Gibraltar

So we’ve been saying we sailed to Gibraltar, but you know, its not true.

Sure, we crossed through the straits, and we had every intention of mooring in Gibraltar.  Hell, we’d already reserved a space in Queensway Quay Marina.  When we took down the sails it was night time, and as we motored past the breakwater dawn was breaking, and the water was an inky black but when we got to the Marina, it was closed.  I’ve never seen a marina closed, but this one had little floating barrier between us and the marina entrance.   We put down the dinghy to take a closer look, and sure enough that was our marina, but there was no way in.  It was about 6am, and no one was answering the phone or the VHF, so we hung out, going around in circles waiting for someone to arrive.

While we waited, I fell in love with this very practical oil rig boat:

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I’m not entirely sure why.  But she’s so big, functional and practical.  I like her lines.  But anyway, I digress (I’ve been at sea too long).

The first thing that happened is that Ondine decided that she’d had enough of waiting and that she didn’t want to run her port engine anymore.  (I’ve since fixed the problem, I’m getting much better at this stuff: it was the cable that runs from the electronic control to the transmission – it needed some TLC – lubrication in this case.)  But there wasn’t really time to trouble shoot the problem immediately, and we had “Sea Rover” (our dinghy) down anyway, so we tied Sea Rover to the port side and she and Grant became our port engine.

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So I could use both throttles, and one was voice activated.

:-)

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And then finally just before 8am, Queensway Marina answered the VHF.  Apparently there had been an oil spill – so the water wasn’t inkly black it was oily black, and as we began to take a closer look at Ondine, sure enough we’d started to get oil stains all over the place.

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When we asked what happened, we were told that there we these too guys who were welding an empty fuel/oil container.  Fine, it was empty, but guess what, it was right next to a FULL container.  One arc flew across and – well pictures can tell you more than words.

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That’s the top of the fuel dump you see sliding into the bay.

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They were welding the one on the left.

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But the one on the right was full…

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We hear that the two guys were in critical condition but are now recovering.  WELDING BY A FUEL DUMP?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  I hope they recover soon, and I hope that they start posting those “SAFTEY FIRST” signs I see on so many work sites…

Anyway, with Queensway unavailable and the other marina without a suitable mooring, we went to Spain (about 500 yard North) and stayed at a lovely new marina in a town called La Linea de la Conception. It was brand new, and far nicer than anything that was on offer in Gibraltar.  I guess I’d forgotten how much the Spanish HATE Gibraltar.  It’s like a thorn in their side.   The British Stole it from them.  And when the Spanish tried to take it back, not only was “The Rock” successfully defended, but the Limeys had the impunity to counter attack.  Gibraltar is the stuff of legend in England: “Solid like the Rock of Gibraltar” has become part of the English lexicon.  But for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and all of the pride that is felt in the United Kingdom is shame (at best) from the Spanish side.  The Spanish make it difficult in as many ways as possible (it’s illegal to drive in Spain on a Gibraltar drivers license).  And I can only imagine how much they hate the tax free status of Gibraltar – guess where we decided to buy our diesel fuel…

It sounds trivial, but the most awesome thing about Gibraltar from my point of view is the airport runway.  You have to cross it – on foot, bike, or car in order to get into Gibraltar.  This is not a hoax, check out this link:

http://www.hoax-slayer.com/gibraltar-airport-runway.shtml.

Here’s us on the runway.

 

 

It really is kinda awesome to walk across the runway as we did and stop in the middle to see the heat mirages rising on each end, the rock of Gibraltar in the background and the packed streets on both sides.  But apart from that Gibraltar was a bit of a disappointment.  I cannot recommend it as anything more than a tax haven and a good place to buy tax free goods.  We were late, eager to leave, I had (more) repairs to do, and once they were done, we were off.

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