This section takes us as fron the Algarve (Portugal) to the Spainish region of Andalucia. To continue our journey please use the following link: Spain (Andalucia)
Log Entry Thursday 26th June
The final entry in this region, we have enjoyed this section - time to move on in more ways than one.
It is time for Mum to leave us, the two weeks have seemed to pass very quickly. There is a high degree of emotion as one would expect, we are sure Ann has enjoyed her experience with us, but I feel she is looking forward to returning home and seeing her friends as one would expect. It was lucky I had bolt cutters on board as she may have missed her flight! I did ask that she posted the padlock key on as soon as it became available? We will miss her dearly, she keeps saying she will be back in September - emotionally confused I think?
Log Entry Wednesday 25th June
We traveled down river, under the suspension bridge to Villa Real De Santo Antonio, we check into the marina for a couple of nights, we have a lot to do. When we drop Ann's mum off we need to prepare to continue our journey east into the Mediterranean.
The town itself is very clean and well kept, it is very focused around the tourist industry with many small shops selling basically the same items. It has a normal complement of street cafes, markets etc.
Log Entry Tuesday 24th June
We travel back down the Rio Guadiana towards Santo Antonia, from there we will take Ann (Mum) by train to Faro where she will catch her plane home. We stop for a night at Foz De Oldeleitte as we decide to have a farewell party at the Aroos Do Guadiana Restaurant (the only bar/restruant in the town). We had typical portuguese food, with an excellant tapas style table organised by Rudi (the proprietor), we followed on with a mix of sea food and meats. The local wine was excellant, created less than a mile away - a good night for all.
Log Entry Monday 23rd June
With the weekend now over it's back to reality - we are off to Alcoutim (Portugal), a brief look around the town and to pick up a few supply's.
The town is of totally different contrast to Sanlucar de Guadiana, and caters well for the visitors, bars, cafes and restaurants - it even has a shop! We walk around it's perimeter, it seems strange to us to see abandoned fruit orchards with the fruit rotting on the ground? A much more friendlier town than that on the Spanish side, at least on the shoreline.
Log Entry Sunday 22nd June
Sunday, being a religious day, after church we decide to take it easy, a break from the normal every day stresses of our existence. Ann (Mum) keeps her eye on all of the local happenings - not much gets past her! She makes a new friend, a duck from the Spanish side of the river, it soon gains confidence and gets up on deck. It feeds from our hands, and makes a daily return for its lunch. The other ducks are not quite as bold, but they do not reap the benefits.
The Portuguese side of the river is far more busy than the Spanish with numerous visiting ferries (of all sizes) deploying people, we saw very little "tourist traffic" visit the Spanish side?
Ann (Mum) logs and reports on every activity.
Log Entry Saturday 21st June
We continue up river, our destination is an anchorage between Alcoutim (Portugal) and Sanlucar de Guadiana (Spain) a further ten miles up river. This section was a little different to navigate, depths seldom dropped below two meters below the keel, the issue was debris, floating logs, rafts of bamboo etc. At times Ann took position on the bow as look out. We left with the tide, we were amazed at the cross section of vessels on the water way, and of coarse the many different nationalities.
We drop our anchor, along with a quite a few others between the two towns, it seems strange to be located between two countries - no registration with either nationality? The two town clocks chime the "hour" within seconds of each other, Spain always one hour ahead?
We debate our first port/country of call, Spain or Portugal - Ann's mum picks Spain, it's off to Sanlucar de Guadiana!
We go ashore after dinner, the town itself is pretty but very quiet, we walk the deserted streets. As darkness falls we decide to visit the only cafe/restaurant on the water front as we return to the dinghy - the Ann, Ben and Mum favour sangria, Lara and I stick with the local beer.
Log Entry Friday 20th June
Beyond the suspension bridge up river is large inland water way to explore, the intended trip is complicated as we have three variations of the bridge height which is quite critical, for our mast any way! We had enquired at the Harbour Master's office, a diagram supplied confused us further. Analysing all the data available the decision to go up river is made and off we go! As we approached the bridge the crew began to debate "how high it does not look", tension built as we approached the point of no return. The skipper demanded silence as he was confident in his calculations but he did brief the crew as to how to take cover should they hear a loud "crack" (just in case - non of us are perfect). The skipper remained fully focused as one would expect, we passed under safely of coarse.
We continue up river for about 8 miles, at times with less than 0.5m below our keel. An interesting challenge searching for the deeper portion of the channel. As we move into "fresh, non-salt water" the vegetation begins to change accordingly on both banks. For the first couple of miles on the Spanish side the developers had moved in the sky line littered with cranes, they soon disappear as the terrain becomes more rugged and isolated. There is no real development as yet on the corresponding Portuguese side of the river
The temperature increases notably as the journey up river continues, as does the mosquitoes and bugs. We arrive at Foz de Odeleite, a small town on the Portuguese side of the river. The anchorage is busy, we decide to stop and continue on the next day. The vessels at anchor and on the "free mooring buoys" are of mixed nationality, the type of vessel also varies significantly.
We drop our anchor, Lara and Ben (Rosina) come over, Lara and Ann are to make mosquito nets for the hatches, Ben and myself are to be the advance party into the town to see what's there?
The town, well, better called a series of dwellings, most un inhabited, had no real streets, the pathways were made of sand and slate. Trenches ran down the centre were the rain water obviously flowed. There were fresh water taps on the street corners, perhaps no piped water to some of the properties?
We found the post office, or rather what looked like the "mail depository" only a small number of the boxes had names on them, and of coarse it include an out going mail box. There were no shops of any kind - there was a bus stop, where too, we were unsure.
We did find the only bar on the road side, we sampled the local beer to be sociable. We sat on the veranda, with two locals and a gentleman who appeared to be the proprietor? The two old guys had obviously been there a while as in front of them they had a pile of beer bottle tops making it easier to settle the bill? As we sat the odd car passed on the main road, all waved to the three guys behind us, clearly they were there most days? We were intrigued to see one of the local guys appear, walking two dogs (one with only three legs, one seriously bald) and two goats on leads. He stopped and chatted for while with the other gents and then carried on, a strange town indeed. We walked on to find "some thing else", we gave up, there was not anything within walking distance, especially in the afternoon heat. We returned to the bar to "re-hydrate" and then gave a full report on our findings to the girls.
Log Entry Thursday 19th June
We are anchored off Ayamonte (Spain) on the Spanish side of the river, the entrance (bar) was very shallow but once inside depths are good. The difference in the river banks is significant - let alone the time difference! The Spanish side is one hour forward of the Portuguese river bank. With the exception of Vila Real De Santo Antonio (Portugal) the Portuguese river bank is under developed, Ayamonte (Spain) is heavily developed maintaining a sizable fishing fleet, both towns have a marina. Ferries run continuously across the river, the waters are also busy with the expect "river trip" vessels from both countries.
Our first trip to Spain for some time has to be under taken by dinghy, the tide is strong and the waters busy. We find a place to land difficult, we head into the marina to ask if we can land and leave our dinghy there. The office doubles as the Harbour Master, they are very helpful - do not even charge for the use of their facilities!
The town is extremely busy and vibrant, a mix as one would expect between Spanish and Portuguese decor, lots of British and the usual "stuff" associated with them (All day English breakfast, English tea's) - shame! Some thing we have now to get used too.
The trip back has the tide in our favour, the activity on the river is now in full flight, it takes a little longer to get back on board, dogging the bow waves from the passing vessels.