Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tim and Pippa--What this blog is all about!

This blog was created secondarily to keep up with the happenings of Harbour Owner Society, but, PRIMARILY, it is a great place to share the wave wanderings of Harbour Owners...and this is a great one!  Have you had a great sesh or trip with your Harbour, send pics and write-up to  Here it is, thanks Tim and Pipa.  Also, note the side-bar for upcoming shop event with Quicksilver.

The plan was to take the long ferry down to northern Spain & drive back up the LH side of France, checking out some new spots & revisiting old haunts. It didn't go quite as planned (it never does), due to the weather. We'll do it again one day, when the sun shines.
Board for the trip was the 9.0 (surftech) Wingpin.
We set sail from Portsmouth at noon & 22 hrs later arrived in Santander in northern Spain (saving a drive of about 800 miles). A long lunch, followed by a trip to the movies, a turn around the deck, a light supper, followed by a little ship board romance with best beloved... and well ...  suddenly it was time for breakfast!

The coastline of Cantabria is very green, well watered by winter rains, with limestone gorges & mountains running down to the sea - very reminiscent of the Big Sur.
As we arrived in Santander, it started to rain. Little did we know that we were about to experience some of worst weather, in 30 years, to hit this coast & way up in to France. First stop was just outside Riz, a river mouth & beach break.
Wet campsite at Isla with Riz in the background - river mouth is on the right - very messy surf!
Very attractive landscape with lots of bays, coves & surf spots. This is Laredo.
Between Laredo & Islares ... the storm approaches ...

Islares ... waiting for the swell ...

The country side around here is very rugged. Saw lots of eagles over the valleys.
Next stop was Bilbao to see the Guggenheim Museum - a fantastic piece of modern architecture ... and the rain poured down!

And so to Mundaka, an old fishing port on the left hand side of a river mouth, sheltered from the prevailing north westerly winds, with waves breaking on a sand bar just out side the harbour.
Ah, ASP spot Mundaka! The biggest, hollowest, most powerful lefts in Europe!
As we walked through the narrow streets of the old town in the late morning, the wind roared across the roof tops, rain dripped from the eaves of medieval buildings and glistened on the ancient cobble stones. Up ahead a door banged and a rubber clad figure, board under arm, padded off down the twisting alley towards the harbour. He slipped in to the water; paddled out straight into the river and shot off downstream as the current and tide caught him. The tide was dropping fast and the banks were were beginning to work. The waves were soon doh+ & as it got darker & darker, raining ever harder, more surfers began to make their way out to the line up.
Was I tempted to go out? EeeK! Boy was it rough & heavy out there! Well, it really would have needed a long board with the weight & speed of the TS to cope with making the sections, and mine was at home in the garage! I spoke to another Brit later on, who told a tale of surfing here with a friend some years before. They had gone out in similar conditions on longboards, his mate got nailed on his second wave, leash snapped & the board just disappeared. They spent 24 hrs looking for it. The board was never found! Ah ... Mundaka!

 After rain all night, we awoke to blue sky & sunshine. The break was now really blown out although a lot smaller, so we drove along the coast towards France, to Lekeitio. Beautiful bay, with a fishing port on one side & a beach, with point break, on the other. Great campsite in the hills above.
Just when you thought it safe to go back in the water!

Into the corner at Lekeitio
That evening the clouds piled up & it started to rain again. It rained all night & it was still pouring down in the morning, so we moved on to San Sebastian near the border. San Sebastian is an elegant resort, much favoured by the wealthy since Edwardian times & similar to Biarritz just over the border in France. Well it just p****d down! Nothing for it but to get across the Pyrennes & into France & hopefully better weather. We stopped at a camp site that we have stayed at before, just inside France, about 500m from the border. Well, the rain poured down! The woman in the office told us that this was the worst weather for 30 years, with very serious flooding in the south of France & 45 fatalities so far.
Long story short .... we sat in the bar & got on the Internet, checked satellite photos that showed this storm running from northern Spain, across southern France & up towards Alsace & the German border!
By the morning it had been raining nonstop for 40 hours straight! The walk to the shower block was through ankle deep water - yuk!
Aargh! cabin fever was setting in! We decided to drive north up the western coast until it stopped raining & the sun cane out.
Drying out en route

And so to Biscarosse, home of Dune du Pilat, the largest sand dune in Europe, 100m high, 500m across the base & about 1.5 km long.
Clean morning lines at  Biscarosse Plage

Mind the speed bumps

The LH side of France is mostly one long beach break from Biarritz up to Brittany.
Old WW II bunkers get the treatment

On to Lacanau, another famous ASP spot. Take off was very fast with waves pitching top to bottom & about 1.5 oh. Challenging, getting the Wingpin tucked in before getting nailed. I stayed off the main peaks, as they were very crowded. Found a nice right off the rocks just visible in this shot.
Great fun until the on shores mucked it up late morning and it got very bumpy. Lost count of the number of waves I got bounced off. Herself commented "Every time I looked up, you seemed to be upside down!"
Onwards, & over the Gironde to Royan on the ferry
St Palais sur Mer- great work ethic!
La Sauveterre - another highly rated beach break
Clean, head high, empty lines at Sauveterre
A happy camper!

The last leg, 34C & time for tea - Chateau La Guignardiere
Home again -
The Victory in Portsmouth - she served during the American War of Independence, the war of the French Revolution & the Napoleonic Wars & of course as Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar.
The oldest commissioned warship in the world.  

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