20th November another early start for our passage to Gibraltar. Certainly can’t complain we had a perfectly Calm passage all the way. We rounded the rock in flat calm seas and got great shots of the Rock, and of Africa on the other side of the Gibraltar Straights. We had to wait for half an hour or so for a large super yacht to berth before we could get into our berth. We were waiting right next to the airport runway. Never been so close to a runway in a boat before! We were tied up by 4.00pm.
We were told not to leave the boat until customs had been and that they would want to inspect the boat. We waited about 40 minutes and when they arrived they checked our passports, stamped them and did not even board the boat! While we were waiting we saw the first airplane land only a couple of hundred metres from where we are berthed!
We went for a walk with Mark and Jennifer to check in at the marina office and we saw the Nordhavn 62’ Andomedea. She’s a recent model (2004) and looks gorgeous! James Knight has her listed (Yacht tech).
We met Mark and Jennifer’s friend Paul, who is a radio announcer and we all went out for dinner. He had a German friend Elkie, staying for the weekend. Dinner was really nice!
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, located in a prime position as it controls the entrance and exit to the Mediterranean Sea. The Gibraltar straight is only 8 miles wide across to Morocco. Gibraltar is only 6.7m2 with the Rock of Gibraltar the main tourist attraction. Population is 30,000. The territory was captured from the Spanish in 1704 and ceded to Britain under a treaty. The Spanish would dearly love it back and the British want to keep reign. The economy is based on tourism, online gambling, financial services and shipping. There are 2 casinos right next to each other, and right next to our berth in the marina! One is a huge ship that has been converted to a hotel/Casino, and is berthed permanently and the other is a normal building.
21st November Jennifer and I went shopping, we walked through the Main Street and found Marks and Spencer. Wow really nice and they have a small speciality food section that had fruit bread – something I have struggled to find for ages! Jennifer and I had a quick lunch of Potato and Leek soup which was yum before we got a call from Robbie to say that Paul & Elkie were driving up the Rock to see the monkeys and the caves if we wanted to go. So we rushed back and all jumped in Elkies hire car, a tiny Fiat! It was a bit of a squeeze for 5 of us but it was OK. Mark stayed behind and worked on Starlet.
First up was the St Michaels Cave, its 300 metres above sea level, and drops 700 feet. It’s one of Europe’s most dramatic natural grottoes. It was once prepared as a hospital during World War II, and is now a unique auditorium. And roam freely throughout the reserve
A short drive to the top of the rock and we came across the monkeys, they are actually tailless, and known as Barbary Macaques. They are wild, and it is a 4,000 pound fine if you are caught feeding them. The people inside the black car where feeding them and the macaques didn’t want to leave that car! It’s quite OK to walk right up to them but they snatch bags etc. so you have to leave them in the car. The first two we walked up to the Mama was picking the nits off the baby. It was cute.
Next up was the Great Siege tunnels, they were excavated by the British Army during the great siege of 1779-1783. One of the most impressive defence systems! In 1940 engineers commenced further excavation of 52 kilometres of tunnels. Guns were placed in strategic positions out of the rock. The cannon battery was increased for World War II.
There were great sights from the top of the rock over Gibraltar, and on their Northern border of Spain.
We had decided to have a quiet night and cook dinner on the boat, but Robbie found that Liverpool were playing live, so we hot footed it to the sports bar adjacent to the marina, which was a 1 minute walk from our berth. Where we had a couple of drinks. I was chuffed to pick up a coaster and it was a Monteiths Brewing Co, coaster from the West Coast of New Zealand. Must have been a good omen, as Liverpool won 4 -1 against Manchester City. Some of that good old All Black luck rubbed off!! We ended the night having drinks and English treats on Pauls Boat – port pies, scotch eggs, spotted dick to name but a few!!
22nd November Robbie and Mark took the boats to get fuel. It’s the cheapest fuel we have ever had, .49euro cents per litre, we took around 4700 litres, but we also filled up some 20 litre containers for a buffer for our Atlantic crossing. Jennifer and I grocery shopped, at Morrisons a huge British supermarket with fabulous selections and fabulous prices!! (Meaning expensive!)
Robbie and I had a quiet night on the boat with a movie and I cooked the Salmon I was supposed to cook the night before.
23rd November Robbie jerried up a boson’s chair so he could install our storm windows. (We have no walkway on the Port side of the boat so it’s difficult to access) He made a timber seat, with a tool box screwed on for his tools. He hung it off the crane and it worked a treat. It even worked to swing me over from the boat onto the pontoon. Jennifer and I took a walk across the runway to Eroski’s supermarket in case they had something we missed at Morrisons. The prices were more expensive on some things but cheaper on others, so it was much of a muchness. Makes me homesick to see all the Christmas stuff knowing we won’t be with any family for Christmas, but Jennifer and I have big plans to make it a special day anyway.
In my working life I used to hate doing the grocery shopping, it was a painful chore. But now, it is the highlight of the week. Especially to be able to buy what you want or need, when you want to! After 4 months in Indonesia and extremely limited shopping, I now fear that I have a “hoarder” tendency and tend to buy lots of everything. I can actually not fit one more thing in our freezer as of now.
It was a very sad afternoon for us all as “Mitchell” Mark and Jennifer’s beloved dog, who was 20 went to sleep. He was a beautiful boy and will be sorely missed. RIP Mitchell.
I cooked a roast pork for dinner and Mark and Jennifer called by and we talked them into staying for dinner and to let us teach them to play 500! We have missed our games with Peter and Heidi and were delighted to teach them how to play. They were actually very good as they have previously played Bridge, so they picked it up very quickly. Paul called in and introduced us to Apple Cider which was very nice.
24th November Jennifer and I bicycled over to Spain on their bikes, and I stacked it in the first 5 minutes! I was following Jennifer and imagined we were going one way, but she did a sharp turn the other way and I instinctively slammed on the brakes and promptly fell off! Thank goodness there was no one else around and I was more worried that I had damaged the bike, than me. All I had was a bent back thumb nail which has bruised so pretty lucky. I would have looked hilarious anyway, it’s been a long time since I was on a bicycle.
We had to cross across the airport runway, and then go through border control, they just waved us through without looking at our passports. We must look very harmless! It took about half an hour to get to the big Carrefour which is like a Walmart, has everything. We had to rush back as we had booked in Pedicures at 1:00pm and we were almost late.