El Rompido

Rob and Jacky Black
Fri 5 Sep 2008 11:05

37:13.0N 007:07.8W

Thursday 28th – Sunday 31st August

Well we had another motor-sail (no wind and then wind on the nose at less than 6 knots) to get here, but it has certainly proved worthwhile stopping. The entrance was very reminiscent of Dives for those who know it – a blank coast of sand with some small port and starboard hand buoys. We had the binoculars on the entrance and watched several other craft ahead of us it appeared that there was a work boat moving the port hand buoys and the boats ahead were all keeping to the wrong side of the starboard buoys! A bit disconcerting but the pilot book did tell us that the ‘Bar’ moves and the buoys are then moved regularly! We proceeded with caution and as it was high tide we nosed in keeping close to the green buoys. Once you are 50 metres from the beach the channel turns sharp to port and runs along just outside of the yellow swimming marker buoys! We duly followed this route which took us passed some lovely beachfront villas and gradually the channel opened out to some ½ mile wide with a line of sand-dunes to port (crowded with small boats anchored on the shore and people lying on the beaches) and more houses, cafes and numerous small boat moorings to starboard. We eventually identified the lighthouse and thence the new marina. On entering the main hammerhead said ‘reception’ so we moored there with the help of the berthing assistant who arrived on a bike having seen us motor in.

We were made most welcome and informed that we could remain on this pontoon overnight. We were delighted to see Carrig Hannah already moored up so were able to catch up with their news (one of the rally Portugal boats). We had showers (very good, spacious, hot water, clean etc.) and then walked up to the small thatched buildings 50 metres beyond the marina. These proved to house a variety of shops including a well stocked supermarket, several cafes and restaurants all very convenient. We had drinks with Wendy and Bob on board Carrig Hannah and turned in for an early night. The following morning we discussed our options with the marina manager Wolfgang and as we had decided to stay for a few more days we were given a berth very close to the entrance/exit walkway and next to another couple of British boats Gretel and Island Race. As the tide runs very strongly through the marina we moved at slack water and were soon all fast having again been helped by two berthing assistants and Reg. from Island Race. We were also delighted to discover we had free internet access and I was able to sit in the cockpit to catch up with sending and receiving emails etc.

We explored the small town and discovered several small shops including two that sold fish and shell fish though much more expensive than in Chipione,  a couple of small supermarkets and of course many cafes/bars and restaurants as this is a Spanish tourist destination.

There are several large hotel complexes here with attached golf-courses and even on the jetty leading to the marina pontoons we had a row of golf-buggies used by hotel guests to get to the ferry that docked at the back of the marina! There appeared to be several small ferries that run across the river so that visitors can access the sand-dunes and the coast beyond. We were also interested to see numerous small  privately owned fishing boats drifting or anchored in the channel fishing most of the day – however we never saw them catch anything!

During our stay we did one of the marked walks( 4 Kilometres) through the woodland and sand-dunes on the north of the river – this took us passed several fish hatcheries as well as over salt marsh (courtesy of a wooden bridge and broad walk) and beside part of the new golf course. There were a wide variety of plants, shrubs and trees all growing in what appeared to be very sandy soil. At low tide we saw at least 6 different wading birds none of which we know the names of!

Another day we took the dinghy and went up river but when we tried to land the banks were very muddy and I sank half way up to my knees! Having managed to get off the worst of the mud we went down stream to a more suitable spot where we landed on sand with a large amount of broken shells. It was here that we saw several men scraping the sand back to dig up cockles.

We anchored the dinghy and walked for about 15 minutes through the sand-dunes until we finally reached the sea where I had a swim. There were numerous sedge like plants ( a bit like those that grow on the banks of the River Adur at half- tide as well as small shrubs and trees. We also found many small lilies similar to the ones we have seen in the sand dunes of Hoedic and Houat islands off the French coast of western Brittany. ( I think I am going to have to invest in a book with pictures and names of both plants and birds for this area!)

After our sand dune walk we took the dinghy across the river and tied up to the local sailing club pontoon – initially we were told by the boatman we could not stay but we explained in our primitive Spanish that we had a yacht and wanted to visit the club for a drink and possibly lunch. The club was small and friendly and had a lovely terrace looking out over the river. We asked about having drinks – unfortunately none of the staff spoke English however a delightful lady came to our rescue (she was from Madrid and spoke excellent English) and translated our request to visit. We were immediately made most welcome and shown the club house. We had a light tapas lunch and drinks there before setting off back up river (on the flood) to the marina. The drinks and food were very reasonably priced and obviously a firm favourite with the Spanish as before we left the place was full especially with families.

On Monday we paid the bill just over 25 Euros per night and left on the slack water to motor down the river and anchor while waiting for sufficient rise of tide to get across the sand bar. We left the estuary at HW – 1 hours and had at least 3 metres of water at all times en route out.

Certainly a place to go back to but with some careful tide calculations to ensure you can get out when you want to!

Jacky and Rob