The Douro adventure began in earnest after leaving the hotel in Mirandella. Torturous roads took us climbing to apparently some 2000m above sea level before we dropped down a tarmaced donkey path to the river. Hard to believe there would be navigable waters here! Jose told us he once took Arianne on this road… never again. The temperature rose 5 deg by the time we’d completed the 20min descent.

The rest of the afternoon was spent putting the mast back together and rigging her up, together with the loading of enough supplies for a good few days. There are no handy petrol points and few shops. We had lunch at the local restaurant… a local speciality… along came a baking tray full of beans with some spring greens, chorizo and an awful lot of pale white gelatinous sinewy chunks of porc bits that would only usually grace a rural Chinese menu. It looked utterly appalling, however, avoiding the bits of flab as best possible, the meal was actually very pleasant and most filling. Washed down with a couple of cold sagra ales and we carried on at a slightly more leisurely pace with the preparations. Mandy ordered a dry white, which seemed to translate to ‘vhino bianco verde’… the glass was served as a bottle, which fizzed as the cork popped. Asti?!? Yuk.. however, a couple of tentative essays proved the wine to rapidly take first place as preferred beverage for the whole of our stay.

At tha Spanish border


Free mooring

By the time we were done it was hinting of dusk. A couple of the floating hotels had steamed past kicking up the only disturbance to the waters as Jose explained the best procedures for mooring on the river.

 Jose then took us upstream at a healthy pace in the failing light to show us our first overnight stop. It was located under a railway bridge in a small creek. However, upon entering it opened up and suddenly revealed a whole array of shiny new finger pontoons completely hidden from the river. Dropping off the skipper and returnng later in the dark was our first bit of macboating since last season. It really brings home the personality of boat owners as I reached in the familiar places for my mooring lines to find nothing to hand, and elsewhere odd lengths of warps with spliced loops and integral snubbers in seemingly random places. The air and water were so calm that one could have simply left the boat ‘adrift’ as a leisurly parking procedure was worked out. That done, a light snack and we bedded down for the night.

The next morning we got up and had a leisurely check of our neighbours and environ.


Steam engine workshop n turntable


Dodgy old bridge


Great backdrop to the feet...



No health n safety measures here...