Friday, September 29, 2017

Ria de Muros e Noia

The view from the clubhouse at RCNP 

The Ria de Muros e Noia (Muros y Noya in Spanish) provided us with a lovely cruising experience. Portosin was a great location for starting out because of the fabulous staff and the first rate facilities. The Real Club Nautico Portosin (RCNP) were so accommodating and friendly. I feel like Carmela is now a lifelong friend. They even posted a photo of the ICC burgee and Rally logo on their Facebook page.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Visiting Santiago de Compostella

Bus group assembles in Noia

The mayor and tour guides
The day before the start of the Irish Cruising Club Rias Baixas Rally, the local dignitaries organized a bus trip to Santiago de Compostela. We had both wanted to go and jumped at the chance. Unbeknownst to us, the bus would also stop in Noia, which made it even more interesting. Noia (Noya in Spanish) was the traditional place where pilgrims coming to Santiago in the Middle Ages would travel to by boat from the British Isles. In fact, I had seen a plaque on the waterfront in Dingle commemorating the mariner's camino route. The ships would land in Noia and the pilgrims would travel up the river by small boat as far as they could, then walk the remainder of the way. Today, Noia is silted in and not navigable by cruising sailboats, but some shallow draft vessels can go part way, we've heard. Portosin is now one of the closest ports in the Rias from which to travel to Santiago.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fixing things in exotic places

Aleria at the dock in Portosin.

Here we were in the Rias Baixas and we had no exhaust and no refrigeration. Well, we proved yet again that cruising is all about fixing things (and doing laundry) in exotic places. Fortunately for us, the staff of the Real Club Nautico Portosin spoke great English and were incredibly helpful. They got the marinieros to tie us up to the transient dock, organized a mechanic and electrician, then translated between us to explain the problems.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Crossing Biscay


Weighing anchor by moonlight
We crept out of Crookhaven under the light of the full moon. We set sail at dawn in 10-12 knots of wind out of the W, ideal conditions for setting out into the Celtic Sea. The sunrise was lovely and bright, and just as promised, the wind had started to fill in. On a heading of 186 degrees M, we were doing 8 knots - 505 MTG and 75 hours at this speed, not that we expected it to last. Dolphins feeding came by to see us off.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Lay day in Crookhaven and bike trip to Mizzen Head Signal Station

Ah, that pint of Franciscan Well Rebel Red went down well at O'Sullivan's on the pier. Just one and back to Aleria for dinner. The forecast was for another 24 hours of zero wind (0) so we had a lay day in Crookhaven. Chance to visit the new Marconi museum and signal station!


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Starting in Ireland 1st of July

Dark skies with cracks of hope

We departed on the 1st of July bound for Inishbofin. It was windy. Much windier than it was supposed to be. And choppy, with a big swell. It was SW-erly and we were heading -- SW! I was not feeling great. Lunch was Ritz crackers with peanut butter, yogurt, saltines with Gubeen cheese, apples and strawberries, and water. It was all I could muster. Weather alert - F6 for a time. No kidding. Why knot hailed us to tell us it was pretty hairy off Achill Head. So rather than beating ourselves up, we opted to stop in Clare Island. We tried to anchor but it wouldn't hold - damned shale. We picked up a mooring but it seemed to drag. We picked up another but I misjudged the first time and had to go around. Got it on the second try and it seemed to be holding. Phew. This was the first day? We were exhausted. Damien Cashin delivered a bottle of wine for our trip and things were looking up. We had burgers and a beer in the Sailor's Bar, a good rest and continued on in the morning. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hurricane Maria pummels tropical paradise Dominica

Our two favorite islands in the Caribbean, Barbuda and Dominica, destroyed. I can only hope that all the friends we made while we were there in 2010 have survived. Dominica they say has been denuded -- no leaves, many trees toppled. Maria made a direct hit as a Category 5 hurricane. It was the most lush garden paradise, with an embarrassment of natural riches. Waterfalls, deep pools, sulfur springs, mangoes and avocados aplenty, and wonderfully gentle people. My heart bleeds for them. How will they and their families fare if people stop coming. They depend so much on tourism. This season is devastating.



My friend Marvin weathered the storm in Puerto Rico. He doesn't know if his boat has survived but from the looks of it, it will have sustained damage.* Puerto Rico is without power, and its aging infrastructure is not going to be easy to rebuild. It could be months before power is restored.

St. Croix, already housing victims evacuated from other Virgin Islands after Irma, sustained massive damage. The Virgin Islands sustained two Cat 5 Hurricanes in two weeks. They haven't begun to assess yet. It will take years to rebuild some of these places. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/20/british-virgin-islands-hurricane-maria-irma-recovery-effort

Turks and Caicos, still reeling from Irma, are in Maria's sights now. Then the Bahamas. All low lying. God help them. http://metro.co.uk/2017/09/21/islanders-still-reeling-from-irma-devastation-now-brace-for-hurricane-maria-6946406/

Meanwhile, Jose is now a tropical storm and has been moving so slowly that he's creating massive seas. Waves of 15 feet and tidal surge are being reported from NC to New England. There is a model predicting that Jose and Maria could combine and turn towards Ireland next week. Let's hope not.

We have donated what we can to relief efforts in Dominica and Barbuda. Please help if you can.

*PS His boat, Quantum Star, weathered the storm well.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Hurricane Relief Efforts

I have been working hard for the past few days to week or so to help the people of the Caribbean get the help they need after Hurricane Irma. But putting together those able to assist with those interested in donating and ensuring that the organizations are reputable, I hope to be able to make a small difference. If you are looking for information or ways you can help, please visit the  Ocean Cruising Club  (OCC) website.

So many of the lovely places we visited on our Caribbean cruise in 2009-2010 are devastated. Please do what you can to help. Thanks.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The wrath of Hurricane Irma


My heart goes out to the people in the path of Irma's wrath. Little Barbuda with its 1600 gentle people and miles of gorgeous white sands framed in impossible blues fills my mind with glorious memories of a serene visit at anchor several years back. Today, after Irma's eye passed directly over Barbuda, there is only devastation. If I were able, I would sail over and make fresh water for the people and help them rebuild in any way I could. Instead, I will do my best to share information about their plight and encourage others to pitch in any way they can. Perhaps that's all many of us can do. 


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Fireworks in Galicia, Spain

We have just returned from Spain and I will be writing about our experience there Ria by Ria, starting with Ria de Corcubion near Finisterre and ending with Baiona.


August is the month when most Galicians go off on holiday. Everywhere we went in August, there were festivals in villages with carnival rides, games, music concerts, arts & crafts, food, and fireworks. The fireworks started at 9 am to announce the beginning of the festival and get people to come to the village. At noon they would shoot them off again to announce the day's opening of the festival. At night, they would shoot them off in earnest.  A different village would be involved every day. Some of the fistas were in honour of the Virgin Mary, some celebrated sardines, others music. There were no shortages of themes to celebrate.

In the meantime, while I'm compiling sense of my notes, here's a little video (4.5 minutes) of fireworks in Cee as seen from our boat anchored in Corcubion. Delightful.


Here's a sampling of Galician music