Sunseeker Chapter 14
Over the days, as we relaxed in the safe, broad harbour and explored further the many charming shops, we absorbed something of the Spanish way of life; not least of all their penchant for the siesta and love of the fruit of the vine. Indeed, not only did we discover the best places to buy excellent, low cost cheeses but we learned, with the help of new-found friends, that good, Spanish wine need not cost a fortune if bought by the carafe, or five litre bottle, hic!
It’s probably obvious by now that our ship’s purse was never bursting at the seams through being too full, but you don’t need to be wealthy to make new friends. This we did aplenty amongst our many, fellow cruisers. Not many had crossed Biscay as we had. Most had made their way from harbour to harbour around the rim of the bay and were fascinated by our accounts of Sunseeker‘s fourteen day passage. Many questions were thrown our way.
“Weren’t you frightened so far away from land? Did you have enough food and water? Did you think you would ever arrive in Spain?”
We were overshadowed, however by Peter and Dorothy of the yacht Breath who had made the crossing, with their little, Dutch Barge dog Santos, from their home in Coral Bay, St John’s Island in the US Virgins. Twenty five years ago Peter had persuaded Dorothy to try cruising – just for a year. They’re plainly still giving it a try!
It was while the attractions of Bayona were still being explored that we discovered a general rule of thumb about cruising boats and their crews. It is simply that very little excuse is needed for a party. Almost every day sees one boat or another leaving harbour to continue its cruise. Maybe just to the next harbour along the coast. Maybe a crossing to Puerto Santo in the Madeiran archipelago. Indeed, on our third day in the harbour we moved Sunseeker across to an abandoned set of pontoons and laid alongside a yacht as she was being prepared for the next stage of her voyage. Her owners, a young couple from England were heading for Madeira, five hundred miles out into the Atlantic. I asked the boat’s crew how she felt about such a long passage and finding such a tiny island in such a vast ocean.
“We’re just going out for an afternoon sail!” was her reply as she cast off their mooring lines and hopped aboard, “See you out there!”
The idea of the shared table is one which we found to be used by cruisers wherever we were. Someone has an idea for a party; perhaps they want to try out a new-found recipe passed on from another galley slave or maybe they’ve found a shop where a litre of wine is a few pesetas cheaper. No matter, the word is passed along the pontoon and before you know it a dozen or so crews are frantically preparing their own particular favourite party food. As the sun gently rests on the horizon before slowly dipping into the sea a few folding tables appear on the pontoon. Tupperware boxes, emitting such exotic aromas to tempt the most jaded palette, are passed, gingerly, across the gap betwixt boat and pontoon to mingle on the tables with tin-foil-covered trays of steaming hot pizza or freshly baked loaves of bread dripping with garlic butter. Green salads and potato salads rub shoulders with curries and chillies. Dishes of spicy fried rice and buttery pasta vie for a place amongst tiers of chocolate gateaux and raspberry pavlova. Drinks are under the tables. Ice-packed boxes brimming with local beer in cans or bottles. Boxes of Spanish red wine and bottles of local white.
It’s an excuse for the ladies to dig out their glad rags and apply a little rouge in exchange for the dungarees and smudges of engine oil or bilge paint. One of the boats provides a tape deck and everyone’s favourite dance band is touted as the best and must be played.
Later, as the mood mellows and the taped music pales, the haunting sound of a harmonica is heard from the deck of a boat along the pontoon. People drift along in couples, glass or can in one hand, their partners hand in the other, to be nearer to the sound. Paul, an ex Red Beret, sailing with his girlfriend Sarah, disappears below, to emerge moments later with an acoustic guitar. Cameron, a young, single hander from Ardfern in Scotland, shyly emerges with a violin. Very soon we all crowd aboard a large catamaran called Fat Pad to sit in the cockpit; arms around our partners, glasses full, singing favourite songs in time, if not always in tune, with our impromptu band of musicians.
With the colourful lights of the waterfront bars twinkling across the waters of our peacefully, picturesque harbour, Bayona’s beautiful castle floodlit across the sickle beach, the moon rising over the backdrop of pine-clad mountains and the countless millions of stars, sparkling in the firmament above, who would not trade places?
End of Sunseeker Chapter 14