I couldn’t wait to explore the Rio Guadiana. I had heard so many people raving about it so that I didn’t want to miss out on this little inland adventure.
The Guadiana forms the border between Portugal and Spain and is navigable for the first 30 miles or so. Under the condition that you fit under the bridge with a clearance of – depending on the specification – 18 to 23 meters. Fortunately, this is not a problem for ahora.
After the wonderful day of sailing from Tavira, Micha from Sailing Terra and I set off the next morning up the river. The wind was perfect, so the engine had a day off once more. Pushed by a tailwind and by the tidal current, we sailed about 20 miles up the river to Alcoutim, a cute little town with a lively liveaboard community.
This trip was one of the coolest sailing experiences I’ve ever had. Sailing relaxed with just the genoa ahora was gliding side by side with Terra, following the gently meandering river. Most of the time, our boats were less than three meters apart and we could chat comfortably throughout the whole trip. The experience reminded me a little bit of a relaxed side-by-side cycling on a wide bike lane without traffic.
While the vegetation was rather sparse at the mouth of the river and the river banks were used for agriculture, the shores became noticeably greener starting about halfway up to Alcoutim. From here, the salinity of the water was apparently low enough for “normal” riparian plants.
The anchorage in Alcoutim is beautiful. With a view on the village, but yet very calm. It smells like land and in the morning, I wake up from the sound of roosters instead of the screams of seagulls.
River life has some advantages: there is no swell and usually less wind than on the coast. And supposedly the algae film on ahora’s underwater ship is said to die after a week in fresh water. I am curious.
Speaking of fresh water: The jump into the river was the first time in three months that my skin got washed with fresh water. An almost strange feeling, without the salt on the skin …
But anchoring in the river also has disadvantages: Twice a day (due to the influence of the tides) the direction of the current changes, and if there is wind at the same time, the boats at anchor perform a strange dance due to the different shape of their hulls, in which they are sometimes dangerously close to each other. When swimming in the river, you have to be careful so that you can still make it against the current and the water is generally brown and looks rather unappetizing (but is probably of good quality nevertheless). In addition to the sediments, many reeds and all sorts of larger driftwood float in the river, which gets caught in the anchor chain and dinghy.
I will probably stay here for a few days. The new Klabauter-Shop office is already set up, on a terrace with a wonderful view over the river and the anchoring boats.
I am also looking forward to a few nice days with my friends from the Vagabonde, who managed to get through the bridge despite their 20.50 meter mast height and are now on their way up the river.
All is well (and relaxed)