Gibralter and the Costa del Sol
Paul and Caroline Frew
Wed 7 Sep 2011 19:12
As we left the huge natural harbour of Cadiz, we imagined Sir Francis Drake
'singeing the king of Spain's beard' by setting light to the city; and then
later, Nelson blockading the Spanish Armada for months before engaging them
at the battle of Trafalgar. As a result the English ships had become
hardened men of war who had practiced running out their guns with daily
target practice in the rough seas and consequently their rate of fire was
much faster than their Spanish opponents - a significant factor in the
English victory. We sailed down the coast of Spain, passing Cape Trafalgar
and then sailing inshore of Trafalgar Bank, the scene of the battle itself.
It is said that at Tarifa, the southernmost point of Spain, the wind blows
at 30 knots for over 300 days in the year, and as we neared the point, the
hillsides were covered with huge wind turbines, their large blades cart
wheeling across the barren landscape as they captured this free energy from
Entering the harbour at Gibraltar, the tide had turned in our favour pushing
us along at over 11 knots. A Guardia Civil police launch roared up, did an
abrupt u turn alongside us, then after a brief pause, the uniformed
occupants waved a greeting and sped off again, presumably looking for
illegal immigrants from the troubled north African states. It was a strange
sight, seeing Gibraltar on one side and only a few miles away the north
African coast - such a long way from Portsmouth Harbour.
In Gibraltar we met up with Mervyn and Amanda, friends of the Taylor's who
we had first met last year in Mallorca when they had just begun their new
life cruising on their sailing boat. It was great to see them and to
compare notes, particularly now that we had experienced four weeks at sea
and 1500 miles under our keel since leaving the UK. They are working their
way west, with plans to stop off at Madeira before heading south to the
Canary Islands in time for the start of the ARC trans Atlantic rally which
leaves in November (and which we plan to do next year). The next day we took
the cable car up the rock of Gibraltar and spent hours fascinated by the
Barbary Apes which live wild on the heights of the rock. Their human
behaviour and their comic mannerisms had us captivated for hours, watching
the young apes playing games with the long suffering attendants who man the
tourist office at the top of the mountain.
The next day Tom, Jamie and Mat left us. Tom and Mat to Ibiza and Jamie to
Haslemere to start earning money to fund his gap year. We felt sad leaving
the boys as we motored out of Gibraltar, just Caroline and I on our own for
the first time for several weeks. First stop was Benalmadena, a ghastly
marina that adjoins the holiday town of Torremolinos, and then the following
day onto Marina Del Este, a beautiful little Spanish harbour, very much like
the French Riviera, nestling at the foot of the hills. All very stylish and
far away from the beaches and the holiday trippers of the Costa del Sol.
This was where Saz was to join us later that evening having flown from the
UK to Malaga.
Next we sail along the Costa Blanca towards Catagena and Alicante before
leaving the mainland at Altea and heading west to the Balearic Islands of
Formentera, Ibiza and our final destination of Mallorca.