Where to leave your boat in Galicia

View over Punta Lagoa in the Ria de Vigo. Vigo on the left. Cangas on the right. 

In Spain, the winters are wet and wild but not that cold. Technically, it's possible to stay in the water and enjoy sailing through the winter months. Realistically, it can be challenging as the storms can be strong and unpredictable. The Atlantic swell is perhaps the most challenging element for overwintering, so locations with the best protection from the swell are the most attractive. We have spent a couple of winters in Spain and have checked out multiple options. We often get questions from friends about where to go. I thought I'd write down our thoughts for the benefit of those wishing to spend more than a few days or weeks in the Rias.

Ria de Vigo

Travelift and hard stand at Punta Lagoa. Fuel pumps on the left. 
The Ria de Vigo has by far the most support services for getting work done on your boat. The best haulout facilities are at Punta Lagoa, Astilleros Lagos and Marina Davila. The best overall yacht management, in our experience, is handled through Astilleros Lagos.

Punta Lagoa Marina

Punta Lagoa, up near the bridge, is a fine marina with plenty of space, an excellent fuel dock, and travelifts to haul almost any boat. But there isn't much else there. No restaurant. The showers and toilets are in a container. It can be noisy as its adjacent to a major industrial facility and RoRo port. There is no village right there and the exit road goes straight up a monster hill. The views are spectacular back toward Vigo and across the Ria. There are a couple of interesting beaches nearby, and a lovely park, but almost everything is a hike. Up, up and up the hill. Punta Lagoa is a good place to leave your boat, but not to live on your boat.

The Scuttlebutt is that they built a beautiful clubhouse without planning permission and had to remove it. Pity as otherwise it's a really nice spot.

The approach to the marina is daunting at first where you have to follow a channel marked by a string of red poles close to shore. But there is plenty of depth even at low tide. We went out at dead low spring tide and registered 12.5 feet the entire way. The marineros are very helpful.

The haul out facility and fuel dock are topnotch. We stayed in the water one year in a slip away from the wall. We were warned that the sea can come over the wall in strong storms. The slips are spacious but the docks are suffering from neglect. We had Alberto Lagos from Astilleros Lagos manage our boat through the winter. He checked on her about once a week, did some projects we needed done, brought in workmen and supervised. It was a very good arrangement. They are very accommodating for people who want to do their own work.

Friends of ours haul their boat there. They are happy with the haulout and storage facilities. We've heard some grumbling about their services if you need to have work done on your boat.

One really annoying thing is that every few days you have to get a new wifi password. (Like I'm really going to come back and steal their wifi signal.)  The closest restaurant is Bar Manolo, but if you didn't know about it, you'd probably miss it. Dinner at Bar Manolo, at the very top of the hill from Punta Lagoa, is a real experience - no menu, no prices, just a fresh fish counter where you choose your catch and they cook it up. They serve it with potatoes and salad. They pick your albarino wine. We found it to be more expensive than most places we'd eaten but not exorbitantly so. It's actually quite fun to see the characters who come in. We've heard the mayor, the governor and other dignitaries frequent the place.

The town is farther in by another 10 minutes, so it's about a 20 minute walk to the supermarkets, bakery and laundromat. Taxi to town is about €6. En route, you pass a good ferreteria (hardware store), a vitamin shop and drug store, and a tobacco shop. The town has restaurants and shops.The laundromat is industrial size and excellent. It's directly across from the Froiz supermarket. The good thing is that it's all downhill on the way back.

The airport at Vigo is a 15 minute taxi ride (€25). The marineros or office staff can call a taxi and they take about 10 minutes to come. The town of Vigo is 10 minutes in the opposite direction. People have told me it's about €10 to Vigo. There are buses out of the town to major hubs in Galicia.

As Moaña is directly across the Ria from Punta Lagoa and has a nice anchorage, taking your boat over from Punta Lagoa for dinner is a reasonable proposition.

Marina Davila on the far side viewed from Bouzas. The Liceo Maritimo is in the foreground. 
Marina Davila

The Marina Davila in Bouzas has excellent facilities for yachts overwintering, both in water and out. The Marina is in a HUGE industrial estate and miles from Vigo. The staff there were not the friendliest we'd encountered and they frown on anyone other than their own suppliers doing any work on yachts there. It no longer has a laundry and the closest one is far away. You can drop off your laundry at the office and they'll have it back in 24 hours. There is quite a good chandlery in Bouzas. But if you want to spend any time on your boat while it's there, make sure you have a bicycle or car to get around.

Hauling out at Astilleros Lagos

Astilleros Lagos

If you have a traditional boat or like seriously personalised service, this is the yard for you. They are in Bouzas just past the Marina Davila. They haul boats on a rail line and build custom cradles. They only have room for a limited number of yachts, but it is very well protected and they watch their boats like hawks. The brothers Lagos, Alfredo and Alberto, are very nice, highly honorable, and trustworthy. If they can't do something, they will tell you. If they promise to do something, they will do it and well. They know all the best craftsmen in the area and their pricing is fair. They have an agreement with the Liceo Maritimo in Bouzas to allow you to leave your boat until they are ready to haul it. It's an excellent location from which to explore the delightful town of Bouzas and to walk up to the maritime museum at the head of the river.

Tight quarters at RCNV
Real Club Nautico de Vigo

RCNV has one thing: it's right in the middle of the old city. Otherwise it is noisy and bouncy with ferry traffic, fishing vessels and cruise ships going all day long. It is also tiny with little room to maneuver. The facilities had suffered from deferred maintenance but got a significant overhaul over the winter of 2018. What was the shower and toilets overlooking the marina is now the office. The shower facilities are now in the pool building which was refurbished last summer. The harbourmaster speaks excellent English and is looking to make this a first rate facility. Right now, it's the place to stay for a few days to get into the swing of the city and perhaps to leave the boat for a few weeks until you can return. It's the marina with the best WiFi in the Rias.

The marina at Cangas

This is a good friendly small marina with toilets, showers, laundry and coffee shop on the premises. The town is right there with an excellent fresh market, supermarket, butchers, shops and restaurants. There is a frequent ferry to Vigo which is quite convenient. Cangas is an all around nice place to spend some time. They didn't seem to have much in the way of haul out facilities. However, it does seem rather well protected from ocean swell. Particularly good for smaller yachts.

The marina along the waterfront at Moaña. A British couple spent several years living aboard here. 

Similar to Cangas, the marina is right on the main street of the town, with lots of interesting shops, a fresh market, supermarket, restaurants and everything else nearby. It's a vast marina and they seem to still have plenty of slips for visitors. They, too, have a ferry to Vigo but less frequent than Cangas. We spoke with a couple who lived on their boat there for three years before buying a flat to establish residence before Brexit. They said they had been made to feel very welcome there.

The MRCYB on the left and Porto Deportivo on the right.
Monte Real Club de Yates de Bayona

This is an excellent and impressive facility, with forward thinking staff. It is going to be the happening place in the next few years. Of course, the town of Baiona (Bayona) has much going on and is a delightful place to spend some time. MRCYB is right in the middle of it, so you cannot go wrong. The fuel dock is very easy to get to at the right height of tide. They have good shower and toilet facilities. Drop off your laundry and they do it for you right on the premises. Really excellent restaurant and bar. Gorgeous location. They don't really have adequate haul out or hard stand facilities. They do have short haul capability on a rail. The marina can get quite a swell especially in winter storms. We have not been there in really bad weather so we really cannot comment on its safety in all circumstances. We have been there with Atlantic swell wrapping around the corner and it can be uncomfortable. It is on the expensive side.

The Porto Deportivo is a basic marina. It is somewhat more exposed to the swell than MRCYB. They have 105 spaces for general rental. They have a 45 ton Travelift and a dry dock area. I don't know anyone who has availed of their storage or service facilities.

Ria de Arousa

The facilities at Varadoiro de Xufre

This is a best haulout facility on the Illa de Arousa. Getting in there can be a little nerve wracking but Niko is a yachtsman and makes certain that yacht people are well cared for. He even keeps a car for the use of visitors. Such a nice man. Discounts are offered for OCC and ICC members. He encourages yacht owners to do their own work and even supplies tools and a workshop. There are laundry facilities in a container on shore. The little town a good walk from the facility is adequate but limited. Access to skilled service people is available.

View aerial video of facilities here: http://www.xufre.es/en/

Villagarcia very full and somewhat run down in 2018
Villagarcia and Villanova

We visited Villanova as part of a tour. It is full of fishing boats with very little if any room for yachts.  Villagarcia is also very full of local yachts and appeared neglected when we visited in 2018.

Ria de Pontevedra

There aren't any adequate facilities for haul out in Ria de Pontevedra that we saw.  The marina at Pobra de Caraminal is sufficiently sheltered to overwinter in the water. Rates may be better than in Vigo, but services more limited.

Ria de Muros y Noia

Again, we did not see adequate haul out facilities in either Muros or Portosin but both marinas provide winter berths in water. Muros has somewhat more amenities ashore than the RCNP in Portosin, but the RCNP may be able to source services better if you need any maintenance or repairs.


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