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Belayed in Baiona

It was nostalgic to be in Baiona. moored in the Monte Real Club de Yates . It is where I had a crew change after sailing with Joe (Son), Sam (Daughter-in-law) and Bruce (hired crew) all the way from from Lagos on the Algarve in two almighty tacks. It is also where Sam left us, and where we were joined by Martin (Bro-in-law) for the “light cruise” across Biscay and back to Blighty. This was also where I made landfall after an epic trip, direct from Falmouth. SV Enterprise came third on that leg of the Rally Portugal – two moody 44’s were listed – the other came second. That says something about the boat.I was given a club tie as an award, so it was with tie in hand that I went to the office to check-in. After a little bit of banter I was given 10% discount on the fee of 55Euros per night. Not exactly the result I was hoping for! – but never mind, it was worth a try. This was obviously going to be a short stay!

I had job to do on the boat. On starting the engine, after stopping for lunch on the trip from Portosin, there had been a loud screech from the engine bay. The alternator belt was slipping. This was not too bad. I knew that the alternator would probably need re-tightening onto the belt, after it had been removed in Coruna for repair. So I thought I could easily undo a few bolts and re-position the alternator. No such luck!. It is a boat after all. I pushed as much of my less than petite frame into the engine compartment – all the time wondering how long it would take for someone to find my decayed body if I should get stuck. There was no way I could get at the bolts on the alternator. How had the little guy managed it in Coruna? – ah – yes – he was built like a jockey. I checked the belts for wear. They were worn but there was no sign of actual damage. Plus both belts are toothed – so how could they slip? Research showed that there was a suitable repair yard some distance away on the northern side of the Ria de Vigo, but this felt like going backwards. Alternatively, I could carry on south towards the cheaper Portuguese ports. The nearest suitable yard would be Oporto. I called them and they confirmed that they had Volvo spares and Volvo accreditation. Not strictly necessary I know, but I didn’t want to take any risks. The open ocean was beckoning. I had a growing list of niggling repairs that I could bundle up and get them to quote for too. The wind speed indicator was not working ever since a bird took a ride on it;  the boat speed indicator was not working and it was seized in its socket so I couldn’t remove it while the boat was in the water; the fuel gauge sensor was not working – still; the prop shaft vibrated at low revs – I guessed that the prop needed cleaning. The boat would need to be lifted at least for a day.

Day2 in Baiona had to be devoted to going for a walk, checking out the prices at the adjacent town marina – amazingly only 10% cheaper than the Royal Yacht Club – and then returning to the impressive MRCYB for lunch. I sat on  the veranda. My view, across the green and manicured lawn, past the canon which stood guard on the portcullised walls, to the sparkling blue waters of the bay, was deeply satisfying and calming. I ordered cod for lunch. This took time. They insist on free tapas to start, plus olives with white wine, and a desert of rich custard with apple in a tart. In truly colonial style, the Club is heavily overstaffed and I was the only occupant. The merest raising of an eyebrow would have a waiter theatrically strike a pose by the table, awaiting a command. In the intervals between acts I dozed in the sun.

After lunch, I decided to get out of the blazing sun, retire to the cool of the lounge and sit in an oversized leather chesterfield, in front of a table seemingly cut from a giant redwood. I ordered a brandy. All afternoon I had managed to communicate perfectly well using English; French (it’s foreign); waving of hands and lifting of eyebrows. Now the use of the word “brandy” – a word that I would have thought translates perfectly well into Spanish – seemed to cause a some consternation and a debate ensued between my waiter, the Head Waiter and the Head Barman. The Head Barman approached me – clearly put out at having to walk into territory that he deemed below his station. “Which brandy would you like Sir”. Ah, that was a relief. I thought I had made a serious transgression of Club rules by ordering brandy at the wrong time, but it was only a misdemeanour. Now it was my turn to get up and walk to the bar, since describing the type of brandy I required, in Spanish, was beyond both my command of the language and my knowledge of brandy. I did so while making it obvious that this was a terrible inconvenience for someone of my obvious importance – after all I was the only one present who could justify their presence. I chose the only brandy that was locked in a glass case, to the obvious approval of the Head Barman. I have always thought it is gratifying for a patron to get that patronising look from a waiter, especially a barman or a sommelier. I passed the next hour or so reading and sipping from the half pint of 12yr old brandy that the waiter had just poured straight from the bottle as if he was a dutiful son visiting his elderly mother in a nursing home. The whole lunch including wine, and brandy – £20. Whoever does the pricing for this Club of Kings needs to re-think their tariffs – after I leave.

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Monte Real Club de Yates Dozing on the veranda
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Club bar.. Reading…

As a matter of interest, after plotting my route south to Oeiras or Cascais via Viana do Castelo; the Douro River; and Figueiro da Foz I thought I would plot the route by land using Google maps.

According to Google you can walk the 458km in 94 hrs. It was going to take me considerably longer. Not least because I was planning to stop in Douro Marina, Oporto, for 1 week to get the various repairs done.


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