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Laguna Square
10/10/2008, Ayamonte

Laguna Square 10/10/08

Laguna Square is the prettiest place to stop for a coffee or glass of wine and is packed with families at the weekends. October and still in sandals - can't be bad!

The English Shop
09/25/2008, Ayamonte

I started exploring the town with Joyce who was over wintering with her husband Peter on our pontoon, they had already spent 5 years in Spain at Aguadulce. We did a lot of walking to keep fit most days, along the riverside or around the many steep streets of the town, we soon became experts at where to shop economically. A good workout except for the times we stopped at a Pastilaria for coffee and cake or had wine and tapas at one of the numerous local bars. As Ayamonte has no beach it doesn't attract so many tourists with children and there are a lot of English people living in apartments so we found the inevitable shop stocking English food and products opposite the river and Plaza de Espana. I only went there to buy Toilet Duck, Chunky Caramel Kitkats plus the odd tin of baked beans as in my view the whole point of living abroad is to have a change. There was also the Euro Shop with it's book swap but there were never any titles we wanted though they did stock apple sauce!

Somewhere to stay
09/11/2008, Ayamonte

Somewhere to stay Ayamonte 11/09/08

We were warmly greeted in Ayamonte by Brian and the two Peter's who were staying over Winter and were quick to suggest we did too as they had got a 30% discount for 6 months. Ayamonte belongs to the Andalusian Marina group (Puertos de Andalusia) which offers very reasonable prices compared to the silly ones., although it has the least array of services compared to the other 11 but it had all you really need. We knew the town was pleasant and had good shopping facilities and flights home from Faro would be easy using either the train from Vila Real or airport transfer to get there so we signed up. .

Crossing the river we had just flipped the fenders aboard as it was only 10 minutes and we would be berthing starboard to again anyway. Tying up Steve noticed straightaway that one was in a pointless position and on moving it he spied a huge scratch underneath on our new paintwork. Things all fell into place as I remembered that when I came to dump the waste in the bin before we left VR the bin appeared to have moved - magic? No we suspect the boat must have pulled along the pontoon to fit another boat in and damaged then with the fender moved to hide it. We had been out the previous afternoon and didn't notice any change on return because we were still behind a big cat, but on reflection remember it was originally 2 big Cats behind us. What rotters, of course nothing we could do but fume.

No room at the Inn
09/08/2008, Vila Real

No room at the Inn 08/09/08

We arrived back in an almost full Vila Real where after trying to squeeze us into the wrong sized berth (we later realised that the marinairos we given the wrong number by mistake as we watched while they failed to fit a Dutch yacht in the same space an hour later!) So we ended up on the outer pontoon for large Cats, which proved to be rather turbulent but we couldn't move as the engine, a little considerately stopped just as we moored. One of the young marinairos organised an electrician who spoke no English but he helpfully stayed around to translate. We asked if there was room for us to stay for a fortnight but the office kept being vague and finally said no so we went over to Ayamonte to see if they had space, which they did.

There was an annual Mediaeval festival nearby at Castle Marim but we would be away when it happened but one to look out for in future.

Bay of Cadiz
09/05/2008, Cadiz

We set off back to Vila Real and decided to stop at one of the 5 marinas in the Bay of Cadiz.

Our first try was Puerto de Santa Maria up a river. We tried to raise the marina on the radio, then telephone and no one answered, so as there did not seem to be any obvious spaces we gave up and went on to Puerto Sherry. By now it was about 7.30pm but not really late for summer sailing. We radioed as we approached, a good tactic we find in Spain as they are less likely to send you away if you are on the door step so to speak! No answer again so we tied up at the visitors pontoon and Steve went up to the office which was shut so we decided to stop as it was getting late. We were joined later by an elderly gentleman on a Vancouver 28, we offered to help him more but could tell as he approached that he was an experienced solo sailor. He told us that he had just returned from his 5th Atlantic crossing and particularly liked the visiting the Azores. He looked to be in his seventies and still living life to the full, I can only hope we will be as fortunate with our health in the future.

The marina is a long walk from town though there are buses. There was little there but a few bars, restaurants and a small, expensive food shop. However we went for a walk along the road overlooking the bay and found a delightful bar with a great view of Cadiz lit up at night. There was a Moroccan theme to the d├ęcor and you could borrow a hookahs to smoke. I ordered a Caprinhrina and had to wait until the owner's husband returned to make it as she did not know how. It was about the size of 3 usual ones and served with wafer thin slices of Manchego cheese which was delicious. A very peaceful end to the day.

When Steve went to pay the following day at the office he was stunned when they didn't charge him!

Rota and Babate
09/05/2008, Cadiz

We had to motor to Rota as there was little wind again. The new canopy we had made to fit under the main is very useful at keeping most of the sun off without interfering with visibility and can be used when under sail - if that ever happens.

We only stayed a night in Rota, Steve was cross as they made us pay for a longer berth, he pointed out that there were lots of spare berths but they were not sympathetic and as it was late we gave in.

We set off the next morning for Babate as we crossed the neck of the bay of Cadiz we passed several boats with divers down. We passed the city with its golden-domed cathedral standing out as a clear land mark in the distance. Typically the wind was on the nose, a 4-5, if only we were going west. As we passed the Trafalgar lighthouse we thought of Nelson who came from Norfolk and went to school at what is now the King Edward V1 Independent school in Norwich. By coincidence I lived in the basement flat of Nelson House in Exmouth for a year when I was at College. Apparently Lady Hamilton lived there for a time. We skirted the worst of the Trafalgar banks where a number of warships were wrecked after the battle of the same name.

The marina at Babate was shut when we arrived so no shower and pontoon card so we climbed out and set off into town in search of food. It was about half an hour walk along a dusty, busy road into the seaside town where we had a Chinese meal and then as we were shattered took a taxi back, helped by a kind, young waitress who ordered it for us as our Spanish is practically non-existent.

The next day the wind was stronger and unfortunately coming from the east thus making a passage to Gibraltar a non starter. On chatting to the locals they reliably informed us it was the Levanter and would be 7-10 days before it blew itself out. We realised we would never make it to Almerimar in time for the flights home (luckily they were so cheap we could afford to lose them) so we decided to turn back and find somewhere secure to leave the boat until our return.

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