Moonlight Adventure

The story of our travels on board Moonlight, our Vancouver 36.


Wednesday 19th August 2009

Posted by yachtmoonlight on August 21, 2009 at 6:44 AM

Saturday was very foggy in the morning and we decided to head off to Camarinas at 11am. The fog became worse as we got out to sea and we couldn’t see the land or anything around us. We switched on the radar and the chart plotter so we knew exactly where we were (as the chart plotter seems to be behaving again now), where the land was and where other boats were, which worked fantastically well. We kept a careful watch as well (just in case a small boat didn’t show up on the radar) and thankfully the fog lifted after a couple of hours.

We noticed some swimming crabs just under the surface as we sailed along. They are quite small crabs with paddles on their back legs, enabling them to swim up to the surface. I decided to try and catch one with the rock pool net we bought in Falmouth and laid down on the foredeck with the net ready to scoop one up as we sailed past it, but the net wasn’t really strong enough and we were going a bit fast, so I was unsuccessful.

As we approached Camarinas, we heard some loud bangs and saw some puffs of smoke in the sky above a hilltop. It took us a moment to realise what it was – someone was setting off fireworks. At 1pm. The effect of this, I have to say, was underwhelming. I remembered reading in our pilot guide book that 15th August is a national holiday in Spain, so this would explain the fireworks but someone really should tell them they work better in the dark.

We anchored near the town, just off the marina and took the dinghy ashore. There is a small yacht club next to the marina with a bar, restaurant, internet access and a No Poodles sign on the door. A


(Ann outside the yacht club)


 stunning brand new footbridge leads across the harbour to the town (stunning but pointless as there is a perfectly good path that nearby that goes around the harbour. But I guess EU subsidies have to spent on something……).


(John on the foot bridge)


As it was a national holiday, all the shops in the town were closed but we had a wander around anyway and explored the small town and harbour.

That evening, we sampled the local tapas at a bar near the harbour, which was exceptionally good and very cheap. It was a most pleasant evening.


The following day was a little cloudy, so we seized the opportunity of a cooler day to take a walk along to the coast road to a lighthouse which was about three and a half miles away. We thought this was a splendid plan until a couple of miles in, when the clouds parted and the sun shone through, heating up the air, the road and us in an instant. We considered turning back, but were over half way and were determined to make it to the lighthouse and figured that by the time we started heading back, the afternoon would be cooling down and it wouldn’t be so hot, so we kept going. The last half a mile was up a steep winding road and by the time we got to the top we were exhausted and very hot.


(The lighthouse)


The views were stunning though and after enjoying the breeze high up on the rocks, we ventured into the small visitor centre at the foot of the lighthouse. Unfortunately, although the lady in the visitor centre and John spoke five languages between them, they didn’t speak the same ones, so we found ourselves unable to communicate and find out anything about the lighthouse. Having said that, she seemed mainly to be giving out directions and maps of the coastal roads to people from camper vans (which were strangely abundant) so we consoled ourselves with the thought that she probably didn’t have anything interesting to say anyway.

After a short stay at the top, we headed back down the steep sloping road on the long hot trek back to Camarinas. At the bottom of the winding road, there was a huge fish farm on the right (which it turns out is the biggest Turbot fish farm in Europe, and very bizarrely is blanked out on Google Maps). On the opposite side of the road, a waste pipe was pouring white foamy water from the fish farm into a small beautiful estuary and where this water gushed in, huge shoals of fish gathered on the edges of the bubbling water. We couldn’t see them closely, but I’m quite the fish all had three eyes. And horns.


(The white foamy water emitted by the fish farm)


The sun was still beating down hard and it had not cooled down as we had hoped, so John suggested that we try to hitch a lift back to Camarinas.

I have never hitchhiked in my life and explained to John that no-one does these days as everyone knows that hitchhikers tend to be axe murderers, and if they’re not, the type of people who pick them up are, so it tends to end in tears one way or the other, but he was having none of it and insisted we give it a go, making me walk in front of him so he could check I was sticking my thumb out whenever a car went past.

I didn’t believe for a minute that anyone (who wasn’t a psychotic murderer) would stop, but amazingly the fourth car that came along did. The young couple inside didn’t look psychotic and I couldn’t see any axes in the car so we got in. The couple didn’t speak much English and we only know a few words in Spanish, so it was difficult to have a conversation, but they very kindly dropped us off at the marina in Camarinas and were good enough not to kill us.


(Fishing boats in Camarinas marina)


Thankfully the shops re-opened on the Monday, so we could top up on fresh produce from the supermarket. We had a look around the other small shops, many of which sold lace which local ladies were making in the shops. We found a shop selling fishing nets and as I was buying a slightly larger and sturdier fishing net, John was approached by a very strange man who asked if he spoke English (he did this in English but with an unidentifiable accent). When John said yes, he dropped the strange accent and it turned out he was English and had just arrived on a boat from England on a Yachtmaster Ocean course, which he told John all about at great and boring length. He was quite possibly the dullest and least charismatic person I have ever met, and having worked in Melton Mowbray for three years, that’s saying something. We made our excuses and escaped, continuing our meander around the town and as we headed back to the boat, we spotted Mr Boring again, this time leaning into a very small fire engine, shouting at the bemused firemen who obviously spoke no English, “ME. VOLUNTEEEEEER. FIRE. MAN. IN. ENGLAND.” The ‘England’ also prompted him to point randomly out into the Atlantic and I noticed he had re-adopted his strange accent. I think he figured that if people didn’t speak English it would help no end if he added a foreign twang when he spoke. We dashed off at high speed in case he spotted us again.

We decided to move the boat away from the town and closer to a small beach, where Charles and Penny had anchored on arriving the night before. We took the dinghy ashore to the small beach, which had beautiful white sand and very clear (but cold) water. I braved a short swim in the shallow water and we headed back to the boat for a solar shower (this is a black plastic bag you fill with water, with a shower attachment. You leave it in the sun and the water heats up so you can have a wonderful fresh water shower on the boat).


On Tuesday, we moved on to Finisterre and agreed to meet up with Charles and Penny again in the anchorage. We had a very good trip although we had to motor some of the way as the winds were so light and I tried again to catch a swimming crab off the side with my new net, but they continued to evade me.


(Approaching Cape Finisterre)


A few large dolphins swam by as we neared the harbour, but they didn’t swim with the boat.

The water in the anchorage was the clearest we have seen, but the wind had strengthened, making the water quite choppy.

After anchoring we watched a large official looking boat race into the anchorage at speed and then stop, dropping a dinghy with two men in it into the water. We thought at first they were Customs officers and expected a visit (they often approach foreign boats and check their paperwork), but on closer inspection with the binoculars, they appeared to be some kind of fishing protection authority. The dinghy raced over to a group of small fishing boats which were moored near the shore, cut the line of one (a completely black boat with a large black outboard engine and no registration number on the side which all other Spanish boats seem to have) and they towed it off, again at high speed. As they were nearing their boat, we heard some shouting and a Spanish chap was rowing as fast as he could in their direction, shouting and waving at them. The fish police looked and saw him, but completely ignored him, attached the dinghy and the black fishing boat to their larger boat and sped off again across the harbour and out of sight. The man in the rowing boat was not at all happy about this, stood up in his little wooden boat and smacked it hard with one of the oars, which I thought was a little unfair on the rowing boat.

I have no idea what this was all about (the boat wasn’t registered or had been fishing without a license maybe?), but it was most entertaining, and the locals seem to agree as they had crowded on the beach and the nearby road to watch the action.

It was too choppy to get off the boat, so we shouted over to Charles and Penny and agreed to meet up again the next day in Muros instead.

Later that evening, at low water, a couple of fishing boats arrived in the anchorage and didn’t seem to be too pleased with our presence there. They sped past us at great speed more than once and far too close, making our boat rock in their wake and then started dragging the sea bed in front of our boat for what turned out to be fishing pots. Usually fisherman put small buoys on their pots and had there been buoys here we would have made sure we didn’t anchor anywhere near them but we were totally unaware the pots we there. We were worried that they might catch or disturb our anchor, so we stayed up until they left late in the evening and then retired for an uneasy night’s sleep.


This morning brought much calmer weather and the wind had died away, although it was very cloudy.

As the water was so calm, we realised how clear it was. We could see the sea bed and shoals of fish swimming around the boat, grey mullet and two types of fish that don’t exist according to my sea shore book.

I noticed a swimming crab happily swimming alongside the boat, so I got my net and dropped it in the water in from of it, and the stupid thing swam straight into the net! We brought it into the cockpit to have a look at it, before letting it go and watched it swim off at huge speed away from the boat.


(The swimming crab)


We were tempted to stay in the anchorage, as it would have been fabulous if the sun came out later in the day, but we were concerned about the apparent unfriendliness of the fishermen and it was a very exposed anchorage, so would be choppy again if the winds picked up, so we moved on to Muros just after lunch.

On the way out, we swam past a shoal of swimming crabs (do crabs hang out in shoals? Or gangs maybe?) and determined to catch one while we sailing, I laid down on the bow again, with my net poised and after several attempts, managed to scoop one up, which we let go again shortly afterwards.

Muros is much more sheltered than Finisterre and it was a much nicer (and friendlier) anchorage. We anchored near the town and went ashore, heading for a slipway where we could leave the dinghy. As we approached the slipway, John told me to grab it, but I noticed it was covered in small earwiggy type insects and horrible scarey looking black crabs which creaked when they moved. I said I wasn’t grabbing that if my life depended on it, and after John explained that it just might, I gingerly touched the slipway with one finger which it seems was not enough to hold us in place and we drifted away. On the second attempt I tried waving my arms first and managed to scare enough bugs away to grab hold of it and I scurried out the dinghy and up the slipway at high speed before the insects could grab me and drag me away.

We found a very nice bar in town and enjoyed some Razorfish and a huge plate of Calamari before heading to Charles and Penny’s boat for drinks and another very enjoyable evening.


(Charles and Penny´s boat at anchor in Finisterre)


Categories: August 2009, Spain

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Reply Mum
8:08 AM on August 21, 2009 
these little dramas are more entertaining than the telly!
Reply Barbara
5:18 PM on August 22, 2009 
re; photo of Ann outside yacht club, at first glance it looks like you are wearing a rather elaborate hat, love the blog, don't want it to end just like a good book. : )