The Spanish north coast

We resume our story again in the Spanish Basque country Euskadi. Actually it is a part of Spain, but the Basque people fight for independance as it is in their opinion a country of it's own. They even speak their own language, which is not in any way related to the Spanish or other European languages - may be apart from Finnish and Hungarian. 
Extraordinary kind people, by the way this also applies to the Spanish more westward. The fishermen don't treat you as a troublemaking element but more as a colleague, so we feel sort of at home. 
Communicating in Spanish goes quite well. Especially in small ports one has to make inquiries about where to moor, but harbour masters (and fees) do not exist, so we have to do business with the fishermen.  

Sailing is not easy over here. Sometimes very strong winds (from the wrong direction), sometimes no wind at all... and we are continuously tortured by the huge swell, which stops the boat just when we gained some speed. 
As a result of this we had to stay in port rather often and visited interesting places, such as Gernika, Bilbao and Santander. We even visited the Guggenheim museum!
PHOTOS 1+ 2  

PHOTO 3 But we want to go to the Caribbean so we are heading for Cape Finisterre. And we are a bit nervous about this as the bastard has a real bad reputation. The coast is nicknamed "Costa del Morte" because it is extremely dangerous. The name is even more ominous if you consider the environmental disaster that happened a few years ago with the oil tanker, and of which the traces are still visible as oil stains on the rocks. The fishing vessels are completely covered to keep the big waves (and the oil?) out. 
What we really have to get used to, is the magnetic variation of almost 10 degrees! And that's going to be even more as we go further west. 

Our sailing boat has become our home, the sea is our world. Political and economical developments happen out of our sight, we missed the Olympic games almost completely, apart from one afternoon when we were in Santander and saw some horsebackriding on a tv in a shop window.  

Will you recognize us next year?  
Marijke phantasized about our meeting in Suriname 2005: “JW with a long grey beard, picking tobacco leaves from the trees and smoking them... P, extremely slender, looking like a mermaid with long hair and with her head in the radio speaking Spanish and cursing all the time while moulding electricity wires...”
Well, it won't be this bad.

With Cape Finisterre in sight and La Coruńa as the place where everyone meets, we now at last encounter our colleague circumnavigators. You can recognize them by the windvane autopilot on the transom and the gear that's lashed on deck. Some look spic & span & very neat, while others seem to carry a complete junkyard on board. This last type of boat not rarely carries a French ensign.
It brings a lot of fun and talks and everyone has lots of information and suggestions. Not only on important subjects such as meteo and navigation, but also wine tests to find out which wine is the cheapest and still drinkable. The British have decided on one litre tetra bricks for 80 eurocents each, but we stick to bottles for 1,50.

PHOTO 5 The most extraordinary meeting was with the only Dutchman who sailed all along the north Spanish coast: Ewoud Eijssen, 18 years old, on a solo trip with an Etap 22 on his way to the "Med" where he's going to sail for a year. Excellent preparation, knows what he's talking about. We admire him for his bravery. By the end of the day he is of course a little bit tired and hungry, so our galley is working extra hours. Not without Ewoud's support by the way, on which he insists.

You must be thinking that we are lazy all day, but the opposite is true.  For instance, we don't have a laundromat, a dryer and such, so it is all honest workmanship here on board

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