Sailing The Death Coast
Sounds glorious doesn’t it? Well actually it has been and since leaving A Coruña we’ve moved Westwards via an overnight anchorage in Laxe to the Ria de Camariñas where we’ve been alongside at the Club Nautico in Camariñas for 2 nights now enjoying the beer the wine and the food.
We’ve encountered fickle winds, big ocean swells and some tricky navigation during our passages. The similarities of this Northern Galician coastline to Brittany and Cornwall are striking although for scale La Costa da Morte wins hands down. To enter the Ria de Camariñas we had to pay our respects to Cabo Villano (The villanous cape) with it’s outlying shoals and rocks looking suitably foreboding as the swells broke over them. Tomorrow we’ll clear Cabo Torinana the most Western point in Spain before turning South at last towards Cape Finisterre and the sanctuary of the Ria de Muros. The weather has been kind although unusually for the time of year there often been a wind from the South West which has meant we’ve had to motor more than I’d like. Tomorrows forecast is for NW’s though so we should be able to sail nicely on our way.
Our week in A Coruña was memorable, we explored the city and we splashed out and hired a car to drive the 80 or so kilometres to Santiago de Compostela. I’ll admit to being a little less than enthusiastic about visiting such a tourist trap but I was pleasantly surprised, The old town and cathedral were spectacular and although there were of course a lot of tacky souvenir shops selling tat they blended with some more authentic shops bars and restaurants that balanced things out, We ate a very enjoyable lunch in one such tapas bar.
We’d originally planned to leave A Coruña early on the 24th but we found out that the night of the 23rd June was the night of The Bonfires of San Juan and that it was unmissable. This trip is all about new experiences and new places so it was a no brainer to stay on and I’m so glad we did. As we walked through the city at 9pm things were just beginning to get going. The roads were gridlocked with traffic, every bar seemed to have a BBQ going on the street, thousands of people thronged about as we made our way towards the main beaches. As we walked across the promenade and looked out around the huge crescent shaped bay it was hard to take in what we seeing, Every inch of the kilometres of beach was filled with people sitting around prepared bonfires of all shapes and sizes. Some small pyramids of uniform sticks, others towering creations of pallets, doors and old furniture. It was hard to imagine what was going to happen when all these hundreds of bonfires were lit. As darkness fell and the midnight firework display drew nearer flames started appearing and by midnight most were alight. It was an incredible spectacle, one that would never be allowed in the UK. Smoke and flames fanned by the breeze seemingly covered the entire beach, rising up to sear the onlookers gazing over the promenade railings. We could only bear it for a few minutes as I used my hat to shield our faces from the heat. My photos don’t come close to doing justice to the sight but Jake, who ended up staying past dawn, took loads of video that should do a far better job.
Unsurprisingly there was no way we were leaving for any sort of passage making the following day but to avoid paying another night in the marina we motored out and over to the other side of the Ria to drop anchor close to the beach in the Ensanada de Mera. We spent a lovely peaceful night there free from squeaky warps and fenders and fishing boat wash and woke fresh the following morning to head out for our next port of call, Laxe. It was a 35 nm passage but with the winds light and on our nose we ended up having to motor, but once again we found a lovely anchorage just off the beach and slept well.
The Tower of Hercules Roman Lighthouse – A Coruña
Laxe was pretty but with little to offer ashore there was no point staying, so the following morning we sailed off the anchor and headed out towards Ria de Camariñas. The first half of the passage gave us some good sailing but once again the wind headed us and being unable to lay the course we needed to clear Cabo Villano we once more had to fire up the engines. I feel bad every time we do this but when you’ve already had a long day, the swell is large, darkness is approaching and a calm safe haven lies just a few hours away to windward it’s impossible to resist temptation.
Passing Cabo Villano
So here we are in Camariñas, the heart of the death coast and famous for it’s Bobbin Lace. The next leg of our voyage should take us into a softer, warmer region of Northern Spain where we can relax a little more as we work our way South towards Portugal. We’re really looking forward to it.
Our berth in Camariñas