31st August 2020
Ila Ons, Spain – Ensenada de Limens, Ria de Vigo, Spain via Playa Barra, Ria de Vigo & Ila Cies
Forest Gump came up with numerous great quotes that can be used almost daily on Ruffian. Particular favourites are; “Stupid is as stupid does”, when Iain does something stupid; “Run, Forest! Run” as we take to our near daily runs; “What is normal anyways?” whenever we do pretty much anything; and there is of course the most famous “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get” and boy we had no idea what we were going to get as we’ve taken in the last of the Spanish Ria’s.
Coming into Playa Barra we pretty much knew what to expect. From horizon to horizon naked bodies sauntered along the beach, they played volleyball and even jogged, dangly things dangled and wobbly things wobbled. All was right with the word and nothing could be ‘more natural’. The first surprise however came just as we settled down to dinner, with the sun setting and the temperature plummeting.
On the hull was a gentle knock, knock; knock and a friendly ‘Hola’. Beside us a chap had simply swum out, seen we were foreign and wanted to practice his English. As he trod water in the ever colder water (we could see the effects!!) we chatted and chatted. With the sun finally kissing the horizon we’d learnt his life story of hiking across Spain with a pair of horses, the challenges of sleeping outside and how speaking English in the cold, with no ‘insulation’, addled the brain. The surprise was like choosing a coconut chocolate and getting a luxury toffee.
The reason we’d headed for Playa Barra (apart from the obvious ‘sightseeing’) were the trails that snake their way up the hills and around the headlands giving vistas of the islands as you look out to sea and stunning panoramas inland over the Ria’s and they didn’t disappoint. As the fog cleared the cliffs started to unveil their boat breaking beauty and the forests enveloped us in rich smells of Eucalyptus and Laurels (Bay leaf to you and me). Then there was the surprise extension.
Coming to the most distant part of the hike a sign pointed to delights that we couldn’t turn down. There was an ancient village within striking distance complete with petroglyphs a high point and even the oldest lighthouse in Galicia and the signs were right in every way. We marvelled at the dwellings and the persistence of stoneage man as he carved patterns into granite with nothing more than a stone (well he was stoneage man). After hours and hours of walking we arrived back on Ruffian with throbbing feet, empty water battles and having been off the beaten track but had managed to take sustenance from having had a caramel swirl experience instead of the usual expected coffee crème.
Just offshore from Playa Barra is the jewel of the Galician Atlantic Islands, Ila Cies. The wind looked perfect, the swell looked low and the sunshine factor was due to be scorchio. As we anchored in waters that reminded us to the Bahamas everything proved to be on our side.
Landing Thug on the beach the warm waters lapped on our feet as they sunk deep into the soft sand and then it was time to don hiking boots, tackle the hills and seek out the high point. As switchbacks gave way to more switchbacks we finally crested the climb and in the distance we could see the other islands soaking up the sunshine while far below the waves crashed silently on the cliffs.
Instead of just getting to the high point we also had a lesson in geology. All around us were rocks that had been forged by volcanoes but shaped by wind and rain. They also framed our photographs and formed dimmocks (a bum sized dimple in the landscape) of which stoneage man from Play Barra would be jealous. Ila Cies was billed as the truffle of the chocolate box, but it was actually a truffle dusted with gold leaf.
The box of chocolate couldn’t just contain fun type treats, there was also work to do and systems on Ruffian to understand. With gas ‘safely’ decanting in the sunshine, we took to trying to fully understand the autopilot systems. On Ruffian we have 2 autopilot rams, 2 course computers and 2 GPS’s. The idea is that if any one of these components fail then you can simply switch over to the spare, therefore either GPS can feed either course computer, which can in turn drive either ram. It sounds as simple as a sherbet lemon, but like a sherbet lemon there are hidden details that need to be uncovered.
With the help of a simply brilliant email received from Ken and Judith we took to flicking power, clutch and drive switches, toggled ram switches and pushed power switches. Amazingly, after 2 years of not being used everything fired into life, with the right lights lighting, the right computers bleeping and the right rams ramming. We now know if we were far out to sea and the unthinkable happened, we had a solution to get us past the unthinkable. This was a chocolate we thought would be a Haribo sour but turned out to be the king of chocolates, a quality street Purple.
Although ‘Life is like a box of chocolates and you never know what you’re going to get’, sometimes you manage to avoid the nasty coffee cremes and the stick in your teeth coconut constitutions and are served up delectable delights that make your taste buds tingle.
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