Jul 5 2003

Tower of Hercules

On the coast of La Coruña, Spain there is a very old tower built of stones. The Tower of Hercules was built in 2nd century AD, which makes it the oldest working Rroman lighthouse. It has been retrofitted over time and it continues to be a fully functioning lighthouse. It has a fog horn, a flashing light at a height of just over 100 meters, and a radiobeacon. It is very impressive to see. There are tours of the tower and buses full of people come daily to see it. You can even walk up narrow circular stairs to get to an observation area near the top. I’ve been up there too many times, for different reasons and on different occasions. Regardless of the why or how, one thought always crossed my mind: What it would be like to see this tower from sea after a long voyage?.

On June 24th, we were able to see the tower from O’Comillas. Despite being very foggy and even rainy at times, it was still a very emotional moment for Dad and I. We hugged and almost together said: “We made it!” It was perhaps the only time that I could almost see my father getting emotional since he hides it so well. Afterwards he told me he was having a lot of memories from when he left home at age fifteen. It was also raining then.

José Manuel continued joking about the weather calling it “typical” Galicia weather and noting that the only time in the whole trip that we encountered gray skies was arriving in Galicia. Oh, well. That must be why Gallegos have so much morriña when away from home.

Jun 24 2003

Houston. Eagle has landed!

Well folks, we’ve made it. We pass La Coruña and arrived in Sada at 9:30pm.  We are all overwhelmed with emotions.

Jun 24 2003

The big surprise!

After seeing the tower we continued sailing towards the Bay of Ares/Betanzos. The wind was very soft and we had the sails up and a little engine going since we were indeed anxious by now to finally get home. As we entered the bay we saw two sailboats far away. Their sails were down and they were heading our way using their engines. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. I just checked my own course and kept sailing. Then one of the sailboats flashed its mast light several times which I thought was odd but I still hadn’t caught on that they were waiting for us. It wasn’t until they started making noise that I realized, duh! They are welcoming us. So we used our horn to make a very loud noise and kept going.

Believe it or not, at this point, it hadn’t occurred to me that Mom, Kristi and the kids would be aboard one of the sailboats. I had a huge smile as I chatted with the people on the other sailboat when suddenly I realized that the boat behind us was Miguel’s from Cadenote and that our family was aboard. Then I had one of those moments when I wanted to do something very rash. I wanted to jump overboard and swim towards Miguel’s boat so that I could hug everyone. Thankfully we didn’t have this Forrest Gump moment and I waited patiently behind the wheel until after I had docked the sailboat to jump onto the dock and run towards my loved ones.

Jun 24 2003

Tower from sea

Jun 24 2003

The last stretch

6am — 100 nautical miles to go. I just woke up for my watch but both my father and José Manuel are sitting in the covered spots on the cockpit. Neither want to move. So I went downstairs to write a little and now I can hear them singing rancheras. They are having one of those friend bonding moments.

7:30am — Wind is about to 25 knots from the North. Galicia is welcoming us with a beating.

9:30:am — Wind has picked up to 30 knots. The welcome continues!

10:30am — In the last hour we have been crossing the north-south commercial route. We have seen a total of eight ships. Many of them huge tankers. Spanish coast is 30 nm or so away but still no sign. Our destination is at 70 nautical miles.

11:30am — We just finished crossing the south-north route. Thankfully there were much fewer boats in this direction.

12:15pm — The wind continues climbing. It is up to 35 knots. It is comming from the north-east. Right from the direction we are heading to. Despite the high wind there is fog near the coast which has prevented us from seeing land. Argh!

1:15pm — The wind has reduced a lot as we approach the coast. It is now below 20 knots. The waves are also better. Good call!

4:45pm — Believe it or not, despite being just 2.5 nautical miles from land, we still cannot see it because of very dense fog. We still have 35 nm to go to reach Sada our final destination.

5:12 pm — LAND! LAND! ! We finally see land! Foggy land, but land nonetheless…