Captains Blog 17 Time to Get Handy

Still moored in Ayamonte, where processions and celebrations were continuing, boy they were glad to see us. The weather was looking pretty grim, so the decision was made to head to Sevilla and posh things up in a nice hotel for a couple of nights.

There’s no direct rail service from Ayamonte so bus it was. We set off nice and early and spent the next few hours passing thousands and thousands of acres of orange trees, which we both still find amazing!

We arrived in Sevilla and in true Spanish style were hit by the hubbub and buzz of the place, as the Semana Santa was in full Andulucian swing . It didn’t take long to find our hotel, tucked away from the masses and providing some respite before we ventured out to explore.

The city was heaving with tourists and visitors. The Semana Santa is huge in Sevilla and actually helped enhance the vibe of the city. Road closures were a minor inconvenience and didn’t dampen our enthusiasm. In true Spanish style, things got more and more lively as darkness fell and the streets were even busier than in daytime.

The buildings, architecture, parks, gardens, squares, Cathedral and Metropol Parasol, didn’t disappoint. We left Sevilla on Friday afternoon after a fab few days and would definitely go back in the future.

On Sunday morning we untied the ropes and set off up the river Guadiana. Despite passing beneath the suspension bridge twice before, you still hold your breath as the mast tucks underneath it.

Our destination was Alcoutin, roughly 20 miles upriver and en route we received a message from the crew of Whimsy asking how we were and where we’d got to? Our response was “good” and “we’re about an hour away from you”!

We anchored slightly downriver of Alcoutin, just short of Whimsy and it was great to catch up with David and Nicky after last seeing them in Lagos.

We sat between Spain and Portugal in the middle of the river. At 5 O’clock the bell would chime 5 times in Alcoutin, then seconds later it would chime 6 times for 6 O’clock in the Spanish town of Sanlucar. There was a zip wire across the river with the major selling point being that you really do travel back in time as you hurtle from Spain to Portugal!!

The two towns must have fun trying to outdo one another. A music festival one side of the river, and religious one on the other. A food festival one side and a dance festival the other, each more elaborate than the last. While we were there, fireworks were being set off throughout the day in Sanlucar to ward off the devil. No one seemed to bat an eyelid in Alcoutin, probably secure in the knowledge that they’d set off bigger, fancier fireworks at their next shindig a few weeks later.

We headed up river with David and Nicky and some good friends of theirs Mike and Sheila. They’d set out from Canada in the boat built by Mike, well over 30 years earlier, in fact longer than my career in the Fire & Rescue. They were a fascinating couple, full of knowledge and information.  After venturing up the river for a few quiet days, we returned to our anchorage spot back at Alcoutin.

The next day we received a message that Geoff and Niki from Spirit of Penmar were on their way up river and within a couple of hours they arrived. After a quick chat they found a place to anchor just down from us. David from Whimsy popped over a few minutes later and at this point we saw Niki waving her arms. I waved back and smiled, as did David and we continued with what we were doing. Niki continued waving both arms and then I heard her shout “phone, Sarah”. First mate heard the shout and immediately answered her phone. Geoff had mangled his hand in the anchor chain!!!

I was immediately mobilised in Hannibal (without blues and two’s!) to the scene. Niki greeted me and told me what had happened.

Geoff was sitting downstairs, slightly ashen, but other than that okay, just a bit annoyed with himself. Niki had quickly wrapped a bandage around his hand before calling us, so it was time to unravel and see the damage.

Tension mounted as the bandages were unwrapped, oh dear, that doesn’t look good. The top of his middle finger was sliced half through and hanging at 90% with the rest being black, broken and mangled. Geoff had favoured the typical bloke solution to the matter, suggesting wrapping the bandage round and letting it all get better.

“Doesn’t look too bad Geoff, but I think it might be worth a visit to the hospital”. And so, after re-bandaging, we all got into the mighty Hannibal and headed to shore, where they were both taken to the nearest hospital.

Early next morning (3:30, you’d have thought they’d have been happy to doze on shore until a more acceptable time!), I received a message saying they were back and asking if I could transfer them back to the boat. Geoff seemed very laid back and relaxed, the medication was obviously good and the top of the finger had been stitched back on, the breaks had been sorted and the bandaging looked like a professional’s work.

Next day, we visited Penmar along with David and Nicky and both Geoff and Niki were on good form. Their plans to head into the Med have been put on hold until the hand is properly healed but at least the damage won’t be permanent.

A few days before we left the Guadiana we were amazed to see Ian and Clare from Jennyanddots, who had also wintered in Lagos, come hurtling past Gianti. It was great to see them and made the Guadiana seem like a real home from home as the Lagos wintering crew were showing up increasing rapidly. The day came for us to leave and we headed down to Ayamonte at the same time as Ian and Clare, before going our separate ways.

It was time to leave the safety of the grown ups and start making our way to Gibraltar to meet our friends Karen and Charlie!!

Toodle Pip

Captain Mac







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