to walk around. There are well laid out and maintained gardens along the front with palm trees and a calendar which is made of flowers which are changed every day.
The people here are very friendly and will take the time to help you, especially when the language barrier rears its head. An example of this was the boatman in the yacht club who arranged for us to be lifted out of the water when we thought that the anode was the cause of the leak. Despite him only knowing a few words of English and I being the same with Spanish he went out of his way to arrange this for us. Fortunately this was not needed in the end.
The Marina Delsada, where we are is very handy for the town and had good facilities with excellent showers and laundry. Its disadvantage though is that it is rather exposed. The visitors' berths are near the entrance, which is good for entering and exiting but you catch all the wake from passing fishing boats and worst still the pilot boats as they come from the inner harbour. There is a 2 knot speed limit but at times they pass at over 10 knots. To add to this the pontoons move around a lot so the boat tends to snatch at the mooring ropes. That said the staff are friendly and helpful and there is a good atmosphere here.
Thursday 7th October
At last the pump has been fixed and I fitted it this morning. I also shortened the alternator belt which was very slack. This took me all morning but the engine fired up and no water was leaking from the pump at all. I just hope that it holds out until I can get a new pump brought out. Now all I have to do is to wait for some decent weather to come through. It has been blowing hard for several days now with the BBC shipping forecast giving gale force and even severe gale force winds. The sea state has been rough to very rough with perhaps high or even very high. I am not going to venture out in that especially being on my own and not yet having confidence that the engine will keep going. It looks as if it will be early next week before I try for Camarinas.
This afternoon I went for a walk to the Tower of Hercules. It was built in the 2nd century and is reputed to be the oldest working Roman lighthouse in the world. The paseo is very pleasant to walk along and there are trams which pass along it. I walked for several miles so with the walk to the marina where my pump was repaired I've done a fair amount of foot slogging while I've been here.
South from La Coruna
Finally I got favourable weather to leave La Coruna. I did a final laundry on Monday and put it through thte tumble drier so that I can set off with clean clothes. I did a shop to buy some chicken so that I can make a curry to last me a few days.
I slipped from my berth in Marina Darsena at 0855 on Tuesday 11 October. I was dreading the marina bill as I had been there for 20 days. However, I was charged for the winter rate for the whole time there despite this not coming into effect until 1st October. Also I was only charged for 16 days so I was a happy bunny even if I did have to shell out just over 200 euros.
I motored out into the harbour and hoisted the main. There was a brisk E wind and I hoped that it would not be too strong when I finally cleared the lee of the harbour. In fact it wasn't too bad and soon I had set the genoa and put the engine to bed. I was beam reaching along the coast on the first leg to Camarinas, 40 miles away. There were a number of yachts ahead of me and I was very pleased to see that I was gradually overhauling them. About 11 o'clock the cloud began to break up and the sun came out to change the sea from a dull grey into a bright blue - this was much more like it.
Soon it was time to change course to a more southerly one which mean that the wind was now almost directly astern. I goose-winged the sails (the genoa out to port and the mainsail to starboard) which meant that I had to concentrate very hard to avoid gybing the main and having the boom zip across with great force to the other side of the boat.
It was interesting to see that the Spanish have gone in for wind farms in a huge way and they are all along the coast. It really is Wind Farm Arizona in this part of the world.
By mid afternoon I could clearly see Cabo Villano, which is just before Ria de Camarinas. I was making good time and very happy with my progress as I would arrive well before dark and be able to anchor and square off the boat before sunset. I entered the ria and when I was in the lee of the northern shore I furled the genoa. It came in very well but just when I was congratulating myself on sorting it out the jammer knot came out of its slot and the whole thing unfurled again. So I had to go forward and drop the sail and wrestle it back inboard and get it lashed to the guard rail. This is easy to say but on my own was not easy at all. The sail is a big piece of material and only having one pair of hands to haul it aboard, it was impossible to drop it without it going over the side, it is not an easy task. I then got a couple of sail ties to lash it up but had a struggle as my arms couldn't reach all around the bundle of sail. Also I had to make sure that it wasn't impeding the windlass and anchor cable as I was going to anchor for the night. Eventually this was all done and I proceeded into Camarinas harbour where I duly dropped the pick in 7 metres. I was pretty exhausted due to my struggles with the genoa but happy that I had completed the leg in good time. I awarded myself a good tot of whiskey as I felt that it was justified.
I didn't go ashore as that would have meant pumping up and launching the dinghy which is quite a major task by one's self. I noticed that the place had changed from the sleepy village it was when I first sailed into 25 years ago into a small bustling town.
I kept a close eye on the bilge during the passage and found that the repair to the engine water pump had worked fine. However I decided that I should have a spare pump in case the same thing happened again to it. When I phoned home Mary told me that the Jabsco pump for the engine had been delivered. I only ordered this on Sunday afternoon via their website so it was delivered in 24 hours from receipt of the order on Monday morning. That's excellent service but it makes one wonder why other companies are so tardy in delivering things ordered in a similar manner.
The following morning, Wednesday 12 October, I sorted out the furling gear on the genoa again. I put an extra lashing on the stopper knot to ensure that it doesn't come adrift again. I fail to understand why its giving so much trouble as the previous four years of sailing have been trouble free apart from once when there was a riding turn on the furling drum.
At 1225 I weighed anchor and headed off to Finisterre, 20 miles down the coast. The wind was very light and again from astern so I motor sailed all the way. By 1710 I was anchored off the breakwater in 7 metres of water. The day was glorious and it was the first time since leaving UK that I was able to sail wearing shorts and a polo shirt - this is more like it.
The wind picked up considerably overnight and by 0300 it was blowing very hard. I was awake from then on and kept looking out to make sure that I was not dragging my anchor. Despite knowing that the anchor is well dug in and there is plenty of good strong heavy chain out its still a worry and so sleep was impossible. The boat was pitching and yawing making for an uncomfortable motion. I was glad when daylight came.
My next destination was Ria de Muros, again about 20 miles away. These distances were perfect as I could leave at midday and still have plenty of daylight time to arrive and get sorted out for the night. I left Finisterre in beautiful weather and the course allowed me to sail with main and genoa on a broad reach. However, the wind got lighter and lighter until I was only sailing at one and a half knots so the engine came into play again. Lo and behold there was a riding turn on the furling drum and I could only get three quarters of the sail in before it jammed. I left it at that and managed to wrap the sail around the forestay somewhat although it still left a small baggy bit adrift which looked very scruffy but at least it was secure.
After last night's strong NEly wind I decided that I wouldn't anchor just inside the ria on the western side as I had originally planned. It would have been on a lee shore and I didn't want another sleepless night. After looking at the chart I decided to sail up to Portosin in the NW corner of the ria, where there was a marina. Here I could sort the genoa out again and also top up on fuel, water and nosebag.
Before I entered the marina I hove to and got the boat ready for entering harbour. Not knowing which side to I would berth I rigged fenders and ropes on both sides to save the panic, which I have seen often, when one side is rigged but its impossible to berth that way.
I edged my way cautiously in, dodging the fleet of trawlers who were leaving for a nights fishing, and saw the waiting berth clearly sign posted. Bringing the boat gently alongside I jumped ashore with the lines to tie up. As I landed on the pontoon I felt my left leg give way under me. I nearly fell over but managed to keep my feet. I had a tremendous pain in my left calf, almost like severe cramp, and it was difficult to walk. The wind was trying to blow the boat off the pontoon so I had to be very quick to secure her before I got into trouble. This I managed to do but it was painful. Once secured the whiskey bottle came out and I had a welcome tot. I walked to the club house but couldn't find anyone to tell that I had arrived. So I went back to the boat and sure enough within 10 minutes the marina guy appeared. He asked if I wanted to move to another berth but I decided that it wasn't prudent until the following morning as my leg was still very painful and leaping about on deck wasn't ideal.
Fortunately Mary reminded me that we had some Ibuprofen gel on board so I rubbed some of than on my calf and put an elasticated support on. This has eased the pain and I think that a little exercise might do it some good. But I was going nowhere that night and so after a curry I settled down to read for a couple of hours before catching up on sleep.
This morning, its now Thursday 13 October, my leg feels a lot better although not 100% but it's a big improvement. I shifted berth and now am clagged into shore power and have topped up the water tank. A chap from a New Zealand boat give me a very welcome hand to tie up. He came in in the eary hours of this morning and said that they had had a lot of wind and off Pta Carreiro, at the entrance to the ria, they had 35 knots of NEly winds. This makes my decision of yesterday to come into Portosin the correct one and I am glad that I wasn't anchored off a lee shore in those conditions.
After breakfast I gave the inside of the boat a good clean and tidy and scrubbed the foredeck to rid it of mud from anchoring. Shortly I shall venture ashore for a good long shower and to find the wi-fi facility which the pilot tells me is here.