Sailing to the Bay of Cadiz and Rota

Fri 24 Sep 2010 18:05

To gain the most favourable tides and currents for ensuring best passage from Gibralter and through the Straits meant that we had to leave the La Linea anchorage at 0530 hours.  We wound our way through the many ships at anchor in the Bay of Algerciras towards Punta Carnero, where we turned into the Straits, keeping an eye on our speed over the ground (SOG) to ensure we remained in the ‘best’ water and kept an average speed of 6 knots.  

I recently found out that around 90,000 ships a year pass through the Straits and nearly 30,000 call in the Bay of Algerciras, which is also Spain’s top fuel-supplying port.  This is one of the main reasons when passing through the Straits that you keep a good look out, as it's a bit like the M25 at rush hour!

As we listened to Tarifa traffic on the VHF, we heard the radio operator from the British cruise liner, The Oriana, advising they had 2,580 passengers and crew onboard and they were heading to Palma, Mallorca . About ½ hour later, we could see the lights clearly depicting it’s shape in the distance, as it passed us going the other way. 

Once we were safely around Tarifa, the wind became favourable and we were able to sail round into the Bay of Cadiz.  Our friends Alan and Anne (Sula Mac) had many times talked about the virtues of Rota, so on their recommendation we headed for the marina, although as conditions were good we decided to spend the first night at anchor in the nearby bay.   We headed into the marina the following morning.  Michael was not too happy arriving at the reception pontoon as he came in very close to the pontoon causing the fenders to rise.  The only screw head sticking out from the pontoon caught Nimue and put a small scratch down the side.  Needless to say, we need to polish this out, the next time Nimue is lifted out of the water. 

Rota Marina and reception pontoon - far right

Rota is an interesting old town with stone archways, spanning its narrow streets.  The outstanding parish church “Nuestra Senora de la 0” is decorated in highly impressive styles, including Gothic and Baroque.  Beyond the old town, we were able to find good supermarkets and after a long walk found an excellent ‘Ferreteria’ (hardware/ironmongers store) to change our camping gaz cylinder.  We also purchased 2 stainless steel 'lorry straps' to hold jerry cans on deck, which are used to hold extra fuel for long passages. 


Merced Tower (remains of the ancient Merced Convent)                                      Coffee in the Old Plaza


        The beautifully decorated parish church “Nuestra Senora de la 0”


    The main Altar                                                The organ                             Anne outside the church

About 1mile from Rota is the US Naval Base and one evening we ended up chatting to a few of the young US military personnel in one of the Irish bars.  Interestingly enough, they had a ‘chaperone’ with them, who didn’t drink and was able to ensure they all got back to barracks safely!

We can now see why Alan and Anne expounded the virtues of Rota and we think is an ideal place to winter a boat.