Baiona and the Islas Cies

10 – 18 July 2016

A Coruna  N43° 22.01′ W08°23.69′ to Baiona N42° 07.45′ W08°50.55′

 118nm, 22 hours

After a few days in A Coruna and rested from Biscay we were anxious to carry on our journey to Baiona, where our Spanish adventure was supposed to start and we had promised ourselves a two week “holiday”. It meant a 24 hour passage around Cabo Finisterre and down the Costa de la Muerte (Coast of Death). With this in mind we chose a weather window which meant the easiest conditions and which inevitably meant that we motored all the way!

After a very short lived blip just outside A Coruna the fixed autohelm stayed fixed and we settled into our three hour watches. During my night watch around 2am and whilst I was listening to another Desert Island Disc (Theresa May – I felt I should get to know the new Prime Minister better!) I became aware that I was not alone. Out of the corner of my eye in the dark I thought I saw something darting in the direction of the boat, then another and another. Ghostly torpedoes but the familiar pattern of dolphins. They stayed with me for the rest of my watch, over an hour, and kept Stefan company for some of his next watch too. Something about the moonlight meant we could see them more clearly under the water. Of course no photos exist despite Stefan’s efforts!

About an hour after I went off watch Stefan woke me, not for whales or dolphins but for a concentration of fishing boats which required constant watch on the AIS (1) and from the helm.


By the time we had negotiated our way through them we were close to our destination and rewarded with sunrise over the Islas Cies at the entrance to the Rio Vigo.

On our approach to Baiona the pilot book (2) told us to expect a conspic (3) statue above the town. With tired eyes and even through binoculars the statue looked to me like a moomin and was thus christened for the duration of our stay. The moomin was of course a statue of the Virgin Mary but she was up the highest hill around and climbing a hill is one of The Rules when we go exploring somewhere new.

During our stay we climbed the Moomin three times – once to comply with the Rules and the second and third times to enjoy a breakfast picnic looking down over mouth of the Rio Vigo and across to the Islas Cies.

Baiona has its own warren of tiny streets and the familiar galerias of A Coruna although not so grand.

 We found a brilliant little bar dedicated to dress makers with ironing boards for tables and buttons for stalls and a display of irons through the ages. We stopped for an enormous gin and tonic and a game of Connect 4 (Emma 2 Stefan 1!).

 Our marina was just below an old fort sitting on a peninsula at the entrance to the harbour and a great place for a stroll around.

 In Baiona we were introduced to typical Galician grain stores – here at the fort, opposite the supermarket and down on the Atlantic coast.

 And our search for a replacement petrol can introduced us to a new word to add to our very small Spanish vocabulary – hardware shop! We didn’t find a petrol can big enough but we did buy ourselves a new coffee pot.

We enjoyed some lovely sunsets from our berth right on the edge of the marina

and the fish were extremely friendly.

We found another brilliant paseo maritime and cycled nearly all the way to Vigo passing through all the little beach resorts along the river and stopping at one for a picnic. Cycle wear is never going to take off as beach wear!


We ticked off another rule by trying the local “nipple” cheese and Stefan tried a plate of pulpo gallego (octopus). He didn’t like it much!

 One day what sounded like gunshots rang out across the town in the afternoon, followed by a flotilla of boats of all shapes and sizes. We couldn’t work out what it was all about until we watched them all come back led by a fishing boat carrying a statue. We later discovered it was the Virgin Carmen (no, we hadn’t ever heard of her before!), patron saint of the fishermen. The night ended with an incredible firework display just in front of the boat.

During that night I woke up and smelt burning and when we cycled down the coast the next day we discovered why. Forest fires had destroyed a whole swathe of scrub and trees on the hills. They were still smoldering along the roadside and we watched a seaplane land in the bay and take in water to drop on the hills. We couldn’t help wondering whether it had anything to do with the fireworks the night before!

Our cycle took us right alongside the very rugged Atlantic coastline – the same one we would pass from the sea on our next passage to Portugal – and through some tiny villages including Oia and its monastery.


 Moored in Baiona.

 Before we left Spain for Portugal we managed to reserve an anchorage at the Islas Cies. We had registered before leaving home and during our time in Baiona it looked as though it was all booked up but at the last minute we got a space and motored out to claim it. There are three islands, one with a long stretch of sandy beach and a lagoon between two low wooded peaks. We arrived early and for about 10 minutes the beach was deserted. Then came the tourist boats, fast and furious until you couldn’t see the sand for people and umbrellas!


We had time for a quick trip to the beach in the tender

 before the fog rolled in and we spent the rest of the day and all night unable to see anything!

So we passed the time with coffee from the new pot and planning our time in Portugal…


Anchored off the Islas Cies (before the fog!)


(1) the magic gadget which alerts us to other ships and other ships to us, especially useful in the dark. This is also the gadget that lets you follow us on Boat Watch!

(2) its like the Lonely Planet for sailors with information about harbours and anchorages instead of hotels and campsites

(3) the sailor’s abbreviation for conspicuous

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