Well, for those of you who are regular readers of the blog, you will understand that the policy of allowing the crew the opportunity to make their input has had mixed results. The high spots have been Stephen, Ollie and Bob with Peter writing barely comprehensible drivel, John trying hard but being merely informative and having to make up daily excuses on the Atlantic crossings for Barry’s reluctance to put ‘pen to paper’ or should that be ‘finger to keyboard’. Readers of the most recent ‘Dire Straights’ entry will be thinking that more than the straights were dire and thank goodness Dave found his vocation in accountancy which is definitely a more fitting career !
Our 75nm passage to Gibraltar from Rota was ‘gutsy’ as expected, motoring directly into the wind and sea which built to ‘slamming’ proportions in the gut of the straights with the additional factor of wind over tide. The proximity of the land on this leg afforded some interest but we really didn’t need the challenge of threading our way through the lines of nets snaking into the distance.
Our first experience of the Gibraltar – Spanish animosity became apparent on our approach. The instruction was to call Queensway Quay Marina on our approach on channel 71 which is a ‘Port Ops’ channel and not for general use. There was a continual chatter in Spanish which completely blocked the channel and rendered communication with the Marina impossible necessitating a phone call and agreement to use another channel. The Marina staff, facilities and ambience were exceptional and coupled with the fee of £21 for the night, it could not be faulted. Meeting Dave’s brother-in-law, Martin, who lives there and sharing an excellent Indian would have put the ‘icing on the cake’ if it were not for a night plagued by mosquitoes.
Quizzing Martin about the animosity, it seems that there is a constant, petty atmosphere of antagonism. The border is regularly rendered moribund by additional checks and a 7 hour delay to just cross the border is not unknown. Given that a lot of people commute to Gibraltar, this must be incredibly wearing. It seems that the Gibraltar authorities are not blameless in being difficult – the Spanish fishermen regularly (illegally) trawl in ‘Gibraltar waters’ while the Gibraltar fishermen don’t trawl and consider the Spanish fishermen in violation. As a result, apparently, concrete blocks with reinforcing bar poking out were dropped and the Spanish nets were snagged and lost……. Quid pro quo………..?
I am not sure of the reasoning but Queensway Quay Marina is the only marina I have ever visited that has a ‘security boom’ that they pull across the entrance (pictures to follow….) at night and this does prompt some circumspection….. A trip up the rock on the cable car and the usual ape spotting and battery tours topped out our visit and preceded our departure on a glassy sea to Estepona for a very good reason to be explained later.
Hello all you Blog readers out there (yes I’m addressing both of you). I realise, dear reader that you may have been upset by Nick’s rather direct and insensitive remarks concerning my first blog but please do not be concerned as I fully intend to continue to add some intellectual ballast to the blog through some well-considered thoughts. Whilst I did not receive any positive comments (well not any comments at all actually) on my blog I am taking that as positive feedback and completely ignoring the skipper’s comments in the time honoured manner. In case anyone was hoping for another limerick I have decided to give limericks a rest for the immediate future and this has both ingratiated me with the skipper and bought me some time to compose something worthy of this trip i.e. something that seems to go on forever without actually getting anywhere (author’s note: this is reference to the unfavourable wind direction which I think the skipper eventually noticed and recorded in the blog for posterity).
Anyway, I agree with the skipper that the fishing nets we encountered en passage to Gib were weird – a net that extended from a boat near to shore out to the horizen as far as we could see. By some miracle we did actually missed these nets and punched on to Gib.
I was pleasantly surprised with the Gib we encountered compared to what I remembered from 15 years earlier – it was cleaner and much more welcoming. The expedition to the top of the Rock in Gib via cable car and a lot of walking was worth it and the views of the Straights and the strategic dominance of the gun emplacements (with only a few surviving) was worth all the effort.
Now pressing on to Estepona where more excitement awaits.