The hazards

12Minho Entrance (16K) 06LaGuardiaFromTecla2 (35K)
Miño entrance from Monte Tecla A Guarda from Monte Tecla
The entrance is well described in the RCC pilot Atlantic Spain and Portugal. Essentially, you sail up a narrow passage between the swell breaking on a reef to seaward, and the swell breaking on the beach to landward. There are 2 sets of leading marks which lead perfectly up the channel. In fine weather, with little swell, on the second half of the flood, it looks dangerous but is actually quite easy. Our only problem was arriving in the broad lagoon inshore of the entrance a bit early on the tide, and having difficulty finding the channel round the sandbanks. Next time, we'll wait for the last hour of the flood.

To get to the entrance at the right time, you either have to navigate at a predictable speed for the 15-odd miles from Baiona to the North or Viana do Costello to the South, or stay overnight in A Guarda, about 3 miles away. A Guarda is a delightful working fishing village with a safe, if slightly uncomfortable harbour. However, there are no visitors' buoys, and there is nowhere to anchor, so you have to negotiate, with no guarantee of success. We were lucky, finding another catamaran on a buoy whose crew assured us that a nearby buoy was free for the night. If we hadn't been lucky we'd have had to continue to Viana do Costello.

18MinhoupriverfromMonteTecla2 (16K) TeclaViallage3 (32K)
Miño upriver from Monte Tecla Roman village on Monte Tecla
The first 5 miles of the river comprise a wide, shallow lagoon, and this is where the danger of grounding is greatest. Further up, to just beyond Tui, the banks don't dry, and you can navigate freely after half tide, with the exception of some rocky patches, noted at the end, where you must keep to the safe side of the river. Our solution to finding our way through the lagoon was to take a day out to climb Monte Tecla, which overlooks the river on the Spanish side. This is a beautiful trip, either on footpaths or by bike up the road, both starting on the North side near A Guarda. Apart from the superb view of the river, with the sandbanks and routes between them s tanding out clearly, there is a roman village to see, and a goodly collection of religious monuments.

There are 3 bridges. We estimated the new bridge at Goián/Vila Nova de Cervereira as being over 20m clearance. We did this by anchoring just below, taking the dinghy to one of the piers and measuring the height of its base with a tape measure. We then used the sextant to assess that the rest of the pier was about 10 times greater, and guessed that the arch of the span added another 2 metres. In fact, as we learned later, the clearance in the centre of the spans is 25m. There are a further 2 bridges just below Tui, the second known to be 15m above high water, and the first being 25m. The local who gave us the measurements kept a yacht in Tui with a 16m mast! So, he could only come and go below half tide, and had real evidence to prove the bridge height. About a mile above Tui, there are some "almost rapids", which are really only passable in a speed boat.