FW: Morganza Mornings - Puerto Sherry Days

Wed 10 Jul 2013 05:41
POSITION 36.34.787N 006.15.346W

Refreshed we rise and breakfast in the cockpit. Following which I make my
way to the concrete clad marina office whose interior is likewise concrete
clad. Mounting a steel stairway I enter a concrete clad room wherein I
confronted with a stony faced official. “Ola, buenos dias,” I offer
cheerily for it is indeed a fine morning and I have slept and breakfasted
well. The responding grunt is neither cheery or polite. I explain that we
arrived late last evening after all had left. This appears to annoy the
fellow of some thirty years or so standing across the counter. Unshaven,
grubby, was once white shirt, open at the neck who has most likely had a
row with the wife, been disappointed with the children's exam results,
drunk to much Rioja, got up late, on the wrong side and arrived at his
place of work only to find that both of his colleagues (as the two empty
desks would attest) had called in sick! How dare this cheery mariner spoil
his miserable mood. Paperwork sourly completed, money handed over,
unthanked I return to the boat still smiling in the manner of a puppy who
will not be depressed no matter how sever the scolding.

We cast off heading out into light winds. Full main & genoa, port tack 5.2
knots in 8.5 knots of true wind, not bad for thirty five tons. On to a
starboard tack our course to the Bay of Cadiz set. Fishing rods out, will
today be the christening of our gaff and filleting knife? Sadly no is the
answer. The wind freshens and hardens onto our nose. Genoa rolled away,
fishing lines similarly, for seven knots is too fast to fish in these
parts. The wind continues to rise, the mainsail no help now, away she goes
as the sea becomes a sharp white crested chop in these shallow waters. In
gusts of over forty knots we plug on. “It’ll be calmer in the Bay of
Cadiz,” I confidently state. It isn’t, as we turn to port so does the
wind as if to apply maximum punishment. We plug on, passing seemingly so
slowly the structures in the bay eventually cautiously navigating the
shallows and around 21.00 approach the dog leg entrance to Puerto Sherry
Marina the setting sun full in our face as we manoeuvre. Inside this small,
tight space we find that the wind is still gusting over 40 knots. Turning
and berthing Pamarzi not an easy task, but with much bow thruster we
eventually set our lines and fenders, satisfying ourselves that she is safe
from the onslaught.

Next day boat cleaning, for Pamarzi is caked in salt, then emails and
answering the many birthday wishes by text and email from family and
friends. 20.00 sees us cracking a bottle of Bolly before setting out to
find a tapas bar for a celebratory meal. The Saharan wind still howling and
shrieking in the rigging around the marina where plush new buildings lie
empty and are surrounded by half built, already crumbling structures
started twenty years ago. Virtually no one else ( if indeed there is anyone
here) is venturing out into this Levanter (for that is what they call this
wind pronouncing it Levantay) evening, for it blows so hard and so hot and
so dry, 40˚C or thereabouts. We dine on tapas remarkable only for their
mediocrity, feeding a skinny, mewing, black cat prawn heads, its claws
extended gripping the concrete paving to avoid being dashed away by this
lusty Levanter. Eventually it weakens and is skewed past us howling
pitifully to the restaurant two doors down! No, not really but it makes a
good line and truth is the Rioja really was rather good.

Morning dawns, the Levanter still blows, the temperature no less. Rob and I
are heading to Cadiz to inspect the fortifications, view the old town and
find good tapas. We book a taxi from the swish Puerto Sherry Hotel, whose
cool ,nautical themed interior recalls great yachting battles of the early
twentieth century, Valsheda, Britannia et al. The chic luxury only slightly
compromised as an earnest beetle fully three inches long strides past on
numerous confident legs, its golden brown body gleaming and long antennae
seeking. I step aside to allow it free access across the marbled foyer.
Lynn off to spend a day with old school friend Linda, living in these parts
now for the last unbelievable forty five years.

Our taxi arrives and leaves the hotel forecourt with us inside and the
smell of burning rubber heavy on the outside. We screech and jerk through
the side streets of Puerto Santa Maria en route to Cadiz. I notice several
crosses and crucifixes hanging from his rear view mirror. Casting my eyes
to the headlining I see adhered there seven images of the virgin Mary,
three of Christ himself, two nuns not known to me, and priest called
Roberto Sandiago. My first thought such piety I must be safe, then I
realise that our driver has such faith in the afterlife he doesn’t care if
he or we live or die! We instruct this fundamentalist zealot to deposit us
(in one piece) at a spot deep within the old city chosen by us at random,
in a bid to extricate ourselves from this religious lunatics car at the
earliest opportunity. Amazingly (or perhaps by divine intervention) we find
ourselves outside the very tapas bar that Rob had spoken about last evening
and visited twenty five years before. We inspect the fortifications,
imagining the sights, sounds and events of long ago before returning to El
Faro de Cadiz in all its early twentieth century oak and Spanish tiled
splendour. Dark suited, aproned waiters, acres of crisp white linen, silver
cutlery, ancient, wood and glass fronted coolers and an air non changing
permanence. The food glorious, the beer ice cold in frosted glasses, we
lunch on cuttle fish deep fried in the lightest crispest pale gold batter,
baked red peppers stuffed with fine chopped squid and herbs, roast duck
breast, still pink, skewered with fresh dates, avocado stuffed filo tubes
wrapped in smoked salmon. Ahh, the delights of fine ingredients
imaginatively put together and perfectly cooked. Our driver for the return
journey did not display his beliefs and his demeanour and the ride much

We meet with Linda and daughter Sophie in the evening, so lovely to see
them both again. Drinks in the sill breezy cockpit then we dine in Puerto
Santa Maria on shellfish and prawns and talk deep into the night catching
up on where we all are and fondly remembering times past.

Next day is spent planning ships movements once we get to the Med, liaising
with Charles re his and families visit, polishing bright work (Skipper) and
lounging around the very nice pool which we had all to ourselves at the
Puerto Sherry Hotel. Lynn off with Linda in the evening to check out the
local market. Rob and I chat matters nautical till Lynn's return then an
earlyish night for tomorrow we set off for Gibraltar.

Roger, Lynn and Rob
The crew of Pamarzi