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30th April, 2014

El Ferrol

After Mahon we had a superb weather day at sea before making a morning call into Gibraltar where, much to some folk’s frustration, the locals were celebrating a bank holiday, (apparently they have many) so most of the shops were closed except a well-known supermarket. We continued on our homeward journey, through the Straits into a fairly placid Atlantic, passing Lisbon the following morning and arriving at El Ferrol in North West Spain on Thursday.

I do like passing into this lesser visited port as, like Mahon, the vessel must pass through a relatively narrow scenic channel to enter into a wide bay, a natural sheltered harbour. There are two old forts either side of the channel built several hundred years ago, to keep out the English I was told, and these stand today as magnificent examples of historical significance. The Spanish Navy still maintain a large presence in the port, which is also known for ship building and importing large quantities of natural gas in great ships.

We were met not only by the usual police and immigration presence, but also by the Development and Marketing Manager, an amiable fellow who gave the impression that he was immensely pleased to see us. And indeed I think he was as he had laid on a welcome ‘tent’ for the passengers with four lovely ladies to offer maps of the city and advice for getting around. Then for departure there was a small group of Galician bag pipers on the quayside. Fortunately they were further aft and not under the bridge wing so I could still hear myself think as we manoeuvred off the berth.

As we passed the forts outbound, there were three or four members of the local historical society standing on the ramparts, dressed in 19th century costume and firing (blanks I assumed) their muskets towards us. I gave them three blasts of the whistle in response and they waved their flags, including a Union Jack, even more vigorously.

It was a pleasant final call for the cruise, a little marred perhaps by the low clouds and mizzle in the morning, but I did explain at the cocktail party later that we were trying to get the passengers used to the British weather prior to their return on Friday.

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