Saturday, October 7, 2017

Ria de Vigo and Baiona



Vigo as seen from the Virgin of the Rock
Our last stop with the Irish Cruising club Rally was in the most impressive destination of Baiona (Bayona in Spanish). We were booked into the Monte Real Club de Yates in Bayona (MRCYB). The last time we tried to book in there, we were told it was not possible and were turned away rather gruffly. They begrudgingly let us leave our dinghy tied up on their property for a few hours.

This time was a very different story. We had heard that after the economic downturn, most of the yacht clubs had declining membership numbers and revenue, while having sunk significant monies into infrastructure. To survive, they had been forced to open their clubs to visitors. I must say, they did so with great welcome.  The staff were genuinely nice and accomodating. There were large signs around the place welcoming us and informing members that the Irish were coming! Many of the local members stayed away while we were there. We returned several weeks later with a friend who is a member and saw a whole different scene. The MRCYB members were back in force.



MRCYB docks full of ICC boats
The marina was considerably bigger than in 2008. Their fuel dock is so easily accessible, it was a joy to pull in there. The club house is impressive and very old world; on the grounds of the Monterreal castle and fort right above it, the setting is one of the most spectacular we have seen. The Parador Hotel, one of a chain of luxury hotels run by the Spanish government, now occupies the site of the castle.
Ensenada de Baiona seen from the Virgen de la Roca

We were on a dock with a finger pier on the inside of the pontoons. Others were med moored to the outside of the main outer pontoon. It was fun watching them come in and tie up. The anchor lines had clearly not been used for some time and came up loaded with seaweed. The marina is vast and it takes a long time to walk from our end to the main building. The facilities include the office, the showers and toilets, a laundry where you bring your laundry in the morning and pick it up at the end of the day (not always done). Wash, dry and fold for €12.50 per load - we had three. The bar was beautiful. There was a members dining room that was off limits to non-members, but the outdoor seating area was open to guests and lovely. The food was pretty good as well.

Alex takes a break overlooking the barrier islands in Baiona

For €1, visitors can walk the walls of the fort which we had done the last time. Walking the lower level, which is almost as good was free and we opted for that route. We then rode our bicycles along the bike path around the harbour to the beaches at the end of the Ensenada de Baiona. We stopped at the chandlery and bought new fenders as one of ours was holed, and two others were leaky. We had not had so much time in marinas ever before with Aleria.

The MRCYB had offerred ICC members two nights' free berth and a reduced rate for any other nights so we stayed for 3 and paid €50. Great value. The night of the ICC closing event we had a cocktail reception on the terrace of the yacht club then walked up to the Parador for dinner, which was magical. A great way to end the Rally.

The walk around the fortification of Monterreal
We wandered the town and ate tapas on the back streets then rode our bikes the other direction, out of town, along a bike path that followed the ocean front. I noticed stairs leading up to nowhere and convinced Alex to walk up with me. It turned out to be the path to the Virgen de la Roca, a giant statue on top of the hill overlooking Baiona, the Ria, islands and the Atlantic.

Scallops and mussels in Baiona
The statue, which stands 100 meters above sea level, was created by sculptor Mariano Benlliure and erected by architect Antonio Palacios in 1930. The hands and face were sculpted out of white marble by Angel Garcia Diez. The inside is hollow with steps. The outside has an alter built in and stations of the cross can be seen around the park. It is a very interesting place. She holds in her arm a ship which is hollow and the observation tower. We paid our €1.50 to climb up to the mirador. Well worth it. The views were stunning, and the weather was amazing, with puffy clouds punctuating the deep blue skies.

It was time to move on and we decided to check out Cangas where we had stopped in 2008. There we found several ICC boats and another party. It wasn't going to be easy to find solitude. Cangas is a nice town stretched along the waterfront with the friendly marina in the middle. There's a very good fresh meat, fish and produce market, plenty of restaurants, and a cafe right in the marina. There is also a ferry to Vigo, so one can stay in Cangas and visit Vigo easily.

It was here that we witnessed an anchoring incident. We were watching these two boats nearby and I said to Alex, "That Spanish boat is dragging." Soon, a man came up on deck of the German boat, watching with concern. Alex launched the dinghy and went over to the little German boat. It was a German woman who owned the boat and the man was a Brit who helped her get the boat down to Spain. They had met at the docks in England where he helped fix her generator, and he had just retired. He jumped at the chance to sail, though he'd never done so before. What he didn't tell the young woman was that he was married. But I digress.
Meeting up with ICC and OCC pals in Cangas
It turned out they tried to weigh anchor but couldn't get it out. They'd been anchored there for three weeks. So Alex helped them shorten scope to position themselves in front of the dragging boat. As the boat passed, they could then let out more rode. Finally, the Spanish couple arrived and started screaming at the couple that they had anchored too close. They tried to explain that they hadn't moved but it didn't compute. The Spaniards departed and the Brit came over with a bottle of wine to thank Alex for his assistance. So we invited them for drinks after dinner, which turned out to be a party into the wee hours during which we got the whole story.

Aleria at the RCNV in Vigo
Another day, we anchored off a beach at high tide. When it came time to leave in the morning, it was low tide and there was a rock, unmarked on the charts, between us and the anchor in shallow water. Hmm. We had three choices. Wait until the tide came back in, motor around it and pick up the anchor, or take our chances since we'd had the same depth of water all the way on the way in. We elected to spend the day reading and waiting for the tide. I put on a coat of varnish then got into a great series of books by Ursula Le Guin, the Earthsea quartet.

We then decided to visit Vigo which we had skipped in 2008. From the water it is an industrial looking city. But we discovered that the Real Club Nautico de Vigo (RCNV) is a small marina right in the centre of the old town. We loved it so much we stayed for days. We walked the tree lined streets, ate at the tapas bars and restaurants, and did laundry at the computer controlled laundromat while shopping for groceries. We enjoyed the art and the ambiance.

We rode our bikes out to Bouzos (not recommended as the roads are dangerous and the taxis cheap) which was lovely and visited Astilleros Lagos, the legendary wooden boat building facility. We stopped in to see the giant new marina in the industrial estate and didn't like the vibe or the location.

So we'd seen much of the the Ria Vigo. Now it was time to head back North and visit the place we had remembered liking the most when last we sailed here...Corcubion.

Extraordinary merman scupture in Vigo

En route to the Ria de Vigo

OCC raft-up in Ensenada de Barra

Grand Slam, Celtic Spirit, Aleria, Papageno

Party
Raft-up party on Celtic Spirit

Impossible blues in Barra

Lovely landscapes

Good sailing

Beware the fishermen everywhere

Scored really good prawns

Harvest moon

Celtic Spirit and Oystercatcher

Baiona waterfront next to the MRCYB; Pinta on the right

Fort at Monterreal

Path along the waterfront

View from the mirador in the Virgen de Roca

Atlantic Islands in the background

Path along the Ensenada de Baiona

Dinner at the Parador with the ICC Rias Baixas Rally

The Virgen de Roca

Her hand

Her face in white marble 

Moi

Altar for Mass

Ketch preparing to anchor


Cangas waterfront across from the market



Another Virgen del Carmen

Bringing home the groceries in Cangas

The small marina in Cangas

First...

Second...

Third...

Fourth.

Moon over Cangas

Shop in Vigo

RCNV marina in Vigo

Park a block from the marina

Fresh shrimp from the market

Vigo from the water

Cruise ship is in town

Waiting for oysters in Vigo

Lovely architecture in Vigo

View from the port of entry

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