When we arrived at Xufre at the end of our 2018 season we knew that the following year we would explore the Rias Baixas and finish the year back here. Having read good reviews of Xufre we had expected to be here 2 winters, but Covid saw to it that we would extend that stay and Xufre has become a second home for us.
We arrived to the usual warm welcome from the team – including our guard dogs Bo and Beka. We had doggy treats to thank them for looking after Calypso.
Noa had put on weight since we last saw her – now expecting her second child in July. So it was a hug from a little more distance than usual from her!
Alex and Nito had continued to invest in the yard, now sporting two boat lift buggies. They knew we were coming and had arranged to have a stair platform placed next to Calypso before we arrived.
We had taken a 90 euro taxi from Santiago airport and arrived late afternoon. We quickly got the chaos inside Calypso cleared up and ready to sleep aboard (all clothing, bedding and towels in vacuum bags, mattresses and cushions spread around, dehumidifying crystals in buckets everywhere, outboard engine in the salon…. you get the idea).
Now that we are only allowed to be here for 90 days we wanted to get into the water as quickly as possible without being exhausted when we got there. So we allowed ourselves 5 days to get all the work done, which was only just enough. There are lots of little jobs to do, but the hardest are antifouling (a job for Val in her glamorous overalls as usual) and polishing the hull (long armed Paul just reaching the top from our stepladders).
When we were nearly finished a familiar figure entered the yard – Manuel with his mussell boat – Manuel who we had inconvenienced at launch in 2019 when we got stuck in the hoist bay with a leaking water pump. We had given Manuel a bottle of French wine from our travels by way of apology, only for him to find us a week later in Riviera when he delivered 2 bottles of his favourite wine!
Manuel’s boat is the red one in the feature photograph above (with Calypso behind in the boat buggy). He was in the yard a few days to fettle, antifoul and paint his tidy boat.
So, after a warm welcome we gave Manuel another bottle of wine. His wife was with him this time and with our poor Spanish and Manuel’s non-existent English we possibly conveyed the reason for giving the wine to Senhora Manuel which was to square the account.
Maybe that didn’t come across right, as the next day Manuel and Mrs Manuel turned up with 2 more bottles of their favourite Albarino!
We couldn’t give more wine, so gave Manuel a Red Ensign for his pilot house inscribed “from your English friends, Paul and Val”. Nito had told us what a nice chap Manuel is when we inconvenienced him in 2019, and how right he was. That said we have found Galicians to be very friendly and kind whenever we have interacted with them.
Living aboard at Xufre with the shower/bathroom facilities is reasonably comfortable and the short walk to Xufre centre leads to a good range of bars and restaurants, a good supermarket and opposite the boat fuel dock an ironmonger with some chandlery items (although the boatyard supply most items from stock or order with same or next day delivery).
Our trip into the water demonstrates the major investments at Xufre. When we arrived 4 winters ago we were impressed with the huge 180 tonne travel lift, the large shed that houses yachts undercover with mast-up, the tower crane used for handling mast removals and lifting workers to the mast head with ease, the good security and the smooth concrete surface of the yard.
Now we have two boat buggies that speed up the transfer from the giant lift to cradle. There is a new shed used for enclosed winter storage or summer painting/Coppercoat type jobs, and there are new finger pontoons to wait on. Apparently on launch after winter you can stay on the pontoons with water and electricity for up to 3 days free of charge whilst checking that everything is working before leaving the security of the yard.
This photo was taken during the 3 hours we spent on the new pontoons before heading off.
Fortunately on this occasion we didn’t need the services of jovial and competent engineer Ramon.
And before we finish what must seem like an advert for the Xufre boatyard – we must mention the “can do” attitude that we have found here.
On the morning before we launched, Paul approached Nito with a request for the fabrication of a couple of pieces of stainless steel. Nothing too time consuming, but given the lateness of the hour we thought we had left it too late.
However almost exactly one and a half hours after that enquiry the stainless items were delivered to the boat! Nito described it as his “just-in-time” service.
And the subsequent invoice for that work was very fair indeed.
When we first arrived in Xufre a neighbour was grumbling about the mechanic that he felt was not very good. The next time we came back he had gone and Ramon had taken his place.
We have been very happy here and are very sad to be leaving the place and the people of Xufre. All the canvas, engineering and stainless work we have had done has been good, and our friend John, who built his own almost 12 metre boat Shiraz, was very happy with the repainting of the hull that he had done here.
We feel the need to continue our adventure for another year or three – but suspect that we will be back here after that; back to what has become a second home.
Thanks Nito, Alex, Noa and all the team at Xufre, we have felt very happy and very secure there, knowing that Calypso has been in good hands – let’s hope we can find somewhere that is somewhere near as good as we head down the Portuguese coast!