from 'The Journal of Alacazam', by Mary Swift...
Last night, at anchor here in Ria de Vigo, it was late night fireworks that interrupted our sleep; tonight, it's the high-pitched whine of the dreaded mosquitoes. Of the two, give me fireworks every time...
That mozzy was enough to send me diving completely under the duvet; it's a wonder that I had enough air to breathe because that is how I stayed until morning.
We both awake at 0900 hours to another foggy morning - a real 'pea-souper'.
We can only just see the Naiad anchored next to us, and the washing I had hung out last night, and forgotten to take down, is wetter than when I had hung it up.
We do hope the fog burns off later, as we were intending to anchor off the Islas Cíes.
Dick finds he has mozzy bites on his back and on his hand. While I prepare breakfast, He's working out tide tables by importing the harmonic constants from the Admiralty tide tables into a navigation programme on the Psion; far too clever for me.
When he's finished we go ashore to make a concerted effort to find a post box. We try the main streets again and notice the fish market on our left. At the top of the street we turn right and find the two large supermarkets. We have to ask the way to the Post Office; one more right turn and there it is. Success; the postcards are posted.
From here we can see the sea and surf so we go to explore. We're on the Atlantic side of Bayona, which is very rocky. The waves are crashing onto the rocks creating the foam that we keep seeing out at sea. We watch, fascinated, then walk along the coastal road; there's no footpath to walk on, but the sound of the surf breaking over the rocks is wonderful - this on a day when there's no wind.
The visibility is poor because of the fog and we cannot see far out to sea. We are skirting the hill where the statue of the Virgen de la Roca stands at the top, looking out to sea. There's a pathway winding up through the granite rocks and scrub and we climb to the top. It's quite a climb and we are pleased with ourselves, until we see that a road leads gently up to the top on the other side of the hill.
The exercise is enjoyable though and it keeps us fit. The statue is impressive; it's enormous and carved from the rock. Her robes flow out and you can climb up inside her and stand on a boat that she is holding in her hand. Too many people were queuing to do this so we didn't wait. The inscription tells us she is a daymark, requested by the people of Bayona to keep sea-faring people safe.
We follow the road back into the old town, where the streets are quiet and cool. Yesterday we'd noticed a bar close to the internet cafe that looked interesting so we pop in for a drink, but the atmosphere is not at all friendly and disappointed we leave. My favourite bar is the one we found on the first day (no, not the pigs ears one, the other one) and we lunch there on octopus and the local bean dish that I like.
Mike has been buying boxed wine from the supermarkets, so cheap and yet very palatable so we walk to the supermarket to stock up on some, but it is siesta time and closed. The fish market too is closed but Dick sees a man loading trays of sardines into his van and asks if he can buy some. They're not for sale as they are yesterday's catch and will only be used for bait. "That's what I want them for", says Dick, and the man generously gives him two sardines.
Walking back to our dinghy we see Mike and Kay on Summer Lady, both looking fine and well rested having slept until late and not breakfasting until 1300 hours. Very civilised.
Mike has received a weather fax and although the forecast still shows a low it looks as though we should be able to move on tomorrow. He'd also checked out the cost of the Marina and found he had been overcharged a lot, but only because he had stated that his yacht was 34 metres instead of 34 feet. Well, Americans can be prone to exaggeration...
We arrange to meet them for dinner ashore at 9pm and motor back to Alacazam. The Naiad is just taking up its anchor and Julie and Keith motor around us to let us know they are going to the Islas Cíes. It's still very foggy but they have anchored there before. It is 4pm, so Dick and I don't even consider leaving now.
We are both extremely tired and sleep until nearly 7pm. Dick tries his shower trick again with the garden spray, this time using soap, but soap does not lather up in salt water like the mousse, but at least he feels fresh. The fog has finally lifted, although still lingering over the hills, but it is a beautiful evening, warm, because there is no wind.
My washing is dry at last. Dick is relaxing in the cockpit reading another book, after using the sardines as bait in the drop net and lowering it into the water, and I am writing as usual.
At 9pm though, we arrive ashore on time to meet Mike and Kay at the designated meeting place, and they arrive moments after us. We're going to eat in a tapas bar that we had seen on our walk today, which has a lovely garden setting. We sit inside rather than under the trees so that the bugs cannot get me (I still get bitten on my face though). We order the house red wine and instead of glasses we are given the white porcelain bowls to drink from.
Kay and I are not keen on the wine and order a bottle of white to share leaving the red wine for the men. Kay and Mike have brought photos they had taken in the Azores, and of their families in America and we spend some time looking at them before ordering the meal. The special tortilla is delicious but the sardines (cooked without being gutted which seems to taint the flesh) are not. The men enjoy a sausage, cooked on a spit over a dish of alcohol and set alight to warm, and Kay and I enjoy a large mixed salad. Kay had found another ice-cream parlour earlier and took us there for dessert. Two scoops of ice cream each again; decadent, or what?
Last night we had all agreed that we were a bad influence on each other, leading each other astray, so being good we call a halt to the evening, as it was heading the same way as previous evenings.
Our dinghy was tied up to Summer Lady but we climbed in straight away without stopping for a nightcap. Kay passed me a couple of magazines to read and we bade our goodbyes to our friends as, weather permitting, we will leave tomorrow and hope to meet them again in Portugal.
It is 1220 when we get back on board; there are no fish, crabs or anything else in the drop net. Oh well!
Friday 24 August 2001
I wake up at 0915 to hear Dick moving about on deck; still nothing in the drop net - we were hoping for prawns for breakfast. The fog is thick again but the sun is trying to break through, so we quickly breakfast and prepare the boat ready to leave when it lifts.
Terns circle us, calling each other. They're delightful birds, diving powerfully, very close to Alacazam, for fish. We love watching them.
We relax, Dick reading and me typing away on the computer and about 1330 the fog starts to lift and we can see the other side of the bay.
Fifteen minutes later we decide to leave for the Islas Cíes and take the outboard off the dinghy (which we are going to tow the short distance) and stow the computer. Just as we are about to weigh anchor the fog gets even thicker than before. Let's forget it.
Alacazam is being called on the VHF. We assume it is Mike and call Summer Lady. Down to channel 8 and Mike invites on board to dinner if we don't leave today and then says it was not him who had called us.
Dick tries channel 16 again saying "Vessel calling Alacazam, this is Alacazam". No response. Then a few minutes later 'Avrio' calls us but cannot hear us when we respond. We eventually make contact and think it's Daphne and Brian, but are not too sure.
They're motoring past the Islas Cíes in thick fog - at best about half a mile visibility; at worst about 200 yards, and they are having to navigate using GPS and radar and expect to be in Bayona within two hours (later we see her entering the marina at about 5pm). They weren't the yacht calling us but thought they would have a chat anyway. Dick tries once more on Channel 16 but there is no response so we have no idea who it was.
Our conversation with Brian is enough to convince us that we have made the right decision to stay put. Dick lies out in the cockpit soaking up the sun, reading his book and I get out the computer again.
After watching 'Avrio' enter the marina, Dick is feeling industrious and decides to oil and generally check out the Alacazam's engine. He spots some damage to the alternator drive belt and thinks it needs replacing.
It's difficult to remove, but he is glad he has done so because it's holding on by a thread; thank goodness he has noticed it now and not when we are motoring at sea. It's not a problem because he ordered two spare engine kits from Harbour Marine in Plymouth, the local 'Nannidiesel' Agents, before we left; therefore we have two spare belts.
But they're the wrong size, much too small. Dick is so angry; he abhors incompetence from so-called experts. If someone doesn't know then that is acceptable, but to rely on someone who has set himself up as the expert and is wrong, is totally unacceptable. If we had been at sea, this could be a potentially dangerous situation especially near land in bad weather. We now have a yacht, at anchor, with an engine that doesn't work.
Luckily the anchorage is safe and there is nothing we can do until morning as it's getting late, so we contact Mike on VHF to tell him what has happened and that we will soon be over for dinner. Mike has a spare belt that may be suitable and he had been in a ferret shop this morning that had loads of different size belts hanging up at the back of the shop.
Even so Dick is bad tempered and takes it out on me, but I am not having any of that and get angry too. Not a word passes between us until we reach Summer Lady but we have both calmed down by the time we do (shouting at each other is not going to help the situation).
We're welcomed with a glass of wine and commiserations from Kay and Mike, whose belt is also the wrong size. Dick visits 'Avrio', for a quick chat, it is Daphne and Brian, and they had not enjoyed their sail today. Mike is very wise and lets us relax and wind down in the cockpit before eating dinner. He is a good cook and usually does the cooking on board, and has marinated some beef (he was unsure of the cut) in red wine and Soya sauce.
Cooked in a pressure cooker with mushrooms and onions and served with a large bowl of salad (prepared by Kay), the meat is tender and delicious and we are all very hungry. The wine slips down easily again and we empty the bottle we have brought with us, and make impressive inroads into a two litre boxe of Mike's. The conversation flows easily from topic to topic, politics, books, sailing, families etc.
The evening passes too quickly and it is another late night by the time we return to Alacazam.