West Coast of Galicia – Ría de Muros and Ría de Arousa

West Coast of Galicia – Ría de Muros and Ría de Arousa

The weather in the northwestern end of Spain continued warm and settled. We left Muxia and motored in the calm. Of course, we could have waited for the winds to appear for a day or two, but in these parts you can often have too much wind. It’s very changeable in the Finisterre area, so we didn’t think it a bad idea to take advantage of the calm.

It was a hot day, almost 30°C (86°F)! For us there was quite a bit of novelty in the warmth, because since leaving the sheltered marina of Binic, we’ve mostly encountered chilly winds, cold sea water, and a few grey, drizzly days. In A Coruña it was sunny, but the northerly wind made the days still quite cool.

Finisterre

Cabo Finisterre, or Fisterra in the Galician language – both derived from Latin and the Romans – is a high and grim looking cape, with a lighthouse on top. The shores are rocky all around, with plenty of off-lying shallow spots, and there are lighthouses in just about every point and spit. In settled weather it’s possible to navigate with a bit more liberty, but even though the water was practically dead calm, some swells still broke over the rocky shallows. It’s wise to keep a good distance! We have the Imray cruising guide for Atlantic Spain and Portugal, and it has been in frequent use during these last couple of weeks. If you’re heading into these waters, it’s definitely recommended.

We headed toward Ría de Muros. Galicia is full of these rías, or bays where a river runs to the sea – often several different rivers. To the north of Finisterre are the Rías Altas and to the south the Rías Baixas. The latter ones have more protection and pleasanter weather, and many of them are quite big, with many good anchorages, small towns and villages to explore.

We decided to anchor in the sheltered bay in front of the town of Muros. Some ten boats had found their way there before us, most of their names familiar from our previous marina stops and the AIS screen – we had been travelling like camper vans along the Spanish coast. We dropped the anchor in 5 metres of water, and only then came to think of the tides. Well, the tide happened to be at its highest, which meant that our keel would hit the bottom in six hours. Here the tides don’t cause any significant currents or pose too many navigational difficulties, but they still need to be taken into account when anchoring. So we weighed anchor and dropped it back a little further from shore.

It was a glowingly warm evening after such a hot day. Muros looked like a beautiful old town, surrounded by high hills from every side and with a very sheltered natural harbour in the middle. There were still a lot of people on the beaches, and we could hear a cosy buzz of conversation from the bars and cafés all the way to our boat. Birds were singing in the hills, and there was a wonderful scent of sun scorched pine trees in the air. What a treat to have our dinner in the cockpit – we haven’t had many chances for that yet, the evenings of Brittany and Galicia having been so cool until now.

The next morning we launched the dinghy and took a ride into town. It was Sunday, so the shops were closed, but the restaurants and bars were crowded. We strolled along the narrow, winding alleys and admired the old stone buildings. The local traditional houses have arcades on the ground floor, with the living quarters above, and glazed balconies in the upper floors like in many places around Galicia. The arcades were used for fixing fishing tackle, and cleaning and salting fish, as they provided a good shelter from the wind and the rain. Now they house many nice restaurants and cafés.

If you walk a block or two away from the seafront and the main square, the surroundings turn somewhat shabby, and you will find many empty and derelict houses. For Sale sign abound, and the feeling is quite melancholy. You can see here, that it’s not a very prosperous area – tourism and fishing don’t provide enough livelihood in the more remote areas, and young people leave for bigger cities. It’s a shame, as it’s easy to see the beauty and potential of little towns like this.

We spent two nights “on the hook” in Muros. A misty Monday dawned, with thick clouds hanging half way down the hills, and the sunny days on the bay were but a memory. Almost all the other boats had left, and we planned to follow. First we had some shopping to do – the previous day we had found an interesting looking meat and fish shop, that we just had to check out. It had a wonderful selection of meat, sausages, serrano ham, fish and all kinds of seafood, and at very attractive prices, so the chef was pleased! We left with a heavy backpack, happy to have at least the next week’s menu all figured out! Soon we picked up the anchor, that came up a great bunch of seaweed that looked just like lettuce.

The clouds were still everywhere, but there was a nice wind. We sailed south in a pleasant broad reach out of Ría de Muros. In the afternoon the clouds cleared, and the wind died too. We didn’t mind, because in this calm weather we were not afraid to attempt a passage between the mainland and the island of Salvora. It was a good shortcut into Ría de Arousa, and for sailors of the Gulf of Finland the landscape actually looked very familiar for a while! But here in Galicia, it’s wise to keep clear of places like that in anything but very settled weather.

Are we back in the Gulf of Finland?

The winds were forecast to veer to the south, and later in the week there would be a gale. We chose a well protected spot in front of the beach and marina of a town called A Pobra do Caramiñal. The first thing we found there was another Finnish boat! Next time, maybe, we will tell more about it!

Ría de Arousa

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