|20 March: We left Vila Real at 7.20am at low tide and were immediately in Spanish waters. We raised the mainsail with a reef as strong winds were forecast with gusts to 18 or 20 knots (roughly 40 kilometres/hour). We originally planned to make Mazagon our next stop, but the wind was from the NE so it would have been a hard slog; instead we decided to make it a long day and head straight to Cadiz. The wind reduced in the middle of the day and it was touch and go whether we would make it to Cadiz in daylight, but then the wind really picked up. It was blowing at about 22 knots and gusting to 30 knots (a bit too much for Jane’s liking!) but at least it meant that we just got to Cadiz before dark, at about 18:45. It was very windy even in the marina but two very helpful guys gave us a hand getting into a berth, thank goodness. 62 nautical miles in 11 hours 25 minutes.
Cadiz has a good feel to it and we immediately noticed a difference from Portugal – the buildings are in a better state of repair and it seems more prosperous. It’s a bit out of the way and so not very touristy but there’s a cathedral, a castle and some interesting shops. We took a day trip into Jerez on the train and really liked the city. It has an old Moorish citadel, large cathedral and of course lots of sherry cellars – we did a tour round Gonzalez Byass and sampled a couple of the sherries including Tio Pepe!
It looks like we will be here for some time because there are really strong winds at the moment. We haven’t had much sleep the last couple of nights with winds gusting to about 40 knots which means the boat moves around a lot, even in the marina, and it is incredibly noisy from the mooring lines creaking as they strain against the wind and from the wind in the rigging of all the boats moored here. It doesn’t look as though there will be much let-up for the next few days either, so we plan to visit Seville.