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28th September, 2012

Ferrol, The Britannia Club Cruise


Departure from Dover was in moderating weather conditions, so the journey down channel towards Ushant and the turn into the Bay of Biscay was perhaps more comfortable than many expected. The Bay remained kind to us and it was on the second morning of the voyage that we made our entrance into Ferrol, the port in north west Spain that has been a naval base for well over 400 years. In fact the pilot amusingly remarked that the forts we passed as we made our way up into the sheltered and well protected harbour were built to keep out the pirates, aka, the British. Times, of course have changed, and we were welcomed warmly by a local reception committee.

The two buses heading off to Santiago de Compostela were soon away, and the remaining scenic tours followed soon after. A few of us took the opportunity to stroll around the fishing harbour and up into the town. Despite the shops being closed for the siesta, there was sufficient daylight in the darkened windows to allow the ladies to ‘browse’. We came across a delightful square with a small park on one side and sat for a while watching a few young children who had decided that the access ramp was a great place to launch themselves on a four wheeled ‘missile’ and descend into the square at great speed, excitedly swerving at the last minute to avoid any adult who might have been a potential target. Delightful.


The town though, is still very much a naval town and not only were there several warships in the admiralty basin, but there was also evidence of new ships being built, including an aircraft carrier/assault ship for the Australian navy.

The pilot advised me later that one had already been sent out, piggy back on a barge vessel, as completion of the bridge and control positions was to be done after arrival.

We sailed in the evening, but not before the local equivalent of a Scottish pipe band gave us half an hour of their version of the ‘agony bag’. We were then ‘shot at’ by men in historic uniform as we passed the ramparts of San Felipe Castle, now an active museum. We gave them an audible broadside of our own none too quiet ship's whistle and exchanged friendly waves with the locals who had gone to witness the spectacle.

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