Wednesday 10 Aug 2016 Sheltering in Esterio, Spain.
Barry and I took our boats into the marina at Portosin which, sadly, turned out not to be a port of sin at all. The idea was to do marina type stuff (fill tanks, do laundry, that sort of thing) then get the bus to the nearby town of Santiago de Compostela which my Lonely Planet guide says is worth visiting. I was actually only mildly interested in seeing the town but I thought it would be good to get off the boat and away from the sea for a day. And even if the town turned out not to be quite my cup of tea (its claim to fame is as a place of pilgrimage) the journey there and back would hopefully be worthwhile. Seeing some of the Spanish countryside would be good but also, perhaps more importantly, while travelling ones sees all those little details of daily life that together form an impression of a place and the people that live there. However, after waiting for an hour and a half for a bus that never came we gave up and went back to the boats.
The forecast was bad: strong winds for several days. Barry and the other cruisers in the marina were planning to stay put for that reason but I decided to seek shelter elsewhere. The marina is a nice one but the town is tiny. After going everywhere in the first day most of my time thereafter would be spent on the boat waiting for the weather to improve and I can do that in an anchorage just the same as I can in a marina. Anchorages are free and marinas aren’t, which is not a trivial consideration, but aside from that I just prefer to be at anchor. Furthermore, living at anchor in all weathers is part of the cruising life. In many places there is no option. So I may as well get used to it. Given reasonable shelter from the sea and good holding, decent ground tackle should be able to cope with all but the most extreme weather. So, leaving the others behind I motored out into the ria, round the back of an island and into a bay I reckoned should give me shelter from the forecasted winds. There I dropped my anchor and dug it in well.
That evening Barry sent me a text from the marina asking if I was ok. It was already blowing 25 knots over there, he said. The chop was going straight into the marina entrance and everyone was doubling-up their dock lines. I thought he was joking at first, as there was only ten knots of breeze over here in my bay. Later, however, the wind began to howl over here too and I put out more anchor chain. That night the wind blew solidly at 25 knots with sustained gusts of well over 30. Through the binoculars I could see white horses racing down the ria but here in the bay the water remained relatively calm. The boat did veer around quite a bit in the gusts though, and in one big one my dingy, tied astern, took-off and landed upside down.
It’s a somewhat anxious time. Will I look back on this as the first of many such occasions which in due course I come to accept as normal, or as that time when I anchored in thirty knots of wind because I didn’t know any better?
I’m glued to the GPS. Am I dragging my anchor? I’m sure I’m further back now than I was. The GPS says I’m staying put, though, and the bearing to that island isn’t changing. It’s late, I’m tired and I want to go to bed. But I’m sure that rock was further forward before, and now it’s over there. It’s hard to tell though, with the boat veering about, especially in the dark. The wind seems to be easing off now anyway. But no, here it comes again. 32 knots. The noise is really wearisome.
In the morning I found myself in the same spot and the wind moderated to 20 knots. Barry told me over the radio that in the marina they saw gusts of 52 knots! It certainly wasn’t that bad over here in my bay. The marina is built out into the ria and thus provides absolutely no shelter from the wind that comes barreling down between the hills. I’ll wait out the bad weather here, I think.