Southern Spain

 Home Up Winter in Rota I

wpe2.jpg (27969 bytes) So we left the Guadiana and continued eastwards looking for our winter base.  We'd cast our net quite wide and had even tried to book Madeira - full.  We were also considering Gibraltar, though neither of us was keen.  The south east coast of Spain in the Med looked a bit touristy and not ideal for a six month winter stay.  Enquiries about Morocco had suggested that we'd be extremely isolated, etc, etc. 

Our next visit was to Mazagon.  It's described in our pilot as a quiet leafy town which is probably true.  It is not however described as being about a mile from the marina up a nearly vertical cliff face, which is also true.  It also seems to have a disproportionately high number of bars and clubs per head of population.  Though not having yet learnt about Spanish time we never got to see them open.

We did however manage to purchase a Spanish SIM card for our mobile - another surreal experience with no common language, but a common understanding of the technology. Also had our first tapas of Spain for lunch.

Next stop  was to be Chipiona, at the mouth of the Guadalquivir which leads to Sevilla.  If nothing else,  we would get a chance to check out the status of the power cables across the river and discover whether the journey was possible for us.  It was 50 miles up the river with nowhere to anchor so we didn't want to make the trip only to turn back against the current.

It states in our pilot that at Chipiona  "space is always available for visitors".  So it will come as no surprise that when we arrived it was actually full!  They were really helpful however and did call forward to Rota (about 10 miles south in the bay of Cadiz) who had one space left for a yacht of our size.  This was, though we didn't realise it at the time, a miracle - as the olympic sailing trials were taking place in Cadiz bay and the place was chocker.  The lady at Chipiona also called Sevilla to discover that the power cables across the river mentioned in our pilot had been removed some years before and now ran under the ground.

So on to Rota. Wind behind mooring - of course, but we were getting the hang of it now and the two of us had developed a system that seemed to work pretty well.  So straight into the slip, Lindy ashore all lines secure - excellent.  Then someone decided to adjust the lines before settling down for a beer (that would be me). I let off the spring holding her back and allowed Samarang to gently ride forward onto the jetty and take the paint off her bow.  Why did I do that?  I don't know, and if anyone can come up with an excuse that's even vaguely plausible please e-mail it on to us.
Rota is a lovely old town which also has lots going on and is also within 20/30 miles of Jerez and Cadiz and about 50 miles from Sevilla. Additionally, the marina is only a third of the price of Sevilla.  We both decided almost at once that this was where we would stay for the winter.  We bought a couple of bikes -  which extends our range hugely. Gave up on all the folding options we'd been looking at after talking to some of the other cruisers and bought a couple of shiny silver and red aluminium framed mountain bikes with loads of gears etc for E250 each in the local bike shop. They may actually be crap, but they look pretty flash facing backwards, strapped up on either side of the targa arch in an ET kind of way. Seems to amuse the fishermen anyway.  wpe34.jpg (21639 bytes)

We went exploring on the bikes.  Lindy "of course I can ride a bike" had omitted to mention  that the last time was when she was about twelve.  I don't think I'm being ungallant if I suggest that's more than a couple of years ago.  The end result was a very, very sore bottom and the beginning of a long quest for a big comfy saddle that was to run for quite a while.  

wpe46.jpg (49623 bytes) During this time we met Ric and Bruce, two Americans on Svoboda.  Bruce was a Vietnam veteran who had lost a large chunk of leg (and came close to losing the leg itself) whilst flying his helicopter over Cambodia, when the US weren't "in" Cambodia.  He had given up drinking some years before, because it kept bringing him out in a rash - of handcuffs!  They seemed to have lived on cheeseburgers since leaving the States and as it was the Rota Tapas Festival - lots of stalls around the town square - we decided to introduce them to some local food.  This may not have gone well.  Bruce in particular had started to go through withdrawal symptoms but then we discovered a tapas called mesita - which is in fact a beefburger.  No cheese, but close enough.

Having decided to stay in Rota.  We paid a deposit to secure our berth for the winter and made our way back up the coast to visit some of the places we'd skipped when we were hurrying down.

We booked Chipiona before we left - We are learning!   In Chipiona we found the most amazing "pig & moscatel bar". Moscatels various from large barrels at E1 per glass and tapas various largely based on the 100+ pigs legs (complete with hooves) hanging from the ceiling gently curing. The smell is amazing! No wonder the marina is always full.

After Chipiona we anchored off Mazagon and then made our way back up the Guardiana.  Still flinched as we went under the bridge!


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Spent the time mainly just sipping cold manzanilla and waiting for another achingly beautiful purple sunset which is almost always accompanied by the most intense rich smell just as the earth begins to cool. It is a mixture of herbs, olive & fig trees, eucalyptus and something else that we can't quite identify, but it is wonderful.  Spent so much time there we didn't actually have time to go anywhere else, but when you've found somewhere so beautiful it's hard to find a reason to leave.  Hopefully the pictures speak for themselves.

We did leave finally though as we wanted to get back to  Rota before the 7th October which is the fiesta to celebrate the inauguration of the town's patron saint.  

Up Winter in Rota I
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Last updated 18th March 2018