Upriver - Rio Guadiana and Rio Vascao
We managed to sail most of the way to Laranjeiras where we found Jolli Jumper alongside the small village pontoon. As we had been at anchor for over a week we decided to join Jolli J on the pontoon to take on water and do a bit of dobbie - and spoil ourselves with the luxury of shore power.
Laranjeiras is most definitely a one horse town - the quiet only disturbed by cockerels crowing and traders vans hooting as they passed through. The one bar didn't seem too keen to up their profits (imagine a Portuguese 'League of Gentlemen' pub) but the pontoon had all we needed and the surrounding walks were pleasant - with being stalked by 2 friendly pigs for half a mile adding to the excitement.
We dropped anchor about a mile north of Alcoutim in comany with Ron Glas and Jolli Jumper. The anchorage was blissfully peaceful.
After 3 days we slipped from Laranjeiras and took the last of the flood tide up to Alcoutim and Sanlucar. On the approach to Alcoutim, we came across more and more boats that appeared to be permanent liveaboard types - some of them looking as if they wouldn't be out of place in a Mad Max or African Queen film.
As we passed between Alcoutim and Sanlucar, we were spotted by Ted (Edewsia) who had climbed the hill to Sanlucar Castle and was taking photos.
Toots - centre river
With good, free showers in Alcoutim, we took a daily trip down in the dinghy, shopped, went for walks, showered, disposed of rubbish - and occasionally rowed across to Spain (Sanlucar) for a different view - and to enjoy the odd Spanish beer.
After a week or so we moved upriver another 4 miles to anchor off the mouth of the Rio Vascao in the hope of seeing terrapins on the banks of the Vascao.
And the ducks soon sussed our daily routine, homing in on our dinghies in the hope of a treat.
Puerto de la Laja
Leaving Toots early the following morning, we rowed the dinghy up the Vascao on the last of the flood tide. This enabled us to paddle past the Roman weir and continue upriver to find a superb spot to picnic
and swim in a deep pool.
On the way down, we drifted with the current seeing an amazing number of kingfishers and coming within metres of them before they took flight - a truly beautiful bird. With the tide out, we had to carry the dinghy over the Roman weir.
On the way upriver we hadn't seen any terrapins but now with the tide out, the terrapins were out on the mudbanks sunning themselves. Covered in mud they were not exactly attractive but they were cute. We managed to drift to within a metre of one old fella who had clearly seen enough of humans not to be bothered in the slightest.
We are now back down river in Alcoutim, once again enjoying the comfort of being alongside a pontoon, plugged into shore power. Living on a boat certainly makes you appreciate what most of us are lucky enough take for granted: water and electricity on tap - wonderful.
The temperature is well up into the mid 30c now; could be time to move back to the relative coolness of the coast.
Rio Vascao below Roman weir