“Good boats , excellent hospitality and fabulous scenery.” We booked a boat, Macgregor 26, for 11 nights for cruising the Douro. Arrival by train from Oporto is easy and not expensive - around €70 return for the 4 of us. Jose arranged for us to take the boat equipped just with a motor downstream for 3 days ( almost to Regua) then return to base at Ferradosa and take the sailing boat ( also with motor ) upstream 70km to the Spanish border.
Ferradosa has no shops so Jose took us to the supermarket at the town on the hill.
Care was taken to make sure we had enough victuals for the trip as there are few opportunities to replenish food stocks - Pinhao being the best downstream and a small shop at Barco de Alva at the Spanish border.
There are just enough restaurants (tasty and good value) along the river to avoid the need to dine aboard but it is worth having a fall back plan if the day’s objective is not reached. Found some good places to tie up to a jetty overnight - always very quiet and we were normally the only inhabited boat. A few open day boats, and some large cruise ships, use the river but hours could pass and we saw nothing but grapes gently ripening on the terraced vineyards above us.
Sailing east with a following wind for 2 days brought us to the Spanish border where we stayed for 2 nights swimming and trying out the cafes. Campsite at Foz de Sabor provides ablution facilities, café, beach and water based entertainment. The westerly wind continued so we had to motor most of the way back to base.
The effect of the high temperatures in the afternoon can easily be cured with a swim - the water is generally free from algae. Twitchers will enjoy the eagles - we saw 3 pairs at close range one day, we were in their company for several hours as we ghosted east upstream.
Obstacles include a lock in each direction, Jose will book these in advance so this gives some structure to the trip , but they need to be paid for at €10/lock retrospectively. The only bridge that cannot be negotiated with the mast up is at Ferradosa so Jose takes care of that operation. Don't forget to have some cash for the gasoline at the end of the trip and take your evidence of competence. Try to fit in an excursion to the Coa Museum to learn about the rock carvings dating back 30,000 years. We finished off the holiday with 3 nights in Oporto but that is another story..........