To continue our journey into the Mediterranean please use the following link:Spain (Mediterranean)
Log Entry Sunday 13th July
We took a tour of the rock, it was quite impressive to look east and see Spain and the Mediterranean, looking west, down the Straits, again Spain and Morocco.
We visited The Great Siege Tunnels, originally excavated by the British Army during the siege of 1779-83, a very impressive, self sufficient defence system. The tunnels were later extended during World War II where the planned invasion of North Africa by General Dwight Eisenhower.
We continues down through the tunnels and came across a secured and guarded door, we could proceed no further?
Ann enquired with the guard a number of times, with regards to going on further, his reply was fairly consistent "Halt, who goes there?" Eventually I convinced Ann she was wasting her time, we turned and made our way back.
Today they have been further extended by the forces, to include modern defence systems and the required support, hospitals, communications etc.
The tour also took us to St Michel's Cave, situated at 300m above sea level it is claimed to be Europe's most dramatic natural grottos. It comes complete with a modern light and sound system, Son et Lumiere performances are a regular feature of the cave.
A visit to Gibraltar would not be complete without seeing the tailless monkeys, properly known as Barbary Macaques. They were originally brought to the island from North Africa by the Spanish and kept as pets. A number escaped, developing three sizable colonies on the rock itself.
At one time they were protected by the military, fed and lock up each evening, they are now allowed to roam free but have dedicated feeding areas to which they congregate - helps the tourist trade I guess?
Log Entry Saturday 12th July
Gibraltar is under going a massive phase of re-development, especially around the waterfront area - like most cities of today, good or bad it is happening. It gives bad initial impressions "a massive building site" is the best way to describe it? Walking through the building works the old town is revealed, very British, but then again it is!
Passing through the Casemates Gates (part of the initial fortifications) you enter the old town with all of that you would\ expect, bars, restruant's and of coarse the shopping high street. This area is mainly pedestrian, it was developed for horse and carts, most streets are one way as few can support two "car widths". The evidence of the significant efforts to fortify the city are every where - they obviously worked as it was never taken by any enemy.
Gibraltar has all of the aspects one would expect from its efforts to be self sufficient, churches to cater for most religions along with official colonial style buildings. At one time they even engineered a "rain water catchment system" off the mountain to supply the town with fresh water, this has now been replaced with desalination plants, therefore water is a precious commodity, you are reminded of it constantly.
The old Trafalgar Cemetery has been perfectly preserved, but, with on a couple of solders buried there (William Forster & Thomas Norman), the rest were buried at sea. These two gentlemen died of their wounds some time later.
Log Entry Friday 11th July
We slip our lines about 0600 hours, in darkness and make our way out of the harbour, south towards Tarifa - fog covers the coast line. As the daylight breaks we become aware of a further five sail boats making the trip with us from both the marina and the anchorage. A bit of an un official race developed, Sailaway and another vessel took a further inland passage (north of Bajo de los Cabezour, a series of shallows and ship wrecks), the rest went further south. Our interpretation of possible tidal gain? We were gaining up to two and a half knots of tide at times, but the outer vessels still made ground on us - better wind I think, we battled on! As I kept asking Ann if she thought they were making ground on us she would answer "Grow up - you do not even know them!" I obviously concentrated on keeping our speed up. The vessel that had taken the same route as us then turned south to join the rest, they disappeared into the fog - unfortunately du to the fog we could only just make out the Moroccan coast line. As we turned around Tarifa from our starboard side came the high speed ferry from Tangier at full speed, Ann was down below so I asked her to brace her self ready for the bow wave as it passed in front of us. I concentrated so much on the wave because of it's size I forgot about my own exposure to it, and I had the cockpit canopy down.
We hit the wave, a wall of water one to two meters high launched over our deck from front to back - I then realised how exposed I was. I ducked but it completely engulfed me, soaked completely through - I could not believe my own stupidity. I changed my clothes and hung the we gear out to dry as we continued to Gibraltar.
As we continued the Spanish coast became clearer through the mist, we could just make out the other vessels through the mist to the south, along with the occupants of the main shipping lanes - we were well north of them. Our coarse too us north west in the straits to pass north of Las Bajas, another section of shallows and according to the charts, ship wrecks. This put even more distance between the other boats and us, our route would be much shorter - time would tell on the final result.
The wind came from the west as forecast and began to fall off, so we thought. We rolled up the genoa and started the motor, less than an hour later the formidable profile of the Rock of Gibraltar came through the mist, the wind also returned rabidly. As we turned into Gibraltar Bay it was blowing up to 30 Knots, with tide we were moving over 9 knots over the ground with just the main sail up. The finish wash to be a "sprint style", out of the mist from BEHIND US, came three vessel, enough evidence for me to declare us the winners! Remember it is the participation that counts, not winning! We raised the Gibraltar courtesy flag to celebrate.
Triumphantly we made our way across the main shipping anchorage then across the main channel for both La Linea (Spain) and Gibraltar Port, the wind still strong and giving us good way, the three vessels behind now on the same route as us. We had chosen with advice from Chris & Barb to moor in Marina Bay to the north of the harbour, the others went into Queensway Quay Marina. We contacted the marina and berthed "bow to", our first, Ann did and excellant job! Our berth was directly under the rock itself.