We couldn’t really sail past Gibraltar without stopping for a look at the monkeys. So on leaving Barbate we hugged the coast and rounded the corner into the Straights of Gibraltar. I was definitely the most over excited member of the crew on this passage. Having sailed from the UK to within sight of Africa felt very special. The geographical realities of our situation however, were also constantly brought home to us by the all too frequent broadcasts over the radio warning of migrants boats. This is one of the busiest shipping areas in the world – choosing to cross from Africa to Europe here would be like trying to cross the M25 on a child’s tricycle….at night.
Indeed, as we made our final approach in to the bay heading into La Linea (The cheaper Spanish port right next to Gibraltar) we had a very “interesting” game of dodge the tanker but ultimately, arrived safely alongside with one of the best views from a marina berth so far.
After a good long sleep we awoke the next morning ready to explore ‘the rock’. It felt strange walking 10 minutes from the marina, passports in hand, to cross the boarder into Gibraltar. As part of the boarder crossing you also have to walk (or scooter!) across the runway which was pretty cool.
Now I have to be honest – the thought of going to see some monkeys who may or may not jump up at me did not fill me with joy….at all. However, sometimes you’ve just got to face your fears head on – the boys really wanted to see them and I didn’t want to be a pathetic wimp in front of them!!! In the end after a lengthy queue for the over priced cable car to reach the top of the rock, the monkeys were very well behaved. (Shame the same couldn’t be said for the shrieking teenage tourists.)
Our overall impressions of Gibraltar were that it felt strangely familiar but also not quite exactly like home. It was great to see a truly thriving high street. The whole rock is really quite small yet super busy, loud, hectic and full of tourists. We learnt plenty of interesting ape facts and where the term Gibberish comes from.
Before crossing back over the boarder we popped into Morrisons to treat ourselves to some bacon, cheddar cheese and baked beans. As well as a few other essentials in readiness for the last big sail of the season.
We left La Linea the following afternoon for a two day sail east. We sailed through the tanker anchorages again and turned left into the Mediterranean Sea (actually the Albaran Sea at that point). The Poniente wind funnelling through the straights kicked in from the west at up to 27kts blowing us firmly in the right direction.
Cartagena here we come!