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