36:36.78N 6:20.76W Rota Marina after Chipiona Departure

Sun 27 Sep 2015 09:08
On our last evening in Chipiona we took a gentle stroll as the sun set, taking the intense heat with it leaving mellow warmth and light. We were fascinated by the ingenious pre-roman fish corrals. They are stone walls, about a metre high that were built in ancient times and lead out from the shore over the flat sedimentary rock base, in not very regular shapes leading back to the shore forming fields or corrals. They are held together with goose barnacles, oyster shells and limpets forming a natural mortar. As the tide comes in to cover them it brings with it fish which breed and find shelter in their enclosed waters. As the tide ebbs through grills the fish are trapped. We watched the distant figures at work in their fields.
Each corral has a name; Hondo, Chico and Tres Piedras for example and one fisherman, the catador, is responsible for farming them in an eco-friendly, sustainable way. They catch stone bass, sea bass, pomfrets, cuttle fish, sea urchins, crabs and shrimps and this ancient way of fishing is unique to this area.
Chipiona has withstood the overbuilding of new apartment blocks mostly still unfinished, derelict and dilapidated with adjacent streets of pretty villas and some grand homes nestling amongst semi tropical plants and trees. The big church on the shore-side is painted sand colour and is well attended. A woman priest was talking from the pulpit as we peeped inside.
As if by accident we stumbled upon the Museum of Moscatel wine production with its sandstone floored courtyard area shaded by a vast dense vine covered gazebo. Small round metal tables of different heights were arranged throughout and wooden slated folding chairs were propped up against the walls. At the west end, through wrought iron gates, was a tiny vineyard with a modern built thatched cottage and an elderly couple made of wax sat near its door on their decking terrace. Beyond them the Chipiona lighthouse flashed its message over 25 miles out to sea.
There were just a few folk there when we arrived, drinking the local world famous wine. I had white, just like Tio Pepe and Rob had the dry red sherry. They were really delicious and two full wine glasses cost less than two euros, about £1.00! We enjoyed the atmosphere as more people arrived, some having tapas and meeting friends of all ages. By the time we left all tables were taken and we later learned that we had probably missed the evening tour. There’s as good a reason as any to go back there one day.
Fuelled up we left the next morning passing the corrals and heading towards the Bajo Salmedina west cardinal pillar beacon, to the west of the dangerous rocky bank that stretches right in to the shore.
“Hey Barb I think that’s where the original HMS Pickle foundered a few years after the Battle of Trafalgar.” In 1808 in fact and on the chart the bank is marked with a wreck on it. If you remember the replica HMS Pickle was moored with us in Viana de Castillo. None of her crew was hurt, they probably just walked ashore. She was trying to steal an advantage on the Spanish at the time and at the enquiry that followed her demise the much valued Captain Cannadey was simply told not to let it happen again and he should be more careful in future.
Saturday 26th September. In Rota marina the marineira showed us where the free internet at the bibliotec could be found. We made our way ashore and found the library closed until Monday. A young lad obviously knew the password as he sat in the shade of some trees close to the door and tapped away. You know what it is like when you want to get some things sorted out, you don’t want to wait for the convenience of others do you. All I can say, in case you have not already guessed dear readers, is that there are numerous advantages in having the ferry terminal to Cadiz located in the heart of your marina! x