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Homeward Bound
Ten days away, ten days to the next post
This morning-raining like hell and blowing a gale
24 October 2011 | In the Shadow of the Rock of Gibraltar
21 October
We should have left this morning but the weather wouldn't cooperate, there are high seas, nasty winds, and lots of rain coming in from the southwest which would have put it right on our nose, so we opted to wait now until perhaps Tuesday for this system to clear out of our path. Hopefully by then the winds at sea will have gone back to their normal northwesterly flow.

We of course returned to the boat from northern Spain a few days back and were joined by our crew person. Turns out she has a "boyfriend" who is a certified and supposedly very experienced sailor so he too will be joining us once we get to Las Palmas in the Canaries.

There have been shopping forays to the Gibraltar side primarily to the Chandlery, several in fact. We were finally able to procure the daunted "spray hoods" which have not been available or even heard of in Greece, Italy, or Spain! These, along with some other odds and ends pretty much completes our required equipment list save for the elusive 4 white flares, that again, no one seems to stock. I think we are lacking one automatic water activated strobe light for one of the PFD's. If it isn't raining too hard tomorrow I will hike over and buy it. We have found out that crossing the Atlantic on your own, or in company of a couple other boats is literally thousands of dollars cheaper than going with the ARC, you miss out on some seminars and free booze at receptions but that seems to be it, other than being loaded down with equipment most people never carry regardless of where they sail.

Yesterday we took the long hike through Gibraltar all the way to the cable car base. We are too old for this sort of hiking! Instead of the cable car we opted for a guided tour of all the stuff on top of the rock by car, the caves, the siege tunnels, of course the Rock Apes. Quite interesting. The British have held Gibraltar much to the chagrin of Spain since 1704. The battle of Trafalgar was the naval engagement that defeated the Spanish Armada and many of the casualties were buried in a Cemetery in the city. I am not much for waltzing through Cemeteries but on almost each headstone was a story recounting the manner in which the person had died. It is referred to as the "Glorious Victory", a phrase coined no doubt by the survivors, I doubt those in the memorial cemetery would have shared that assessment.

There is a story you may have heard; "that when the last Rock Ape dies the British will leave Gibraltar". It is an old story. After World War II it is said that there were but three Rock Apes surviving in Gibraltar. The only other place in the world this particular breed exists is in Morocco somewhere. Anyway, Winston Churchill is reputed to have ordered one of his Officers that a hundred more immediately be brought to Gibraltar and released to insure there would always be Rock Apes there. So now there are 6 distinct families of Apes living on the Rock. They are fed by some Company every day to encourage them to stay on top of the Rock and not come down and get into mischief in the city. Three families are rarely seen by visitors as they live in more secluded areas and the other three occupy areas where there are tourist sites. Probably more about Rock Apes than any of you ever wanted to know, except my son Danny who is enamored with them and has as one of his life's goals to go and see them in person.
Today Cris and I are both whipped from the walking yesterday, the beginning of bad hips for us both I fear. Ele who is 20 or so years younger is off exploring.

October 22
It started raining last night as forecast and rained hard off and on throughout the night and today dawned with dark threatening clouds surrounding us from every direction. If the forecast is right we will have "London like" dampness, rain, etc, for two more days and then things will clear rapidly and we can be on our way. So today and tomorrow will be lay about days doing little or nothing. For us, despite the inconvenience of the precipitation, the rain is something of a joyous occasion as we haven't seen a hard rain, heard thunder, or seen lightening since last March, or maybe it was February, at any rate it has been a long dry spell (no pun intended). In fact now that I think about things we haven't seen for a long time our trip north to Fuentarabia comes to mind. The further we got north of central Spain the more trees there were and once past the olive growing region there were trees similar to Aspens and the fall colors were in full dress. We haven't seen fall colors for, wow, maybe 7 or 8 years. Funny the things you can miss without realizing it until you see it again.

October 23
Today this gets posted to the blog.
The weather is still pouring down rain this morning but the forecast is still looking very good for a Tuesday departure. We have decided that once again because of unplanned delays (weather this time) we will shorten our route and instead of going Southwest to Madeira and then on to the Canaries, we will go offshore 50-100 miles from the Straight of Gibraltar heading southwest and then turn south straight down to Isla De Lanzarote in the Canaries, take a break there and then go on to Las Palmas on Grand Canary. Depending upon winds and such it should take 7-9 days at sea from Gibraltar to Lanzarote. So this will likely be the last blog posted until maybe the 2nd or 3rd of November. The forecast winds are not looking conducive to a fast run south, but at least it is because of light winds rather than nasty adverse ones. Since this will be the first foray out into the Atlantic for all of us it is probably a good thing that it isn't forecast to be rough. The Atlantic "swell" will be a new experience after the short seas the Med produces.

We have taken lots of pictures here and on our off boat trip to the North so choosing one is a difficult task. The Rock? No, anyone who has ever seen a Prudential Insurance commercial has seen that one. The view of Gibraltar city and La Linea divided by the airport runway? No, too mundane, although the airport is unique in one way because I don't know of too many active airports where a road and pedestrian walkway cross over the middle of the runway like this one does. It is the only land route from Spain into Gibraltar. They simply stop the traffic when an airplane is inbound or outbound and after it clears the runway other traffic resumes. No, there are the caves, the siege tunnels, the Moorish castle, the Pillars of Hercules, and other sites worth seeing, but in the end it is the Rock Apes isn't it? After it is all said and done it is the Rock Apes people really come here to see. Now let me digress and lend significance to the picture. When Cris was born and her older brother by a few years was shown his new sister he remarked to his mother "she's all hairy, she looks like a monkey" and the nickname "Monk" stuck to this day. So you get a bonus in this photo of both the Rock Apes of Gibraltar and the Monk of, well the world I suppose.
Footnote: It seems that today the 23d, there is a problem logging onto the blog website to post this. I usually type them up in Word and then cut and paste them to the blog since they limit the time you can stay logged on. So perhaps tomorrow it will be back up and running.