Home Up Bay of Biscay NW Spain Portugal SW Spain Gibraltar & Morocco Gibraltar to Lanzarote Canary Islands Atlantic Crossing

Barbary ape, Gibraltar

 

 

 

 

View from the top of the Rock

 

 

The Rock

 

 

 

The Berber quarter

 

 

 

Chefchouen and the fountain

 

 

 

The market in Chefchouen

 

 

Gibraltar & Morocco

 

On entering the Straits we saw loads of races, consisting of turbulent water, and tried to avoid those. The swells increased as we approached “The Rock". After passing the Eastern side of Tarifa the wind  just disappeared.  Whilst rounding Punta Carnero we had a glimpse of "The Rock ", which gradually emerged into its glory. The entrance to Marina Bay was easy at daytime. The peculiar aspect about this marina is the airport runway, located just 100 metres away from the fairway. Landing in Gib and exploring for the first time felt like almost being back into England. Although it is slightly sunnier, but full of English shops and even the local radio was broadcasting updates on M25... No doubt Gibraltar is booming. Land is being reclaimed, some areas are a building site but behind the old town walls, it is a charming place.  Although Gibraltar has a duty free status, the food prices were exorbitant and everything else not much more expensive then UK prices.

As arranged we met Tomas and Maria in a corner of a street. While waiting for their arrival, we went for a walk. By pure luck they were passing by with  car, looking lost. Even though we arrange to meet here, it was always unclear of where and how, but we found them. This was their first time on board a yacht. The following day we took the cable car to see the monkeys. That was a short visit as my parents left the following day promising to spend more time and come out sailing with us the next time. Probably next year in some  other corner of some street.

 

 Morocco

 

After five days we were getting bored of Gib, eager to see some different culture and get away from little England. By recommendation we sailed to Smir, 10 miles south of Ceuta on the Moroccan coast. The distance was only 25 miles away, but what a difference! We were received with a warm welcome and loads of smiles. There is not much around the marina, apart from a lovely sandy beach and the royal residence of the king of Morocco. We hired Mohammed for the day and he drove us to Chefchouen, 90 km from the marina. The drive is very scenic passing through mountains and little villages. Chefchouen is a modern working town, but behind the Medina walls another world emerged. It was almost like going back 300 years in time. The carpentry shops were so small that only could accommodate couple of people inside. All the wood was carved by hand. The bakery was amazing with a big clay oven on view; the bread was baked with charcoal. Not to mention the carpet shops. Hiring a local guide is the best solution, he charged 6 euros. But he explained a little about the history of the town. The population is a mix of Jews, Andalucians and Berbers. Each one having a quarter, the front doors are decorated with different colours depending of which ethnic group they belong to.  Majority of the houses are painted in blue or indigo colour. This keeps the mosquitoes and flies away. Our guide took us to visit a carpet shop, although we did not want to by any carpet. The shop had no electricity, so when we entered the gas lamps were turned on. Graham left with a blanket instead of carpets, it was impossible to leave without buying something. While the carpet seller showed us millions of carpets and according to him “everyone different, see”, we were served mint tea. In the end we settled with something more boat friendly, a blanket. After that came the spice stall, here also spending some money was mandatory. Finally feeling hungry we were taken to a Moroccan restaurant. Ramadan will start in two days, the country was getting ready for the big event. Also the King of Morocco was visiting the area. The streets were decorated with flags and there was a celebration atmosphere in the air.

Two days in Morocco left us wanting more.

From Smir we sailed to Estepona, a holiday resort full of Brits and Irish. Here we could fill the gas bottles.

By now both wanted a few days rest so we anchored at La Linea, again next to the runway but from the western Spanish side . After almost two months we met Kyrie again. For Graham was like coming home, again among cruisers at last. The four days spend at the anchorage were like living in a floating village, popping over for drinks to a different boat every night. Dinghies are not allowed to be left on the only ramp available, which are used by fisherman. Who ever wanted to go ashore just had to ask for a lift from another boat. Again Noel and Natalie have given us loads of tips. And we had a tour around Kyrie, Judit loved the boat. The story of Kyrie is very interesting: Noel built it over years, she was launched in 1980 and then he lost her due to a divorce. Then Noel bought Kyrie back after 16 years and now Kyrie is completing its circumnavigation around the world. After 4 years  they are heading back to New Zealand.  We said goodbye to our friends certain that we will meet them again very soon.