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Part 2: The last of the Med.

November 1, 2011

Dolphins

On Wednesday morning Phil was woken up by 3 dolphins playing in the bow wave under his cabin! It was another glorious, sunny, and windless day! We tried sailing after lunch but it only lasted 30 minutes before the speed dropped too much and Donkey was called upon again. The boat’s LOG reached 2000 nautical miles that afternoon and to mark the occasion the sails went away (due to lack of any wind whatsoever) and we had afternoon tea (more ginger cake!). Dinner was butternut squash and bacon risotto accompanied by more dolphins swimming under the bow. During the night we had plenty more dolphins, and thanks to the growing moon, we could watch them under the bow. They’re like torpedoes and all you see is the flash of white as they turn and swim away.

The Rock

During the later part of the night I had the privilege of being on watch as we drove through what looked like a minefield of ships. I knew we were approaching Gibraltar and our American friend Stephen had been very concerned at our lack of AIS (Automatic Identification System) and that we wouldn’t know what was going where and what it was etc. But as I got closer to the ships, I realised they were either showing no red or green lights (an indication that they are not making way) or they were showing lights suggesting they were not under command (but again with no red or green lights) and there was also a distinct lack of anchor lights, which was in itself confusing as they were definitely stopped but no anchors were down! It was like driving through a ship sleepover and the childish part of me wanted to cause a bit of mayhem, get the fog horn out and see all these ships jump and start charging around!!

Well, we passed through the sleeping ships and could soon see ‘the Rock’, standing tall, proud and very British in the middle of a very Spanish coast! We had soon made our way round the edge of the rock and up through more anchored ships in the bay, some re-fuelling from a mini ship alongside, some sleeping, others waiting to dock, and headed for Marina Bay.

The King's Chapel

The almanac said ‘Do not enter marina when the runway lights are flashing’ so we approached with caution, and we soon found out why – the marina channel is alongside the runway!! The planes land within feet of the masts in the marina and take off the same way. Quite an experience for us, never mind the pilot!! Having fuelled up we moved onto our berth for the night (found a way of getting up onto the pontoon from our rather low, low-tide position!) and got on with some jobs; washing – us, the boat and clothes; water tanks; paying the office and doing the food shopping. What an experience!! We found Morrison’s!! Amazing!! No price differences from the UK, Cadbury’s chocolate at less than extortionate prices, Scotch eggs, orange squash, English everything!! I was so in awe I forgot to get the important stuff like apples and salad!!

Sunset

By 1800 we were all done and headed off to view the town and find some dinner. Everywhere seemed to be trying so hard to be British! I knew Gibraltar belongs to the British and is an important base for the MoD etc but what a place!! The pubs were the worst, all competing with their ‘English’ staff (so typically English they hadn’t even learnt how to say ‘1 beer’ in Spanish!), English ales ‘London Pride’, best bitter etc and even serving ‘traditional home-cooked grub’! I guess the only bonus to these English pubs was that their beer gardens could actually be used and we did take advantage of that fact and had a beer in the square in the evening sunshine! The pubs were closely followed by the chip shops – all claiming to have genuine British fish and chips! I have to admit they did look good and it was particularly difficult to resist the mushy peas and malt vinegar! But I did it! Then the high street, Marks and Spencer’s, Mothercare, Top Shop, everyone catered for! Gibraltar is a mini Britain and completely unexpected if you don’t really know that much about it like me!! We walked right through the town, past the King’s chapel, and out towards the rock. We were going to go up but we would have had about 30 minutes at the top before the last cable car down so we are now saving this for next time!

Having wandered back through the little Britain that is Gibraltar, we did the most British thing we could think of and went off for a curry for tea in the marina! It was a very welcome dinner and soon we were very full and snoring away in our bunks ready for the next part of our journey.

We had motored 765 miles in 5 days.

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