Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Guadiana River On The Spanish Portuguese Border, May 2014


     Preparations for the trip up river continued as we watched for a weather window and a fair tide. We managed to make a good repair to a slit in the base of the dingy which we had tried a couple of times before to remedy. Expecting to be in need of the dingy while anchored in the Guadiana we were pleased to find the patch held and seemed not to leak air. With the dingy stowed and the shopping done we went into town for the last time and while enjoying a glass of wine or two in one of the town squares a procession slowly made its way around the square and off around the town.
Guy Waiting For The Glue To Dry Before Applying The Patch.
Religious Procession On Route Around Town.
    The morning of the 24th May we waited for the tide to rise enough to let us out of the silted Marina safely and begin the adventure up river. Once out into the River Guadiana (Mudiana) we then had to negotiate the impressive suspension bridge between Portugal and Spain which we were informed had a height of 20m at high tide. We reckon to have a height of 18.5m so a little tight and heart stopping as you approach. We both held our breath but we slipped under with a little clearance and then progressed up river with the tide and under engine. 
Castle Marim On Portuguese Side Up Stream From Vila Real De Santo Antonio.
The Suspension Bridge at The Lower Reaches Of The Guadiana.
A Cautious Approach. Dont Panic!
Just Enough Room For Mast And Aerial - Phew!!
      Travelling up-river was calm and serene and Guy said very reminiscent of the Shire River in Malawi but without the Crocs and Hippos. There were long stretches with no inhabited settlements. In the lower parts there were several abandoned smugglers properties and custom houses to keep an eye on the trade!!We were heading up to Alcoutim 20 miles upstream but with the intension of anchoring en route. There were various jetties on the Portuguese side that you can tie up against but we prefer to anchor off rather that chance shallow water and underwater hazards. The tide was taking us nicely and we could watch the Portugese riverside villages pass by, usually with a small flotilla of yachts moored or anchored off the main channel.There was a little bird life but not easily visible and we had a leisurely trip up stream. After passing four or five settlements on the Portuguese bank we chose a quiet uninhabited stretch to anchor in and have the whole scene to ourselves. That was until a Cruise Ship from Cadiz appeared in the turn of the river downstream. It passed by quietly with passengers in their suites, on the balconies or on deck enjoying the evening sunshine. The road up to Alcoutim ran along the river at varoius stages and we were surprised to see a cavalcade of motor bikes, vans and cars which proceeded a cycle race of some 70-100 bikes. A Barbecue Supper made a perfect end to our day with the setting sun being accompanied with a glass of wine or two.  The calm waters in the pictures tell the early evening story but once dark the wind picked up against the tide and we spent the night on 2 hour watches until 3.o'clock when the wind eased and we felt secure at our anchorage.
Guy on Hippo Watch As He Cooks Supper On The Barbecue.
Wrong Country Dear Chap!
Quiet Anchorage As Sun Begins To Sink On The Guadiana (Mudiana)
Supper Cooked And Ready To Eat.
The River Cruise Boat On Its Way Upstream.
     We awoke and had a leisurely start to the day awaiting the turn of the tide to travel upstream again. The banks of the river were edged by reeds, shrubs and pink and red Oleanders which were a feature of the next stretch of the river up to the twin towns of Alcoutim on the Portuguese side and Sanlucar on the Spanish side.We went upstream of the two settlements looking for a suitable anchorage as there were numerous boats along a good stretch up and downstream. We selected a spot clear of other boats  downstream and had two goes at a secure spot to anchor, clear of the main stream and well away from other boats all turning in the tide and wind.  All yachts would swing a good 50 metres and at quite a rate at times so isolation was essential. We visited both towns and found them to be very different in character. 

Riverbank Parkland. Looks Like Australia?
Double Click The Pics To Get A Better View.
Approaching Alcoutim With The Cruise Ship On Its Return Journey.
Portuguese Alcoutim With Castle And Willows Along The Quay.
View From Our Anchorage To Spanish Sanlucar With Fort and Windmills.
Guy striding along the Quay at Alcoutim.
The Town of Sanlucar From Alcoutim
Another Riverboat At The Alcoutim Quay.
Guy Stoned Again In Alcoutim!!
A Quite Brilliant Statue.
Kisti Two Anchored Below The Two Towns.
Spanish Sanlucar. 
The Anchorage 20 Miles Upriver.
Drinks At Alcoutim
   We decided that as there was a hill with a castle on top, we just had to climb to the top of the hill and explore the ramparts. The first part was a journey through Sanlucar then up past the Zip-wire down to the opposite river bank, and on to the castle which has just had a £1M of European money to save it and hopefully open it to the public later. Looks very grand in its glorious cream paint now. The views from the top were stunning and you get a good sence of the isolated but wonderful spot we were in.

Sanlucar Church
The Two Towns On The Guadiana River.
Alcoutim In The Distance.
The Guadiana (Mudiana) Winding Its Way Through The Countryside
Which Is The Border Line Between Spain And Portugal.
The Renovated Sanlucar Castle At The Top
Windmills Of Sanlucar
    After a few glorious lazy, hazy, crazy days of living life in the slow lane, the anchor was raised on 28 May and we headed back down the river, under the bridge and the anchored off Ayamonte for an early start. O500 hrs to be precise!!!! 

Down The Mudiana On A Rare Cloudy Morning.
That Bridge Again! Clouds Going.
   Yes, we were up at 0500 hrs and set off for Cadiz, some 60nm miles away. The early start was to cross the 2 metre bar safely at the exit of the Guadiana into the sea at high tide. We crossed safely then had to negotiate our way around all the fishing nets. Yes, we saw the sunrise for the first time in about 6 months which helped us spot the nets as we exited the river. It was a stunning dawn which made the early start much more bearable.

Guy On Fishing Net Watch ( I Say, Any Submarines Out There Sir?)
Five Fishing Net Flags!!
     It was a glorious sail to Cadiz with the wind behind us for almost all the trip. The sea water suddenly turned a stunning turquoise and once again dolphins joined us to play with Kisti Two's keel. It was a 12 hour trip and we headed for Puerto Sherry Marina on arrival. It is located along the coast from Santa Maria on the mainland which has a railway station and ferry to Cadiz, as well as the Sherry Bodegas (Caves)!!

Glorious Dolphins
Ginny Enjoying The Breezy But Sunny Sail.
Clean Water Again.
Sailing Downwind To Cadiz
Arrival Pontoon At Porto Sherry Marina.
29 May 2014
    Now for Cadiz and a visit to Seville. We are now back in the land of siestas and tapas.  Its a tough life, but someones got to do it.