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

7 thoughts on “Carry On Up The Guardiana”

  1. I hope you’re going to get to Gibraltar and go up the Rock!! You must be pretty close now!! I’ve been there – fantastic place!! My advice is to take a tour of the Rock as it’s too hot and too far to walk around the thing!! And watch out for the monkeys!! 🐒 x
    Love hearing your stories again-perhaps you could publish a book? Love to you both x

  2. Ah lovely blog and somehow all the more poignant because I am soooooo close and yet so far from you. We really will come to see you soon. Miss you xx

  3. In the summer of 2004, Kitty and I took Tamure up the Guardiana and anchored on the Portuguese side. Every hour we would hear the dueling clocks ring their bells and, of course, the clock on the Spainish always had one more gong than the one on the Portuguese side. As for the zip line, I didn’t want spend the following week trying to get my pants clean.

  4. Excellent blog Mr Ronnie (or is it Mrs R who holds the pen?). Blogs get better, as do the artyfarty pics, and even the sunsets!
    Made me smile many times.
    Keep having fun
    Keep having adventures
    with Love Px

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s