Rock of Ages
Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
45Trip End Ongoing
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We left Almerimar at 10:00 pm under clear starry skies and following seas. We made great time and once again decided instead of stopping at two closer harbors, we'd just push on to Gibraltar. The weather window would be shut within three days and we wanted to make sure that we made it to "Gib" before the weather turned winter again. I got up for my 11:00 pm - 2:00 am watch and had the incredible view of the Rock of Gibraltar off our starboard bow. We had 15 miles to go to the entrance of Gibraltar Harbor and had lots of tanker traffic in the shipping lane off the port side. Just past the tankers, we could see the lights of Africa.
Once again, the song titles came flooding to my mind - ROCK of Ages, ROCK around the clock, ROCK-a-bye baby...
As I watched the well-lit Rock get larger as we neared, I thought that it looked quite like a giant baboon butt
After a little more than an hour, the wind picked up and I thought it wasn't quite right that I was having all the fun myself, so I called Chris up. We scoured the water for "tunny nets" and other fishing boats, not wanting to encounter either close-up and personal again. When we were rounding Gibraltar Harbor, we called Jeanne and Jeff up to add to our eyes on the water. The Harbor was chock full of tankers and other assorted incredibly LARGE ships coming and going. Our computer hiccupped and we lost our ability to view a detailed chart of the area. This was not too much fun with all the ships and darkness. As we crawled in, Jeff, Jeanne and I were on deck and Chris was at the wheel. We would tell him, "port" or "starboard" as needed. All of a sudden, we saw that we were headed to an unlit rock breakwater. I yelled to slow the engines and turn around. Depth perception is not too good at night, but it seemed like we were within feet of the rocks. Whew. We managed to find the anchorage that we were looking for and got the hook down. The engines were turned off at 5:00 am - after a 31 hour run. Chris and the J's put on a pot of water for some hot cocoa, but my body was screaming - bedtime, so I made haste to the warm covers of our bunk. We all slept soundly until around 10:00 am.
The sun was out and we enjoyed the warmth as Jeff readied the dinghy for a trip to shore
After waiting out the weather in La Linea (the Spanish side of the breakwater at Gibraltar), we picked a day to take a hike to see the Gibraltar monkeys. They call them Barbary Apes, but they are actually monkeys and they have the run of the Rock of Gibraltar. As we walked up the narrow road (no taxi tours for us!), we saw some of the monkeys on the side of the road. They are not shy at all, and will climb on your shoulder if you let them. I have a photo of Liz with one picking at her hair. The signs say not to feed the monkeys, but those guys are after any handouts they can get. The battery on our camera went out and as I tried to find new batteries in the backpack, I felt a pulling at my pant leg. I looked down and a large monkey was begging for a handout. When nothing was forthcoming, he actually put his hand into my jacket pocket (before I could stop him, not that I could have done anything at that point but run) and pulled out the contents: the two dead batteries and a perfectly good chapstick (SPF 35)
Tomorrow we head for the Canary Islands, 700 miles south where we hope to be able to shed our winter clothing for a while and spend a few weeks before heading across the Atlantic.