Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Coruna Crossroads

When you pull into the marina in La Coruna, it becomes immediately clear that you’ve arrived at a cruising crossroads.  No longer solely accompanied by boats from Spain, France or the UK, you tie up amongst a flotilla of boats from Sweden, Norway, Holland, Switzerland (yes, Switzerland), Germany, Belgium, and even Australia and the USA, most making their way south into the Med or to the Canaries in preparation for a fall Atlantic crossing. 

Marina Real Club Nautico, La Coruna

The "Glass City" architecture around the port.

Spainish Air Force team streaming the red and gold of Spain over the port control tower of Marina Coruna.
Many, like us, arrive here by hopping along the coast, working west and south around the rias.  Because the marinas are spread thin in this region and the weather is capricious, there is a sort of gregarious migration underway from port to port whenever the wind is right.  Over the last few weeks, we’ve made friends with several of our fellow drifters and these friendships have added a new and important dimension to our cruising.

A new friend sailing around Cape Ortegal.
Talking to experienced long-distance, live-aboard cruisers is worth any number of how-to books.  Sharing stories (the good and, more often, the bad) has allowed us to place our own experiences in a context we didn’t have before.  All these crazy things that have been happening to us (instrument failures, delayed departures, re-routing, unpredicted storms, fishing nets around the propeller, etc.) are just part of the cruising life; dramatic to us, banal to the seasoned cruiser.  In talking to others, we’ve been able to gain confidence about the things we did right and have some new ideas about things we might try the next time.  (Definitely getting a Jordan series drogue). 

We’ve been inspired by many of these new friends, some of whom have been live-aboard cruising for many years, others who have taken up long-distance cruising with much less experience than we have, some with boats less adapted to long-distance cruising than Spray.  One couple who has crossed the Atlantic and sailed all over Europe and the Mediterranean refers to themselves as cowardly “chicken” cruisers!   Almost everyone we have met has been very humble about their accomplishments and they just seem thrilled to be out here, taking it one day at a time, the good with the not-so-good.

As for us, we’ve come to a new crossroad ourselves.  A few weeks ago, after our surprise storm, we decided to stop long-distance sailing altogether.  We were convinced that we didn’t have what it takes, and our motivation was sinking fast.  Now Patrick says he couldn’t imagine a finer lifestyle than this (at least 6 months of the year anyway).  Of course I agree.  We truly fall into the “chicken cruisers” category with persistent doubt and stress, bumbling our way through each new experience.  But knowing that everyone else has gone through the same thing – and that they still get nervous from time to time - has been a big comfort.

Our biggest regret now is that we will have to turn around to start the trek home in a few days while our merry band of boaters continues to further horizons.  We’ll just have to make new East-bound friends.

Castel San Anton between the two major marinas of Coruna.

The Tower of Hercules, the world's oldest functioning lighthouse (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

A view from the top.

Lovely local beaches.

The fiesta of Vigen del Carmen.

Oh, and La Coruna is a great place to have a twisted ankle x-rayed...  (all's swell.)