Sunseeker Chapter 12
I emerged sleepily from the depths of slumber, three hours later, in response to Rene’s call. A strange, luminescent glow surrounded Sunseeker and my mind struggled through a haze of sleep to take in the situation.
“Good God, Rene, we’re in thick fog! Why, on earth haven’t you slowed down!”
My imagination conjured up images of towering, slab sided mountains of black steel as Sunseeker raced towards certain death pounding herself, futilely, against thousands of tons of merchant shipping. Worse still, massive blunt bows, raising a stark white bow wave, careering inevitably towards us, intent upon slicing Sunseeker in two. My arms were almost raised to protect my head from the violent impact!
As I raced on deck, peering into the impenetrable, murky depths of the fog, all that was to be heard was the steady thump thump of our diesel engine and the sluicing of the water along Sunseeker’s planks. I felt somewhat foolish in the aftermath of my outburst and returned to the doghouse to apologise to Rene. As a sop to my conscience we reduced speed a little, continuing on our way at half a knot less. While Rene went below for her well-earned break I settled down for the next three hours, making myself as comfy as possible on the helmsman’s seat, one hand on the wheel and one eye on the compass.
Dawn brought only a lightening of the cotton wool surrounding us, visibility limited to maybe fifty yards on a flat, lazy sea. Morning wore on as watch relieved watch. When I judged that Sunseeker was in Spanish waters I went forward to the mast and raised the tiny, red and yellow courtesy flag which Rene had made, so long ago in Arklow. The fog at midday was definitely thinning and our circle of visibility gradually widened. Our oblique course to approach the mouth of the ria should have given us a wonderful view of the Islas Cies. These beautiful islands, a playground for the boat owning people of Vigo and Bayona boast a number of sheltered anchorages and empty stretches of golden sands. Alas, we saw nothing of them and grew increasingly tense as Sunseeker’s position on the chart grew closer and closer to the shore and the numerous clusters of rocks that guard the river mouth.
Suddenly, out of the murk rose jagged, black shapes only yards away off the port bow. A sharp turn of the wheel and they receded, back into the gloom from whence they came. Away to our left we caught a fleeting glimpse of what appeared to be a lighthouse. Confused now, I thought we were slightly to the north of the entrance, and tried to place the lighthouse into position on the chart. It wouldn’t fit! Now more rocks to our left. Don’t forget the south-going current. Don’t let Sunseeker be drawn onto these rocks, not after such a long passage. Rene is convinced that we are to the south of the entrance and the lighthouse is high on the mountainside. We turn Sunseeker around and head slightly away from shore to gain a breathing space. I note the position from the GPS and frantically, but with exaggerated care, plot it on the chart. No doubt about it, we are to the south of the river. Confident of our position now, we must steer north the way we have come. With great care we strain to catch a glimpse of the rocks, which should now be to our right. Yes, there they are! Now, to ensure that Sunseeker gives these fangs a wide berth, we head further north before gingerly turning her bows towards the river entrance.
The fog is thinning as the shore comes closer. Now we must search for a buoy marking safe water in the centre of the channel. We can just make out, through the lightening haze, the clifftops on the south bank of this mighty river. There, dead ahead is the buoy. Rene sees it first. Just beyond the buoy is a small, low-lying islet. To reach Bayona we must leave this to port so Sunseeker is brought around a little to the right. All the while the fog is thinning and more details are brought into sight. To our right runs a road along the foot of the cliffs. Look, dead ahead now, are they trees? At long last the long harbour wall hoves in sight. Small sailing boats can be seen closer in shore. Sparkling white motor boats towing water skiers are lit by the sunshine as we run out of the fog and haze. The water is blue again and as we round the end of the harbour wall there are dozens of expensive yachts, at anchor, tied to massive mooring buoys or in line along the pontoons of the marina. Brilliant-white houses, beneath red ochre rooftops cling to the tree-clad hills that surround the tightly packed buildings of Bayona. Bluff castle walls dominate the harbour as in days of old they once protected the people of this seafaring settlement and guarded the entrance to this important river.
This is Spain; sunny Spain and we’ve made it! We’ve arrived! Fourteen days ago we were in Ireland. Fourteen days filled with every conceivable emotion. From the sheer, abject terror of sitting out the high winds and seas; the frustration of no winds to drive Sunseeker along; to unbelievable enchantment among the pilot whales and dolphins and relief of landfall and journey’s end. All these and more. But for now we can tie up and relax a little.
End of Sunseeker Chapter 12