What’s the Story at Camarinas?

We arrived at Camarinas to find it is Spain’s Balamory,  with dolphins in the sea and very brightly painted houses climbing up from the harbour.


We arrived yesterday, having delayed our passage due to murky weather on Friday. As it happened this led to us being invited by the couple from the boat next door, (a Bowman 40 and a real beauty) for drinks, and had a lovely evening. They had crossed Biscay at around the same time, arriving just after we did, so we had lots to compare notes on. David and Barbara are somewhat more experienced than we, and far more adventurous.  We met one of their daughters, Becca, who had joined them for a short holiday and all chatted away on deck, before going below for a tour. She was a boat to fall in love with, a gorgeous galley, lots of solid woodwork and some amazing bunks, which roll out from tiny slots in the main cabin. We hope to meet up with them again on our travels, when we can show off our own true love, Lyra.

On Saturday we were up early and, after negotiating with the automated diesel pumps, poured money into the tank before setting out round the first half of Costa da Morte. Yes, Coast of Death, that’s why we delayed waiting for decent weather. The wind was due to blow up around tea time, so we set off under motor and sail to make progress in the light morning breeze. The sea was still slightly rocky from the day before and I immediately felt grim and sat comatose trying to keep watch. Even the antics of a school of dolphin dashing at the boat failed to take my mind from how giddy I was. It was at least a six hour passage and I dreaded to think of the hours ahead, it was cold and occasionally wet. We were both concerned that I would be poor help if needed, though neither of us said anything at the time. The wind came up though and was on our quarter, so we began to fly along and could turn off the engine. We had to go further out than our passage plan, but were able to gybe back to our waypoint on the approach to Camarinas, by which time I was much better and able to steer, while John reduced sail. We turned into the Ria and followed the leading marks. John took over steering, as it had become really heavy with the force six wind and choppy seas round the headland, which finally provided shelter and we were able to drop the sails and motor in.

The harbour master sounded most cheerful over the radio and directed us to a spot right in near the wall.  He helped tie us up to the rather short pontoon and an Englishman on a gaff rigger came to take our bow line. The further we go, the shorter and weedier the pontoons seem to become, maybe they gradually fade away and we start going stern to. We both felt really tired and headed off  for a beer in the marina bar, which was a bit stark. A big conservatory with a widescreen TV providing a game show style coverage of a young couple’s wedding. Behind us a group of smartly dressed senior citizens were gathering for refreshments before heading off to sit in rows in the adjacent room to be addressed by the local police. We retired to the boat for beans on toast.

Next day the promised storm, with thirty miles per hour winds arrived, whipping up chop even in the marina and we were very glad of our berth being tucked well in.

Choppy water  in the marina

After breakfast we went exploring along the front and up the narrow, winding streets. All was quiet, as it was Sunday and most shops were closed, the town was given over to a a few skinny cats and a couple of dogs, one small and vocal, the other huge, white and very fluffy. We looked in the windows of the lace shops and then climbed the hill overlooking the harbour and sat outside for beer and tapas. We had not expected tapas, but it came with the beer, a small, hot dish of chickpeas in a meat stew served with a piece of bread. Really delicious. We decided that would be our lunch and headed off on a walk out along the headland, to have a look at the estuary. A boat was beating in and we did not envy them being out in the wind. On shore, with the blue skies and sunshine, it was wonderful walking weather. We wound out along the track road through the pine trees across a fields of potatoes and cabbage and came across a familiar face, the other Englishman, Mike, also out for a walk. We had a chat and then made a detour down the path he had used to reach the sea.

Rocky Bay, Camarinas

We sat a while looking out over the crystal water and watching a shoal of large Sea Bass basking in the shallows. Then we retraced our steps and carried on to the lighthouse, from which we could see the breakers pounding the rocky shoreline.

Everywhere was covered with a rainbow assortment of  low growing wildflowers and the rocks were vivid with rings of orange lichen. Some things we recognised thrift, heather, thyme, gorse and thistle, flowers that we do not expect to bloom at the same time all complimenting each other together with many new flowers we had not seen before. They all wove through each other to form a jewelled carpet worthy of a carefully orchestrated Chelsea show garden, but on a massive scale. Beyond the flowers, the deep blue and azure   tones of sea and sky formed a stunning backdrop.

Coastal lichen

None of the pictures I took do justice to the scenery. We followed the coast until we found the road again and wandered back to Lyra.

All the boats were tossing about even more than when we had left, it was to be a rough night. We slept in the front cabin where it was quieter.

This entry was posted in Sailing, Walking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to What’s the Story at Camarinas?

  1. ruralmoon says:

    The photo of the houses is fascinating. Is there one house (on the right) balanced precariously on top of another? It certainly looks that way.

  2. Katie says:


  3. Katie says:

    They at least had otters in Balamory.

  4. Jan says:

    Sorry you’re having a bit of a rough ride but it certainly looks worth it. Beautiful.

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