13 Oct – More time at Gibraltar


October 16th, 2017


Gibraltar, North Atlantic 2017 – 2019

Written by

Richard Farrington

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By Richard. Posted on October 16th, 2017 in Gibraltar, North Atlantic 2017 – 2019.

36:08.1 N 005:21.3W

One of the nicer elements of getting older, is that your list of ‘old friends’ gets longer.  So it was a real pleasure to catch up with Jim Bowen and his wife Sarah and their two small carpet commandos last Sunday for breakfast here in Gibraltar.  Jim and I served together in the mighty NOTTINGHAM where, amongst other things he was one of the heroes of 3D Mess when we let rather a lot of water into the ‘People Tank’ one quiet Sunday evening.  The Queen gave him a Gallantry Medal in recognition.  He’s been living and working in Gib for the last decade as a facilities manager with one of the major on-line betting companies.  The Bowens are on good form, but planning to return to England at the end of the year: unless you are a Gibraltarian, you are always a ‘foreigner’ here and there’s not much space for small children to run around.  I wish them every success in their new adventure.


Queensway Quay with the top of the Rock behind

Otherwise this week has been dominated by the satcom defect.  The new cable turned up on Monday but failed to fix the problem.  We then entered a rather unsatisfactory phase waiting for Iridium to authorise despatch of a replacement antenna – the only piece of the jigsaw (apart from the operator) that we haven’t changed.  That finally arrived this afternoon, but after the Customs chaps had gone home for the weekend.  So we are heading out on an Andalucian Road trip tomorrow, to the ancient town of Ronda and beyond. We know that we will have the part on Monday, so for the first time for a fortnight we are confident that we have a realistic plan.

In the meantime, we have kept ourselves busy.  We went to see the new Blade Runner movie; a great spectacle.  Neither of us are huge sci-fi buffs and have not watched the original, but we did some research and turned up to sit in the back row of the new Gibraltar fleapit at Kings Bastion.  What a HUGE movie – in every sense.  Ryan Gosling is rather good, but it’s the cinematography and the sheer imagination of the movie makers that leave their mark.  That, and their dark, apocalyptic view of the future.  I really hope 2049 doesn’t look like that…

Maintenance is never far down the list and this week Julie stripped and serviced the cockpit winches whilst I reprogrammed the SSB radio and managed to receive a good old-fashioned weather forecast from our friends at Northwood – hurrah for the Navy Met team.  I remember doing it in a frigate off Iceland thirty years ago, it takes forever and the quality is still a bit ‘hit and miss’ – but it’s a damn sight cheaper than the Satcom!


‘Does it really need all these bits?’

We made some new friends, too.  John and Alex are on a Hallberg-Rassy just along from us.  They have been living aboard for several years, mainly in the Caribbean and stopping to earn some cash every so often.  He’s an ex-toolmaker turned designer, Yachtmaster instructor and tourist boat skipper; she is a radiographer working at the very smart looking hospital here.  Kindred spirits who gave us some good tips about long passages and Grenada.

Thinking about the hospital, we walked past the old HMS ROOKE this week just as the last bit of it turned to rubble under the tide of development that dominates 21st century Gibraltar.  What an interesting contrast to the Great Siege of 1783; we were up on the Rock today and had a good look at the extraordinary excavation work that the British did to build up Gibraltar’s defences under the threat of a Spanish invasion.  Imagination, innovation, strength of character and plenty of self-discipline must have been the order of the day.  Fascinating too to realise that the fine fortifications that we walk around every day were once the harbour walls; development on the Rock has invariably required land reclamation.  We also examined the Moorish Castle, looked down over the old prison and explored the Museum which houses the ancient Moorish Baths.  They were a race with vision too…


The old prison below the Moorish castle.  Managed to avoid it on this trip!


St George’s Hall, cut into the north face of the Rock soon after the siege of 1783.  Note the RM taking charge of the Artillery!

Here’s the plan, then.  Spend the weekend away from the boat, driving, walking and researching Andalucian food and wine.  Return on Monday to fix the satcom, send the unused or broken bits back to Iridium, store ship, say our goodbyes to some great friends here and then depart on Tuesday for Rabat on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.  Depending on what we find, we might stay there for a few days, before pushing on to the Canary Islands and starting to focus on our departure across the Atlantic in just over a month’s time.