On Sunday afternoon we got an amazing sunshine for the last sailing of the season. The distance was only four nautical miles across the bay of Ría de Arousa from Caramiñal to the island of Illa de Arousa. We wanted to extend the last sail of the season as much as possible and had a detour in the bay before heading to Xufre. The afternoon wind Nortada was blowing nicely and we were sailing several long tacks across the bay before turning our bow towards Xufre and removing the sails for good. It is always the same, the summer season feels too short. Especially as it is still the early days of July and we would definitely prefer to stay onboard. Thus, the feeling was a little sad when we made her fast to the raft of boats at the waiting pontoon of Xufre. Next day will be the liftout of Suwena.
Andrus found Xufre boatyard from the discussion forums of the Cruising Association, where this boatyard was warmly recommended. The owner of the boatyard has the background in long distance cruising as well and he can really help sailors with details related to sailing in foreign countries.
The lift out of our Suwena was one of the easiest we have seen or should we say it was like a jump out because the 180 ton travel lift whizzed 20 ton Suwena to the hard without any creaks or squeaks that we have usually heard with smaller cranes. Soon her bottom was power washed and she was proudly standing in the cradle waiting for the winter.
The main business of Xufre boatyard is the numerous vessels of the fishing fleet of Ría de Arousa. The bay of Arousa is the biggest of five bays making the area of Rías Baixas in Galicia. And as you might guess there are thousands of mussel farms and related maintenance vessels here. Therefore, Nito’s and his son Alex’s main business is year-around service for fishing vessels and additionally winter storage of yachts on hard and both are mixing well together.
The boatyard area is safe and separated from the street by substantial fence. We, as an annual boat keepers, received own key. It is definitely required now that Suwena is on the hard. When the boatyard workers leave in the evening, the boatyard is locked but we can still go to the restaurants and shops in the centre of the village about 800 metres afar. In addition, there are small facilities built into the container that are functional even if they wouldn’t win any design competitions.
On weekday’s the boatyard is very busy with the maintenance work of fishing ships going on constantly. Xufre is really more like a working shipyard than a boatyard with a marina. You would definitely hear angle grinders and welding going on. However, it is still a good place to keep the yacht for the winter. Like Nito told they have kept one yacht on full-service contract for several years. The owner only notifies the arrival and departure times and when the taxi arrives the yacht is put into the water. Also, during the departure owners’ job is only to carry out their luggage, the boatyard will lift out the boat and prepare her for the winter.
We prefer to be more involved. In Caramiñal we had already prepared as much as possible and one day in the boatyard was enough to get Suwena’s winter hibernation started.
When Suwena is in the cradle we live about four meters high from the ground. At first it felt unnatural as the boat did not sway in the water. Also, the good ladder is a must for going onboard. Carrying the luggage on the ladder is not fun but we always make a hoist from Suwena’s lines and I gently lower the bag that Andrus receive and undoing the knot for the next bag. On Tuesday morning after handling our luggage rumba it was time to close Suwena’s curtains for avoiding the Sun bleaching the interior teak into yellow wood durint the winter.
Finally, we had last checks that all required breakers are off, all hatches are tightly closed, and the dehumidifier is humming properly in the sink of the galley. We always close her up as tightly as possible and only leave the drain of the kitchen sink open where the dehumidifier is dripping the condensation water. It does not matter is she in the water or on the hard, always when we return, she is bone dry and smelling wonderfully of teak.
Lastly a turn of the key in the lock and gentle pat on the keel with a wistful reminder: “Be a good girl and well-behave waiting for us. The spring is coming soon.”.
The closest train station to Xufre is in Vilagarcia to where Alex kindly drove us by car. The long journey home started by train to Vigo where we changed into the faster wings.