Category Archives: 2017 – Spain

Llanes to Ares – 18th to 26th July 2017

Well you might be sitting in Old Blighty thinking it’s all sun, sea and sand.  Northern Spain is mountainous and very green.  Now there’s a very good reason for that, it rains a lot.  The weather along this coast is reminiscent of the SW coast of England, so a bit of everything and very changeable.  It can be lovely sunshine one minute then overcast and raining the next.

We’d had a lovely hot sunny day in Santander.  We set the alarm for 8 o’clock.  I got up to make some tea before our departure and all I could see, well actually I couldn’t see, it was thick fog!  The northern coast of Spain is renowned for fog.


We waited an hour when it started to lift and off we went.  We headed for Llanes which is about 40 miles along the coast.  It was grey, miserable and the wind was on the nose which meant we were bashing into waves again!  Just as we arrived at Llanes the wind dropped a bit and the seas became very flat.  There was still quite a mist over the land.

The marina had space for just three visiting boats, luckily we were the third boat into the marina.  We rafted alongside Bonaire, whose skipper John, is sailing single handed.

Llanes is a lovely village situated beneath the Picos de Europa mountain range. We took a ride a few miles out of town and then came back in for some lunch.  Spain is definitely better value than France.  Lots of restaurants offering 3 courses for €12 and food in the supermarket is in line with UK.




We spent a couple of days in Llanes and we left on Thursday 20th July for Gijon.  It was another overcast day, with the clouds hanging low on the mountains.  It was just under 50 miles to Gijon and we arrived at Marina Yates which of the two marinas here was the one further out of town, but we have the bikes and the cycle paths here are great.  Plus this marina is half the price of the other one and we can always do with the exercise.


We ventured into the main town and came across a rather unusual statue made of bottles.  We were walking along the bay and we heard a loud roar and it was an F16 flying overhead.  We then went up to the top of the hill where we found quite a few people with cameras set up.  There was obviously something going on.  We could then hear the sound of a helicopter which landed just along from us, dropped of five people and then off it went again.


Two of the guys who were in Swiss uniforms walked past us.  So Ian decided to have a chat with them.  They were part of the Swiss Airforce and they were going to be practicing in 20 minutes time for the Airshow that was being held on the Sunday.  The helicopter arrived again and picked up two guys and off it went.  The helicopter and nine other planes then put on a display.  This was followed by one lone plane, that we did wonder if was local and trying to get in on the act.


The following day we met up with Karen and Ronnie, fellow Mahe owners.  We had decided to meet for lunch but we were a bit late so a drink and dinner it was.E1. 22.7.17.

Cudillero – Sunday 23rd July 2017

Our next port of call was to Cudillero which had been recommended by Jesus from Marina Yates.  He lived at the top of the hill and said it was a traditional Spanish village.  Ian had looked at this harbour and thought the entrance looked tricky and so had dismissed it however, Jesus was insistent that it was fine so off we went.  It certainly was a beautiful place with the houses hanging on the side of the hill.  However, the entrance was quite narrow and there was quite a swell with rocks either side.  We had to go through the rush of the water, Ian thought it was great, I wasn’t so keen!  Once in though it was lovely.


Moving swiftly on!

The next couple of days we moved on pretty quickly as the weather wasn’t so good, grey and overcast, not something you would expect for Northern Spain.  So from Cudillero we went to Ribedao, where we anchored up for the night.  We did call into Luarca where there were five mooring buoys.  You had to tie up to one of the buoys on the stern and the bow to a ring along the wall.  However, one boat had used two mooring buoys, fore and aft (front and back) and one other boat had used one mooring buoy and the only ring, so the other two buoys had nothing to tie on at the wall so we decided to give that a miss and carried on to Ribedao.  From Ribedao to Carino, which was a lovely sunny day.  John on Bonaire joined us and we had a meal together aboard Cuffysark sitting in the sunshine.

We then moved from Carino to Ares.  On the way we finally got to see some dolphins and they were swimming underneath the boat and jumping out the water.


We spent one night at Ares, we had planned two but on getting up on Thursday 27th July, it was just like home can be, raining, grey and foggy, so we left for La Coruna just 6/7 miles away.  Hoping to find some sun soon!



27th July 2017

Hola Espana

We left St Jean de Luz on 15th July for San Sebastian on the northern coast of Spain, which was a short hop.  It is a very mountainous landscape along this coast.

As we turned into the bay there were lots of other boats, people on paddle boards, kayaks, etc and the beaches were packed.  A popular beach resort.  Plus the sun was shining brightly, which is not always the case on this coastline.  We anchored and then took the dinghy ashore.  There weren’t many places to leave the dinghy so we took our chances and headed for the marina.  There was a fuel berth and the guy ashore indicated we could tie up there.

San Sebastian was buzzing and very busy.  We had a walk through to the old town which had very narrow streets with high buildings.  There were bars, restaurants and shops all along.  At one end was the Basilica of Santa Maria and at the other the Buen Pastor Cathedral.

We took a walk to the top of Mont Urgull which is quite a long uphill (obviously) walk but we did it!  We discovered once we neared the top that you could take a bus.  The hill is topped by a stronghold (headquarters, barracks and warehouses), the 12th century Castillo de la Moto was key in defending the city.  In 1950 a chapel and a 12 metre-high sculpture, the Sacred Heart statue (Cristo de la Mota) was added.

There is also an English Cemetery which had a handful of graves.  One read:

Sacred to the memory of Whilam I M Tuppe, Colonel of the 6 Scotch Bal who at the Head of Reg at the taking of Ayete on the 5 May 1836 fell mortally wounded at 32 years of age”.

Ian got chatting to a Scottish lady (who was married to a Spaniard) in St Jean De Luz and she recommended that we try the tapas in San Sebastian.  In fact it is “pintxo” here which is similar to tapas but is generally served on a slice of bread and has a cocktail stick through the pieces.   This is traditional Basque cuisine.  There were lots of pintxo places and we settled on “Baztan Pintxos and Bar” in the old town.  The pintxo is all laid out on the counter, replenishment is ongoing and not always with the same things.  It’s a bit like a buffet where you fill your plate, hand it over and the staff then heat up whatever should be hot and then you pay for it.  Very nice.  Slightly different to what we know to be tapas.

The bay was quite sheltered here although a bit rolly at high tide.  We anchored just behind Isla de Santa Clara.

Our next stop was originally going to be Bilbao, however, the nearer we got we decided that we would rather to go to one of the smaller ports a little further on so we headed for Castro Urdiales which was a small harbour.  This was a pleasant sail, with light winds and blue skies, which was nice as it was 50 miles which took us just over nine hours.

Virgen del Carmen – protector of all seamen, fishermen

We anchored up and as we finished we could hear singing.  We wondered if we were near to a church.  There were a lot of people standing looking over the quay wall and when we looked closer (with the binoculars) there were quite a few boats decorated with bunting.  We could then hear a priest this was followed by the boats all starting to move together towards the outer part of bay.  It looked like there were three priests on the front of one highly decorated boat and they were speaking and then singing was being played.

We discovered that this festival was the Día de la Virgen del Carmen, which involves the tradition of a parade through the town, making its way to the sea front. Usually, a flower-strewn effigy of the Virgin is carried through the streets by a group of the local fishermen. When they reach the sea, they are met by a flotilla of decorated boats. After prayers are made for all those at sea, the statue is then customarily taken on a boat, around the local harbour.  The Virgin, according to the legend, is responsible for keeping the waters around the shore clean and safe; many devotees used to refuse to swim until after July 16th!  It was great to witness this festival, if only in part.

We spent the night here before heading off the following morning (Monday 17th July 2017) to Santander.  This was just under 25 miles.  We anchored up in the bay here, which is surprisingly really nice, not what you’d expect from a big commercial port.  Here we came across a fellow Mahe and Cruising Association member from Brighton, Karen and Ronnie on CopyCat, who came aboard and we chatted for a couple of hours over a few drinks.

23rd July 2017