From Praia de Luz we sailed through the night and all of the following day to the River Guadiana which forms the border between Portugal and Spain in this part of the world. We reached the mouth of the river after dark and had to follow the buoyed channel. Luckily Neill knows the river very well having spent four weeks based here during his sailing school days. With Heidi on the tiller, Max adjusting sail and Neill navigating, we ghosted our way up river with the Spanish coast on our right and Portugal to the left. The tide had just changed and, with the current pushing us and the last wind pulling, we just managed to reach Ayamonte before dropping anchor and sleeping for fourteen hours.
The next day we motored the half mile in to the marina and moored next to go-n-sail’s “El Rubicon” yacht on the pontoon. That day, with lots of help from Debbie and Shane (the owners of go-n-sail), we got our liferaft sent off to be serviced on the other side of Spain. There then followed two days of adventure holiday with stand up paddle boarding on the beach and a mountain bike ride in to the largely empty interior. We have learned to cycle early here in Spain so we were on our way an hour before sunrise and finished by midday.
Our track is at https://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=qmisovfalrqxjrsq
Ayamonte marks the end of our “European tour”. We have now sailed nearly 3000 nautical miles from Scotland to here. Now we are off out in to the Atlantic – “island hopping” with our next destination being Madeira over 500 miles away. We have thetefore spent the last days ensuring that Artemis is as ready as can be. The worst job was definitely cleaning the blue hull while floating around in the dinghy. One of the best was stocking up with irish cream liquer at Lidl. Checking the rigging, moving the anchor off the bow in to the locker, servicing all the winches, reinstalling the liferaft and buying ten days food fell some where in between.
At the last minute a student cancelled with the sailing school so Max took the chance and completed his RYA competent crew course. He now has a piece of paper that confirms what we already knew – he is a good sailor. Heidi and Neill took advantage of being alone, a spring tide and a following wind to sail 20 miles up river to anchor off two villages in Portugal and Spain joined by the only “International zipline”. The wind was from the south so, with lots and lots of jibes, we sailed all the way. It is still amazing that you can sail an ocean going boat so far up river and be sat at anchor surrounded by land and the hills.
Back in Ayamonte, we continued our preparations and also took an afternoon to try a Parasailor sail out in the river. This is a huge downwind sail that kept the boat moving even in light winds. We were so impressed that we ordered one and should take delivery in the Canary Islands.
By Saturday we were ready to leave. But the weather had other plans. Hurricane Leslie was heading straight from Madeira to Lisbon where it arrived as the strongest storm since 1872. We tied everything down and waited for the outlying winds to pass over us. On the Sunday we caught the ferry across the river to Portugal for a Cappuccino and now we are enjoying the sun and writing our blogs.
Hopefully next time you here from us we will be in Madeira in a week or so.