Winter in Rota I

 Home Up Winter in Rota II

We finally arrived in Rota after hopping down the coast from  the Guardiana.   Interestingly, as we turned into our pontoon it seemed that our berth had gone missing.  It was of course still there, but obscured by the rather large bowsprit of a Colin Archer in the next slip.  Oh bliss.  We wouldn't want mooring in front of our new winter neighbours to be too easy, would we? 

Actually it went OK and as we came into the berth, the owner of the Colin Archer, who was to be our next door neighbour for the next six months came out to take our lines.  "Hi, my name's Harm.  As in harmful and harmless.  Ho, ho, ho.  That joke works well in English, German and Dutch, but not in French."  We never did have the nerve to tell Harm that it wasn't a joke in any language as far as we knew.  Though if he ever reads this web site then I guess he'll know now!  Harm and Els his wife are Dutch, but naturalised Swiss, which I think probably explains the (to us) unfathomable sense of humour.  Humour apart though they were very good neighbours.

The day after we arrived was the inauguration of Nosotros Seņora del Rosario - the local patron saint - an all day and night affair with speeches, fireworks and of course the procession of the "Seņora" around the town.  Spectacular to our eyes, but we were to learn later in our stay that the song says - "we ain't seen nothing yet"!

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Harm & Els with Harm displaying his  characteristic Swiss humour.

During October Rota was a mixture of a winter residence for some boats and a staging post for boats on their way to the Canaries for the Atlantic crossing.  This first month made us begin to understand for the first time some of the dynamics of the global cruising community that we had joined and how they differed from those of our old life.


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People from the boat yard - Wolfgang & Sylvia aboard "Loma" The beautiful gaff rigged steel yacht that they built themselves.

We had moved into our home for the winter and in some ways this was similar to moving into a new home on land.  A difference was that your neighbours had also just moved in and were only going to be your neighbours for six months max.  Some of them would only be your neighbours for a few days or weeks and then you would be separated by thousands of miles and if you did meet up again then it would be much later in a very different place.  At the same time we were exploring our new winter home and making new friends ashore, but again these friendships would for the most part be more transient than we had been used to.  No-one mentioned any of this in any of the books we read!  But then none of the books had mentioned what a good idea it was to buy a cheap inefficient fan heater that you could run for free off of the marina's electricity supply either!

Nonetheless for the winter, the marina became a small village community with a thriving social life - A bit like something from The Archers.  Actually, several communities - those folk from pontoon "E" and "F" weren't quite the same as us on "G" somehow.  And those people in the boat yard......!

We set about exploring Rota.  We had the bikes (though the saddle and Lindy's bum continued not to be the best of friends for some time and "sore bottom" features on just about every page of her diary from around that time)  markets, supermarkets, internet cafes, fereterias (ironmongers), paint shops, chandlers, etc, etc.  

In those early weeks we also checked out restaurants and bars of course - The sherry bar with a dozen different Jerez wines at 30cents  a glass,  The fish restaurant in the harbour,  The Tapas bar with the great Flamenco,  Bodegon Gastronomico, fish or meat and great blues.  And of course O'Grady's Irish Bar.....

We just popped into O'Grady's one Thursday evening, to see what it was like.  We left at 4.00AM!  Patrick the owner is actually genuinely Irish and introduced us to the music of Cristy More.  He also introduced us to quite a few US marines and sailors who make up most of his clientele, a bomb disposal expert (should he really drink that much???  Aren't steady hands and a clear head just a little important???) and he introduced us to Charlie!

Charlie was the professional skipper on a Swan 56 who's owner had left the boat in Rota for the winter.  Charlie had a taste for Margueritas - in quart pitchers.  We left Charlie smiling happily in a corner in O'Gradys when we left at 4.00am.  Later that following morning he came by our boat to invite us over for cocktails that evening at 6.00.  Of course the sensible thing to have done would been to fake death, but what did we do?  We went for cocktails.  Met Jim - Marine with extreme haircut,  Tracy - something vaguely military and Theresa - something vaguely to do with Jim.  Did not go to O'Gradys, so felt vaguely OK for the following evening's wine tasting!


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Jim & Tracy, with Barry demonstrating that you don't have to be a US Marine to get very, very drunk!

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Max & Linnie

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Hans & Marlene

Max and Linnie  of the American yacht Juanona were one of the boats waiting for a weather window to head for the Canaries on their way to the States.  In the meantime they had organised a  pontoon wine tasting, but unfortunately, it poured with rain to so  the tasting was diverted to the laundry and shower block - an unusual party venue.  It all started in an alarmingly civilised way, thimbles full of wine being poured and Max coming round with a clipboard asking for scores.  We  soon noticed that the more experienced cruisers were liberating the bottles after Max had put them down and were having an extended tasting of their own.  It didn't take long before everyone had joined them and the whole scoring thing had collapsed.  Then the marina security guards arrived with much  "Lavanderia no fiesta" (a sort of Spanish equivalent of "you can't do that here mate") and threw us all out, but by then the rain had just about stopped, or we didn't care any more - can't quite remember which.

At about the same time as all this was going on Hans & Marlene on Joy, who we'd met on the Portugal rally, stopped off for 24 hours to see us on their way from Gibraltar to the Canaries.  Then the weather turned bad and they were here for 2 weeks!  In fact gales were pretty much the norm for all of the early winter in Rota.


On the day that Hans & Marlene finally got away, we came back to find two new faces admiring Samarang - which always tends to score points with us.  Robert and Kate weren't sailors, or rather they were ex sailors having sailed their own small yacht all over the Caribbean before leaving the US and coming to settle in Rota with their two sons and opening a taco chip factory.  Robert & Kate had been in the area long enough to speak the language and to know their way around, but had kept an enthusiasm for the great  things about Andalucia, which many of the locals took for granted.  They had hunted out and took us to  the best tapas bars, to eat the best razor clams, etc, etc.  When we returned the complement with dinner on board Samarang, we were all still talking at 7.30 the following morning - the same time as our Finnish neighbour was getting ready for  her morning walk.

Robert and Kate also introduced us to Stella, our Spanish teacher, negotiator, translator, transport provider, and firm friend.  Life in Rota would have been much greyer without these local friends.

Up Winter in Rota II
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Last updated 18th March 2018