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 Vila Real de Santo Antonio - Profile

Location

The river Guadiana, at its seaward end, forms the border between Portugal and Spain and has been a centre of trade for thousands of years. The town of Vila Real St António was rebuilt in the 18th century after being wiped out in a flood and has some typical Algarve-style buildings.

The river is navigable for 20 miles to the town of Alcoutim.

The current can be very strong so plan your entrance carefully.

Position 37°09.68’N, 07°23.71’W (river entrance)

Clearance

This is an official Port of Entry.

See the Noonsite/Portugal/Formalities page for full details of clearance.

If yacht is registered in the EU and all her crew are EU nationals, completion of the usual multi-part form in the marina office is sufficient.

Otherwise it is necessary to visit the offices of the Policia Maritima and Imigracao at the Capitania, about 50m south of the marina.

Last updated April 2017.

Docking

Entrance over the bar is possible 3hrs each side of HW, but is best just before HW due to the strength of the tidal stream. If navigating up river at night, take care as some of the buoys are unlit.

The marina here, is on the west bank of the river. It is a public marina so prices are lower - but occupancy is higher.

Be sure to consider the tide when planning arrival. Currents can be strong. It has been recommended to initially tie to the reception pontoon, which runs the length of the marina before moving to assigned berth. Be aware there is an additional fee charged for yachts that stay on the reception pontoon instead of taking a berth.

If waiting for slack water (advisable) before berthing (or un-berthing), berth on the inside of the waiting pontoon. Mooring on the river side is not permitted.

Last updated:  September 2018

Exploring up-river

The Guadiana is navigable all the way up to Pomarão, half way between Alcoutim and Mértola on the east bank of the river. Between Alcoutim and Pomarão it is very beautiful and remote.

Keep to the outside of the river bends as the channel meanders.

There are pontoons off Alcoutim, Sanlúcar and Pomarão and off some smaller villages, some with electricity and water. It is safe to anchor anywhere.

The road bridge beyond the marina, has sufficient clearance for most masted boats, but checking is essential.

See Ayamonte for more information on facilities on this river.

Last updated:  April 2017

Port Authority (Porto de Vilareal)
VHF Channel 11, 16
Porto de Recreio do Guadiana
Avenida da República s/n , Apartado 40 , 8901-909 Vila Real de Santo António
Tel:+351 281 541 571 Fax:+351 281 541 571 ,VHF Channel 12, 16, 20
All facilities, fuel pontoon, yacht club, ATM, bar and restaurant (with WiFi), 5 ton crane. Some repairs. Security. Office staff speak English.
The marina is badly affected by both the river current and tides, and should therefore be entered and left near slack water. Berthing is tight and maneuvering can be difficult. Advisable to call on the VHF before entering.
Close to the centre of town.

Yacht Clubs

Associacao Naval do Guadiana
Avenida da República , 8900 Vila Real de Santo Antonio , Portugal
Tel:+351 281 513 769
Blue tiled building at south end of marina basin. Terrace bar and restaurant open to non members.
Larry Dickie
Larry Dickie says:
Sep 08, 2018 03:49 PM

We stayed here for three nights, September 2018. Luckily we have lots of tidal docking experience, so it all went well. But be forewarned - you need to preplan your entrance here, taking into consideration which way the current is flowing; it can be very strong. We watched several boats try to dock which did not seem to have any clue regarding the current. Thankfully for them, lots of people were around to help them, and the boats they glanced off had fenders on their non-dock side. It is best to just initially tie to the long reception pontoon, which runs the length of the marina. In all likelihood, you will not get a dock and therefore just stay on the reception pontoon. This if fine, as getting in/out of the very tight docks in the ever-present current would be a challenge. Unfortunately, you are charged an extra ‘fee’ for staying on the reception pontoon, even if there is no room on the docks; we thought that a little underhanded.
The office staff is very nice and speak very good english; the Marinaros much less so. The showers are hot and quite clean, but rather small. The town is nice and not too overrun with tourists. Very unfortunately, we will not return here as there is a ‘disco’ just outside the marina which starts blasting music at 1800 hours (and I stress the term “VERY LOUD”, and does not stop until 0600 hours the next days - this went on the three nights we were there!
We took the ferry to Ayamonte and that’s where will go next summer. There were plenty of open docks, no current to deal with once inside the mouth of the harbour, and the town has a much better vibe. There is a huge grocery store “El Jamon” just to the left as you get off the ferry.

MSalter
MSalter says:
Oct 26, 2017 12:44 AM

I am writing this post to warn boat owners about using the boatyard and repair services of Marina Guadiana. This is the first yard you'll see on the Portuguese side after entering the mouth of the river.

We visited Vila Real de Santo António and Ayamonte in August 2016 and due to rot/water damage to our wooden mast we had to make emergency repairs. We discussed and negotiated with the owner Enrique who assured us he would scarf in a new wood section and repair with epoxy. Our mistake was leaving the boat for a month and not over-seeing the repair work and process.

Later, we got a call saying the original quote had increased by 200%. We had little choice and assumed at least they would do a thorough and competent job. Fast forward a few months and we ended up selling the boat as we sold our house and wanted a bigger boat. I went back to Marina Guadiana on 2 separate occasions to meet the new buyers. I explained the whole process to the new buyers and paid the very expensive repair bill. As the mast had been re-fitted, we all assumed the work had been carried out properly.

After having other problems with the boatyard (not being allowed to work or check their new boat) the new owners set off a few weeks later. They soon ran into problems and discovered no repair work had been carried out, they had only re-varnished over the original problem. They ended up with a major mast failure and near loss of life and the boat was severely damaged. Guadiana Marina blocked and evaded emails and phone calls and refused to take any responsibility. I would definitely recommend boaters to steer well clear of Marina Guadiana.

Ingmar
Ingmar says:
Oct 06, 2017 03:59 PM

Marina not the best. Electricity costs an extra fee and there's a 20% surcharge for docking on the long pontoon (the only one that had room for visitors). No Wifi on the pontoons, only in the restaurant. Office and facilities are squeezed into the restaurant building and rather "compact" (have to open the toilet door to stand up). Office staff was polite but very inflexible and told us off for not radioing ahead even though we docked without trouble.

Perhaps this was due to a number of accidents due to the strong current running through the marina. Coming in on the long pontoon is no problem, but turning the boat in the marina is only recommended during slack tide or things can get exciting.

We paid €22.14 for a 12.4m monohull without electricity in early October (on the long pontoon). If you don't care about the town, would advise going into Ayamonte on the other side of the river - cheaper, friendlier and much easier docking. There is a ferry connecting both sides of the river.

The town is very nice though and worth a visit. There is a fuel pontoon slightly upriver from the long pontoon.

Peter
Peter says:
Jun 30, 2015 07:13 PM

At the end of June 2015, we thankfully had a better experience in Vila Real de Santo Antonio than Stan. While we did not get an answer on the radio, a friendly and knowledgeable Marinero was waiting for us at the reception quay.
You should definitely enter or leave the marina at slack water. Contrary to the information in the Navioncs chart, slack water is the time of high tide or low tide and not 3h before.
Manoevering inside the marina for boats more than 35" is not easy as it is very narrow inside and you always have a fast current running except at slack water. 4 marineros appeared one and a half hours before high tide and turned our boat around 180°, using the current to help them, so our bow was pointing towards the harbour exit. At high tide we had slack water and could drive out of the harbour safely. You can tell the time of slack water by the fish.
Costs were €48.76 without water and electricity for a 16m boat.

Stan Luyten
Stan Luyten says:
Feb 22, 2015 12:33 PM

We visited Vila Real de Santo António (VRSA) in January 2015. Care must be taken when approaching and navigating the river, as some buoys were unlit. Depths in the channel are still good around HW. We never had less than 3m below our keel upon crossing the bar. Mooring on the outside of the large pontoon that separates the marina of VRSA from the river is not allowed - not even to await slack water. The waiting pontoon is on the inside. After checking-in small yachts will be required to move to a berth. Manouevring in the marina is a challenge: spaces are claustrophobic. We had merely a boatlength (we sail a Nicholson 32) to manouever in and out of our berth. Currents can be strong. All of this would be perfectly manageable with proper planning, namely waiting for slack tide to eliminate the current. However the staff run the marina more like a hotel than a port, e.g. you have to "check-out" before 12:00, even if that means manoeuvring out of a crammed marina with 4kn of current. After having complied with the instructions of the staff when manoeuvring into our allocated berth, resulting in damage to our topsides, we insisted on following our own planning when leaving. In spite of some muttering, no extra charges were required for leaving after 12:00(and none would have been paid). Showers are tiny and not very warm. Depths are good. Staff are friendly, but I disliked the unhelpful attitude when it came to basic seamanship and prudence in avoiding damage. I recommend mooring at Ayamonte across the river. (That was our first choice from the start, but the marina turned out to be silted when we arrived.) We also saw several yachts anchored over the shallows behind the green channel marker opposite VRSA marina.

Stan Luyten
SV Noctiluca

Facebook Page: "Cruising Vagabonds"
Blog: stanluyten.wordpress.com

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