The stay in Gibraltar
Place: Gibraltar
Date: September 25. 2006
Author: Øystein Djønne
Translator: Vidar Krovik

Dag 127 - 150 Gibraltar

I stayed onboard the first two days when I was anchoring, since I do not have a dinghy which can bring me safe and dry ashore. My 25 years birthday where therefore celebrated quietly onboard September 5th. I didn’t feel alone though, because all my friends and family called me during the day. I was also called up by the local radio station which brought me warm greetings from home.

On September the 6th I got space for the boat at Marina Bay in Gibraltar. The price for my boat was around €24 a day. I used 3 days to look around and get to know this fine country. It became much walking through the streets of the city, because it is always some little things and purchases that need to be done. The boat was filled with food and things before I went back anchoring on the Spanish side the evening on September the 8th. I prefer to stay at anchor, because then I don’t need to worry about port expenses, and that makes me much more relaxed.

It was hard to find a suitable dinghy in Gibraltar, so I invested in something way cheaper and bought myself some frogman’s feet. Those who use dinghy ashore have problems with their dinghies getting stolen or exposed for vandalism. So my frogman’s feet have easily kept me away from such problems. With my waterproof bag containing dry clothes, I could get back and forth to the shore whenever I wanted.

When you walk from La Linea on the Spanish side to Gibraltar you have to cross the border control. For those who pass by car the waiting time can get up to 2 hours. One of the reasons for that is that the road is going straight through the airport, so the traffic has to stop whenever there is a plane coming or going. For us who are just walking over, this will only cause a couple of minutes with watching a plane in action at only around 100 meters distance.

September 10th is the national day in Gibraltar. Then the streets where filled with people dressed in red and white. The atmosphere where incredible and a lot of entertainment everywhere you went. The days passed very quickly. Some days were spent entirely onboard, preparing the boat for the upcoming long distance voyage and getting space for the extra crew. The evenings were social with the other boats lying at anchor. It was many nation represented; USA, Canada, Holland, France, Denmark, Great Britain, Sweden, Australia and Germany. I got well known with a French sailor, which from time to time rowed me ashore in his homemade dinghy :). One evening he made me a superb dinner and could tell me many stories from his journey which has been carried on since 1981.

Down here the wind blows usually one week from the east and then one week from the west. It’s seldom totally cloudless, because the characteristic mountain The Rock in Gibraltar is a big producer of clouds. The horizon is also often covered with mist. Luckily I had one day of clear blue sky as far as my eye could see. Then I took the cableway to the top of The Rock. The sight that met me up there was incredible. I saw the mountains far inland in Morocco in Africa, the Atlantic in the west, and the mountain range which stretches into the Spanish landscape. The monkeys that live on the mountain are tame and fond of people, where they photogenic walk around the tourists.

The Spanish people live in a very comfortable rhythm. They work until 13.00, and then they take siesta and the most of the shops keep closed until 17.00. When the shops close again at 21.00 the restaurants fills up with hungry people. Sunday and Monday the most of the shops are closed.

The day had arrived, September 19th Vidar arrived. Now we are two persons onboard who can lead the boat safely to the bottom of the sea :). He brought with him much electronics: satellite phone, emergency beacon, handheld VHF, GPS, camera and video camera. So even though it is a small boat, she is filled with stuff that will help us find all the beautiful islands the ocean can offer.

Vidar arrived in a rental car, so we got a whole day were we could use it to explore. We drove Gibraltar from north to south and from top to bottom. We also drove along the Spanish coast to Benalmadena. The next days were spent on finding place onboard for all the equipment. We have to think about the weight distribution and the boat gets quickly a little heavy on the aft end and another challenge is that the most of the stowing compartments are on starboard side.

We have tried the nightlife both in Gibraltar and in Spain and it were the Spanish city La Linea that was most pleasant. The evenings became somewhat late, especially for me who is used to go to bed between midnight and 01.00. So bedtimes at 04.00 disturbed the rhythm somewhat, but Vidar is a night person and wakes up when other people are thinking about getting to bed :). We also had social nights with the other sailors in the port, both people from Australia and England. And we have met a nice couple from Norway; Barbro and Jan. They are on a long distance journey, but are uncertain of what direction they will continue.

Saturday September 22nd was a day with a lot of exercise. We walked to Spain and then took a bus to a shopping mal where we could shop food for the trip to the Canary Islands. A big shop led to a lot of searching to get everything we needed. When we were finished we had 2 shopping carts filled with food and other stuff. We wanted to take a taxi down to the boat, but taxis were not allowed to cross the border, so it had to stop outside the border control. From there we had to carry all the bags through the customs. Vidar had to guard the bags on the Spanish side while I went into Gibraltar several times and then out through the other customs to get back to Spain. Our arms became very long, but we were still not finished. All the bags needed to be carried out of the customs building again and into a new taxi on the Gibraltar side. When we finally got all the things onboard we took a well deserved rest.

Valkyrien was 30 years on September 24th, but both Vidar and I forgot the date before late at night. A new solar panel are mounted, so now we can charge the batteries from solar energy at 10 A during the best conditions. The wind generator was sent back to Norway because it got in the way of the wind rudder.

Now the boat is ready, the food is bought in and all the equipment has got a space. We are only waiting for the westerly wind to stop so it can start to blow from east again. Then we will set the sails and head towards Morocco and then Lanzarote.

Pictures from this leg can be seen here.