Given the delicate state of the engine, we were
lucky to be able to sail almost into the marina in Rota, just using the engine for the last 10 minutes or so.
Our arrival in the marina was a masterpiece in miscommunication. First of all I
totally forgot to set up a bowline, which meant that I had to run up and down
the deck like a loony at the last minute. Still flustered, I didn’t like to
argue when David insisted on attempting to berth on the pontoon that said ‘DO
NOT BERTH’. The kids jumped onto the pontoon to tie off the ropes, but there was
only one cleat on the whole pontoon – which is fine if you are a ferry with bow
thrusters, but not if you are a yacht without, attached only at the stern with
the wind blowing you off. David stomped up and down the deck (suffering
irreparable Croc damage) while he and I shouted rude things at each other.
Meanwhile, Bethany and I threw bits of rope to each other and eventually found a
way of pulling the bows in. The kids remained calm and efficient throughout our
little discussion of our respective technical abilities and
Technical hitch no.
Once safely installed on a nice long hammerhead
with lots of lovely cleats to tie bits of string to, we addressed the problem of
the engine. After spending a while down the engine hole, poking hoses and
paddling around in murky water (aided and abetted by Jim from MBOLO), David
narrowed down our problem to a cracked expansion tank on the engine freshwater
system. We ordered the part and settled down to explore Rota and Cadiz.
The old town of Rota is a warren of narrow, cobbled, twisting
streets opening onto public squares and Moorish courtyards. It has two beaches;
one sandy beach stretching out along the Atlantic coast, and another curving
around the Bay of Cadiz, cut short by the wall of razor wire, CC-TV cameras and
watch towers that marks the perimeter of the Rota Naval Base. The base, a shared
Spanish/NATO/USA undertaking, is home to quite a few Sea King helicopters,
Galaxies and Harrier Jump Jets (so David informs us – why do boys always know
what particular flavour of aircraft are responsible for disturbing the peace?).
A razor wire view of one of Rota’s beaches.
Moorish architecture in Rota.
friendly bar with wi-fi
tourist info place and the library
bakery, vegetable market and the fish market
hairdresser (for Bethany’s fringe)
choice of supermarkets
army surplus store
sherry bar (local sherry 40 cents a glass and no seats – presumably so that your
knees tell you when you’ve had enough)
lots of lovely ironmongers.
Miami Vice lookout!
Banana blooms and fruit.
Sherry labels in the wi-fi bar.
The castle in Rota, home to the tourist information
When we set out on this trip, Cadiz was one of the
places that I really wanted to visit. When we were little, Catherine (my sister)
and I had a game called Buccaneer – a
game of high seas, skulduggery, pirates and treasure. One of the ports on the
game board was Cadiz, which to an 8-year-old me sounded
remote, romantic and exotic. We took the ferry from Rota to Cadiz, joking about the
zig-zag course that the driver took for the 20-minute passage. We passed the QE
II on the way into the port. Obviously some people like to cruise in comfort –
but I bet they haven’t swum with terrapins!
Cruising the comfortable way – the QE
The town, held captive on an island joined to the
mainland by a narrow causeway, was a bigger, grander version of Rota, with narrow streets, soaring towers and shady
squares and was just as I had imagined it would be. It was, however, missing the
pirates brandishing swords and Spaniards wearing ruffs, those daft bloomer
things and tights. We visited the museum and had a great seafood lunch washed
down with a crisp white wine to make up for the missing pirates.
Architecture fit for Spaniards wearing ruffs and
Narrow streets harbouring pirates, old cannons and
The gruesome twosome and Captain Flambé.
We had had our fill of Cadiz, seafood and
white wine, so we made our way back to the ferry port only to be informed that
the ferry had been cancelled due to high winds (hence the erratic course on the
way across). After finding out that the next bus to Rota left in 2 hours and took nearly 2 hours to get there,
we wimped out and took a taxi – a lot quicker but a lot more
Technical hitch no.
Having paid an extortionate amount of postage to
get our new expansion tank sent from Barcelona to
Rota, we had it fitted, topped up the water and
coolant, paid our marina bill and prepared to sail south east for Barbate. We
had the butties made, the flask filled, the waypoints entered in the chart
plotter – and a new knocking noise from the engine. Further investigation
revealed water spraying around the engine room. B*GG*R was the word that sprang
to my mind (David says that the word that sprang to his mind probably shouldn’t
be published). We turned the engine off, booked ourselves back into the marina
and tried to find a Volvo service engineer. We eventually tracked down the main
Volvo dealer in the area who took a look and confirmed our suspicions that our
fresh water coolant pump was dead. He promised to order the part – David even
had to go to Chipiona in person to make a part payment on the VISA card as they
couldn’t order it without pre-payment (which they couldn’t do over the ‘phone
for some reason). If only if was that simple. Unfortunately, Volvo stopped
making this bit of our engine (for that read any bit of our engine) about 5
years ago, which means that those obscure spares sitting on dusty store-room
shelves have now all been snapped up, and the part we wanted was not available
through Volvo dealers in Spain, Italy, the UK, and the Netherlands for blood nor
money. We had friends trawling all known sources, and we even stooped to
searching on e-Bay. We are now waiting for the pump to be rebuilt by a guy who
works on vintage cars – oh the joys of an old engine! Looking on the bright side
(as we always try to do), at least we were still in the marina and hadn't
chugged halfway across the Bay of Cadiz before we