Rio Guadalquivir and Seville


We visited Seville in September 2011. We entered the Rio Guadalquivir and anchored opposite Bonanza, before going up river on one tide. We were unable to get as far as Gelves, because of the high tension cable across the river, and anchored below it. We had planned to lock into the basin and go up to the Club Nautico, but were not aware of the arrangements for the new lock. By the time we heard from the Club Nautico, we did not think that a short visit justified the hassle, and we visited from Gelves instead. In retrospect, this seems by far the best course of action for a casual visit.


We found that the river was straight forward, if a little tedious, to navigate. Much of the distance is spent between river banks, outside of which lie flat water beds, and from the height of a yacht you cannot see much over the banks. The electronic charts we had (both C-MAP and Navionics) seemed to be quite accurate, as you would expect in view of the commercial traffic. There is one section just north of Bonanza which has evidently been dredged, but depths are adequate for yachts outside this channel. Buoys mark significant banks and obstructions. There are a number of fishing boats moored in the river with booms extending sideways for the nets. The river in places carries a considerable load of silt, with other refuse, logs and bamboo. Despite this, we did not experience any problem with our depth sounder (Raymarine) as suggested in the pilot.

The current runs quite swiftly, and tide affects the entire river. High tide at Seville is later than high tide at the mouth, so that starting at low tide, you can carry the flood for more than 7 hours. Returning, we found that the ebb set in later than we expected, and we experienced currents of 3 knots or so, carrying us downstream. We were able to make the anchorage at Bonanza just as the flood was starting. We logged 31 miles up river from Bonanza, and 30 miles down river, motoring at around 6 knots.

Beware passing commercial traffic. It helps if you have AIS and have it switched on, and be aware of any impending movements if possible (see the web site for Seville Pilots below). If a vessel passes you, get as far into the bank as you can, and beware the wash which may be considerable in the shallow, restricted water. Our AIS gave us an hour's warning of a passing vessel.


Gelves marina, looking towards the entrance
It has apparently silted, and is a sad shadow of its former glory
The marina at Gelves was only half full. We had heard that it had silted. One UK registered yacht was moored in the marina itself, on an outer berth. There is a pontoon in the river, immediately above the marina entrance, and a number of yachts were using this. Others were anchored in the river nearby. The marina allows anchored boats to take their tenders in and use the facilities, for a fee of 1.95 per day. A marineiro is in attendance, and the office is open weekday mornings.

The boat yard, on the other hand, looked reasonably active. There is a 25 ton travel lift that operates from a bay in the marina.

There is a notice on the left bank, in the approach to the marina and partially obstructed by trees that have grown in front of it, warning of the cable, giving its clearance as 19 metres. This is at variance with the chart, which shows its air height as 16.5 metres.

We anchored well before the second (low) cable, as our air draught prevented us from proceeding further safely. The holding was good, there was plenty of room, and the anchorage reasonably peaceful throughout our stay. We took the dinghy up to Gelves marina, probably a mile away.

Buses (Service No 140, 143, 1.35€ single) pass the marina entrance at frequent intervals. They originate approximately 10-15 minutes before from Rio, a town on the left bank, and go into the centre of Seville, crossing the river and turning south. This is the point to get off, when the Cathedral is a short walk north and east from here. You catch the return bus at the same place: it recrosses the river and takes a slightly different route back through the town.

Approximately one kilometer north of Gelves marina is a commercial park, including a Mercadona supermarket, Brico, and Lidl stores.

New Lock

There is a new, much larger, lock now in operation. This is allowing larger vessels to use the river and facilities at Seville than hitherto. It is no longer operated for pleasure craft, as it would not be viable commercially to do so. Yachts therefore have to share the lock with a large vessel. Anticipated movements can be discovered from the Seville Pilots web site. There are usually two or three movements per day/night. It may be wise to advise the lock keepers of your intention to do so. VHF channel 12, telephone number 618610826. I could not see any securing points within the lock, and there were no line handlers for the yachts. The commercial vessel was moored by lines to shore, and a tug assisted it into the lock (by stopping it). The gates (unlike the Grand Union) operate by withdrawing sideways across the lock, and vice versa, so they do not require clearance ahead or astern. There are two massive road bridges over each end of the lock, that were raised at the time we saw them.

Our AIS showed the position of a vessel in the new lock
It subsequently crossed over the 'land' opposite!
A ship in the new lock, with attendant tug
Two yachts are in the lock, forward of the ship

Lifting bridge Puente de la Delicias

In order to reach the Club Nautico berths, it is necessary to pass through the Puente de la Delicias lifting bridge. This only opens on prior arrangement (contact the Lock Keepers one hour before), on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 2200 hrs, and on Saturdays and holidays at 2000 hrs.

The Delicias lifting bridgeThe Club Nautico seen from across the river

Club Nautico

The Club Nautico occupies premises on the left bank. Yachts moor bows/stern to the pontooon. The club has sporting facilities, and is close to the older (touristic) part of the town. The bankside opposite, which used to be industrial dockside, is no longer used as such and is being re-developed in keeping with its otherwise scenic surroundings.

It was some time before we drew a response to our Google-translated e-mails although they were being read, and when the responses did come they were in Spanish. E-mail Club Náutico Sevilla. They all appeared to come from Óscar Santos García. Oscar did his best to encourage us to visit, but language was a problem, and we did not know exactly what we might expect, particularly regarding the lock and the tariff at the Club.