Portonovo, Sanxenxo and the Praia Agra anchorage sit alongside each other in Ria de Pontevedra. We wanted to visit Sanxenxo to get some rigging work and a full rigging inspection undertaken by a specialist rigger. Sanxenxo houses numerous superyachts and large sailing yachts and we knew that there would be a rigger in here, even though enquiries by e-mail a couple of months ago had been ignored. We had hoped to go North to Sada to see the Galicia Selden agent, but the North winds had set in by the time we launched – and they wanted an extortionate fee to travel to us, so we headed here to find an alternative.
From seaward Sanxenxo doesn’t look very promising – a very busy resort with high rise concrete apartment blocks lining the seafront and a very busy beach.
The man-made marina complex, reclaimed from the sea, houses not only superyachts and a posh yacht club, but also bars and nightclubs that give rise to late night noise, and more than a few sailors we know and have read comments from really don’t like this place.
We have read a report that security is poor, and indeed whilst access is card controlled, anyone not requiring a zimmer frame to walk around the harbour wall would be able to hop over the fence and down to the pontoons via handily placed stone steps.
Even the modern Catholic pagoda/church splits opinion (the lady at the Turismo did slightly pull a face when pointing to it on the map!)
But we like the place; it’s a nice change – in short bursts!
The marina is modern and with good facilities. There are two chandleries, various marine service companies working here, and the shops are a little more chique than in some resorts. Not that we bought anything other than from a supermarket (easy walking distance) or chandlery.
We did manage to find a good company to undertake our repair and rigging inspection – Servi Nauta, whose office is in one of the marina complex shop units. However more of that in the next log, dedicated to that work as it will have very limited interest!
When we first arrived we spent two nights in Sanxenxo, then went to Praia Agra anchorage, Portonovo and back to Sanxenxo for another 2 nights for the arranged works. Had we been disturbed by night time noise or security concerns then each stop in Sanxenxo could have been limited to one night only, however the night time noise is not too intrusive, and we didn’t find the security issue any worse than many other marinas we have visited. And we enjoyed our time here.
On our first night we found an excellent bar on the seafront in which to watch England beat Denmark in the semi-final of Euro 2021.
Also during the first stay we had lunch at the slightly posh Gran Talaso Hotel Sanxenxo. The restaurant terrace looks across the bay from its elevated position towards the marina (to the right, just out of shot).
We had a superb 3 course meal including our first “Secreto Iberico”; a tender cut of pork (the equivalent of a skirt steak) from the prized Iberico pig (apparently fed on acorns) and cooked medium rare – a first for us and we were not expecting very pink pork; but it was superb!
For the quality of food and the surroundings we thought we had enjoyed excellent value and are looking forward to coming back.
During this first visit we also discussed our requirements with Nauti Serva on Friday and arranged that we would come back on the following Tuesday to have the work done.
During our second visit, and after the work was completed we had a memory bank day out on foot.
The Turismo had told us of Bodega Eidos sitting above Sanxenxo and which undertakes guided tours and tastings.
We had booked the earliest of three slots at 11.00am and set off to walk. We could clearly get there in well under an hour, but gave ourselves that just in case we got lost.
We could have walked there in 25 minutes, and so spent some time visiting the amzing cemetery nearby. The Catholic faithful certainly do look after their dear departed.
We looked over the bodega’s vineyards back down to the town, and to Isla Ons beyond.
Val was certain that having booked the early slot we would have the place to ourselves, and was confidently looking forward to a private visit.
As we arrived Paul held back looking at the vineyard and was perfectly poised to catch the very moment when Val got to realise that the private tour she expected would be anything but…..pictured here in front of the bodega just as the coach party arrives!
The tour, with a taste of 3 different Albarino wines costs 4e each, but add a couple of seafood conserves to try it out with and that increases to 8e. We were the only ones that did this and felt slightly greedy, but it was worthwhile.
And it was good to have company on the tour in the form of Bill and Ali from America. The tour guide had excellent English but it was nice to chat with this nice young couple like the naughty kids at the back of the class.
We walked from there back down to the coast road to the East of Sanxenxo to the large beach, Praia de Areas that we had sailed past several times.
We met an English speaking Spanish couple who recommended to us the A Postonia restaurant. “Just keep walking that way”.
However it took a while to get there, and on the way, faint with hunger, we stumbled across Restaurante El Espigon. This sits beneath a hotel, with a superb terrace overlooking the lovely beach. It turned out that we were just a couple of hundred metres short of of O Postonia, but we didn’t live to regret giving up our quest.
We had another superb meal including mixed salad, a grilled lobster, a large ray wing in a light pimento sauce with potatoes and superb desserts. We ordered 3 glasses of wine between us but the owner, a truly amazing host, managed to sneak the rest of the bottle into our glasses when we weren’t looking.
And the bill was another nice surprise. The Rias are truly a seafood lover’s paradise. We walked home along this and adjoining beaches reflecting on another memory bank day.
Before leaving, the following morning we went and had breakfast with “the tourists”, something we don’t recall having done before on our travels, but when in Rome….. and we enjoyed it – it may not be the last time!
We wouldn’t recommend checking in to Sanxenxo for a week, but we have enjoyed our few days here (and the odd day back in 2019).
Between our two visits to Sanxenxo we had 2 nights at anchor in neighbouring Praia de Agra. Unlike in 2019 we didn’t go ashore but stayed aboard reading and doing a bit of polishing.
As in 2019 we witnessed the rather sinister batmobile-like customs boat cruising through the anchorage, keeping an eye open for likely candidates for smuggling contraband, people, drugs ……. or just those without the correct paperwork.
Apparently they are as fast as they look – the Rias of Galicia is a major drug trafficking route apparently.
However, unlike in 2019 on this occasion they didn’t just give us a passing glance. They came alongside and wanted to see our papers!
Fortunately they didn’t ask to come aboard and search through lockers – not that we have anything to hide, it’s just inconvenient, and in Covid times maybe not such a good idea.
Paul got out his father’s old briefcase, opened the ring binder and handed over the laminated boat registration and insurance documents plus our passports, which was all that was requested.
The Aduanas withdrew to a safe distance to check through all the documents before returning them, seeking a signature on a form and leaving us with a copy of the form and a cheerful smile – all very friendly; and another story to tell!
On Saturday in the small Agra beach we shared the anchorage with more than 30 other boats, with occasional noisy visits from irritating jet skiers (why are so many of them ……. heads?)
However by nightfall only 3 yachts were left to enjoy a peaceful night.
On Sunday we headed in to Portonovo in order to host John and Debbie (still working in the Xufre boatyard readying Shiraz for launch) for the Euro 2021 final.
We had dinner aboard Calypso, starting with our rendition of the gazpacho that Val had at Nojira. Luis had very kindly sent us the recipe which includes water melon, cucumber, cooked beetroot and a 3 vinegar and olive oil dressing, with feta, walnut and garnish. This was followed by an aubergine curry – pretty good if we say so ourselves, and vegetarian Debs and curry loving John were both happy by the time we had to leave Calypso in search of the Euro final.
We have since sent Luis the photos and were offered positions as relief chefs at Nojira – whilst he goes off sailing Calypso! Tempting, but we politely declined!
Finding a bar to watch the Euro final with Italy was harder than we imagined and we hadn’t left enough time, but found a restaurant with a small tv and they kindly agreed to turn the footy on for us.
We ordered a large plate of calamari and chips. We could say that there’s just not enough protein in some vegetarian food – but in reality we just needed something to help us cope with 3 large Galician G&Ts each!
We had a mostly enjoyable evening, just let down by yet another England penalty shoot-out failure.
The following day we visited the many shops, supermarket and market in Portonovo before heading back out to a slightly quieter Praia de Agra for one night, a handy spot to return to Sanxenxo the following day – being around 40 minutes into the marina.
For the non-sailors, and indeed most sailors, another deadly dull instalment follows. However other Moody S38 owners should tune in to see how we rectify an inherent defect in the forestay attachment…….
Distance traveled since leaving Xufre – 37 nm