Gibraltar (Part 2): The Weather Doesn’t Care What you Want To Do!

Got me some new foul weather gear!

The original plan for our stop in Gibraltar was to pick up some replacement provisions, hit the local chandlerys for needed safety gear and spare parts (Gib Yachts being a go-to place), refuel, and go!  As I mentioned in the previous post, weather had other thoughts on this plan.  We were refreshing our Predict Wind forecast tool and Windy app constantly hoping we would see a change! Initially the winds were in the face at 15kts and after day two, it started to easy up and now…every time we refreshed the forecast…the same thing…A series of low pressure systems in the mid-Atlanic continually acting as a vacuum sucking the wind out of our path. This was keeping a lot of boats stuck in the same holding pattern. The lack of movement of other boats killed our plans to cross the strait to Morocco for some North African culture. That bucket list item will remain unchecked…for now.

Testing my PFD!
Where you going? Nowhere…

Finding all the ways to kill time

With a lot of time to kill in a city that is 2.6 sq miles in area, it was time to get a little creative so as not to lose our minds. Our crew spent some downtime working remotely at their “real” jobs while Kevin and I continued to purchase needed gear and provisions. We had fun loading our grocery cart having now found a larger grocery store, Morrisons, than we’d seen in months…The cereal aisle alone had us befuddled with choices. 

At one point, I took the opportunity to go for a bit of a run.  It was hilly, as one would expect staying in a place known for being a large rock. I ran up and over to Europa Point where I ran quite literally into geography and history lessons. First stop was just out of the marina gate where I found the Trafalgar Cemetery. Despite it’s name, there are only two victims from the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) buried there, the rest are from other sea battles or casualties of the yellow fever epidemics of 1804 and 1814.  Didn’t take long to tour, so I continued on. My final desitination was Europa point, the sounternmost point of Gibraltar that defines the boundry between the Straits of Gibralter in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

Trafalgar Cemetary

At the point lies Hardings Battery (19th century), the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque (a $5M gift from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in 1997), The Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Europa (whose story goes back to the 1400s), the prominent Europa Lighthouse (built in 1841), a large cricket oval (home to the national cricket team) and the Sikorski Memorial. 

Our Lady of Europa Shrine
Europa Lighthouse
Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque

The Sikorsky Memorial (to my US military friends, no not THAT Sikorsky) memorializes a man that, according to Wikipedia, became prime minister of the Polish government-in-exile here during WWII, was Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces, and a vigorous advocate of the Polish cause in the diplomatic sphere. In July 1943, a plane carrying Sikorski plunged into the sea immediately after takeoff from Gibraltar, killing all on board except the pilot. The exact circumstances of Sikorski’s death have been disputed and have given rise to a number of different theories surrounding the crash and his death. Sikorski had been the most prestigious leader of the Polish exiles, and his death was a severe setback for the Polish cause.

Later that day, Kevin and I went for a walk through the botanical gardens and stumbled upon the Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park (built in 1994 over a neglected mini golf course) where we were able to get up close and personal with a number of exotic animals they care for that were confiscated or rescued by Gibraltar customs. The park serves as an educational resource for local schools and tourists highlighting a rich local biodiversity and provides awareness about the illegal animal trade. They house a number of repitiles including iguanas, tortoises, terrapins, snapping turtles and Chinese water dragons, a number of very chatty bird species and of course lots of little mammals, the highlights for us were the stylish cotton-topped tamarins and s walk through a small Lemur enclosure. They were very friendly…check out the YouTube video below!

Botanical Gardens
He was ready for his close up or was just hungry. Unsure.
Cotton-topped Tamarins

Captain Scratchy Celebrates Another Successful Trip Around the Sun

Next up, was Captain Scratchy’s birthday.  I hadn’t planned much since we were supposed to be at sea on on our way across the Atlantic. I had some box brownies I was going to bake and a personal cute gift. But since we were stuck ashore, I sought out a fun event for him we could all enjoy together. I found an amazing bakery, Piece of Cake, who made delicious cupcakes of all varietys including one of our new favorites, Biscoff flavored!  Then I found a pretty baller gin tasting at a little hole in the wall local distillary buried on a side street in the center of town called Spirit of The Rock. I booked 4 tickets for our crew and made sure we were there on time. Luckily, we were the only party booked that night so we got a very personal tasting session with free rain on the discussion and asked ALL the questions either to the delight or chagrin of our host Peter, the founder, distiller and charismatic gin historian. He gave us a very thorough and entertaining presentation as he let us taste our way through the evolution of gin through history. Bonus, his Gin is incredibly delicious, minus what was known as “bathtub gin”, a rough but necessary stop in the tasing journey to the flavor of gin as we know it today! If you are in Gibraltar, I can’t recommend this tour enough. It was the best tasting we’ve been to in a long time and the highlight of our stay!! 5 stars.  PS. Don’t drink anything labeled as just “gin”. You’re welcome. 

One other foodie note of interest beyond the sampling of a few local watering holes along the way.  I, Erin, always assumed I did not like Indian food due to the smells I encountered as a child. I had always attributed it to the curry cooking. The rest of the crew had quite a craving for Indian and there were plenty of choices.  I decided to acquiesce and trust that the crew could help me find something to eat on the menu. They jumped on my waivering attitude and sought out the top rated joint in Gibraltar which turned out to be a small unpretentious hole in the wall family owned place, Flavours of India 1947. Seriously, I think it had 4 tables total. It did not disappoint!   I ended up ordering based on the crews recommendations, loved it and proceeded to sample everyone else’s chosen platters, I was ALL IN after that.  It might have been the amazing mango lassi they delivered me just prior to dinner, but either way…I had been missing out the last few decades!  Now that I was a fan, we later hit up another place right on the pier by the marina, Raj’s Curry House. They were awesome, I’m not even sure we ordered, but they just kept bringing us whatever was cooked in the kitchen in the moment. We left very full and very satiatied! 

With the weather finally easing a bit and presenting a least a minimal wind in the right direction, we decided to make the jump. On our last final day in Gibraltar we took the boat over around the corner to fill up our tanks. We had been paying a heafty price in Europe for diesel, so the cheaper prices in Gibralter. were very welcome.  It also helped that a 70’ Sunbream catamaran was fueling up right behind us and they were well over $5000 by the time we paid and left! Ours was pennies comparatively! 

On our last night prior to departure we headed to an area where a line of restuarants sat in the shadow of The Line Wall Curtain, a long steep wall erected as a definsive curtain in the 18th century to protect the town from the bombardment of ships in the Bay of Gibraltar and from troops landing from the sea. At the other end was an American War Memorial commemorating the alliance of the United States and the United Kingdom in their naval exploits in the vicinity of Gibraltar during the Great War.  One is seriously surrounded by history at every turn here!  Anyway, we tried the £20 buffet at Shau Kao Sakura, where you order unlimited servings from a separate menu and eat as much as you want. The guys certainly got their monies worth. It was all amazing and we left VERY full!  

Restaurant walk along the Line Wall Curtain

Shau Kao Sakura

The next morning we woke up, had a big breakfast and got ourselves ready to go. Overall, Queens Quay Marina was affordable, had great, clean facilities, a wonderful staff, an easy check in process. The piers were locked off so it felt very secure. Right along the marina there was wide variety of restaurants and bars. A short walk brought you to almost every other amenity and attraction in Gibraltar. Every morning and evening, the smells of breakfast and dinner were wafting over the marina making our mouths water from the restuarants that lined the marina. Highly recommend.

Time for the next leg.  We were most worried about the attacking Orcas known to sink boats roaming the area…turned out to be our rig that almost did us in…

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