The Heart Attack Bar

Or: How to get from one Guad to the next Guad.

Ideally this would be leaving the Guadalquivir on the ebb and arriving at the Guadiana when the flood is running. And all of this in daylight please.

Do we miss the tide-less Med already?

Getting out of the Guadalquivir can be done irrespective of the tide as there is enough depth, but the tide runs really strong and wind against tide can raise a nasty sea, something we'd experienced already once, which was enough. And getting into the Guadiana is a tricky trip across a shallow shifting bar, buoyed, but who knows how accurate and maybe the recent rains will have silted it up and shifted the bar.


We spent a lot of time calculating the right time of departure so as to arrive at the Guadiana entrance about 3 hours before HW, which is the ideal situation. However, the ideal situation where we would be able to travel in daylight wouldn't happen until sometime next week. And who knows how the weather would be by that time. The alternative would be a halfway stop-over in Mazagon, where there is a marina and also an anchorage. But Mazagon is also inside a river with reportedly a lot of current, so entering there on the flood and in daylight would also mean waiting another week. Or we'd have to leave the Guadalquivir somewhere at night, which is no problem in itself as it is well buoyed, but we didn't know what kind of fishing activities we might find outside.


We calculated that in two days time LW at Vila Real would be at 19:30, which meant it would be LW at the bar a bit (one hour?) earlier. It would be nearly neap, so a not so very low LW. We had read on some other boat's blog how they'd gone across the bar at LW and we remembered (rightly we hoped) that their keel was quite deep as well. So with sunset at about 20:45, we reckoned we could get across at 20:00 on a rising tide and then have about an hour of daylight to get to the anchorage a few miles inside the river off Vila Real. This being a trip of some 60 miles meant leaving at dawn with the last of the ebb out of the Guadalquivir.

No problem if conditions would stay favourable.


Well, we all need a bit of luck from time to time.

This time the weather behaved more or less as how it was predicted. We had an easy exit from the Guadalquivir in lovely flat water and only one big container ship overtaking us in the channel, with plenty of room. Outside the wind was a nice offshore easterly at first. But why was there such a nasty chop? By the end of the morning we were still in fleece jackets but then the wind died, and so did the swell luckily. We motored for several hours to make enough speed to get to the bar in time. Which turned out to be too early in fact, so for a couple of hours we let ourselves drift along under just a staysail.

We saw no other sailing boats at all, until just before the Guadiana entrance (and no dolphins either, again!), but boy, did we see a lot of fishing buoys! There must have been thousands of them, all nicely visible (in daylight) with different coloured flags to identify their owners, but we had to keep a permanent sharp lookout to slalom safely between them. Very glad we were not to be sailing there in the dark!


Getting nearer the Guadiana entrance bar we were getting a bit nervous. Would our calculations really be safe? Should we maybe divert to somewhere else? We saw one other sailing boat, obviously also waiting for the right moment, but no fishing boats at all to show the way. There are two red and two green buoys to pass in between and at 20:00 we approached them slowly, keeping an eye on the depth sounder, and holding our breath. Right behind us came the other yacht. How very polite of them to let us go in first. At the last buoy there was a sudden decrease in the depth but nowhere we encountered less than 3.5 meters. Phew, how glad we were to drop anchor and be able to relax. Ayamonte, the Spanish town on the east shore, welcomed us with fireworks. Proof of that there is always a fiesta where ever we go. This one however had a boom boom disco going all night long, but we had no trouble sleeping through it.



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