Day 1 (Fri 11 Sep)
We arrived into Cedeira at about 11am another nice Spanish fishing village & listed as a Nature Reserve but it didn’t seem any different. Simon was expecting it to be like Jurassic Park the lost world but I just happen to be wearing my JP T-Shirt so we still decided to sing the film theme tune on arrival. It wasn’t as quiet & small as some we’d visited and it didn’t have a marina or pontoon to moor alongside only buoys for the locals & anchorage for visitors so this means a dingy ride to get to shore. We were greeted by another English yacht (Freddie & Jacqui on Shavora) who immediately recognised us from La Rochelle……mainly as we had left & come back again…. twice!!!!
Once we set our anchor in (or so we thought) we had some breaky & decided to pop over to the Brits and say hello as they had seemed pretty welcoming. There was another tender (dingy) tied on the back of them so they obviously already had some other visitors. When we got there they invited aboard which was a nice surprise as this was the first time anyone had done so. Freddie & Jacqui from Southhampton had both decided that they never saw each other so had jacked everything in, sold their house and decided to live on a boat, so Shavora was now their permanent home. Also aboard was Kevin an Englishman who sailed in here 13 months ago and was still here living on his 26 foot yacht and a friend of his Peter. Peter was a Dutchman, who had sailed here on numerous occasions & decided to settle here 3 years ago renting a little local ‘housey’, as he calls it. He still sailed regularly & often back to Holland on his 47 foot yacht which was moored on one of the local buoys. Peter had a vast knowledge of the coast line all along Northern Spain & Portugal & was parting his knowledge onto Freddie.
We enjoyed a cup of tea and good natter and Jacqui let us have a tour of the boat. It felt much more spacious than ours as it didn’t have the half a metre of storage that we had on both sides and it had more home comforts. Such as a proper shower head (& not a hose!!!) & a cool table top made from a rustic chunk of tree. She told us that as they were living on there permanently she wanted it to feel more like home, so all boat themed items were banned. They had made several changes including making a proper double bed in aft cabin so Freddie was clearly very handy, perhaps he could give Simon a tip or 2!!!!
We didn’t want to outstay our welcome and Scrumps was getting agitated for a run ashore so we wondered into town and got a few supplies. Which was easier than usual with the local knowledge passed to us by Kevin, he even told us the cheapest supermercado. Like they say its not what you know …..We enjoyed a cheeky drink & crisp sandwich for lunch on the boat and had planned to have a nice BBQ on the beach in the evening but just our luck it started raining …. (& rain was soon to become a theme during this port stay!!!!). We weren’t going to admit defeat that easily so fought through it & did it on the boat instead protected slightly by the awning. It took poor Simon about 50 mins to light the bloody thing & he smelt like a burnt coal by the end of it but it was worth it for the crispy pork ribs we had purchased!
Day 2 (Sat 12 Sep)
I didn’t get much sleep on the anchor and in between my all night bloody toilet visits (weak bladder syndrome!) I was waking up to check we weren’t being dragged towards the rocks or some poor local fishermans livelihood! By the time it was early morning I was flat out and slightly delirious and I was sure I could hear a big bird making weird squawking noises on the bow of the boat. Then I could have sworn that a little motor boat came by to scare it off for us but I didn’t worry about it too much as drifted back to sleep. When we finally arose Simon was a bit paranoid about the dingy so went to double check it was still tied on the swim platform ……. mmmmh …..the dingy was no longer there!!! I wonder if it was a hunch or if secretly Simon knew he tied a crap securing knot ….I thought better than to raise the question! Slightly bemused Simon looked across to Shavora and there tied on the back was Cumpy our dingy! Turns out the bird squawking was actually a little Spanish man on a horn trying to wake us up as he had found Cumpy drifting out into the Bay of Biscay way past the harbour wall! Freddie had also tried to wake us but we had both slept through his shouting.
Cedeira Lesson No.1 a clove hitch knot is NOT sufficient for securing a tender …..
Once able to get ashore again we walked Scrump Dog and purchased a couple bottles of plonk to thank Freddie & the fisherman for saving the dingy. We had planned to leave today as the weather was deteriorating and if we didn’t leave today we’d be stuck here for a few days. We zipped over to Shavora to drop off the wine & was kindly invited back on for more tea & home made biscuits. Peter & Kevin were also aboard again and everyone found the AWOL dingy very entertaining. We asked for advice on securing it, Kevin told us a round turn & two half hitches & Peter disagreed with him and told us a Bowline! We soon learned that Peter often disagrees with Kevin, I am sure he just likes to wind him up!
We really were very set on leaving today but it must have been Jacqui’s biscuits as 7 hours we were still on board with her and Freddie getting boating tips Cedeira Lesson No. 2: How to anchor….. Shavora style, sharing stories and putting the world to rights, but we did have to retire inside when yet more grey cloud & rain arrived!
I found out Freddie used to work on the rides at Derby Day & Carshalton Carnival where I got up to mischief as a teenager. They also showed us their plan for the Atlantic crossing, which we found very useful. We headed back to Tudor Rose as it was starting to get dark & we still needed to make tea & walk rat bag again. There was also some rough weather due in so when we got back we used Freddie’s tips and reset the anchor. Then we noticed that our batteries were down to 8 volts and for a 12 volt system this is not good. Simon had the joys of taking everything apart to investigate while I had to manoeuvre around him making tea ….and doing all of it in the bloody dark! Turns out the fridge is just killing the batteries & without shore power or the engine on we just can’t maintain it ….& it was a camper van fridge not a marine fridge ……so we had now choice but to switch it off!
Cedeira Lesson No.3: Running the fridge without shore power is not self sufficient & fucks your very expensive batteries.
Day 3 (Sun 13 Sep)
I still wasn’t confident with the anchor and the wind had picked up during the night…. so again I didn’t get much sleep. However I’m glad I made regular checks as we had definitely moved & the wind direction had changed so we had also swung around so we were about 10-15 metres from a large fishing vessel. However we hadn’t shifted any more for some time despite the winds so I was fully confident the shift in direction had helped fully dig in the anchor….. finally! It wasn’t an overly nice day but we had been expecting it and we still managed to get ashore with Scrumle Doodles although it wasn’t a very pleasant journey. It rained on & off most of the day but we managed to give Scrumps a walk on the beach & treated ourselves to a take away pizza in place of the usual Sunday Roast. Not much is open on Sunday is Espanyol so we spent the afternoon in bed eating endless chocy biscuits and sweets and watching downloads on the laptop. Thank god we can charge it now and again using an inverter …although some times we have put the engine on to do it. I made a nice loaf of bread for dinner & enjoyed it smothered in real butter & dipped into Heinz tomato soup ….. as you can see the boat diet is well in progress! The pounds are literally dropping off …… (she said ironically!)
We took Scrumps ashore again for an evening walk but this time it was getting rougher and wetter. Unfortunately this is the situation with a dog, they need walking whatever the weather and we got soaked. On the way back to the boat the swell (google it… basically waves caused by wind) ) had got worse & we enjoyed getting twatted in face by sea water! Poor Scrumps not being a fan of being wet was unimpressed & once we returned he retired to his bed under the diner table with his puppy dog eyes staring at me …..trying to make me feel guilty. Little did we know that this was a mere ‘light shower’ and ‘breeze’ compared to what was due to come!!!!!!
Day 4 (Mon 14th)
So today was the only day that presented a weather window for leaving, as some pretty severe weather was due in this evening and was going to last a few days. We’re taking Gale force 8-10 / 50 mile an hour winds and we felt we’d prefer to be in the shelter of a marina & we’d already stayed longer than we had planned to. We were aware that there would still be some swell from last nights weather but we thought we’d just see how it went and if we didn’t get that warm fuzzy feeling we’d just come back. Its hard to tell what the conditions can be like once your in a port as its sheltered by land & usually a giant harbour wall, so all you have is the shipping forecast & various passage planning websites. We spent bloody ages trying to pull up our well bedded in anchor & I was already feeling a bit apprehensive about leaving. Anyway we headed out, it was pretty rough particularly coming out of the entrance. I just wasn’t in the mood to suck up getting battered for 4-6 hours to the next port and I didn’t feel safe so after about 15 minutes we headed back. We figured a night on the anchor here was safer than attempting to get to a marina in the current conditions, but now we had the fun of trying to secure the anchor again …. I really did regret trying to leave at this point.
After 3 failed attempts patience was running a bit thin, but we soldiered on only to then get it caught around a F*@!ing great rope running along the sea bed from one of the fishing vessel buoys. We spent over an hour trying to get if off but this is near impossible because as soon as the anchor is near the surface the whole weight of the boat is on it so you can’t just slip the anchor off… poor Simon was also doing this all manually as our windlass motor is broken and this was a heavy rope. Now he was really losing patience & getting very snappy & irritated. I tried to make some polite suggestions so as not to aggravate him any further. The only way to get it off was to tie another rope from the boat to the rope we were caught on to take all the weight of the boat off the anchor. Finally with the help from Freddie on Shavora we got the flaming thing off & moved to a different spot closer to the shore.
Once settled in Simon saw 2 people on route waving and shouting saying that it was no good to stay there…. brilliant he thought …. the nightmare continues. However Simon is blind as well as deaf as it turned out to be Peter and Kevin offering to give us a hand and put us somewhere suitable with their local knowledge. They also had beers, wine & crisps, which was the moral we were in much need of. They ended up staying on the boat all afternoon & evening and we drunk the bar dry!!!! Apart from Kevin who doesn’t drink. Peter was hilarious, he told us all about his Spanish chica & little ‘housey’ up in the woods and insisted on calling Scrumpy ‘Tippy’ the whole time, after a dog he used to own. He was 67 years old going on 25, but he had a vast knowledge of sailing and also taught us how to anchor. This was an experience in itself and involved going full throttle in reverse and then locking the steering port & then all the way to starboard. We were flying around like crazy but the anchor was going no where!!!! (see video on our youtube page). Cedeira Lesson No.5 How to anchor ……Peter style!!!!!!!! Kevin was lovely, a real genuine nice person, who just wanted to make sure we were save during the rough weather that was due. Him and Peter disagreed on just about everything, they were like cat & dog but obviously the best of friends & it was funny watching them wind each other up. It was bar far one of the best days we’d had since leaving England. The drinking session was totally unplanned but they had spent the last 3 hours watching us from Peters house & instinctively knew we needed a pick me up. They knew exactly what would happen as soon as we’d cracked open a couple of beers but we were very grateful for it. They also sorted us out a local mooring buoy for the next coupe of days as we weren’t confident that the 6mm anchor chain could cope with the severe winds we were expecting, so thanks to them I could actually get a good nights sleep (with the help of the booze too of course!). Plus a dingy ride ashore with a very drunk Peter steering is the best entertainment, we didn’t move for 5 mins as he hadn’t noticed we’d got caught on a little fishing buoy and then Simon & I got caught on the exact same bloody buoy coming back!
Day 5 (Tue 15th)
The winds had started to pick up through the night but only about 25-35 mile per hour so we still hadn’t felt the worst of it yet. It was a little rough but we were still able to get ashore. We were awaken by Peter on Channel 77 of the VHF radio at about 11am. He had lent us his tender the night before so Simon had to go and pick him up from the pontoon & drop him to his boat. This channel was soon to become the new social network of the Cedeira boating community and we used it to chat to both Peter & Kevin which was pretty handy. Once shore Simon disappeared for ages as apparently Peter had kidnapped him on a wild goose chase to find ‘Jose’ a local engineer who may have been able to fix our windless. After 1 hour Simon managed to escape a trip to the next town (to the chandlery) as Scrumps & me were still stuck on board and I needed to get ashore to walk him. A bit frustrating as Simon did need to go and get anchor chain but didn’t want to leave us high & dry either!
Later than that day things began to deteriorate Simon helped Peter tie his dingy & outboard on to his boat in order to protect them and gave him a lift back ashore in our pathetic dingy. Hose came on to look at the anchor windlass, but apparently the motor was accident & obsolete so they only way to fix it was to replace to whole windlass too. This was not an option for us as it just wasn’t worth the cost (I did my cost benefit analysis… for anyone like Larry reading this in the MOD :-)) and Simon could still manually use it. He needs to the exercise anywhere especially as our ‘Boat diet’ is yet to take place!!!! I cooked a nice big homely chicken casserole for dinner and then we walked Scrample Doodles (Tippy) along near the fishing ice factory & fishermans garages as it was closer than the local dingy pontoon. This is where we first got absolutely soaked, it started to drizzle when we left the yacht but as soon as we were ashore it was just tipping it down…….this was going to be a short walk!.
Once back at the boat we fully put the awning up in order to make a sheltered area for our wet clothes and try to keep as much moisture outside of the boat as we could.
That night the wind we had been anticipating finally arrived, it howled all night long swinging us around on the mooring buoy and making all the ropes creak. The mast whistled and rattled like crazy and the sea splashed around us, being in the forward cabin you can hear it clearly splashing and rushing past the sides of the boat. However thanks to mooring buoy I happily slept only waking now and again due to the noise.
Day 6 (Wed)
So the weather had been building up all week and this was the worst day so far. We spent all day on board as it was just to dangerous to get ashore in dingy. You could tell by the sound of the gusts against the boat that it was strong, about a gale force 9-10. I did some drawing and painting to pass the time and Simon decided to try and retrace all the electrical wiring. He had to take the whole flaming boat apart so me and poor Scrumps were pretty much confined to the sofa area. Although Simon did manage to supervise Scrumpy out on the deck for a wee & no.2 but did almost have to catch him at one point so he didn’t get blown over. Eventually about 6pm we managed to get ashore as Kevin had got in touch on trust VHF Channel 77 & arranged to meet us at the pub. By the time Simon had put the boat back together we timed our dingy ride perfectly with the rain. He also decided to let go of the swim platform before starting the outboard and then couldn’t get the bloody thing to start, so we were drifting along at the mercy of the wind, rain & waves! This obviously resulted in a small disagreement (shouting match), but once on solid ground all was forgotten.
We meet Kevin for a drink, walking Scrumps on route & picked up some bits of shopping and then headed back to the boat for a nice moral induced tea.
Now let me just set the scene for you ….. the last load of washing we had done was 10 days ago & this had been a disaster so technically we hadn’t really washed anything since La Rochelle (3 weeks ago). Most of my clothes were stinking & dirty, particularly the warm cosy stuff as I hadn’t packed many (expecting endless days of sun living out the boat dream). I’d lost my towel in La Rochelle as it had blown over board never to be seen again, so I had been using a hair towel the size of a dish clothe since. I’d washed my hair & showered once in the last 10 days which was on the boat using hardly any water with my damp dish clothe towel. I’d had to share it with Simon as his towel was dirty & soaking wet as it had been left on the deck in the rain for the last week. It had now rained everyday since we got here everything was soaking including the awning, the last few days clothes, our water proofs… nothing would dry no matter where we hung it. The whole boat just felt damp inside. The water tank was now empty so we couldn’t wash up anything or even just wash our hands, we had very little power and not a singe bloody towel to even attempt to dry ourselves with. I had also not had an undisturbed sleep for sometime. All these combined were beginning to take their tool on me & despite the gales I had mentally coped pretty well up until now but unfortunately I was about to hit breaking point.
So we were on route back to the dingy, the rain started again & then the heavens literally opened and absolutely drenched us! We climbed into the dingy with our soaking wet shopping bags. The wind was directly in our faces battering us hard with giant drops of rain which felt like needles when they landed on your skin. Waves were relentlessly hitting the front of the dingy exploding and spraying into our eyes, the salt water stinging and blinding us. Sea water slopped over the sides down the back of our water proofs into our trousers. I was trying to hold on to the boat and the dog & wipe my eyes at the same time …. all while Scrumps tried to fight his way to the back of the dingy & under my arm in attempt to get some shelter. I even laughed at the time but by the time we got back onboard and under the awning we were like a bunch of cold, drenched, dirty, drowned rats then reality set in. All I could think about was last Sept when I was working in Cape Town sat in my hotel room laying on a luscious soft cosy bed, wrapped in a crisp white fluffy dressing gown, with room service on route, hot water, a bath, a shower, a maid that came in to turn my quilt back at night & chocolates on my pillow…… and how far away I was from any of these comforts right now!!!!!. This was the lowest point for me so far on the boat & I spent most of the night in pensive silence.
Day 7 (Thu)
All night it has rained non stop, like nothing I’ve ever heard before which didn’t help my mood through the night. However when we woke it had stopped and the SUN was finally out. I had woken up in a much better mood and It didn’t take long to soon dry everything out. This made me feel a millions times better. Despite feeling crap the night before I’d had never questioned wanting to be on the boat, i guess it was just another Cedeira Lesson …. sometimes its not all plain sailing but you just had to ride out the storm!!!
Now everything was dry we spend the day tidying up and getting ready to depart the following morning. We couldn’t leave today as the sea would still be pretty rough after the winds so it needed at least a day to settle a bit. We bumped into Kevin twice during Scrumpy’s walks and said our goodbyes and told him to keep in touch through the blog.
We found a funny little shop that sold literally everything you could think of so stocked up on some bits …a new frying pan, a knife sharpener and some other tools and most importantly be both bought a new towel each!
Day 8 (Fri 18th Sep)
We go up early & finally LEFT!!!! We meet some amazing lovely people in Cedeira, but we were very glad to get going and continuing moving on with our adventure!