from 'The Journal of Alacazam', by Mary Swift...
We're both getting pretty irritated; we've been here at anchor in Ria de Vigo far too long. Both non-stop wall-to-wall fog and now a broken alternator belt are thwarting our plans to sail south to Portugal. whilst we can't do much about the fog, we think we may have found a source for a new alternator belt...
We get up early in case the belts in Bayona are unsuitable and we have to visit Vigo. I'm not feeling too well, headachy and lethargic. The lifestyle we've been leading the last few days is taking its toll - too much food and alcohol and too many late nights.
Neither of us wants breakfast and we get ashore just as the shops are opening. It is a long walk to the chandlers and when we find it, it does not have the correct size in stock. There's one belt, very similar in shape and length, that may be suitable but the assistant recommends that we try the local petrol station first. The petrol station has a separate accessory shop and although not stocking the correct size, the assistant makes a phone call and says that two belts can be available in 30 minutes. Fantastic!
There's a café nearby and by the time we have finished drinking our coffee the belts have arrived. Such good service; the two belts cost £9. In England one belt costs £14. Dick is delighted - we can relax.
I've told Kay and Mike that when Dick cooks sardines they taste better than any others I have tasted, so they want to try some. The fish market has plenty, but we have other shopping to do and explain to the fishmonger that we will be back later to buy some.
Back to the fish market an our or so later and we are welcomed with "Hello Ingles, you come back". This lady has the most wonderful smile and face. We buy a kilo of sardines and also want a kilo of mussels. She has sold out but goes to another stall to get some for us chatting to us all the time. Her Father is English but she has lived in Spain since she was a little girl and can't speak much English. She calls her Mother across to meet us, as she used to work in a hospital in Putney and can speak a little English. They admire my white hair saying that it suits my face, smiling all the time. Such a happy people.
We are laden down but as we pass the beach I trip over a broken pavement slab and am suddenly flat on my face, spread-eagled, bags and groceries everywhere and people rushing to pick me up. I am lucky to get away with a graze to my elbow and a dent in my pride. Back aboard Alacazam, I wash the vegetables and stow the shopping while Dick tries the new alternator belt. It fits perfectly and is fine when we run the engine. Thank goodness for that, and at least we have a spare that we know will fit.
We are eating a late breakfast when I find another insect bite on my lip. The bite already on my face is very sore, my elbow is hurting and I suddenly feel very low. I am taking my vitamins, using insect repellent and nasty cortisone cream and I do not know what else to do to stop the insects from biting me. It is not so much the bites, as Dick is getting bitten too, but my allergic reaction to them.
On Bella's advice I bought a product to dab on the bites as soon as I am bitten (our equivalent to surgical spirit) but I do not feel the insects biting me. The cortisone cream is working, but it is such a nasty product that I really do not want to use it continuously, likewise the repellent but I dread to think what would happen if I didn't use it. A huge insect as big as a beetle has just flown on board and I have dived into the heads and shut the curtain. We have no idea what it is but Dick catches it using a tumbler and releases it over the side. I am getting paranoid.
Dick cleans the sardines and mussels ready for dinner tonight and then we relax and sunbathe in the cockpit for a few hours. At 7pm Dick takes the dinghy to pick up Mike and Kay from Summer Lady and I prepare the salad and pasta. Mike has brought a bag of ice, vodka, tonics and lemon but Dick and I decline, sticking with the wine. I've opened a bottle of white wine to cook the mussels so I stay with the white. Before dinner we sit in the cockpit eating monkey nuts and olives.
It's fiesta weekend again and the thunder flash fireworks are being let off in the town (loud bangs and a puff of smoke). Dick cooks the sardines to perfection, the best yet and they soon disappear. I follow with mussels cooked in the wine, onion, garlic and chilli flakes with pasta. Served with salad and bread and copious amounts of wine, the meal is good and Mike and Kay thoroughly enjoy it.
We are getting to know each other well and have another easy evening. Kay laughs a lot and her laugh is infectious. Far too much wine was drunk again and I'm worried when Dick is a long time coming back from returning Mike and Kay to Summer Lady but he says that he had a hard time finding Alacazam in the dark approaching the wrong yacht several times.
Sunday 26 August 2001
It is foggy again. We cannot believe it. We are not going to take the outboard off the dinghy until we are sure that we are really leaving. Clearing away after breakfast I notice the ice that Mike had brought around has melted in the fridge, so I clear everything out and clean it thoroughly. One task leads to another and we complete quite a few tasks waiting for the fog to lift (one of which is to sweep up all the monkey nut shells scattered all over the cockpit and transom), then give up and relax in the cockpit reading (I have started to read 'The Green Mile') stopping just for a light lunch.
Dick feels very tired and a bit under the weather and goes to bed for a couple of hours. I stay in the cockpit reading and lazing. Fish are swimming around the boat on the surface of the water, a large shoal, basking in the sunshine. It is lovely to watch. The terns are back and I throw them stale bread but the black-backed gulls fly in and steal it all.
The fog has been quite bad all day but it has kept the temperature pleasantly warm as opposed to hot. At 5pm we go ashore to read the weather forecast and tie the dinghy to Summer Lady, refusing a beer offered by Kay. Mike has gone to have a shower but soon joins us.
Dick has not been feeling well all day and we soon find out why.
"Did you find your way back OK last night?" asks Kay, "You did have a very large glass of whisky and ate a whole bar of chocolate".
When we said we were going for a walk to blow away the cobwebs they ask if they could join us and we walk until 8.30pm.
We wander through the old town and think we can reach the Atlantic coast trying roads we do not know but keep ending up going the wrong way.
We climb a lot of steep hills through a new residential area of Bayona and some of the houses and gardens are really classy, near parks and a private swimming pool. It is fun trying the different roads and we convince ourselves that the steep climbs are good for our hearts and lungs. We reach an area that Dick and I know and can see the hill with the statue on the top to our right.
Taking the road we think we came down the other day, we are wrong again but we pass the local garden of remembrance and can see all the plaques in the wall honouring the dead but also all the empty plaques waiting to be filled. Another experience. We can see the right road and as a shortcut think we can cross a large building site to reach it only to find a fence blocking our way out. Thinking we will have to go all the way back we try once more around the other side of the building under construction and success, we are out.
We feel like naughty children. We have noticed that Bayona is packed with cars and people, much more than normal and this morning, from the boat, we had heard what had sounded like a procession going through the town. As we near the statue of the Virgen we can see that she is dressed overall with flags of every nation. We walk on up the road and then onto the hill taking the harder route to the top on the Atlantic side. We are above the bank of fog and sit watching it roll into the bay.
It's ethereal seeing just the top of the island poking out through the fog. The fog rises up to meet us and within minutes we have hardly any visibility around us. It is an eerie feeling. We climb up to the Virgen and looking down to the right notice stalls are set up in the car park and are just starting to close down. The festival had been for the Virgen de la Roca and we think the earlier procession had led up to her.
It has been a long, tiring walk so we go back down the hill to Bayona to eat at our favourite bar; the usual octopus, cod in vinaigrette and beans and only one drink each. It is dusk and Kay hopes my insect repellent is working as something keeps biting her ankle. I slap more on and give her some too and it works. We are tired and decide it is time to call it a day and have an early night. We buy our ice creams on our way back to the Marina, stop to check the weather fax on the notice board and get in the dinghy at Summer Lady without stopping.
I think we are all relieved at that...
Next: Leaving for Portugal?