We had a great last couple of weeks in the Guadiana. There was a carnival in celebration of some Saint or other, which seemed a good excuse for everyone to dress up, drink rum and flood the otherwise deadly quiet streets of Sanlucar, and was a lot of fun.
We were however a little sheepish as the night before new friends Paul and Emma from Spirit had led us astray 🙂 and we were still recovering from dancing on the pontoon in the early hours. Apologies to one of our neighbours was necessary the next morning, however the other two boats alongside had gatecrashed so were just as guilty as us.
The meal-turned-party was a thank you to Paul and Emma for picking up our new batteries from the freight depot whilst they were near Faro. They are now installed and we can breathe a sigh of relief. Two of the old ones we gave to Dave and Anna who live in a finca on the river bank. We visited them for a cuppa (and to kidnap their lovely dog Gwen for a walk) and they showed us around. We fell in love with their simple set up which they run pretty much off grid with solar electricity and water, use their own lamb for meat, grow vegetables and fruit including peach and citrus trees and have a little eco summer house to rent out. Perfect. If only the UK wasn’t so restrictive.
We went walking with Nick from Wylo II (he is the designer of Wylo boats) and were entertained by his fascinating tales (or yarning as he prefers to call it) from his four circumnavigations. This is the interior of his boat…
Later we were introduced to the business of rum testing, supported by the thick volume where he has recorded years of notes (serious stuff I can assure you). He has barred me from putting any photos of the said volume online!
We balanced out the socialising with many cycle rides up extremely steep hills, and discovered all the amazing wild flowers and new spring growth. It’s prime orange season here and we scrumped a few fallen from trees which are the most sweet and juicy we’ve ever eaten.
We also picked a mass of the coveted wild asparagus! Once you know how to spot it it’s addictive, but you do end up with arms and legs scratched to bits.
We woke up one morning to the boat covered in what looked like thick, orange mud which turned out to be Saharan dust coming down with the rain! It took a while to scrub it all off (I was glad of being on the pontoon so I could use the hose) and it stained our cockpit cover a bit.
The night before we left a big raft of canya against the boat, combined with the force of the spring tides, managed to unhook our anchor and we dragged a good distance up river with the flood tide. Why does this sort of thing always happen at 3am?? Our CQR we are using as our back up since losing the other just isn’t up to the job and it had taken a few attempts to dig in again this time…we think it would help if we sharpened the point, but its maybe a little under sized also. This confirmed to us we should upgrade to a Rocna and be able to sleep sweetly again.
By the time we’d tried to re anchor three or four times, then moved way back down river to our previous spot, it was 6am. After a whizz up river in the dinghy to say a few goodbyes we headed the two hours down to Ayamonte.
Here we went shopping for many expensive but necessary boat bits, including the new anchor. It might as well be made out of solid gold for the price but in balance it’s cheaper than potentially losing your home!
We anchored out in the river ready for are departure and it set like a dream. We are two happy (but skint) sailors.
We planned to sail the 65 NM or so to the Bay of Cadiz where we would head for Rota in the North of the Bay. If we averaged 6kts this would be about 11 hours, and there had been 15kt winds forecast from the northwest, gusting 20 ish, which would be a nice downwind sail. However last night this was upgraded to a sustained 25, gusting 30, and increasing throughout the day with a 3mt swell which for our first long sail of the season wasn’t ideal. So instead we’ve come the hour or so East to Isla Cristina and will wait it out here until we hope Monday when the conditions are better, and watching the instruments the forecast is spot on!
So after our excitement of finally setting sail we haven’t come very far, but at least it is somewhere new. After being boat bound for two days last night we ventured out for some Tapas. Isla Cristina is a major fishing port and the majority of their tourism comes from the Spanish so we got some curious looks from the locals.
Poor Ben has a horrible job today trying to fit anti siphon pipes to the heads (bleugh!) as they are fitted below the water line, and is enthusiastically swearing and muttering away…I’m keeping very quiet and out the way with a cold beer on hand for when he’s finished! Then it’s an early night tonight as we have a 5am start tomorrow for our sail to Rota…finally!