Sunseeker’s Cruise – The Prologue
The pre-dawn silence returns, as the echo of the bell fades. San Lucar’s church bell has just chimed seven times, telling the world it’s about seven o’clock, give or take five minutes. Cockerels begin to call their urgent message from the finkas and backyards of Spain and Portugal, lying on either side of this mighty river. A dog yaps in Portugal and is answered by another in Spain. Such is the dawn chorus here.
Suddenly a flash of lightning, outlining the contours of distant hills and valleys silently, brilliantly, blindingly illuminates the pitch-black sky.
I am on anchor watch over the top of the early morning tide. Sunseeker swings side to side in the rushing, surging water. The current stretches taut her fifty-five metres of chain rising from the thirty-five pound plough anchor which is buried deep (we hope) in thick, clinging mud nine metres below the abnormally high water level. She is anchored in the middle of the Rio Guadiano, in neither Spain nor Portugal.
For the people of the river this is the wettest winter on record since recording began a century ago. In four weeks since Christmas, the flood tide has been unable to reverse the flow of excess rainwater. Released from the mighty barrages many miles upriver in the hinterland of Spain’s Toledo Mountains, the rainwater forms a constant ebb stream and mocks the end of four years of drought.
Every now and then the distant rumble of thunder disturbs the silence. Looking around us, the night is very black. Each lightning flash douses the streetlights of the two villages on the opposing banks. It’s another hour and half to dawn. I think I’ll make a cup of tea.
As I sit out my watch, sipping this wonderful English tea, made with a real, English teabag, my mind reviews the events and adventures, trials and tribulations, which have brought us to this beautiful place…
End of Sunseeker’s Cruise – The Prologue