The Rock

As we approached Gibralta we had radioed ahead to Marina Bay, they had no space for us and so we diverted to Queensway Quay. What luck, it was extremely nice, the staff were friendly and helpful, the showers were good and although it was surrounded by the ubiquitous blocks of apartments the environment was pleasant, and all for only £26 a night!! On the quay were five or six good restaurants some serving full English breakfasts, steaks, ribs and chicken a welcome change from the fish, fish, or fish we have had for the past few weeks.

After a day or two of chores, chandlery, provisions, hair cuts etc… Friday we put on our tourist hats and took the cable car to the top of the rock. Here we enjoyed the view and watched the macaques, while a cloud, that would eventually veil the peaks of the rock, formed in front of our eyes. It was fascinating, a fast stream of mist rose from the Mediterranean side of the cliff, much like someone was boiling a giant kettle just the other side of the ridge and gathered into a cloud above us.

First stop was the St Micheals cave complex, they were incredible. Unfortunately, the powers that be had decided that they would be enhanced by playing a continuous light show, flooding our soroundings with a fluorescent rainbow of colors. They were wrong, the grandeur of the cathedral sized cavern with thousands of stalactites hanging like giant organ pipes needed nothing to  enhance them but a bit of white light.  

 
Emerging back into the sunlight, we set out to walk the couple of kilometers to the other end of the rock to find the war tunnels that riddle its heart. When Rick, Mathew and I were here about eight years ago, we equally eagerly set off downwards to explore, but got completely lost and ended near the bottom at a very tall locked gate, there was no way we could even contemplate walking back upwards, so had no choice but to climb over. I clearly remember being perched fifteen foot up, Matt who’d hopped over like one of the monkeys egging me on from one side and Rick encouraging me on from the other and I thinking to myself – I’m too old for all this. So it was with some trepidation, now even older, that I started off on the badly signed paths again. Luckily this time around we did make it to the tunnels, if with slightly sore feet and knees from our steep decent. The tunnels are certainly a great feat of engineering that have protected Gibraltar for over three hundred years, but left me, in my rather weary state, uninspired.

Saturday morning we motored out of Queensway Quay and around the corner to the fuel docks to top up our tanks with duty free diesel. We had been beaten to it by two very large boats who were just starting to fill up, now it takes us about an hour to fill our tanks, so these guys were going to take ages. Keeping a boat still, untied up, is extremely difficult, so forming an orderly queue  with another two boats that were waiting, was not a attractive prospect. We weren’t desperate for fuel, just wishing to take advantage of the cheaper prices, so we abandoned the idea and with Julia at the helm we rounded the Rock into the Med.

Not a breath of wind greeted us and the sea was glassy smooth with just a gentle swell. 

 

As we said goodbye to Gibralta, in the distance, we passed four or five pods of Dolphins swimming towards the straights and before we knew it we had covered the 12 nm to our anchorage just north of Sotogrande.

Here the gentle swell became a bit more noticeable but determined to enjoy ourselves we braved the cool water to have a swim and took the dingy out for a whizz around the bay. We had a lovely evening, we cooked, drank wine and relaxed to the melodious sounds of Katy Meula and Simon and Garfunkel. 

We are now moored in Puerto de La Duquesa, tonight we are visiting some friends with a villa nearby and tomorrow Phil and Julia say goodbye. Hopefully they have had a good time, just a shame we only managed a couple of hours of actual sailing with them. I have just watched as they confidently stepped up to take the lines for a boat coming in opposite us, something they definitely wouldn’t have even thought to do a week ago.

6 thoughts on “The Rock

  1. well this post bought back some happy memories of my four years working in Gib and living in Sotogrande and I know Duquesa well – such nostalgia – so very sorry to miss yoiu in Lagos / Faro last week – real rotten timing. Now back in Soho – enjoy and keep the blog posts coming although they sometimes make me pine to be with you.

    love K

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  2. Sounds like you had a result not getting into Marina Bay, and hearing you went for lunch in “The Lands” very near your berth.
    Top marks Julia & Phil for being outstanding students, and we look forward seeing you on your return from your adventures on the high seas.
    Phil make sure you watch the vehicle sweap the road that crosses the runway before you take off from Gib tomorrow., I found that intriging, but then you can’t take chances with foreign matter deposited on this section of runway. Gib comes to a stop while you take off.
    Good luck R & R as you sail on.
    Fond wishes
    Len & Diane xx

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  3. As always some lovely writing feel likes I’m there. The sea looks superb and very tempting. I only got to know about stalagmites and stalactites about 10 years ago in Devon. Very interesting I thought. Carry on with the updates on your journey, so look forward to reading them. X

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  4. I’m so pleased to hear that you might have actually managed to get some ham, eggs and chips! Every time I visit the Bo Peep I wonder how Rick is managing without his regular ration!
    Keep up the blogs…they are a really great read and we are following you with keen interest (and, yes, a little envy!) every step of the way. We were so pleased to see that your tome on sea mammals was put to the test and it must have been tremendous to watch the orca.
    The blog about Gib reminded me of my brief time there…after hoping that C&W might send me to Antigua, Seychelles or the Maldives…I got to go to Gib, during the blockade, with no fresh dairy produce and limited fresh food. What a joy powered egg on toast is for breakfast!
    We’ll be joining you in the Med soon…but a little too far East…as we take a few days in Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian coast
    Happy sailing…and we’re looking forward to the next instalment
    Dave & Jo x

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