Friday, June 9, 2017


Next stop will be Spain.

I was deadly afraid of the crossing from Portsmouth to Santander in Spain because I’m not a good sailor and the forecast was for a storm with winds up to 50 mph. The night before we left the wind was howling past Sheila’s house and even blew a Pigeon off the roof at about 3.30am with a big clatter and a bang as it hit the balcony!

We had to go to the UK bank AGAIN (A long and frustrating story) to get the debit card sorted out, so we went to the Pharmacy and I picked up some motion sickness tablets just to be sure.

Huge car deck on the ferry
Those of you who know me well understand the irony of me spending 49 years of my life building ships when I get seasick every time they set sail!
Nice cabin for the night
I was hoping that the last 10 years of my working life would stand me in good stead, as I sailed every 3 months on sea trials and builders trials, shake down cruises and retests until I got my “Sea Legs”. I haven’t sailed in the 4 or so years since I quit that job, but the only way to find out was to try.
Even a swimming pool onboard
Hurray! The combination of tablets, eating early, a few drinks and my “Sea Legs” resulted in me being fine, even though the ship went thru some VERY rough weather. We were tossed about in our bunks and the ship rolled, lurched, shuddered and the bow banged loudly into the trough of the waves.

Meanwhile I smiled happily to myself, rolled over and went to sleep.

The trip lasted 24 hours. We crossed the Bay of Biscay, which can be an extremely rough stretch of water. When we woke up we had passed clear through the storm and the sun was shining, the sea was very moderate and all we had to do was hang around for 12 more hours until we docked.

The lighthouse at the entrance to Santander harbor.
At Santander on the Spanish North coast we were held up by a truck driver who didn’t show up for ½ an hour after the ship docked (he was the first in line so the whole ship had to wait until he showed up). Then we were off. Passport control took only a few minutes while they stamped out passport and said “Welcome”. Our GPS (Sat Nav will always be called GPS in this blog) was set for a town Llanos along the coastal highway. We had no campground selected, preferring to “Wing It”. In the end we turned off for Potes and a national park called Picos De Europa which Robin, my cousin Helen’s husband, had told us was very nice. We pulled into the first convenient hotel and stayed there for the first night. It was 10pm when we arrived and still light out!

Next morning we started driving inland to the National Park. A very pretty but steep and winding road ran alongside the river that cut through the steep gorge. After an hour or so we reached a campground we had picked out of the ACSI guide in Potes. A very nice tiered campground on the side of the hill.

Camping in Potes
This place has it all. A swimming pool, store, restaurant/bar, hookup and the usual toilets/showers. It’s just a minute from the town center. The girl at the reception spoke 3 languages that I heard (English, French and Spanish) and was so very helpful.

One hiccup was that our electric cable (The one hookup) didn’t fit the outlets in the campground! We bought an assortment of adapters that the nice lady in the store thought would fit and soon had power for the fridge, and to charge the batteries up.

After a leisurely breakfast the next morning we drove to Fuente De and rode the cable car to the top of the mountain, thru the clouds and out again. At about 6000’ this is quite high and there was snow in the shaded gullies above us. We explored and enjoyed the peak and on the way back to camp we stopped in the town of Potes and found a hardware store with not only the proper electrical connection for the campground but also the hose fittings and some other bits and pieces we needed.

Mini Matterhorn at Fuente De

We explored the town looking for somewhere that might sell SIM cards for our phone. Unfortunately we ran into Spain’s “Siesta” when the stores are all closed from 1.30 to 5pm every day! It gave us an excuse to wander the back streets of town and we stumbled on the old part of the place which follows the River Diva. I can see some paintings coming from this area!

Rio Diva and the old town of Potes

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