Chipiona to Mazagon

Boarded by customs

I left Chipiona in mild weather, so it came as quite a surprise to find myself thoroughly tossed about in the muddy tidal ebb of the Guadalquivir river. As I crossed the line drawn by a sea colour change, the conditions settled and I enjoyed a trouble free ride all the way to Mazagaon, (a little less that 40NM to the northwest).

On route, my lucky blue lure caught me another free meal. Five miles from my destination, when I had just finished cleaning this latest windfall, I was taken aback when intercepted and boarded by Spanish customs.

My concern was that they might impose some sort of penalty as I belatedly wondered whether there might be size limits on tuna catches for these waters. I had heard horror stories of cruisers being fined several thousand Euro for catching octopus (apparently protected in some areas), and perhaps I’d fall victim to some obscure regulation of which I was totally unaware.

Friendly customs officers

As the customs vessel approached they indicated that they would come alongside, so I took out several fenders from the push-pit lockers and simultaneously stowed my questionable catch.

I needn’t have worried, while one officer sat (on the locker hiding my catch) reviewing my boat documentation, the other helped me decide which ports I should visit on my future travels along the Portuguese coast. They were very pleasant company and even posed for a couple of snapshots.

Snug at my assigned berth in Mazagon I set about the serious business of preparing my hidden treasure. Seared in very hot olive oil with a few bay leaves and served with sliced avocado, mayonnaise and a dash of pepper. A true delight.

Tuna steaks with avocado

It’s days like this that make me truly appreciate the cruising lifestyle. As I enjoyed an accompanying glass of white wine my only regret was that I had nobody with which to share the moment. My consolation however, was that there was a second helping of fried tuna to be had. 🙂

The accidental wind intruments of Chipiona

Chipiona at high tide

Keeping the obligatory two miles from the coast, I motored the 17NM from Rota to Chipiona in calm seas with Force 1 to 2 winds. Unfortunately, the gentle breeze was short lived and for the next three days I found myself weather bound. It seems I only ever get to play tourist in bad weather!

Chipiona is an interesting town and the days passed relatively quickly. Apparently it’s population of about 20,000 triples in the summer as Spanish tourists flock from Sevilla on mass, to enjoy the beach life (though it’s more like rock life when the tide is out). Not that this migratory phenomenon was evident in March.

The center has plenty of shops and restaurants, a pleasant seaside promenade and a few architecturally interesting buildings, but what really captured my imagination was the haunting sound coming from what must be one of the most unusual accidental wind instruments I’ve ever heard.

It took me a considerable amount of time to identify the source of the towns pervading and eerily haunting music, but I finally narrowed it down by the tedious process of elimination, to the resonating of a steel railing running the length of the foreshore. How bizarre! I bet that was also what the locals were thinking of me as I set my ear to a number of unlikely candidates in the course of my auditory investigation.