Finding Adventure in Unexpected Places (Sept. 27 – Oct. 6, 2018)

Anchorage Hopping Along the Coast of Spain

Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be dramatic or poetic—heart pounding or profound. It can be all of the above or something totally and completely unexpected.

And sometimes, it’s just the simple things.

This week, we found adventure far away from the heavy offshore blue water sailing that we’ve been experiencing since we set sail from Stralsund, Germany 50 days ago. This week, it was the peaceful, easy feeling of cruising along the unbelievably picturesque Spanish coastline that provided the adrenaline rush we needed.

We found adventure by just sitting at anchorage . . . rowing to private beaches . . . watching the dogs play as the sun set over the brilliant blue Atlantic Ocean . . . listening to the sound of nothing—nothing but the hypnotic waves and the wind.

We were due for a week with this kind of adventure—the kind where you get a rush out of just being still.

We had battled The Baltic Sea, survived The North Sea, fought our way through The English Channel, and pushed ourselves to the edge of The Bay of Biscay. We battled seasickness, exhaustion, dehydration, extreme fog, 12-foot waves, 38-knot winds, and most important, our own fears and insecurities.

Now we enjoy the reward—a few days of drama-free day sailing with gentle weather to magnificent anchorages along the unbelievably gorgeous coast of Spain.

Sept. 27 – Oct. 3 - A Caruña, Spain

After an extraordinarily challenging passage through the dreaded Bay of Biscay, we took a week to rest, recover, and catch up on our real jobs in A Caruña (also called La Caruña). This is a port city in the Galicia region of northwest Spain. It is known for its Roman lighthouse—the Tower of Hercules. The lighthouse has been in operation since possibly the 2nd century AD.

The city center plaza has a statue of Maria Pita, the local heroine. She is the woman who led the defense of Caruña during an invasion by Sir Frances Drake and the English Armada in the 16th century. In the heat of battle, she wielded her dead husband’s spear and cried, “Those with honor, follow me!”

It’s not like most of the small secluded ports we visit. Rather, it’s a large, industrial city. There is a large artist community and tons of touristy restaurants and activities in the city’s center.

We were so happy to spend some time there with Helmut Hombergs, the former captain of Seefalke. He spent many years as Seefalke’s skipper while it was the crowned jewel of the VBS sailing club in Bremen, Germany before Maik purchased the vessel last year.  Helmut treated us to some delicious homemade Finnish Fish Soup one evening. The food was delicious and the company was delightful.

Helmut is a regular reader of my blog, even though German is his native language. He speaks English very well (much better than my German), but reading it takes some time for him. Knowing that he takes the extra time to read and sometimes translate my logbook is just the greatest compliment. He said that sometimes he doesn’t understand some of the slang or some of the words, but he can understand and follow the story. This makes me so happy!

We spent the other nights in La Caruña on a quest for some authentic paella, but struck out. We did, however, enjoy some amazing baked fish one evening. I can’t remember the name of it, but it’s native to Galician waters and was outstanding. It was so fresh! I believe it came out of the Atlantic waters just hours before we ate it.

We spent time working and resting, and did a little maintenance on Seefalke, but she was in great shape—even after the torturous passage through Biscay. We enjoyed the time off, but we were craving a little more adventure by week’s end and were ready to set sail again.

WEDNESDAY, 3 October 2018 – Departure 11:10

We spent most of the day under sail, but also had to motor sail at times. It was refreshing and fantastic to be back on the water—especially in the light, relaxing conditions (although perhaps we missed the high adventure just a little). This time, we were able to enjoy the gorgeous Spanish coastline, which was filled with splashes of vibrant color and interesting architecture.

We sailed 37.9 nautical miles in just less than eight hours and anchored at Praia do Osmo. We found a private anchorage with a private beach and definitely wanted to explore a little.

We got Seefalke securely anchored and then pumped up our tiny little dinghy, “Nela.” I’m not sure where she got this name. We purchased her from Olaf in Stralsund, so perhaps he can tell us if there is a story behind the name. I’m sure you know it’s bad luck to sail in a boat or a dinghy that doesn’t have a name.

We got Nela in the water and then had to think of a creative way for all four of us to fit inside her so we could row to the shore together. We decided to break out our puppy cranes. You may remember that we had to use this method when we were at extremely low tide in Helgoland.

We put the life vests on the pups. Maik crawled onto Nela and we tied her to Seefalke’s stern. Then I slowly lowered the Seadogs, one at a time, using D-ring straps. Scout loved this adventure, but Cap’n Jack was not too happy about it. He loves to moan and groan like a grumpy old man. Once the other three were secure on Nela, then I climbed in. This presented a completely new challenge to keep the entire dinghy balanced. 

Somehow, I got onboard without tipping everyone else over, but we were literally all on top of each other. Then Maik tried rowing the heavily over-weighted Nela to shore. He actually had to row backward—the opposite direction of how the raft is designed—and in extremely cramped quarters. You had to be there, but it was hysterical.

Once we got to the beach and unleashed Cap’n Jack and Scout, they were in heaven!  And so were we!  We let them run and play and frolic while Maik and I enjoyed the breathtaking sun setting behind the anchored Seefalke. It was all the adventure we needed on this day.

It was perfect!

Thursday, 4 October 2018 – Departure 11:30

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On Thursday morning, we slept in, had coffee and light breakfast, and then prepared Seefalke for departure. It was another day of light sailing with some motor sailing and even more tremendous appreciation for the gorgeous scenery that surrounded us.

On our way to a semi-private anchorage in Ria de Corcubion at Praia de Quense, a wide inlet which opens to the south from Finisterre, we passed the famous lighthouse of Finisterre. The Romans believed Cabo Finisterre was the end of the world (Finis = end, Terrae = of the earth).  This is sometimes said to be the westernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula. However, Cabo da Roca in Portugal is about 10.3 miles further west.

Monte Facho is the mountain on Cape Finisterre, which has a peak of 781 feet above sea level. Most of the beaches in this area are framed by steep cliffs.  There are several rocks in this area associated with religious legends, such as the “holy stones,” the “stained wine stones,” the “stone chair,” and the tomb of the Celtic crone-goddess, Orcabella.

After sailing 21.5 nautical miles in 9.5 hours (you can see there was not much wind), we arrived at our anchorage after sunset. We secured Seefalke, had a light dinner and went to bed. 

Friday, 5 October 2018 – Departure 13:55

The next morning, Maik had some conference calls so I took the pups to the beach. We loaded up Nela with the puppy cranes as we did before, only this time we had one less human on board. It still wasn’t easy to row to shore. I really need a kayak paddle to handle this dinghy. Or better yet, a small outboard motor. 

It was worth the effort when we got to the beach. I unleashed the hounds, and they ran and played and dug deep holes in the sand for about an hour. Then we boarded Nela and rowed back to Maik and Seefalke.

After Maik finished his calls, we hoisted the anchor and set sail again toward Ria de Muros at Praia de Aguieira. This time we had a bit more wind and were able to make our way under sail most of the day—traveling 21.5 nautical miles in 4.5 hours.

During the day, Maik and I were talking about the difference in this type of sailing and the kind of sailing we had experienced since we left Stralsund on August 19. We agreed this is about as close to bikini and martini sailing as we can get.

We made it to our anchorage around 18:30 and lowered the puppy cranes onto Nela. We rowed to shore and once again played and frolicked on another gorgeous semi-private beach with fantastic views. I could get used to this!

Saturday, 6 October 2018 – Departure 07:45

We set sail early this morning, at 07:45 because we needed to make it to Vigo by nightfall. Maik was scheduled to travel to Madrid and then Germany early on Sunday for work and to spend time with his 8-year-old daughter, Ronja. This was the first day in a week that we were on a time schedule of any kind.

We were treated to more good weather and some good sailing wind. We were able to sail 47.3 nautical miles in about 10 hours to our destination—Marina Davila in Vigo, Spain.

At one point during this passage, we got hungry and decided to eat onboard rather than waiting until we got to port. We were laughing that we had already consumed most of the provisions that we thought might make it through our Atlantic Crossing.

Maik wanted bread. This is a delicacy for Germans. They really love bread, I’ve learned. Just bread. Nothing else. Just bread . . . as a meal.  

Of course, the Germans are very specific about their bread. Maik often complains that he can’t find “real” bread in the U.S. So he pulled out the one provision I’ve been dreading a little—canned bread. This apparently is also acceptable for the very particular bread-loving Germans. He also found some canned mackerel to put on the bread, as well as canned liverwurst. This reminded me of SPAM, which is something Maik had never heard about before. It’s just smashed up liverwurst packed into a tin can. It’s German SPAM..

I started thinking about how seasick I had been the entire time we crossed the Bay of Biscay. I was wondering if I needed to reach for my seasick-prevention potato.

Apparently, the look on my face did not go unnoticed, and also Maik caught me glancing at the watch on my wrist. Then he said, “Don’t worry. I think we’ll be there before you would have time to throw it back up.”

It’s funny how when you are at sea you think about food in terms of what it might taste like when you taste it the second time—after it’s already made the journey to your belly. When you are at sea, sometimes you have to think about the reverse-taste factor when measuring the degree of your hunger versus the food in front of you.

And just like that…another adventure presented itself. I did try a little. I didn’t like the canned bread very much and perhaps didn’t give the canned liverwurst a fair taste—I couldn’t get past its aesthetics. The fish was ok. But Cap’n Jack and Scout LOVED the fish, so they got most of my portion! I opted for a little cheese and a sweet apple, and I was just fine with that.

We settled in at the marina in Vigo.  Maik now will be away from Seefalke for at least 7 days, and I’m wondering what it will be like without him here. I have the pups to keep me company and plenty of real work to keep me busy, but we’ve gotten used to being together 24/7, so this will be another adjustment.  

We wondered what life might be like with just the two of us all the time in such small living quarters. This is an adventure of it’s own kind, but so far, it’s been wonderful. We’ve adjusted to living on Seefalke. It feels very much like home now.

I’ve always heard the expression “Home is where the anchor drops.” It’s not perfect and we are without many common amenities we often take for granted (like unlimited water, an onboard shower, and ICE). But this is not a bad lifestyle if you can get it. We always have the gentle rocking of the sea, the soothing sound of the wind and the waves, and we are never far away from the next great adventure.