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wpe8B.jpg (26048 bytes) We finally left Rota to head for Gibraltar (to pick up our new main sail coming from England) on Tuesday 20th April. We had set the alarm for 06.00 in preparation for an 07.00 departure. A mixture of apprehension and excitement meant that we actually both woke at 04.30 which of course in turn meant that we ended up leaving late! 

The wind was North F3 as we left which was just about perfect.  Generally a little more wind (particularly with it behind the beam) would be nice, but the wind accelerates by a couple of beaufort points between the land masses that form the Strait so F3 at this point sounded fine to us.  The land masses also squeeze the water flow so there can be up to 4 knots flowing into the Strait if you time it right - we timed it pretty well, just struggling against the tide a bit around the Trafalgar bank, which hadn't been in the plan and we'd probably have avoided this if we'd taken a route closer inland.  This really brought home to us what extremely bad news misjudging things at this point would be - if you happened to be fighting a major sea battle on sailing ships!

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We arrived in Gibraltar bay in late afternoon, which was, as promised, busy with shipping. Spent a happy half hour taking bearings on a massive container ship and monitoring it on radar to try and work out whether we would pass ahead of it or whether we would collide.  Then noticed that it had its anchor down!  Made our way to customs where the customs officer did a bit of a double take when we handed him our papers - always just a bit of a worry.  It transpires that the original Samarang - a Royal Navy sailing frigate - actually sank here a couple of hundred years ago, not far from where we are now tied up. Her figurehead is on display at the customs house together with some details of her history, all of which is obviously a bit of a "must see" for us.
Well, what can we say about Gibraltar- 30,000 people living on 6 sq km of land - actually much less than this because the Rock itself makes up most of it.  Most of the population hate Spain and the Spanish, but of course they all go over the border to do their shopping, etc, because Gibraltar is extremely expensive.

It is interesting to visit because it's an anomaly, which really doesn't have a place in the 21st century. The Rock itself is impressive and its tunnels, etc are worth a visit.  And finally from a sailing perspective the Rock and Jebl Musa on the other side of the Straits are the Pillars of Hercules that marked the end of the ancient world.

Mainly though it's just a bit seedy.  There's really only one main street - called "Main Street", which is entirely populated with jewelry, booze and electrical shops where you can buy the last-but-one generation equipment tax free at just slightly more than you'd pay for the current generation equipment on the high street in the UK (or on the high street in Spain for that matter).  

There is something not to be missed however about going into Gibraltar's Safeway, which is identical in everyway to the one in Tunbridge Wells (merchandising, products, prices, etc) except that the people all speak Spanish.  Oh did we forget to mention that the Gibraltarians, who hate Spain and all things Spanish actually speak Spanish between themselves and generally go to Spain for their shopping.

PS The marinas are a bit tat as well!  

The sail was cleared by customs - then delivered to the boat - then we put it up - then we discovered the battens were too short!!  Someone else had received ours and cut them down - so we waited another week for 12 metres to arrive for us to cut and fit! 

Then we waited for our mail to arrive from the UK.  4 days Winchester to Gibraltar.  7 days for the Gibraltar sorting office to send a note 500 metres to the marina telling us to come an collect it!

Then we had to wait for the weather.  But finally we did leave and sailed overnight to Almerimar.

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Last updated 18th March 2018