Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gibraltar - "Nec plus ultra"

My favorite South American client! Their headquarters are in Spain of course.

A pod of dolphins in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.  We saw these everywhere!

The Rock of Gibraltar at last!

The Rock from our Marina at La Linea, Spain.

Maria crossing the active runway on the British side of the Rock!

The fuel dock in Gibraltar.  Fuel here is duty free and cheaper than anywhere else in all of Europe!

The shopping street in Gibraltar.  Doesn't Maria look happy!

Official British post office in Gibraltar.

Yes it is an active runway!

The view from high atop the Rock of Gibraltar!

It was cold and windy at the top.

You can see how windy it was!

Stunning view from the Rock and out into the Mediterranean Sea.

The famous Barbary Apes on top of the Rock of Gibraltar, and Maria too!

That is our marina on the far wide of the runway.  We love the breakwaters that protect us!

British foods right on the waterfront in Gibraltar.

Admiral Maria standing where Queen Elizabeth stood while walking on the Rock.  We don't think the Queen walked all the way up!

He has a nice view of the harbor from the Rock!

The tomb of Columbus at the Seville Cathederal in Seville, Spain.  Wow!

Part of the Seville Cathedral where the tomb of Columbus sits.  DNA evidence says that yes this is Columbus.  However, the Columbus tomb in the Dominican Republic also has a few of his bones.  Just to make sure we saw all of him, we have visited the new world tomb too.  Columbus continues to travel a lot even in death it seems!

S/Y Aspen – October 10, 2013 – Log #109
Aspen Position: 36 degrees 09’ N  005 degrees 22’ W (UTC +2 Hours)

The Pillars of Hercules!  We have arrived at last!!

"Nec plus ultra", Nothing further beyond, a warning to sailors and navigators to go no further.

These words are from the ancient Greek poet Pindar (522 BC) and repeated by Plato a few years later when talking about the Pillars of Hercules.  Plato claimed that Atlantis lay beyond the Pillars of Hercules as well and we know what happened to them?

It was not acceptable nor wise to venture beyond the Pillars of Hercules, legend had it.

We had a very uncomfortable 2 day sail from Cartagena.  Tacking over 20 miles out of our way was necessary because of large seas and big winds.  Eventually we arrived with more fuel this time but a lot more tired!

Welcome to Gibraltar, welcome to England and welcome to the Rock!  British fish and chips, the British pound for currency, English spoken (well kind of English since it is British) and Bobbies in the street.  That's Bobbies, British police, if you were wondering.

We tried to get a berth for Aspen at the Rock but the marinas were all full since it is high season for sailors in this part of the world. No problem, we just went 1 mile away and are still at the foot of the Rock but in Spain.

We are staying on the Spanish side of Gibraltar in a great marina called Alcaidesa Marina that is in the town of La Linea.  It is a huge marina with nice finger piers beside Aspen so we don't have to moor stern-to, the Mediterranean way.  The prices are reasonable in Spain yet things change when we walk 10 minutes, clear customs from Spain and arrive in British Gibraltar on the Rock.

The view from the top of the huge limestone Rock was spectacular.  Morocco lay to the south and monkeys played at our feet.  On the way down from the top we had to stop at a pub of course for some nourishment.  Pubs rule in the Rock and you are never a few steps from another one.

Each day we troop across the flat expanse of land and across the active international runway separating the Rock from mainland Spain, along with a few thousand workers.  Spanish and British make the walk every day to work in the Rock.  Some drive but walking is much quicker because of the security and customs check points.  British workers live on the Spanish side because it is cheaper and with all of the comforts of Spain.

The weather is changing to a more winter weather pattern with cooler nights (60 degrees) and very high humidity.  We have to get south quickly before we freeze in these higher latitudes!  Hopefully the sea will cooperate and give us a nice weather window soon to the Canary Islands.

After the voyage Columbus made to the New World the Spanish changed the words "Nec plus ultra" to: "Plus Ultra" (further beyond).  The New World beckoned and voyagers took to the sea in their quest for adventure and new lands.

Look at the symbol for the US dollar: $.  The symbol used to have two vertical pillars (it still has one for most of us).  This is the symbol for the Pillars of Hercules and was taken from Spain so long ago.

Speaking of Columbus, we visited his monumental tomb at Cathedral Seville in Seville, Spain.  It was really amazing!!!  We have never seen a more elaborate church or a larger church, ever.  Not the Vatican, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul or you name it.  It is truly a setting fit for someone of Columbus' stature in Spain at that time in history.  Of course that was when Spain ruled the world and we know what happened to them :)

We also stopped at the Archives of the Indies where all of the logs and books from the voyage of discovery and settlements are kept today.  They don't let people check out the books however!

Aspen and her crew are on the threshold of a new adventure.  We will pass between the Pillars of Hercules and begin our journey to the New World, as sailors have done at least since the time of Columbus.

Sail on, sail on and sail safe Aspen...

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