Salamanca: we camped our way down England, seeing friends on the way to our ferry but we didn’t expect to get a camping trip in Spain or Portugal because our trip was limited to 90 days post Brexit. So whilst cutting short the sailing period (enforced by our rubbish press) was not welcome, our enforced camping trip, and Salamanca in particular went a good way towards making up for that.
The variety of mooring options: frankly we saw very few new places, but the sheer variety of marinas and anchorages, small towns, big cities and deserted beaches mean it would be very hard indeed to get bored in the Spanish Rias. We were told that this was one of the best sailing grounds in the world by a couple with a double circumnavigation behind them and we can imagine this to be true. We still found plenty of new things to do and places to see.
Anchoring: when we arrived in the Rias we had no real experience of anchoring; certainly not other than in flat calm conditions. In our first year here we forced ourselves to anchor. In the second year we became comfortable with it. This year we anchored for a greater proportion of nights than ever before and absolutely loved it. A good anchor drag warning app is key! And our solar panels keep the batteries topped up.
Food: we have again enjoyed both cooking on board with the freshest ingredients of a wide variety that we don’t see in the UK, plus we decided to blow our usual restaurant budget spread over 5 months in the 3 months now allowed in Schengen. We don’t actually have a fixed budget but you get my meaning – we never held back.
As before we started and ended the season with great meals at Nojira (A Pobra Do Caraminal). We had great lobster at El Espigon, above the beach to the east of Sanxenxo and our first ever medium rare pork – Secreto de Iberico at Gran Talaso hotel on their fabulous terrace overlooking the main beach at Sanxenxo.
We had a superb and surprisingly good value Michelin star taster menu at Maruja Limon in Vigo. That was certainly the best meal we had, but the photo selected shows what can be done with superb but simple ingredients – half a huge seabass (bigger than it looks here) with potatoes, Spanish onions and swimming in olive oil – how can that taste so good? Galicia serves amazing steaks at good value prices – even for grilled foie gras sitting on a fillet. We could go on, but the good news is that in spite of our piggery on such amazing fayre – we both arrived home weighing a few pounds less than when we arrived!
Galician People: they are just so friendly, kind and, in our experience, honest (nowhere else would we buy something before asking the price – although the fruit bread at the tourist trap market at Sanxenxo was the one exception!) A little Spanish and a smile goes a long way here. We have felt so very welcome. Even the customs officers requested and reviewed our papers with a smile!
And the owners and staff at Xufre – nothing is any trouble, we are treated like family and this does feel like our second home.
Here we have to really scratch our brains………
Boat problems: very little to report, other than a problem with a battery that will have to be replaced (but didn’t affect our time at anchor, just caused concern whether it would get worse) and having to get the forestay attachment replaced (a preventative measure). Frankly, and I shouldn’t put this in print – Calypso has been cheaper to run than we expected. Where’s that touching wood emoji?
No sailing for Jos: thanks to our shockingly bad press. “Nothing sensational this week? OK let’s tell everyone on holiday in Spain and everyone thinking of going that Spain is about to go on the red travel list” our sailing season was cut short.
Fortunately we had a good camping trip and Xufre boatyard is a surprisingly nice place to be!
Schengen restrictions: post Brexit our usual 5 month season now has to be condensed into 90 days. We tried to make up for that with a camping trip to the ferry and in planning a month in Portugal next January. But it’s not the same. And we’re not going to pay the running costs of keeping Calypso in Galicia for a maximum of 11 weeks of sailing a year. Portugal appears to be making noises to deal with that, which reinforces our desire to head down there next year.
This year is very different from other years due to the short season,
In May 2017 we published various statistics from 2016 and each year have stated our ambition to improve some of those figures. Here are the 2021 figures followed by 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016 in brackets:
The short season has skewed statistics. We take solace for our appalling sailing percentage and speed with some necessary adjustments….
On sailing percentage we defend ourselves with the fact that many of our trips were just a few miles, and often barely worth the effort of getting sails out and putting them away for a 30 minute sail (yes we’re getting older and lazier!).
Similarly, boat speed is affected by the short nature of the trips and the fact that many minutes of engine time on each trip is spent whilst at the dock or raising/ lowering the anchor. Previously we have taken 25 minutes off each trip to see what our speed really is, but we are much better at anchoring and docking so maybe that should now be 20 minutes per trip. That would suggest that when moving we travel at around 4.7 kts.
On the positive side, our increasing enjoyment of anchoring has meant that we spent 39% of our trip at anchor and had our lowest average mooring cost yet. We didn’t do this to save costs – every year our mooring cost has been considerably less than we ever thought it would be – but the saving means more nights in restaurants (and better wine bought on our camping trips!)
PLANS FOR 2022:
We had originally intended to move to the Algarve in 2020 but Covid ended that idea. With Covid still rumbling and travel restrictions uncertain we decided to spend another season in the Rias in 2021.
Moving to the Algarve in our Schengen restricted 90 days (including around 2 weeks of preparing the boat for water and winter) would have meant moving faster than we wanted. On our adventures we like to stay a week or more at the places we like – which is nearly all of them! So we stayed where we knew and had a good year.
However a combination of wanting to go adventuring into the unknown again and the hope that Portugal seem more likely than Spain to allow a longer stay (as France already has done) we intend to head down the Portuguese coast to Lisbon next year.
We left Calypso at Xufre with the intention of trying to secure a berth in Lisbon when we get home……..