After a few lazy days, when we moved a few miles with the tide, from one sleepy village to the next, yesterday we arrived at Alcoutim at the Portuguese side, and Sanlucar at the Spanish side.
Each little town is overlooking the other one, divided by approx. 100 meters width of river water. Both towns also has an old fortress overlooking it's counterpart.
Interestingly enough, the last time these neighbour countries actually were at waar with eachother, was in the later 1600s, the same time as the last war between Sweden and Denmark.
Perhaps we could label the 17th century as the 'great neighbor war-century' ?
Hard to imagine the fierce battles that probably took place here, because there's difficult to imagine a more idyllic place on earth....
Both the villages has pontoons where visiting boats can tie up, there is water and power at the pontoons, and even a dedicating building with showers (!)
Pure luxury, for us since we can hardly remember the last time we had a hot shower indoors...
Tomorrow, the 1stof May and on Sunday, there will be PARTY here. A 'spring welcoming part' of sorts and in both villages, so we can pick the raisons out of the cake.
Today, we went to buy some food, in the morning to Alcoutim, and in the afternoon in Sanlucar.
Sometimes, life is truely beautiful.
04/24/2010, Ayamonte - Andalucia - Spain
The weatherforecast 'promised' us a northerly breeze of some 10 knots today, so a brilliant day to preceed the 13 odd miles to the Rio Guadiana.
Unfortunately we didn't find much of that breeze, when we left around 9 in the morning when the flood just started. So the engine got a lttle workout while we enjoyed the sunny weather and the warmest day this far during 2010. Around 27 degrees, means at sea one needs a t-shirt at least, because it feels a bit more chilly than on land. the water temp. is still 15-16 degrees in the sea so keeps a nice chill in the bilge where we store provisions that benefit from a cool place.
The river is wider than we expected inside the entrance. To our left - the Portuguese town of 'Vila Real de San Antonio' and at our right the spanish 'Ayamonte'. A choice to be made....
Since it's almost 6 months since we left Spain for Portugal, we thought it was time for a return, and anchored just north of the centre of Ayamonte. Right opposite a yard where 2 laarger fishing vessels was on the slipway with shafts out and propellers on the ground. A regular maintenance session apparently.
The tide, and especially the ebb of course, runs very strong here.... look at tha photo of our bow and the anhor chain. We are NOT making 4,5 knots through the water.... the river is making 4,5 knots around us!
Speed enough to make the anchor snubber (line to take the load of the windlass) vibrate at around 200 a minute producing a very unfamiliar singing noice inside the boat, especially in the fore cabin where we sleep.
Thus, the Captain, didn't sleep all that well the first night
Since the provisioning was done in town yesterday, today we felt it was time to explore the Ilha Tavira, that is protecting the anchorage from the Atlantic swells.
Not too different in size than Culatra Island I would think but very different. First of all it is so much greener. Where we could only find one (!) tree on Culatra (plus a very old and beautiful fig tree in a well pretected garden in the village) this island has lots of trees, bushes and herbs too along it's sand dunes. No drying banks on the island itself but some offlying. Another difference is that it seems a lot more adjusted to visiting tourists, with a dozen large restaurants along the beach, a little group of older summer houses, a research centre and even a camp-ground. All of this appears to be set up for at least a thousand visitors a day, but the tiney passenger ferry doesn't seem up to the job really. We saw only a bit more than a handful tourists during our morning walk, but the season hasn't really started yet.
ON our way back to the boat, we stopped at the local 'Escola do Vela' and *Clube Naval do Tavira'. This means the local yacht club, and they have a nice club house with a big signt that says 'members only' but they do not deny us a 'Sagres', the local blonde beer in their Bar
04/20/2010, Tavira - Algarve
Or, to what once was the most important tuna fishing harbour on the Algarve. Until the midth of last centuy that is, the tuna is no longer nearly as prevalent as it used to be here.
The town of Tvira has a much longer and more interesting history than so. Once we had done the 2 km walk from the anchorage to town, we were immediately struck by it's charm and also the 'colonial style' so apparent. Quite a few churches, monasterys and luxurious buildings from the late 1400s and a couple centurys forward made this town very interesting compared to the modern rather soul-less resorts further east along the coast.
Soon enough we found out the logical explanation. This town was indeed a colonial power 'spot' and thus quite rich from the late 15th century. The reason for this, was that the Portuguese at the time had conquered some 20 cities along the North African coast, among them the present Spanish Enclave: Ceuta.
When that epoque faded away, the tuna was what made Tavira prosper and ti doesn't by far feel as touristic as the other towns in Algarve.
Took the littlepassenger ferry to Olhao, the nearest town on the mainland. The ferry was a wooden boat, seemingly an oldfashion style fishing vessel around 20 meters LOA and it runs between Faro, Olhao, Culatra, Farol (the other village on the Ilha Culatra) and then the next island to NE, that I tend to forget the name of...
Anyway, nice to be able to critically watch the docking maneouvers of the crew of another vessel for a change- being very critical to my own attempts usually - and after 25 minutes we were in town together with lots of islanders with those 'shopping bags on wheels' apparently for their weekly provisioing.
Olhao os smaller than Faro, some 30000 inhabitants and not at all very touristic, esp. compared to Portimao and Lagos. We walked around, did some provisioning in our backpacks and had a lovely lunch buffé for 5 euros each. Very good and right at the waterfront! The further eastwards we'll get the better prices apparently. Fewer tourists as well as an added bonus.
We also had a look at the town museum, which in all honesty was a fairly quick affair, and saw the replica of the local fishing boat, 'Boa Suceso' which crewd by 17 local fishermen in 1809 undertook the adventurous voyage to Rio de Janeiro and back to bring new about the war against the French to the people in charge in Brazil, at the time of course still a Portuguese colony.
The boat and a beautiful tiled monument can be seen in the Photo Gallery.