Although we only stayed in Barbate a couple of nights, it was none-the-less a pleasant stop.  Yet again, the marina was far from full (as you can see in the photo below) but it was interesting in that it was divided into a large commercial/fishing port and the yachting marina, which made for quite a long walk around them all to the town.  The fishing boats here were a lot larger than those in previous ports, probably because their main catch is red tuna.  We had to keep a keen watch out for tuna nets off the coast but sadly our fishing lines failed to catch any.  You may just be able to make out a boat on the other dock behind Mazu about the 4th boat from the end with bow pointing out from the dock. It is a German-flagged Swan called Jacunda, which we had come across previously and happened to accompany us on our way to Barbate.  We had a very pleasant evening together at a local restaurant where their knowledge of Spanish and Spanish customs came in very handy in ordering a variety of tapas and Tinto de Verano (i.e. red wine of summer), a refreshing sparkling red wine drink that we have subsequently enjoyed on several occasions. It was agreed that we would sail together to Gibraltar Bay, leaving early the following morning to catch the favorable current.

With a glassy seas, the passage started off looking like we would be motoring most of the way but fortunately the wind eventually started to fill in and we ended up having a great downwind sail past Terifa with a favorable 2-3 knot current assisting through the straights, just making out the outline of Moroccan mountains through the haze to starboard, into Gibraltar Bay.  The pilot books for the straights of Gibraltar warn of winds picking up 15 knots or more compaed with winds 15 nm east or west …. and I guess we witnessed that.  The photo at the top of this post and the one below were taken by Christina on Jacunda. At top is us entering the bay with ‘The Rock’ behind and below are a few of the many dolphins that greeted us.

 Our berth in Alcaidesa Marina has a fantastic view of The Rock but is actually just across the border in La Linea, Spain, just 10 minutes walk away from the border.

While the marina is modern with good, secure facilities, the town of La Linea is rather run down. We were lucky to arrive in time for the last day of the fare celebrating La Nina (the girl) when many young (and not so young) girls were dressed up.  We were amazed how extensive it was and the relatively high standard of eating establishments at the fair. We had a sit-down meal consisting of kebabs, a tasty tomato salad and fresh bread, washed down by a beer or two.  The fireworks that evening started at a quarter past midnight …. how Spanish is that?

The easiest way to enter Gibraltar is to simply walk …. but this involves first going through customs and immigration (a relatively unimpeded process) and then traversing the runway, provided no planes are about to land or take off.  I believe this is unique to Gibraltar as there is no other runway in the world where cars, trucks and pedestrians cross the runway.  We have been doing this every day this week, except today, to track down a few items for the boat and potential yacht services.  We are becoming familiar with the bus system but also feel we have covered quite a few miles each day on foot, usually in the heat of the day, so must surely have burnt off a few extra calories???  One day we happened to bump into John and his wife from Migaloo who were one of the six ARC Europe boats to depart with us from Portsmouth, VA. The encounter turned into having a curry together followed by tea onboard Migaloo.

We have yet to do our touristy thing in Gibraltar …. hopefully tomorrow when we plan to take the cable car up and walk down, taking in various places of interest along the way. Not sure if we will have a chance to explore any of the approx. 40 miles of tunnels that were excavated as a very important part of defending the rock.  Some of the openings can be seen in the photo below, perhaps….

Clearly fortifcation started long before the British took ownership of The Rock with a date of 1540 for the South Bastion wall photographed below.

Today was primarily spent splicing our new main halyard, aided by a pamphlet that came with the fids and a UTube video.  We are quite pleased with the results….