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                       LA LINEA, Spain & GIBRALTAR

Passage to Gibraltor

Sept 8-12

Initially the WNW wind was up and down so we reefed and furled, unreefed and set full sail with the sea state and wind conditions. We thought we would try our luck at fishing as it has been years since we caught any of those mouth watering pelagic fish that were so prolific in the South Pacific. After days with our lure in the water, we finally got a bite. But it turned out to be a baby Mahi Mahi so we set it free to go forth and multiply for another yachtie to catch later.

000.00.00W

A momentous occasion was crossing back into the Western Hemisphere. 000.00.00W! It has been a while since we have seen a W on the GPS. It feels like we are really Homeward Bound.


The following day the wind died almost completely. Up to 2 knots of current and wave in one direction, what little wind we had was in the other direction, The boat was up, down and all around. The rigging and the sails were slapping and banging and the boat was rolling and pitching. It was impossible to sleep

We had huge sloppy seas, 20 knot seas with 5 knots of wind made for wallowing and slap, bang, burumph, as the wind was knocked out of the sails. The temperatures were becoming significantly cooler and I had to get out our jackets and long pants for the night watches. There were ships everywhere, many just floating like ghost ships. We were so thankful to have our AIS. We passed miles of mountainous Spanish coastline that offered no protection from the Easterly swell that we had.

Dolphins came to visit several times, slipping sideways beside the boat, their eye to the surface to get a good look at us, then jumping out of the water in formation as if to show off.

60 miles from Gibraltar, the winds stilled and the seas flattened. It was a struggle to keep the boat moving but we persevered. After being unable to break the 1.1 knot barrier, we resigned to motoring the rest of the way. It meant that we would not get in before dark so prepared ourselves for a night time entrance into the harbor

September 12

The harbor was extremely busy. We entered with our radar and AIS, slaloming around ships anchored, drifting, underway or hovering.

We anchored in the bay of La Linea, which is on the Spanish side, at 5 am. It is a stone's through from Gibraltar.

In the morning we awoke to the sight of the legendary "Rock" looming from the sea, its sprinkle of metropolitan Gibraltar at its foot.

La Linea

The anchorage of La Linea is directly adjacent to runway, so we got the constant sound of jet engines and screeching tires as the planes hit the runway. Ashore striped buildings lined the shore, run down, and looking like everyone lived in the Projects. But there were good supermarkets and we were able to provision easily.


 

    Gibraltar

Gibraltar measures less than 6 sq. kms.

 

Its precipitous rock and cliffs stretch skyward 426 meters. Although actually a British country and English speaking, the Spanish flair remains. To visit Gibraltar, we simply walked across the airport runway, flashed our passports and were standing at The Rock!

The really big celebration in Gibraltar that we had all been looking forward to was with Aliesha to celebrate the completion of their Circumnavigation.
We are proud of  Dick and Pam for their accomplishment and will miss their company as we sail off in different directions from here, Aliesha home to the UK and Ascension south to the Caribbean.

Touring the Rock

We rented a car for the dual purpose of visiting the "Rock," and also to drive to a town called Estepona, 50 miles north of Gibraltar where we could get our propane tanks filled. It has been with tremendous difficulty throughout the Mediterranean to fill tanks with American/Canadian fittings. We have usually had to buy the European tanks, adapt our fittings to theirs, and pour the propane over from tank to tank by hand.

So, along with Sarah and GB from Djarrka, we had a wonderful day exploring the great slab of rough limestone rock covered with scrub vegetation. We entered the Upper Rock Nature Reserve at the Jew's Gate, where they charged an entrance fee.

 

St. Michael's Cave,

a beautiful natural grotto used as a hospital in WWII, nowadays a unique subterranean auditorium. Located 300 metres above sea level with magnificent stalactites and stalagmites. The cave is connected with many lower chambers by a series of winding passageways

 

Ape's Den

The official website touts the Rock as Europe's only troop of "free roaming primates". I guess they're discounting the 28,000 human residents that live around the rock. The Barbary Apes are actually tail-less monkeys, natives of North Africa imported as pets or game. They are totally unafraid of people and into mischief tolerating and teasing the camera toting crowds  i.e. stealing ice cream from unsuspecting visitors

Great Siege Tunnels hewn into the rock are an impressive defence system used in the wars against Gibraltar. excavated in 1779-83

Great views from the top of the Rock

We also visited the Moorish Castle, the fortification dating from 1333 AD.

Finally a visit into downtown Gibraltar with its Moorish style buildings and charming streets. Then a drive up the coast to the resort town of Estepona where we had a delicious meal and were successful in getting our propane tanks filled.

Sept 17

The weather remained very unsettled. It was too windy to leave the boat. Gusts to 30 caused the boats to wallow in the waves. Even some huge freighters anchored nearby were dragging! Hard to even do boat chores with the movement but I managed to do some pre-cooking in preparation for our upcoming passage to the Canaries.

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