Between a Rock and a ….

Sailing from Marina Smir to Gibraltar would be Stan and Judy’s last sail. They’d been great to be on board as we sailed down from Lisbon to the Med.

We ended up completing our exit paperwork at the Marina Smir and leaving about 15min after Kevin and Di. Trying to put the sails up into the wind, we found our wind direction had completely gone potty. So we’d have to sail, judging wind direction the good old fashion way. The 12nm sail up along the East Coast of Morocco was very pleasant, but as we neared the Straits of Gibraltar, the wind started to pick up and we had 35kts on the nose in no time at all. One minute we were sitting on the bow watching the dolphins play between our hulls, the next minute we were rushing to put in a couple of reefs.

Approaching Gibraltar provided us with spectacular views of “The Rock”. The latest theory is that the Rock rolled there from Corsica (don’t ask me how and landed there upside down. Our tack took us slightly east of the Rock so that meant we got a really good view of it coming in.

We hadn’t got anyone to commit to giving us a berth in Gibraltar because Ocean Bay marina was undergoing major works and that was severely limiting the number of berths available. Our strategy was just to call in and see what we could get and then go round to Le Linea (which is just across the border in Spain) as we knew they were pretty empty.

But we were in luck as Queensway Quay marina had a berth for us. This would be our introduction to “Mediterranean Mooring”, where you either hook up to some lines that the marina supply out the front (or drop your anchor if no lines are supplied) and back in between your two neighbouring boats and tie off to the jetty. Then you get out your very expensive paraselle, which gets you from the back of the boat to the jetty. Lets just say it was good to get the first one out of the way.

Next morning, it was time to say goodbye to Stan and Judy, who headed off home to Canada, via Savilla and Lisbon. Then it was off to get the lay of the land. Gibraltar works off Gibraltar Pounds, which are worth the same as UK pounds. Coins are the same, notes are different. It was interesting to find myself secretly liking the fact that it’s so much easier doing stuff in a place where (nearly) everybody speaks English fluently. The supermarket felt like an Australian supermarket – even had vegemite!!!

After a few days, I discovered that all the workers are pretty much Spanish, but chose to work (and sometimes live in Gibraltar, although a lot of them cross the border each day to get to work). I made it across the border a few times in search of phone credit for my Spanish pre-paid SIM cards as you can’t buy credit online unless you have a Spanish credit card – figure that?

Kevin and Di were two boats down and kindly pointed out the ins and outs of Gibraltar. They also make a mean Mojito, which is rapidly becoming my cocktail of choice. But best of all, they took me to Le Bateau, which is a lovely little French restaurant at the marina.

Gibraltar is all about the Rock so the next day, up the Rock I went. Took the Mediterranean Steps which wound its way first around the frond for great views across to Tangiers and then across the back. It’s quite a climb and I was happy to get to the top where I shared the spectacular views with the resident monkey population.

Thursday came and so did the guy from Raymarine. He replaced the ITC5 transducer, and that seems to have fixed the wind speed problem, but the wind direction sometimes misbehaves. I reconfigure it out at sea and that seems to fix it for a while but its gone again since.

The stainless steel guy on the other hand is still coming. You would think 11 days is enough time to organise a tradesman but work seems a little optional in these parts. So still no gas bottle holder for my BBQ.

My last task was to get crew for the passage to Valencia and this took a bit of organising. Eventually I found Mario, who was working in Gibraltar, and Jessica from Frankfurt, both of which were new to sailing – Mario had no experience and Jess had done her day skippers course.

With the crew in place, it was time to say goodbye to Gibraltar and head into the Mediterranean.

For photos of Gibraltar see