Sat 25 Jul 2009 08:04
25 July 2009


On 16th July, we slipped out of Barbate Harbour and headed south east for
Gibraltar, a distance of about 40 miles. I had planned a route that was
very straightforward. We just had to keep the Atlantic Ocean on the right
and the Spanish coastline on the left, all the way down to the straits of
Gibraltar. Simples! However, we didn't quite get the uninterrupted view of
the Atlantic we expected, because sticking out of the sea on the starboard
side was a coastline. Either this was a mirage, or I'd messed up somewhere
with the navigation, but it quickly dawned on me that what we could see
was not an illusion, it was north Africa! This was spectacular, because in
one glance, we could see the Spanish coast, the Straits of Gibraltar and
the coastline of Morocco. A short while later, the Rock of Gibraltar came
into the same frame of view and it was startling how close together
everything was. The straits are only about eight miles across at their
narrowest point and there is a steady stream of big ships passing through,
kept apart by a Traffic Separation Scheme.

The Rock itself towers above the sea on the eastern side of a large bay,
where about 30 cargo ships from all over the world lay at anchor when we
arrived. It was exciting to sail into the bay and head for a little parcel
of British territory. To get to the marina, you have get permission from
Gibraltar Port to proceed north of a certain point in the harbour. This is
because the marina is right next to the airport runway. A yacht with a
tall mast wandering into the approach area would create a big nuisance to
a pilot on final approach. In fact, there isn't a huge amount of traffic
at the airport, with four airlines putting on one flight each per day.
This is good news for yotties in the marina, where the noise would
otherwise be unbearable.

Gibraltar is an odd place. It's a British territory, but it's nothing like
Great Britain and it definitely isn't Spain. Gibraltarians have their own
language, which is an exotic fusion of English and Spanish. There's a big
Morrison's supermarket where you can get everything you've been missing,
like HP Sauce or Heinz Beans. Local currency is the Gibraltar pound.
Another thing you can get is Radio 4...fantastic! I have been getting my
junkie's fix of the Today Programme, although it feels odd to sit in the
cockpit in the sunshine under the Rock of Gibraltar listening to Ed
Stourton and the rest! I've also been following the excellent Test Match
Special for the test against Australia, which has been brilliant.

We've been home for a few days for a family funeral, back to Gib on Sunday
26th. Next stop, Cartagena, Spain.