Galicia must have once held the gaze of Europe, back when spices from the new world lit up the seas. The merchant ships ran just offshore , floating past like giant pots of honey, rolling by, white icing, stacked up like cakes on a trolley. Gun slingers and privateers lay in wait, battling Atlantic storms, risking it all for a slice of the tart, for a shot at the ice cream van, so sweet the mouthful. Any nation game enough to float flag on water entered the race, whether they liked it or not, hunter or hunted. Old relics often get washed up, copper cannons, rusty galleon anchors, broken merchant jars, remnants of a wild youth. Nations rise and fall on the water, and so do their sailors. We rocked up aboard Little Coconut a few centuries too late, we missed the mayhem, arrived in the twilight, her sapphire eyes all faded, her hair cut short and curled with a purple rinse, no prize, no golden locks, just free tapas and ice-cold Galician beer. We had a ball sailing the Ria’s, waiting for the wind to turn north, sailing like gentle folk, when the sun was shining, when the bath water was suitably warm and the salts smelled fresh and appetising. Every resting place was slightly different, a day at sea just long enough to bring out the colours. Moving forward comes naturally, especially with autumn setting in, we were, and still are, chasing down the sun, every step south is a step in the right direction. Vivero, Cederia, La Coruna, Camarinas, Muros, Bayona, they were all pegs on the climbing wall, Miranda and I just faces in the crowd. It felt refreshing to be on the outside looking in, watching the birds one day, the fisherman another. Busy market streets, silent hilltops, it didn’t matter , it all went down the hatch smooth.
Miranda finds my approach hard at times, a trip into town can quickly become another day on the water, my plans change the whole time simply because Miranda thinks they are plans. I’ve never really planned a day in my life, words in the morning lose their sell by date fast, as soon as the wind gets hold of them. We generally start our days late, the heavy October sun finds it hard to rise, and consequently so do we. That 04:30 alarm clock which used to wake me in the mines lies thousands of miles away, waking some other poor soul. The only thing keeping time out here is the weather, the weather and Miranda are the only two things I have to play along with, for any length of time anyway. Miranda likes routine, without some form of timeline she gets lost in the day, eaten up by the hours, it doesn’t suit her dreaming away, she is different to me. Eating for example, I still have the caveman approach, feast then famine, i’ll eat till it hurts, eat so fast only the hiccups can slow the pace, food gets wolfed down till i’m lying horizontal, out cold staring at the ceiling, mind all numb trying to work out what just went down, ‘why Hugh’, I whisper, ‘ not again.’ It is a great way to roll, trust me, done and dusted in one sitting, no need to eat for a day or so. Miranda is polar opposite, she doesn’t operate without having three square meals a day, her mind stops working and she becomes irrational, delirious even, barking mad certainly. I get the Bob Dylan song now, when he writes ’she makes love like a women, brakes like a little girl.’ Maybe his missus needed three square meals a day to. Anyway Miranda’s way is certainly the smarter option, it gives her the routine required, sneaky coffee in the morning, go walk a hill, hit lunch, she’ll do some art, i’ll go and try to find a wave, dinner in the evening, cracking day in Spain, a great way to wait for the northerlies. Ultimately the weather calls our shots, beneath the heavens of course, handy because it saves us mere mortals doing the job badly. We wait for the sun and the wind, period, I just won’t leave harbour anymore without the combo. Back in my twenties it was a different story, I remember thinking beating into weather was the punch line, I thought it was what the whole show was about, I thought wind was there to be out muscled, what a load of horseshit!!!! sailing into weather is like running into a brick wall, pointless. We got caught out in Vivero, the weather forecast way off, sort pulses cracking Coconut’s ribs, stopping us in our tracks, the shoreline grew teeth as our boat speed dropped to one knot, engine churning, two reefs in the main, I turned round and sailed in. Plus thirty is a great age, an age of no shame, speedos on the beach, beer bellies, bald patch and mullet combo’s, off coloured socks and luminous crocs, who cares, definitely not cats plus thirty. We went back into the harbour for a jolly good dinner, forgot all about sailing for a couple of days.
So what of the sailing? Down the coast of Spain we did short hops, day sails mainly, often coming in under the cloak of nightfall, dropping hook in the darkness sometimes, running down blinking harbour lights from outside the looking-glass. I like arriving in the night, you don’t get a real picture of the place till dawn brakes, waking up is exciting, like opening a present when you’re a child, or if your Miranda, simply just like opening a present. Obviously the ultimate is an anchorage, a shallow sandy one preferably, which we found in Cederia, Camarinas and Bayonna. Out on hook you get a real feeling of wilderness, it is quiet and you are an island unto yourself, often a peaceful one to. I nearly got it right in Cederia, everything was going swimmingly till I managed to persuade Miranda to join me on a pilgrimage to the waves. By pilgrimage I mean row the dingy till your hands turn red roar, walk miles in the rain, don’t get anywhere near the surf, return to the dingy to find the tide is out and the swell has picked up, get swamped, row back for an hour in the rubber duck, face to face with a wife at boiling point, a proper Pilgrimage in other words, hard yards in the saddle. Lessons were learnt and by our second anchorage at Camarinas we had a ball, the beaches were unspoilt and the forest thick and green, we had a great couple of days there, parts of the Ria looked like the Scottish highlands. Muros was our favourite place in Galicia though, it is such a pretty little town, so friendly and not touristy at all, or not when we got there in October. It was 10 bucks a night at the marina, there was a surf break up the road, the beaches were beautiful, Miranda went running allot, painted a fair bit, Muros had it all, if I’d been born there you wouldn’t get me out of the place for love or money, I’d be sitting in my parents living room until they chased me out with a pitch fork. We left Muros after four days or so and sailed to Bayonna, the sun dropped red as we reached landfall, it sent the sky giddy, a dense thick light, one of those sun sets that don’t come about all that often, the type you walk into open-mouthed, you sit there in silence watching that fading glow. I was on the phone to Ed my brother, Hope his daughter was born, my niece and Miranda’s to, an amazing ending to our trip through Spain, Hope safe and sound, praise the Lord.