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Bilbao - for a long stay?

BlueSkyNick

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29 Apr 2003
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Just thinking, not planning, about long staying in Northern Spain.

I have studied, once again, Jim Baerselman's excellent website and quote:

" A huge commercial port, good for crew changes. Two full service marinas; The expensive Getxo marina, a fair way out of town usually has plenty of space. The friendly old 'Real Club Maritimo del Abra' is much cheaper and more central, but is often full. "

What would Bilbao be like for, say, basing the boat there for a year ?

EDIT: Ditto Santander, described by Jim as
"A pleasant city, large port and holiday resort with lots of sandy beaches, good for crew changes. Two marinas, anchorages with plenty of space. Ferries and flights to UK"
 

Plomong

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7 Feb 2006
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Location
Bilbo, Spain (Basque Country, actually)
[ QUOTE ]
" A huge commercial port, good for crew changes. "

[/ QUOTE ]

Daily flights to London Heathrow (2 or 3) by regular airline, and 1 daily EasyJet to Stansted. Flights to Milan, Paris, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Zurich, etc, etc, and many places in Spain and Portugal.
Pride of Bilbao 2/3 visits per week, depending on schedule rotation.

[ QUOTE ]
Two full service marinas.

[/ QUOTE ]
Now 3, the two mentioned and the Santurce marina just alongside the Pride of Bilbao berth on the other side of the harbour to the Real Club Maritimo.

[ QUOTE ]
The expensive Getxo marina

[/ QUOTE ]
Depends on size of boat. Quoted prices of both marinas are similar.

a fair way out of town

[/ QUOTE ]
If it means from Bilbao, yes, but so also is Club Maritimo a fair way out from Bilbao!!! However, Club Maritimo is just a short walk from the (many) shops of Las Arenas. Getxo marina (Getxo Kaia as it is called) is about 1200 m walk from the Club Maritimo along the seafront. For shops, it is quicker to go in the opposite direction along the beach (Erreaga) to the funicular which takes you up the cliff to Algorta town (and plenty of shops). If you want to go to a full shopping centre with large supermarket (Eroski) included, then you have a 1500 m walk, or a taxi trip. I've often done it on foot, but not in the summer -- the last 200m are very uiphill !!!! The metro station (to Bilbao) is about 500m from the marina.

[ QUOTE ]
usually has plenty of space.

[/ QUOTE ]
Yes Getxo Kaia still has some berths available, especially in the larger sizes. 8-10m is nearly full, 10-12 has a few empty spaces, as does >12m.

[ QUOTE ]
The friendly old 'Real Club Maritimo del Abra' is more central, but is often full. "

[/ QUOTE ]
It is full, full stop. They may, however, find room for a short stopover, but unlikely for a longterm stay. It is really chock-a-block full. It is only "more central" in the sense that it is 200m from the shopping centre (main street) of Las Arenas, and the metro to Bilbao. I often notice foreign boats anchored off just outside the Club limits. I think they have access to the club boat, so that probably eases the situation. However, anchored off in front of the club is not the best place to be when a blow comes in from the NW!!! You would be on a lee shore, and very exposed.

[ QUOTE ]
What would Bilbao be like for, say, basing the boat there for a year ?

[/ QUOTE ]

Great, but then I'm biased, I live here!!

Great as a jumping off point for cruising east and west along the coast.

East: Bermeo, Elantxobe (don't miss at least a quick visit), Lekeitio, Ondarroa, Motrico, Zumaya, Guetaria (don't miss), Orio, San Sebastian (don't miss) Hondarribia + Hendaye, St Jean de Luz, Adour / Bayonne, Cap Breton.

West: Castro Urdiales (daysail from Bilbao) Laredo (new marina) Santander, San Vicente de la Barquera, Ribadasella, Lastres, Gijon, Cudillero, etc out to A Coruna (A, not La -- A Coruna).

Bermeo, Lekeitio, Zumaya, Guetaria, Orio, Hondarribia + Hendaye, Bayonne and Cap Breton all have marinas now, as have Laredo, Santander, Ribadasella and Gijon.

It's late now, so can't give you more data.

If you need more information, either ask on here or PM me and I'll reply tomorrow night.

Plomong
 

CaptainCava

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6 Jul 2002
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196
Hi Nick - remember me?
We finally started our big adventure this year. So far we have sailed as far as Hondaribbia and then we drove to Getxo to check it out as a possible winter berth. Yes they had space for us (we are now a 12.55m Contest) but they are very expensive and you have to deal with a very miserable woman who refuses to speak any English (yes I know we should speak Spanish, but we don't, and in any case she probably only speaks Basque!). Due to family commitmnts, we are sadly having to leave our boat for 8 months before returning to Spain in June 09. We got a quote from Hondaribbia that was €1000 cheaper. We finally arranged to leave the boat in Hendaye and that was €1000 cheaper than Hondarribia. The marina staff at Hondaribbia are lovely. Most of them only speak a few words of English, but combined with lots of smiles and our few words of Spanish and Basque, it's easy to get by......and such a contrast from the miserable creature at Getxo! Hendaye is great too. Our boat was lifted last Friday, the staff on the hard are friendly and quite happy to muddle by with my awful French and their basic English. It's quite fun really! We have enlisted the help of a good English speaking French man to do gardiennage while we are away. PM me if you would lke his details. Let me kow what you are up to sometime. Did I read somewhere (maybe this forum?) that you had sold your Moody and now had something else?
 

Plomong

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Bilbo, Spain (Basque Country, actually)
[ QUOTE ]
and you have to deal with a very miserable woman .... and such a cntrast from the miserable creature at Getxo

[/ QUOTE ]
If I had the powers to remedy that situation, I'd do so in short order, and not look back. She definitely projects the wrong image. If I ever get the ear of the Capitan de Puerto, I'll pass on your comments.
 

BlueSkyNick

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Hi John - (certainly do remember you) and for pholong too,

I am just pondering ideas for semi-retirement which may come sooner rather than later, if the recession really hits!

Two main criteria would be a good place, not too far to sail from UK (Med is out, initially) with good air access back to UK.

Bilbao was a 'stab in the dark' - we stopped in A Corunna last year so have a reasonable idea about there.

We sold the 346 (through the forum!) and bought a 44 in Southern Spain. We sailed her back to UK during summer 07, and are paying the price of convenience of Lymington YH - we can be underway 30 minutes after leaving home on foot!

Will get back in touch, especially if plans become more than just idle dreams !
 

jimbaerselman

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18 Apr 2006
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Jim,

Great post. I'll update my Bilbao entry in a couple of weeks to cover the extra marina. Your point about shopping in Algorta is good too. And CapnCava - interesting points you've made about wintering in the nearby ports. Any suggestions for updating my site?

N Spain - I think my favourite cruising area - mainly because it's so little oriented to yachts and so strongly Basque/Spanish/Galician that spoken English is rare. And those tapas bars . . . great fun.
 

mdrifter

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3 Dec 2001
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214
We had about a week in Club Maritimo a few years ago and very much enjoyed their facilities and the opportunity to explore Bilbao. The only adverse comment we'd make is that there can be considerable surge on the berths. Lots of very heavy springs and dog-bones evident. Has it improved? Bilbao is a "must" stop-over especially if there is space in RCM - but unless I was resident to regularly check warps & fenders I think Cantabrico at Santander, Zumaya, Hondarribia, Gijon or Viveiro might afford better protection if leaving your boat for some time...
 

chrisb

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28 Jan 2004
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circumnavigating. At present in Fiji and heading f
the real club del abbra is a very up market but very friendly club with superb facilities.they were happy to accomodate us for a spell in spring a couple of years ago and one couple we met overwintered there.it is very much cheaper than the commercial marinas but i think there is an element of if your face fits.one or two visiting yachts were asked to move on whilst we were there.we contacted then by email in advance.we had full use of the palatial club,pools and bars.tends to be dusty[coalm dust]
try villa garcia with good train link to santiago compostells. again email in advance
 

CaptainCava

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Jim,

Not sure if any of this will help your website, but here goes........

Hendaye is a very 'civilised' marina with most of the facilities ashore you would want. Plenty of restaurants (although a little touristy) an 8 a Huit supermarket (that isn't open 8 till 8 out of season), a magnificent 5 star beach and great surfing just a block away from the marina.......

The marina seems safe and secure and doesn't suffer unduly from surge or swell. They have a travel hoist (can't remmber what capacity, but it lifted my 13 ton Contest quite happily), plenty of hard standing area and quite a few service/engineering/electronics etc service companies close by. I think the only thing we needed that was a bit of a trot was the laverie (about 10+ minutes walk).

Hondarribia, just over the border into Spain, is lovely. Friendly, helpful staff and an attractive location (mountains in the distance). Not so much immediately on shore as Hendaye, but the town is only a short walk. The town has all the food shops you could possibly ask for, but you need to get there in the morning. Siesta runs from about 12.30 or 1.00 until 5.00 in the evening, so if you are lazy, like me, don't expect to get up late, stroll into town for a tapas lunch and then go shopping at 3.00pm!

They have hard standing, travel hoist, fuel (much, much cheaper than France/Hendaye), a few restaurants and shops adjacent to the marina (but the restaurants and bars are much better in town) and some marine service companies on site (incl Volvo engineers). There is also a great beach close by, but without surf. The only downside is that there is a strange surge/swell that enters the marina at certain stages of tide. It's not exactly uncomfortable, but it does make you regularily check your warps and I don't think I would want to leave my boat afloat there for a winter unattended. All the local boats have heavy snubbers and chafe protectors on their warps and springs.

Absolutely agree with you, it's a lovely cruising ground (San Sebastian is a gem) and I can't wait to get back there next year when we will carry on our slow and gastronomic cruise to the Med.
 

Plomong

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7 Feb 2006
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Location
Bilbo, Spain (Basque Country, actually)
[ QUOTE ]
there can be considerable surge

[/ QUOTE ]

Yes, especialy when there is a storm from the NW, usually once or twice each winter. This has not changed, as the outer protection of the club is not really adequate.

In contrast, Getxo Kaia is well protected and does not suffer from swell. However, in stormy conditions, the outer two or three berths of each pontoon do suffer from wave motion kicked up by the wind funnelling in from the NW over the open area between the curved marina breakwater and the end of the pontoons. Further in along the pontoons, there is no problem whatsoever. We are about 10-th in along our pontoon and have never had a problem.
 
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