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November 2018: Shamal and her Crew (Mum and Dad) are currently in Grenada waiting for the Hurricane season to end. *ATTENTION PLEASE* If you are still interested in receiving the posts, could you please subscribe to the Blog following the two step process in the right hand column, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox. As of next year the reminder emails that are being sent out will cease. Thanks to all of you for following our Adventures.

09 January 2015

The Christmas Season 2014

065 Christmas in La Linea018 Great View from 'The Rock' Hello To You All Again.

Our five weeks in New Zealand passed very quickly, but we did manage to sort our the business of Alec’s pension.  We also did a quick trip South, and a Big thank you to all who very kindly had us to stay and made time for a catch up. Also a Big thank you to all who had us for meals and made time for visits, both up North, and down South.
We arrived back in La Linea on the 28th November after a long flight on Air New Zealand, coming  through the States, then to Heathrow – London, where we spent a night.  Next morning we took Monarch to Gibraltar.  That night in London made all the difference to my sanity!!   Pete and Kathy Jamieson, a NZ couple off ‘Wave Runner’, invited us to dinner that first night back.  We forgot to change our clocks and arrived a whole hour early for the meal !!!!  They must have though we were extra hungry.

021 Looking over Gib to La Linea061 Boarder Crossing Spain into Gibraltar Our days were then spent making SHAMAL ready for the trip to the Canary Islands.  Again we were waiting on spare parts to arrive which took three weeks. We found plenty to fill in our time.  We hired a car to drive back along the Spanish Mediterranean coastline to Estepona to have our gas bottles filled. The hire car was an interesting one, hired to us from a guy in the marina. Cheap but in need of some maintenance.  The transmission warning light would always come on, and the trick to get it to go out was to turn the key off then on again very quickly as one was driving along. We understand the procedure for one to have foreign gas bottles filled is not exactly legal in Spain. We parked in a car park and opened the car boot.  A guy arrived on a motor bike and first took one bottle away in a bag, then returned 15 mins later and took the other away.  We then went off for a coffee until he returned about an hour later – all done.
010 La Linea 004 La Linea, Med side Alec and I also did numerous trips across the border into Gibraltar both for boat stuff and to have a good look around. Only once did we get caught in the very long queues to exit back into Spain as a result of a rather long running dispute where Spain feels the 300 year old treaty with the British should be abandon and that Gibraltar should revert back to Spain !!!! This tiny self-ruled British enclave has a population of around 30,000 nationals, but many more people cross the border each day from the Spanish side to work there. Among all the ethnic groups that make up the population including British, Spanish, Italian, Maltese and North African  there is also a large group of Indian businessmen, and a large Jewish community who have been there for centuries.  We took the cable car to the Upper Rock both for the spectacular 360 degree views, but also to see the infamous Gibraltar apes.  In fact they are not apes, but tail-less monkeys. It is believed they originally came from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, but unknown when. Today their population is around 250. It was a clear cloudless day when we went to the top, and could see for miles, back into the Mediterranean, to Morocco, out towards the entrance to the Atlantic, and the southern part of Spain.
043 Looking towards Morocco 051 Pillars of Hercules We walked back down the Rock and out to the southern end to the Europa Point Lighthouse. We did not visit St. Michael’s Cave or the World War Two Tunnels.  We spent time in Main Street and the town centre, and walked some of the old city walls. Gibraltar’s strategical position at the entrance/exit to the Mediterranean has for centuries been an important land mark for mariners, from the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Egyptians – BC, to the Barbarians, Vandals, Goths, etc – AD, just to mention a few.  Many occupying the Rock, and others on invasions into Spain.
Our crew member, Mehmet, from Turkish Cyprus, whom we met in Famagusta, arrived in Gibraltar to join us for the run down to the Canary Islands. He was going to see how he felt after the first leg as to whether he would come further with us.  As our parts had still not arrived from Denmark, this gave him time to have a look around as well.
IMG_5762 It was hard watching others leave for the Canaries while we were stuck there waiting.  The weather currents and tide all play an important factor in leaving Gibraltar to pass out through the straits.  Some of the yachts had been waiting three weeks.  Then there came a break, but still our parts from Denmark had not arrived. So we waited some more !!  So another outing was arranged.  We all decided to take a ferry across to Ceuta.  A Spanish enclave on the Moroccan coast. Again we hire ‘that’ car with the transmission light fault, and set off for the port on the far side of the bay.  Then we were caught out by a tout !!! telling us first to park where we should not have a charging us an unbelievable price, then he sent us over to his ‘friend’s’ ticket office at the far end of the port.  Hence we did arrive to catch the ferry after a long sprint, we missed it as the gate had just closed.  Alec was not at all impressed.  We now had to hike back to the ticket office and change it for a later sailing.  But we did end up in Ceuta that day.
IMG_5703 IMG_5719 Ceuta is another place with an interesting history. It has been a Spanish enclave since the 16th century and is one of the ports Spain retained after Moroccan independence in 1956 because of its strategic location. The Portuguese fort there is the first we have visited with a moat that actually had been maintained and water flowed around. The town was very clean and tidy with lovely Christmas decorations up everywhere.
Then at long last our parcel arrived.  Our friendly South African mechanic fitted the heat exhaust unit, we did our last big stock up at the Carrefour Supermarket – and as Alec says we could cross the Atlantic at least twice with what we have on board, a visit to the bank, and make sure our new Iridium weather system is working, and we are ready to say Adios to La Linea.
032 Apes of GibraltarIMG_5747 In a Gibraltar supermarket I had found some wonderful Christmas goodies like heavy fruit cake for the boys, Christmas pudding, brandy cream and even some gluten free Christmas goodies for me. We were not going to stave or go without this Christmas.  I was just praying we would be in Las Palmas in the Canaries, for the festive event.
So we wish you all once again a Very Festive Season as we set sail on our next leg
Love from
The Admiral and The Commander

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