Friday, 9 September 2011

Cartagena to Gibraltar

Hi from Clare,                                                                                         Thursday 8th September


Abandoned RIB

We left Cartagena Saturday 27th August to sail for two days (230 miles) to Gibraltar. For the first 24 hours we sailed with the wind behind us averaging 7 knots.  The wind then dropped and we motored for the last 20 hours. On arrival at Gibraltar the water temperature had dropped from 28 degrees to 17 degrees and the colour changed from sparkling blue to murky brown/green.  The cooler water and the heat from the land caused thick fog. We could see on the AIS and radar many large cargo ships anchored off Gibraltar and despite the fact that they were well lit we didn’t physically sight them until they were within two miles. The lack of visibility was making me a bit nervous as the previous morning we found an unmanned 27 foot RIB with two 200HP outboards adrift at sea. We tried raising the Coast Guard but nobody would answer our calls until we used some magic words like “Securite”.  After some difficulty with their understanding of Andrew’s accent they finally got the message.  So I was hoping in the fog that we wouldn’t find a similar hazard in our path.

Early morning Rock

Gibraltar is a fabulous place and we spent a week in the Marina Bay marina which is a five minute walk from town. There are 30,000 inhabitants in Gibraltar and it is mostly English speaking. The main supermarket has English products like scotch eggs and Cornish pasties. Then there’s the Gibraltar Arms Pub which has delicious fish and chip and chicken pie with chips, peas and gravy.   Two meals for pounds.  Things we probably wouldn’t eat at home but after months of Mediterranean food a touch of English tucker was fabulous. Shopping is inexpensive and when the cruise ships arrive the streets are very congested. Alcohol is duty free and so I had a great time stocking up on spirits and liqueurs; a litre of Bombay Sapphire, Tia Maria, Baileys and the like cost around $15.

                   The big picture                                                         Main Street Gibraltar

Gibraltar is a compact 6 square miles. The airport runway crosses the main highway connecting Gibraltar to Spain.  The boom gates come down and the roadway is manned by police to ensure no pedestrians are crossing the road when the planes are using it.  The runway is next to the marina and so the noise of the first few flights is quite an experience. I think I must have looked rather shocked as our Aussie neighbours Jo and Arnie on ‘Just Jane’ quickly reassured me that the planes didn’t fly at night. – be grateful for small mercies I say! 

Another close landing

We took the chair lift to the top of the rock; how could we not?  We had a marvelous view of the town, surrounding waterways and Morocco which is only eight miles across the Gibraltar strait.


Views from the Rock

Flamenco trio
We went on a two day excursion to inland Spain to visit Sevilla. Our helpful Aussie neighbours on ‘Just Jane’ told us that Sevilla is very hot with no wind for relief. So we dressed lightly and took one back pack with bare essentials.  Fortunately I took my umbrella for the sun because it poured rain for the two days we were there. Our first purchase was a couple of one euro plastic ponchos which we hung up at night so they could drip dry by the morning. On day one we visited the Alcazar which is a group of palaces built a thousand years ago, the 12th Century Cathedral and the Bull Ring built in 1881.  By then we were sick of walking around in the rain so we sought refuge in our hotel room till night when we ventured out again in our ponchos to attend a Flamenco Dancing display. This was held at the cultural centre and with only 150 people in the audience we all had a close up view. The movements of the female dancer almost divide her body into two parts. Her upper body and arm movements are artistic and fluent while her lower body and legs are all power and frantic hammering – it was very exhilarating.  The flamenco guitarist was fabulous and the singer who is telling the story of the dance was very passionate. Unfortunately he sang in Spanish so we couldn’t follow the storyline.


The Alcazar

The following morning we woke to heavy rain and so out came the faithful poncho. We only had summer clothes with us and so I wore the poncho to keep warm. I must say it was pretty robust as it stood up to two days of wear without tearing. I now have it in the bottom of my handbag for emergencies.

We visited Plaza de Espana situated in The Paseo de la Palmera the most beautiful avenue in Sevilla.  The Plaza was built in 1929 as the centre piece for the Ibero- American Expo. It is the most visited monument in Sevilla.

                        The Cathedral                                                        Plaza de Espana

The used our time in Gibraltar to make duty free purchases in preparation for the Atlantic Crossing shortly after Christmas. We now have a life raft, complete spare auto pilot, spare starter motor and new starter battery. Let’s hope we don’t need the life raft!

We left Gibraltar Tuesday at . For the first time in our cruising life we now have to consider the tides. We traveled down the Gibraltar strait and exited the Mediterranean; but more about that next time.

We will see a bit of the south of Spain before sailing on to Portugal where we will meet up with Mark and Amanda on ‘Balvenie’  We are looking forward to catching up with them.

Candy XX