Friday, 19 July 2013

La Rochelle, France To Castro Urdiales, Spain

      We delayed our departure from La Rochelle to enjoy the spectacular Bastille Day fireworks from Kisti Two which turned out to be a most wonderful display of colour, light and bangs. It was a late night as involved the inevitable drinks with fellow sailors.

Ginny Enjoying The Fireworks & Red Wine!
Bastille Day Fireworks, La Rochelle
     Kisti Two was fuelled up with water and diesel and we left La Rochelle at 0830 on 15 July setting sail for Spain. We still hadn't decided exactly where we were going to head for so decided to wait for the wind to give us a best course and then make a plan from there. The wind picked up at about mid-day and with wind and waves coming from behind, we set the sails for the best and most comfortable course which would take us just east of Santander. We soon encountered fishing boats who seemed to use yachts as an aiming mark and so we had to be on our watch to counter their attacks. It was a wonderful sail with plenty of wind and we cruised along in glorious weather. Guy dropped the mainsail for the night to prevent any unfortunate gybe. Ginny produced a delicious meal and we were soon into our 2 hr night watches. It was a wonderful evening but the wind died and the motor was soon in action to maintain our 6 knots.

French Fishing Boat Attacking Us!
Galley Slave At Work
The Wind And Waves Following Our Progress

    The 16th was another glorious day which was interrupted by several groups of dolphins and a large whale that we kept a good 300 metres to port. The dolphins kept us entertained for most of the day swimming at the bow of Kisti Two and generally having a wonderful play. Guy managed to catch a garfish which cheered him up enormously. The weather remained great until we approached Spain when a mist dropped down from the mountains.
Dolphins In Biscay Bay
Dolphin Playing With Kisti Two
Dolphin On Kisti Twos Bow

    The wind had taken us east of Santander and careful scrutiny of the chart and pilot books indicated a potential small port of Castro Urdiales, so we decided to give it a go and anchored in 10m of crystal clean water late afternoon after 32hrs and 212nm. This choice of route reduced our trip by about 12 hrs from our original intention of Gijon. It makes it a one night crossing similar to the channel and allows you to arrive in reasonable condition. 
Spain Ahoy, Spanish Flag And 'Q' Customs Flag Raised
The Track From La Rochelle France To Castro Urdiales, Spain
Note The 200m To 3000m Depth Drop.
    Castro Urdiales has proved to be a most amazing find and we have ended up staying here 5 days! The town has kept its original charm, so much so that very few foreign tourists ever visit it. There were no foreigners at all, only Spanish in what is a most beautiful and stunning town with history, beautiful architecture, lovely beaches, an amazing church, old castle and large harbour. They have resisted the urge to build an enormous marina or large hotels and kept it to its traditional style. 

Approaching Castro Urdiales
Anchored In Castro Urdiales Harbour

Religious Fishing Boat Festival On Arrival

Guy About To BBQ  His Garfish!
The View From Our Anchorage
Quite Stunning
Town Hall And Square Early Morning
This square Is Packed At Night With Families
The Castle Drop
   Castro Urdiales is situated on the most easterly end of the Cantabrian coast surrounded by an impressive coastline of craggy cliffs and beautiful quiet beaches that the Spanish have kept secret! The town is linked to a Roman settlement. It houses the most important and stunning Gothic church in the region, the Iglesia de Santa Maria. The church dates back to the 13 Century and houses magnificent carvings dating back to the 13 Century and a painting of Christ on the Cross by Zurbaran.

The Gothic Church Santa Maria
Next to the Church is the Castillo Medieval of Knights Templar origin which now has a lighthouse first lit in 1853. Built on a prominent cliff face, it is quite stunning and imposing. 

Medieval Castle, Knights Templar

Santa Maria

Ginny Climbing The Castle Cannons From 1815
Santa Maria From The Castle
Ginny On Castle Tower, Kisti Two In Background
Santa Maria Nave
Stunning Roof Of Santa Maria
Knights Templar Church And Castle

Knights Templar Church And Santa Maria Gothic Church
Roman Bridge Still In Use
On Harbour Wall With Church And Castle Plus Bridge

Harbour Wall
     After much walking around, it was a delight to have our first tapas and San Miguel beer. The weather improved and the wind died down so we decided to stay for a couple of days. It is such a stunning and friendly place, we are still here! We have use of the Yacht Club for Euros 15 a day that provided us with showers, wifi and a 24hr water taxi. The chic personnel, expensive food and large marinas of France have been replaced by loud, scruffy but friendly Spanish, good cheap food and beer and a very happy go lucky attitude. Its also proving to be cooler! The water is crystal clear and great to swim in.

Ahh. Tapas And San Miguel
Ahh, Guide Books, Dictionary And San Miguel
Ginny On Popular Spanish Evening Stroll Along Promenade
Castro Urdiales At Night
The Very Welcoming Yacht Club
The Castro Urdiales Rowing Team
The Port With Kisti Two Anchored.
The Town Beach With Port In Background
Breakfast View. Stunning
Guy Swimming In Crystal Clear  Water Checking Kisti Two's Bottom!
Castro Urdiales has been a wonderful introduction to Spain. We must however move on as the locals are now calling us the 'Inglesas'. It has been an excellent find and one that was truelly unexpected. The joy of exploration and ignoring 'guide' books, but making your own destination. Where next, who knows..........