Sugar 'n' Spice – Weblog 7

Date Filed



Getxo, Nr Bilbao, Vizcaya, Basque Country


43º 20’27 N

3º 00’94 W

Content complete to – (Date | Place)


Getxo, Nr Bilbao, Vizcaya, Basque Country

Previous Weblog

Next Weblog

2011 Index





We used our unscheduled weekend (11th & 12th June) in Gijon in a variety of ways. The boat had her decks washed & the engine had an oil change, we got our clothes laundered & did some provisioning.

On saturday afternoon we cycled the length of the very busy prom along the town beach (San Lorenzo) & the little bays beyond. The world, his wife, kids, dogs et al were out walking, running, playing, cycling or just meandering – the Spanish really do use their beaches & proms - & our cycling skills were seriously challenged! For contrast we then turned inland along a delightful & much calmer ‘Green route’ following the Pena Franca stream past some very grand University buildings, skirting the Botanic gardens & then through woodland & countryside before returning the same way.

Sunday our relaxation was a visit to the surprisingly extensive remains of some Roman baths, carefully preserved after excavation under a Plaza fronting a church.

Monday 13th June. Around midday we presented ourselves to Windtech, our paraglider, aka sail repairs, company. The sail was ready, & the repair looked good. The boss gave us & sail a lift back to the boat in his car (much appreciated) & we spent the next couple of hours bending it on. It still looked good so we went for a late lunch of cider & tapas to celebrate.



Then a quick look round the Port’s display on their huge development, Puerto de El Musel, to the NW of the harbour. This has taken 5 – 6 years to build, & involved a lot of ‘land’ creation in a tidal environment, using pioneering techniques & lots of concrete. I hope it generates the trade they are looking for.

Last job - settle our dues so we can make a dawn departure tomorrow.

Tuesday 14th June. A 6 am departure, not quite light & motoring in very little wind. We have a longish passage to Santander today as there are not many ports along this stretch of coast, & those there are are mostly too shallow for us to enter, or cannot be entered if there is any significant swell. After a couple of hours we hoisted the main to stop some roll although still not enough wind to sail. Around 10 am we were able to still the engine & sail for a spell. That set the pattern for the day with short spells sailing, motorsailing & motoring as we try to maintain a good average speed. Around teatime Doug allowed himself a brief spell fishing, usual result (no fish, wind & speed increased). A big disappointment was not to get any good views of Picos mountains to the south, as the cloud was low down on the coastal hills let alone the mountains further inland. We did see a tall unstayed mast, not on our charts, some 20 nm offshore in water almost 200 metres deep. At 8 pm we anchored off Playa de la Magdalena at Santander. 83 nm.

Wednesday 15th June. A relaxed start with a trip to the fuel berth, several miles upstream. Job done we decided that there was a nice sailing breeze & we would use it to move on instead of staying put. So we spent the afternoon on a pleasant light wind beat to Laredo/Santona. There is a new marina under construction at Laredo, we have no information when it is due to open & it currently is not, so our alternative of anchoring in the Rio Santona on the opposite side of the bay came in to play. 29 nm.

We tucked in close to the Yacht Club moorings, occasionally rolly as fishing boats from the town charged past, but terns came past too, & curlews & a white egret appeared as the tide went out. Rain arrived overnight.



Thursday 16th June. Still wet & no wind. We stayed put for the morning & watched the birds & horses being galloped on the beach. It looked like a serious training programme. Then after lunch we hauled anchor. The rain had gone, there was no wind & the swell was increasing as forecast so it was a motor trip to Bilbao’s Getxo marina. The main excitement on the way was hoisting the Basque courtesy flag. 20 nm.

Bilbao itself is some 10 km SE on the river Nervion & there are no yacht facilities beyond the harbour.

Friday 17th June. A day out playing tourist in Bilbao. Access is easy on a direct Metro line with a station close to the marina. The old town, Casco Viejo, is a fairly small area with some fine old buildings & a very large & lovely colonnaded Plaza Nueva. We climbed a long flight of steps (on the pilgrim route to Santiago) to the Basilica of Begona – disappointing as despite the height gain there were no real views.



Crossing the river to the ‘new’ town there were more fine building & relaxing squares as we found our way to the Guggenheim museum. The building itself is eyestopping & it is surrounded by several giant sculptures, notably a spider & a floral puppy (our winner), but we were not greatly taken with many of the exhibits in the museum itself.



Back in Getxo the forecast wind had arrived with increasing squalls & showers.

Saturday 18th June. First a provisioning run, getting to the shops uphill using a funicular from the beach. Job done we readied the bikes & cycled to the old fishing harbour at the end of the beach.



The houses climbed haphazardly uphill & were very picturesque with white walls & sprawling flowers. On the water the wind & kite surfers were having a ball jumping the waves. After a tapas lunch we continued in the opposite direction to the actual river mouth to see the Punta Bizkaia, a huge transporter bridge & World Heritage site as the first mechanical bridge. Unfortunately the towers were scaffolded off for painting, so we couldn’t visit the walkway at the top.



Sunday 19th June. The swell is still rolling in so we are doing some of the accumulated chores & round tuits.  Hope to depart for France at dawn tomorrow.


Back to top