Carry On Up The Guardiana

Ahoy there Boatbloggers® and welcome back to another action packed edition of The Boatblog.

We are currently anchored between Vila Real de Santa Antonio in Portugal and Ayamonte in Spain, at the mouth of the Guardiana River. We are waiting for the tide to turn so that we can get past the bar and on to Cadiz. Ju has often had difficulty getting past a bar, but in this case it is a sand bar and we need to wait for high water so that we don’t run aground. We’ve spent the morning clearing out a blockage in the holding tank, and putting in new joker valves. Those of you who are sailors will know that there is not much to laugh about changing a joker, and those of you who don’t know what it is – keep it that way.

We have spent the last ten days or so up the Guardiana (ooh Matron!) and very nice it is too. Though to get there you have to go under the bridge, which from a distance doesn’t look too bad….

Ex Lax Bridge

But in actual fact, there is only 20.5m of headroom at High Water. And Domini is 20m high. So that’s 50cm clearance. But does that include the Windex on the top of the mast? Or The VHF ariel? Hmmm…not sure…

So we waited for low water. Did our height of tide calculations. Sailed up slowly. Did our calculations again. Had another look. Checked the calculations. And then, ever so slowly…

Not for nothing is it known among the locals as The Ex Lax Bridge.

Our friends Ray & Kath on Cady waited for us to go through first and then followed on behind.

Katy Coming Through


Safely through, we motored up the river. And very lovely it is too.

Up the Guardiana

Though to be honest, I don’t think river cruising is for us. You have to concentrate too much! It’s not like ocean sailing where you set the sails, switch on the autopilot and go and make a cup of tea and have a kip. You actually have to steer round the bends, watch out for floating logs, keep the right side of the buoys, and all that palaver.

But at last we arrived at Alcoutim, about 20 miles up river. It is right on the Spanish/Portuguese border, so we had the dilemma of not knowing which courtesy flag to put up. But no one seems to bother too much.

Portugal  Spain

Though maybe after Brexit we’ll need to take our passports every time we get in the dinghy.

Talking of which, …there are three ways to cross the river.

The dinghy.

Dinghy Dam

But that gets clogged up with floating branches.

The ferry.

Ferry 1

But that costs a euro!…

Ferry 2

and is comfy – but dull.

Or there is always…

The death defying…

The terrifying…

The high flying…


The only one in the world that crosses an international border.

Zip Wire 1

It only takes a minute, and because Portugal is an hour behind Spain, you actually arrive fifty nine minutes before you leave.  At first, Lyn wasn’t too keen…

Zip Wire 2

but so long as you approach these things in a calm and professional manner, there’s nothing to worry about.

The hour time change can get pretty confusing, and plays havoc with your iPhone which keeps resetting itself every time the boat swings on the anchor. Still, on Ju’s birthday it meant that if we stayed in Portugal he was fifty four for an hour longer.

Happy Birthday Ju

Happy Birthday Ju! He’s started telling everyone he’s sixty seven, because that way at least everyone tells him he’s looking good for his age.

We were lucky because while we were in Sanlucar on the Spanish side, it happened to be the Festival de la Virgen de la Rabida. (Ju has been learning Spanish and can inform our readers that this roughly translates as The Festival of the Rabid Virgin.  Lyn checked on to Google translate and apparently Rabida means rhubarb, which seems even more unlikely.)

There was dancing.

Festival of the Rabid Virgin 2

It was a bit like Morris Dancing but without the clogs.

They threw flowers over everyone…


But by the time the rather funereal band started up,

Festival of the Rabid Virgin 1

…it started to feel a bit like we were on the set of The Godfather.

Festival of the Rabid Virgin 3

But it was all very charming, and Spanish and lovely.

But it hasn’t all been fun and games. Ju had to go up to Lisbon to rehearse the ballet that he is writing for the Companhia Portuguesa de Bailado Contemporaneo. They needed him for the photoshoot – with celebrated photographer Rui Aguiar.


Unfortunately, Ju didn’t make the final edit. He suspects that this is because since he had to take his top off,  his muscular physique was showing up the dancers.

Apparently, to keep this fit and toned, the dancers do a three hour gym session every morning. And that’s before they start dancing. (To get a physique like Ju’s, we recommend a full English, and sitting around all day on a boat in the sun.)

But now for this edition’s arty farty prize. First entry is a selection from Lyn, based on all things circular…


Next is this piece, rather imaginatively called, “Old Building.”

Old Building

But it wouldn’t be a proper Boatblog® without the obligatory sunset.


There’s no filters or anything fancy on that picture. The sky really was that red.

But now we bid a fond Tchau to Portugal, and say Hola Espana!


Ju & Lyn

The Boatblog® Returns

Hello there Boatbloggers®

And huge apologies for the long radio silence, but do not worry. The All New Improved Boatblog is back and here to stay! Well, the only thing that’s new and improved is that Ju has found out how to make collages out of the photos, but that’s a pretty good start.

Here at The we strive never to bore our readers, which is why we haven’t been posting articles. Since our last blog we have been simply retracing our steps from Southampton to where we are now at Ayamonte, (That’s where Portugal meets Spain on The Algarve coast) so there has been nothing new to show you.

But nevertheless, let’s have a quick recap of what we have done since we arrived back in the UK on the Queen Mary, and Domini arrived back on an old tramp steamer.

Domini Delivered

See what I mean about the photo collages. Pretty good eh.

We had Domini refitted by the legendary Chris Warwick at Universal Yachting ( While that was going on, Ju – now a qualified skipper but still modest with it – did a couple of yacht deliveries across the Bay of Biscay and beyond. As newly recruited yacht delivery crew, he is pleased to report that there actually is a job that pays less than musician. It may not be well paid, but doing a delivery can be exciting. One of our crew fell ill and we had to call out the Search & Rescue helicopter.

Delivery 2

It was like being on Blue Peter.

We’re pleased to report that our stricken shipmate made a full recovery in hospital.

Meanwhile, our exploits in the Caribbean haven’t failed to be noticed by the yachting press. Here is just one article from a selection of one.


Don’t worry, we’re trying not to let the fame and all the public recognition go to our heads.

As soon as Domini was all shipshape and Bristol fashion, we set off again. Across the Channel, over Biscay, down the coast of Spain and onto Portugal, where we decided to stay for the winter. In a little place called Cascais just outside Lisbon.


We had lots of visitors…


A new sail delivered…

New Sail

…and when you visit Cascais, the one place you have to go is Sintra. It’s like Disneyland, but for real, with lots of secret caves and tunnels, and underground gardens, and secret stairways. Perfect for big kids.


Portugal is rightly famous for it’s fish. They eat fish with their fish. A common meal is fish soup, followed by fish, and then fish ice cream. Ok so I made the last one up, but you get the idea.


It’s a shame that Ju doesn’t really like fish.

Though he’s acquiring a taste. It’s that or piri piri chicken every day.

Could be worse.

Unless you like Iberico Ham…

Iberico ham

Now we’re talking.

Sometimes lounging around on a boat all gets a bit too much, and you need a break. We went to Oslo to see the our friends Paul Martin and Jon Ensor open their new show – “The Miracle Men.”

Miracle Men

A fantastic show. But to be honest, going straight from Portugal, Norway is a bit bloody cold.


One of the many great things about the sailing life, is that you make lots of fantastic friends, with gorgeous boats, in fabulous places. Rob and Frances Lythgoe on Alia Vita are just such a couple and they invited us out to Belize. Well…it would be rude to say no.


Of course when you visit fellow yachties, there is always something from home that they need, whether it’s a new toilet pump, a winch handle or whatever. As a guest, you are of course honour bound to bring it out with you when you visit and Rob & Frances were no exception. The thing they were missing was HP brown sauce. The problem was, we were travelling hand baggage only so we couldn’t take a bottle of supersize HP onto the plane as it was over the 100ml limit. Ju tried to decant some into one of the little travel bottles that they give you and claim it was aftershave, but it didn’t work. There was only one solution.


Thank you Starbucks, Gatwick.

The diving and snorkelling in Belize is incredible. This is a feeding frenzy of sting rays and nurse sharks.

Shark  Sting Ray Feeding Frenzy

The sharks get pretty close, but Lyn managed to tip toe away to safety.

To get to Belize, we had to go via Mexico. And as it happened Alice and Ben had just started their Central American gap year, so we were able to meet up with them. And by a huge co-incidence, Rory was in Mexico doing a photo shoot – so we all met up.


We did feel sorry for Alice and Ben. They have been saving up for years to finally get away and have their own special holiday. And two days after they arrive – we all turn up!

But it wouldn’t be a proper Boatblog ® without the Arty Farty prize, but because we have so many collected over the year, we have put them together into one.

Arty Farty

But the winner is Rachel for her spectacular, Sunset over Culatra.

IMG 1280

The prize for trying their best goes to Ben and Alice for these creations, which believe it or not they made themselves, as part of a course in Mexican art.

Mexican Animals

It’s hard to believe that they’ve never done it before.

That’s it for now Boatbloggers®.

By the time you read this we shall be in Spain and heading towards the Med, so watch out for more exciting episodes.

Obrigado, y bom dia.

Ju y Lyn