Showing posts from October, 2017

ex-Hurricane Ophelia batters Ireland

Hurricane Ophelia, the 15th named storm of 2017 and the 10th consecutive Atlantic hurricane, devastates on the 30th anniversary of the Great Storm of 1987. Ophelia lost tropical storm status as it came ashore in Cork, but retained hurricane force winds. It has caused three known deaths and cut power to 260,000 homes and businesses.

Irish Weather Station and Early Warning System Ready for Ophelia

Field Station 1

How will Climate Change affect sailing?

As sailors, we are acutely attuned to wind, waves, and weather patterns. Our lives depend on it. As long-term sailors, we've been noticing the acceleration of changes in those patterns. I wrote about it first many years ago when sailing on Long Island Sound. I wrote about it again in 2011 after several crossings of the Atlantic.

Visiting the Parque Nacional Illas Atlánticas

We left the Finisterre region and sailed back southward toward the Rias Baixas. We had not yet visited the barrier islands but had secured our initial permission document before heading out of Ireland.

In the 1980s, Spain acquired several archipelagos of islands off the Atlantic coast and established a National Park to ‘preserve’ these islands. The Cortegada Archipelago is well inside the Ria de Arousa. The Salvora Archipelago is in the mouth of the Ria de Arousa. The Ons Archipelago protects the Ria de Pontevedra, and the Cíes Archipelago sits across mouth of the Ria de Vigo. These islands form natural barriers against the forces of the Atlantic, protecting the sealife and shores of the Rias Baixas. The archipelagos have waters so turquoise and sands so white that they evoke Caribbean beaches...until you put your foot in the water. Let's just say it's refeshing.

Ria de Corcubion

We had sailed down the Rias Baixas in mostly light northerly breezes. Now it was time to head back north to the Ria de Corcubion, our favourite destination in Spain when we visited in 2008. We wondered if our memories were serving us well. We wondered if anything had changed.

Ria de Vigo and Baiona

Our last stop with the Irish Cruising Club Rally was in the most impressive destination of Baiona (Bayona in Spanish). We were booked into the Monte Real Club de Yates in Bayona (MRCYB). The last time we tried to book in there years ago we were told it was not possible and were turned away rather gruffly. They begrudgingly let us leave our dinghy tied up on their property for a few hours.

This time was a very different story. We had heard that after the economic downturn, most of the yacht clubs had declining membership numbers and revenue, while having sunk significant monies into infrastructure. To survive, they had been forced to open their clubs to visitors. I must say, they did so with great welcome. The staff were genuinely nice and accommodating. There were large signs welcoming us and informing members that the Irish were coming! Many of the local members stayed away while we were there. We returned several weeks later with a friend who is a member and saw a whole different s…

Ria de Aldan

Between the Ria de Pontevedra and Ria de Vigo is the small Ria de Aldan. Ria de Aldan is exposed to the north and, given the predominant northerlies, it can be subject to swell. It is also chock full of mussel rafts which tend to smooth out the waters some. It is a  popular weekend destination for the local yachting population and the anchorage does get rather full. It is worth every effort to find a spot, as this little place, with no marina, has plenty of charm and the warmest water of any ria.

Ria de Pontevedra

We sailed inside the Illa Ons and into the Ria de Pontevedra and our next destination, Combarro. We passed Sanxenxo which appeared to be a modern city, and continued on to the head of the Ria. Our charts showed the area as quite shallow, but we were informed that the depths where the new marina is now and outside the massive outer pontoon are 3 meters, and indeed that was the case. We followed the deeper channel in along the Illa Tambo where several boats were anchored.

Ria de Arousa

We sailed off in light mist, fog and showers to the Ria de Arousa, rounding Cabo Corrubedo and bypassing Illa de Salvora to the next stop on the ICC Rias Baixas Rally, A Pobra do Caraminal.  We weren't sure whether they'd have room for us, so we anchored and went ashore. The anchorage was very protected in about 30 feet of water. It was quite an international gathering there with Dutch, French, Swedish, Irish and Spanish vessels anchored nearby.