Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Travelblog: Culahtra to the Guadalquivir

After a few days idling in Culahtra we said farewell to Life Part 2, a boat with which whom we shared company very informally for a few weeks and continued to the Rio Guadiana.  This river forms the border between Portugal and Spain.

It might be nice we thought to motor up the river and see some countryside.  

Next day was a long day sailing. There are fishing nets everywhere along the south coast of Portugal and Spain extending five or ten miles out from shore.  "Everywhere" means literally everywhere.  Not a hundred feet between nets which extend for hundreds of metres in any direction.

It was a long haul against tide to get to Ayamonte
We arrived late and sailed into the river fighting a building current against us.  Anchoring in a river bend just north of the Spanish town of Ayamonte we slept well.  That's not true actually.  I slept well.  The Budget Committee did not like the very strong current, strongest we had found ourselves in till that point.  She was up and down all night checking our anchoring against fixed landmarks.

The shabby condition of the towns on both Portuguese and Spanish sides of the border persuaded us not to sail up the Guadiana any further to just hightail it to the Guadalquivir.

Next morning we found ourselves tired but game to move.  With the off shore breezing howling with renewed ferocity  we were away just after sunup.  Fifty miles we had to make to avoid coming into the Guadalquivir after dark.

As is the custom the land breeze held for about three hours and we were motoring.  When the sea breeze filled in it  chose an awkward angle and we found ourselves motoring into headwinds which built over the afternoon to the usual 15 to 20 knots.  Very unpleasant.

Our eye was keenly on the time and we knew we were running things close to the wire.  We carefully made our way into the Guadalquivir led by a very nice Spanish coast guard cutter dragging a dinghy almost as long as our sailboat.

Luckily just inside the river mouth is the Spanish city of Bonanza (try not humming the theme song , just try) with a decent anchorage at a bend in the river.  LSundown was 1933 that night and we dropped hook at 1945.  Around here when the sun goes down it is like a switch is turned off.  Light ends.  None of that lingering dusk as we used to count on back in North America.

It had been a tiring few days getting to the Quadalquivir but we had to be up early early early to catch the flood tide up the Rio Quadalquivir to Seville.

If a sailboat can catch the flood tide early it can sail the entire 55 miles of River with the tide helping it along.  Trying to motor upstream against an ebb tide is just too painful and at European prices for fuel too expensive.

At 0700 we were up and by 0715 so was the anchor.

We rode the tide all the way to Seville.  And as it turned out, well beyond.

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