Rock On

Sun 14 Jul 2013 19:36
Our fourth day tethered to terra firma (well a floating pontoon at any rate)
here at Alcaidesa Marina in La Linea, a stone's throw, and a runway away
from the famous Rock. From our foredeck its 1,398 feet tower, almost
vertically, on the North side up from the sea that gave it birth all those
eons ago. This limestone monolith of just 2.6 square miles, home to a
population of twenty nine thousand, over which so much blood has been spilt
since Phoenicians sacrificed to their Gods here and eighteen hundred years
later in 711 AD Moors settled and built a keep for defence. That building
still stands today and until but three years ago was used as the country's

Wednesday night because of our late arrival was spent berthed at the
visitors quay. Thursday morning formalities completed by helpful staff, we
were allocated and moved to pontoon fourteen to which we 'Mediterranean
Moored'. That is to say (as sailors amongst you will know) our stern is
close to the pontoon secured by two warps and our bow is held fast by a laid
line, which emanates from a substantial block of concrete somewhere on the
sea bed forward of us, which we haul over our bow roller using our windlass
until bone tight. Fenders to port and starboard we are well fastened and
protected. The remainder of the day (N.B. The Remains of the Day - a book
worth reading) is taken with boat washing and domestic matters. We three,
the crew of Pamarzi spend a last evening together, Rob leaves for Belgium
and home on the morrow. That day comes to quick and we bid him goodbye, safe
journey and look forward to him and wife Lillian joining us later in the
year. A brief trip through Passport Control and a short taxi ride to the
bustling main street of Gibraltar. Aptly though you might think
unimaginatively called Main Street. A pattern here as the administrative
offices are set on Secretary Street, The Cathedral located in Cathedral
Square, The public conveniences are to be found on Loo Street (no not really
but if you are going to set a pattern it should be done fully, don't you
think?) Eighteen miles of road and more than twice that of caves and tunnels
inside this embattled lump of Jurassic Limestone which for the Phoenicians
was one of their Pillars of Hercules (Heraculus) and marked for them the end
of the known world. We seem to have come across a number of 'Ends of the
known world' in our travels thus far and indeed as we start our new chapter
we to go beyond the bounds of our 'known world'.

Many millions have been spent to create Alcaidesa Marina and it is a fine
and well sheltered marina but sadly set in an urban wasteland. Imagine if
you will 'Hulme on Sea' (Hulme near Manchester somewhere no reader of this
diarists scribbling's would wish to live). A wasteland in terms of the
downcast, high rise, graffiti embellished dwellings that surround, albeit at
a distance its pristine, camera secured, security gated isolation and in
terms of its underclass population suffering forty per cent unemployment,
who live in unrequested, idle squalor. Contrast this with the Gibraltarians
all of whom, except the handful who chose not to, enjoy gainful employment.

Boat ownership dear reader other than a knowledge of navigation, weather
forecasting, the pulling of ropes, manually, hydraulically and electrically,
the trimming and easing of sails, the use of VHF, SSB and satellite
communications, matters of maintenance, electrical, mechanical and
electronic, an understanding of power generation, waste disposal and water
making and cognisance of immigration and passport control, is largely a
matter of cleaning. Saturday the washing machine hummed its revolutionary
tune for most of the day as Lynn laundered and cleaned below. I took my
textiles to the ships bright work, there is much of it, and toiled till
Pamarzi glistened and gleamed in the setting sun. So bright did she shine
that it is rumoured that the good Catholics of La Linea, the Anglicans,
Methodists, Muslims and Jews of Gibraltar, for it is indeed a multi ethnic
society who all live in harmony, gaped in wonder and postulated on the
second coming. This ardent buffer of metal retired below to wash the sweat
from his skin and down the first of several beers to replace the fluids lost
during his exertions.

Sunday dawned, although not religious we knew it would for we have an
understanding of planetary movements, plans laid for a return to the Rock.
Passport Control, air conditioned car and Rachel our very beautiful and
capable guide, brought to this stony edifice at the tender age of five by a
Liverpool Mother fulfilling the dream of her recently deceased husband to
take his family to a new life on this stone haven. Now forty something,
proudly Gibraltarian, with an academically gifted, 'Miss Gibraltar' daughter
studying law and a similarly twice gifted sibling three years her junior. St
Michael's stunning, stalagmited and tited, magnificence, its main cavern
used as a concert hall. What a setting for Orpheus in the Underworld this
subterranean realm of the Gods. Time was spent with the notable Barbary
Apes, Macaques actually. Endearing creatures displaying attitudes and antics
so close to our own behaviour that it would have been no surprise if one had
stopped to pass the time of day with us. The Gibraltarians are very parental
towards their apes, they are daily fed and watered, the pill administered to
control numbers, their every need satisfied, their inquisitiveness tolerated
in the same manner you would tolerate a mischievous child's behaviour. One
guide by the name of Jason has developed a special relationship with a young
ape called Wally, for all two hundred and fifty of them have names, on
hearing his name called by Jason the creature bounds to the caller's car,
drapes himself over the steering wheel and both demands and gives
sentimental affection to his petit ami, looking abashed should any one deign
to giggle or snort as he fawns with his special friend. The lovely Rachel
takes us on to the tunnels first excavated during the Great Siege of
Gibraltar (1779 - 1783) fully an idea hatched by Sergeant Major Henry Ince
and from whose portals, the tunnel's that is not Sergeant Major Ince's, we
lobbed cannon balls at the Spanish and later their French friends. Further
expanded and reused during the Second World War to control shipping entering
, or attempting to, the Mediterranean.

After farewells to Rachel our delightful guide we repair to Ocean Village
Marina to partake of a late lunch of excellent shellfish paella at El Faro
and reflect on the morning's adventures. Over coffee we chat with ancient
(well 94 year old!) Gibraltarians of their lives and travels. Then back to
Pamarzi's cool interior to lounge and chat and Facebook the rest of the
afternoon away.

Roger & Lynn
The crew of Pamarzi.