53 NM "36:09N 5:22W"
On our way to Gibraltar. It is a very pleasant day but no wind
whatsoever, so we are motoring along the shore enjoying the spectacular scenery.
We arrived to Gibraltar around 18.30 and tied up the boat (very easy
with 4 people). The Queensway Quay Marina is at a beautiful location.
Immigration and check-in was, believe it or not, conducted at the same place, in
office. Their staff were attentive
and efficient. Perhaps they have one rule too many for the marina. By the time
the friendly officer listed them all my head was spinning. We went out for
dinner on the quay. As it later turned out this was a terrible mistake as Pepe, the restaurateur, runs a “get rich
quick” scheme, charging horrendous prices for his pretty average creations.
to forecasted bad weather: W/NW head wind, Beaufort 8 gusting to 10 we resigned
to spend a couple of days in Gibraltar. What
luck! I could imagine many worse
places to be stranded.
all visited Gibraltar, the town, which is an
incredible time capsule of all things British. If you are interested how
Britain looked 30 years ago,
come and visit Gibraltar. The Main street (aka
Street) looks like a proper English town main street
should look. Two-three story buildings in orderly fashion, shops with
traditional shop windows displaying goods in conventional arrangements. None of
that fancy, innovative crap when you cannot tell what exactly they sell. Mind
you, the buildings were built by Genoese and Sicilians builders who were invited
after the Great Siege (see below) to create a town over the rubble generated by
80 years of war. Honoring its duty free status every second store sells either
alcohol or perfume. I was wondering if they were originals. Also, the red phone
boxes and Royal mail boxes looked like we were in England.
police (at least some of them) still sport their famous “Bobby” looks with the
hat and all. Actually, they greeted us with a friendly “Good Evening” as we
walked through the Main
Street at night. And above all, the time honored sign
of Britishness, all hand wash basins equipped with two taps. Hot and Cold. No
continental mixer taps for the proud
Rock “came” from Africa approx. 200,000 years ago, around the same time the
Mediterranean basin was filled by a giant waterfall 10 km long and 10 km wide
from the Atlantic ocean. Gibraltar has been populated from 50,000 BC. Perhaps the
same people who managed to reach Australia across the Torres straight also
wondered through the Gibraltar straight? In the
ancient world Gibraltar was known as “mons
cappe” the legendary pillar created by Hercules as a religious shrine and as an
entrance to Hades. To many it signified the “non plus ultra” the end of the
known world. The usual tussle between the Mores and the Spaniards was acted out
for 1,000 years, then the Spanish took solid possession of the Rock until 1704.
But, during the Spanish Succession War Archduke Carlos invited the Anglo-Dutch
forces, who duly took Gibraltar, never to return it to Spain.
The fate of Gibraltar was sealed by the Utrecht
Treaty in 1713. But the Spaniards never accepted this decision and they fought
13 wars to return the enclave to Spain. The last and longest siege,
now referred to as the Great Siege, started in 1779 and lasted for three years,
during which the Rock was cut off. The garrison was saved thanks to three
reliefs by the Royal Navy. Of course Gibraltar
played a vital role in WWI and II.
It was bridgehead for the Antant/Allied forces. With Italy and Spain on the side of Hitler, Yugoslavia and Greece occupied,
this was the only way for the American and British forces into the Mediterranean
basin. Though, threatened by an all out war by Churchill, Franco never let the
German troops to march across the Iberian
Peninsula, the situation remained precarious for the Allied
forces. (The drama was wonderfully
played out in the famous movie “Das Boat” through the pursuits of a German
submarine crew who dived to previously unimaginable depth and managed to sneak
through the blockade. Their achivement was in vain though as they were bombed
into oblivion on their glorious reception. Until the movie was made, at least.)
The Spanish remain unhappy about Gibraltar,
talking about a long memory. The threat of war was replaced by economic
blockades in 1969and 1985. However in spite of its turbulent history and
posturing by the Spanish government Gibraltar
is a very pleasant place where there is no sign of anonymity between the
supper I, cooked Beef Provencal, so we denied Pepe another good night’s income.
It tasted wonderful with the South African red, courtesy of Mark and Kynan. Then
we hit town and with high hopes we visited the pub on the main square to
experience how the locals celebrate Halloween. According to Kynan they need more
practicing. Some people returned to the boat very late (early). Those American
sailors must have taught the locals well and Kynan revised his
Sunday was a lazy
day. Everyone was taking it easy. But, we managed to visit the Rock, St
Michael’s Cave that is supposed to connect Africa with Europe, the Tunnels where all those wars were fought and
met the monkeys. According to the legend they arrived through St Michael’s Cave.
According to another legend the day they disappear Gibraltar will cease to be British. In this enlightened
world, of course no one believes in these superstitions but, just to make sure,
not only the Royal Army takes care not only of their diet and medical
requirements but each monkey has a name and I suppose it receives physiological
counseling if required.
Working day, continuing the preparation of Fenix for the