Approaching Gibraltar from the Mediterranean side in the early morning is always a special occasion. As you get closer the rock rises above the horizon and features become visible and the Europa Point light house provides a reference for entering Gibraltar Bay. Many generations of British Sailors must have felt relief in the past on sighting this Bastion of the British Empire and the shelter it provided.
As we approached closer, the Gibraltar Vessel Traffic Services informed us we were turn two for a pilot behind a large tanker. Impatient and not wanting to be stuck behind a lumbering tanker I asked if we could speed up and get ahead of the tanker. The pilot agreed and we rounded Europa Point at full speed to pick up the pilot. Forty minutes later we were safely tied up alongside the bunker berth.
My first visit to Gibraltar was as a cadet during my first trip to sea. Gibraltar was then a very different place, full of sailors and British forces personnel, a wild and bawdy place, quite exciting for a teenager. Now the main street is populated with tourist shops, some of the pubs and bars still exist but the customers are quite well behaved now.
On the way into the berth I noticed we had to pass three very noticeable yachts. The first being ‘Ice’, owned by Finnish car driver, the second, ‘Maltese Falcon’ a unique automated square rig sailing vessel and finally the massive and so good looking, ‘Eclipse’ owned by a Russian who owns a football club in London. Little was I to know at the time but I had to
shift berth a further three times in close proximity to these mega yachts, something I managed to do without bumping into any of them!
The stop in Gibraltar was for bunkers and to sort out some technical issues. The trip through the Mediteranean turned up some minor technical problems that we wanted to sort out before crossing the Atlantic Ocean. By morning we were bunkerd and our on board systems tested OK and running well. We ordered a pilot for 11:00 and prepared to depart. I just had time to get a taxi up to the local supermarket and pick up some HP Sauce
and Frank Coopers thick cut English Marmalade, with these essential food items on board I was ready for the North Atlantic.
The pilot joined us at 11:00 and we let go to head out the harbour, as we headed for the breakwater the pilot jumped off after cheerily telling me to leave everything to port. We headed down the bay, turned into the westbound traffic lane and by lunchtime heading into the Atlantic. So ended a hectic 24 hours and now we get settled back into sea routine for another 11 days before arriving in St Johns.