The Spanish north coast
We are on our way from Les Sable d'Olonne to Gijon when we see dolphins for the first time. It feels like a present and we go and sit at the front of the bow with our feet dangling over the edge to see them up close. It is definitely an overwhelming experience. It's as if they know there are people on the boat. They are really looking at us and this makes us feel cheerful and happy.
From Gijon we hop along the Spanish coast. We take our time and we even stay for nine nights in a place called Luarca. It's the first time that we don't have to pay for spending the night because we are at a mooring in the inner harbour. We also finally get around to anchoring. In Ria Ribadeo we have our first experience with anchoring on a current. There's an extra risk because the water flows back and forth with the changing of the tide and you have to leave enough chain on the bottom with your anchor. We didn't do this properly and in the morning we were woken up by workmen from a navy vessel. We had ended up 300 metres from where we had originally anchored and our anchor was dragging behind us. That gave us a bit of a fright. We now use a lot more chain and we bought a heavier anchor. By now we trust our anchor gear and that's a good feeling. The places where we anchor are often beautiful and peaceful, near small beaches with wonderful views. But the daily chores take up a lot more time from an anchorage place.
A day at an anchorage place
After we get up, which is usually between 8 and 9, we have to have breakfast of course. This consists of "Cruesli" and a bowl of yoghurt, for as long as these are still available. After breakfast we usually have to do last night's dishes, so we boil water and do the dishes. If there is laundry to be done, we usually do that right after. This means boiling more water, making a suds in the Tupperware bucket, making it vacuum and wait for 20 minutes, wringing out the clothes, filling the bucket again and rinsing the clothes. Then it's time for a cappuccino with three or four cookies. Cookies are sold in big boxes in Spain. Then, once our mini monster has been inflated, we row to shore to buy bread or other groceries. When we arrive at the shore with our mini monster, we often have to climb a very steep ladder and tie our little inflatable boat in the right place, depending on whether it's low or high tide.
Once we are back on board it's usually time for lunch. We eat baguette (or toast if we don't have fresh bread) with serrano ham, cheese, camembert, salami or pâté. Of course we also have chocolate sprinkles and peanut butter. In the afternoon we sometimes go swimming in the ice cold and clear water, after which we soap ourselves and take a shower on board with as little fresh water as possible. There are often other ships at anchorage places and we regularly visit the people on board or they come on board our ship. Sometimes we row to shore in the afternoon to use the internet or to visit the town and take a walk.
These days we usually have dinner around 8 in the evening, which means we need to cook. The things we cook are very much like what we used to eat back in the Netherlands, except when we eat fish that we have caught ourselves. In Spain the supermarkets are filled with many different kinds of desserts and we regularly try them out. Canned meat is very practical for us but it's hard to get around here. One day we bought a can of Callos. The picture on the label led us to suspect that the contents consisted of meat. We warmed it up and tried it, very carefully. It wasn't very nice, a bit jelly-like. When we looked up the word callos in our Spanish dictionary, it turned out to be tripe! It immediately ended up in the bin.
In the evening we often read. Even Hans, who would rather read a manual than a good book, is reading a thrilling spy novel. As soon as it gets dark and we have lighted the oil lamp and have hoisted it up, we go to bed. And we hope the wind will stay calm, because then we can have a good night.
Sailing along all these beautiful places we finally arrive in the vicinity of La Coruña. We knew that there would be good opportunities there for repairs or modifications to our boat.
Since the temperature of the motor, which rises fairly quickly, has been worrying us for quite a while we decided to have a smaller propeller installed. This means that we can no longer use the propeller shaft generator and that we will have to find another energy source before long, for example a windgenerator.
We sail to Sada near La Coruña and try to order the propeller there. We obtain advice about the right size, because we only know that the current propeller is too big. It is not going very smoothly so we take the bus to La Coruña to see if we can arrange things faster there. It doesn't really make a difference time wise and Sada felt better. So we stay in Sada and order a new propeller and three days later we are lifted out of the water. While we are still hanging from the crane the new propeller is installed. At first glance this new propeller doesn't really look smaller than the old one and we start to worry. But when we compare the propeller blades of the old propeller and the new one between thumb and index finger our minds are put at rest. The surface of the new propeller's blades is a lot smaller. At least we no longer have to worry about this problem.
In Sada we also had the outboard motor of our mini monster checked for the third time. The mechanic actually managed to get it to work right away, but he also knew right away that there was something wrong with it. The little motor doesn't reach full revs. The mechanic does his utmost to fix it, but to no avail. The 35-year old motor cannot be repaired and spare parts are no longer available. We left it behind in Sada and we hate having ever paid money for it.
After we have bought all sorts of extra stuff for Happy Monster, such as ropes and shackles, we leave to have a look at the west coast of Spain.
(Translated from dutch to english by Percy Balemans)