Speedwell of Rhu Ship's Log

5 th to 6 th of August 2017 - Ria de Vigo

Crew : Helen and Andy
Destinations : Islas de San Simon.
Distance : 27 miles

We left our anchorage at 0940. It was very windy as forecast and we were able to sail under genoa and mizzen straightaway. Initially we had a reef in the genoa, however, there was another boat leaving the anchorage and I was feeling competitive so we let the full sail out making 7-8 knots out of the Ria. We had a fantastic sail through the Canal du Norte between the Islas Cies and the mainland. The sun was shining so it was especially good.

As the wind was from the north we decided to stop in the bay at the north of the Ria de Vigo, Ensenada de Barra. This was a beautiful undeveloped stretch of sand, apart from being a little like Studland bay and full of yachts at anchor looking for a bit of naked swimming. There was a huge space to anchor between two boats just near the swimming buoys and we sailed in towards this space. As we did so, a British yacht came tearing in from behind us full throttle heading for the same place as us, dropping their anchor quite clearly where we were intending to. I couldn't quite get over this rudeness. However, we anchored  further out and had some lunch. At this point a small motor boat came in and decided to anchor straight ahead of us more or less on top of our anchor. We decided it was time to leave and weighed anchor. Inevitably we did get quite close to the motorboat, but the skipper didn't seem to understand me when I waved a fender at the him. Anyway we had a speedy sail up to the top of the Ria de Vigo and under the bridge where we anchored in the Ensenada de San Simon. The wind was a Force 5/6 from the north and the waves were kicking up over the bow as we crossed the shallow bay. There were a number of yachts anchored in the lee of the islands San Simon which gave good shelter. Initially we anchored a way off however, as all the other boats left we were able to move and tuck right in to the island.    

It was windy over night, but we were safe and secure on our spade anchor and by the morning the wind had dropped. It proved to be a peaceful anchorage apart from a few fishing boats and men fishing from the end of the sandy spit in the morning. I decided to go for a row around the island leaving Andy starting to remove some visible screws in the deck and replace a few more of the teak plugs. The row took me past the beacon at the end of the spit. After a double take I saw that the two divers next to the beacon were in fact statues similar to something Anthony Gormley might do.

We were able to watch them cover and uncover during the time we were there. The Islas de San Simon are 4 islands, although only two really count as islands and these are joined by a bridge. They have a long and varied history. They were used as a prison during the Spanish Civil War, apparently housing up to 2000 prisoners and being compared to Alcatraz. I didn't really buy this, since at low water you could probably wade across to the mainland and there aren't any sharks. After the Civil War it was apparently used as a holiday home for Franco and his buddies. As a result of this history, tourism has apparently been slow coming to the islands. However, there are now regular trip boats each day. Later in the day it became very warm and lots of motor boats came out to anchor nearby so that people could have a swim. However, by dusk we were alone once more.

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