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Gibraltar visit 2011

Introduction

This page pulls together some notes and impressions of Gibraltar, gathered during a visit in August 2011.

Compared with our last visit 5 years ago, Gibraltar seems to have made a lot of progress with redevelopment, and general presentation. It certainly seemed very busy, and was receiving regular visits from cruise ships, including the Queen Victoria and P&O Ventura. The waterfront areas in particular have, or are undergoing, a transformation, with a large number of smart apartment blocks going up.

A new airport terminal building is under construction. It is badly needed, as there is very poor access to the present one by road. With the increase in air traffic, what is most badly needed is a tunnel under the runway. Long queues of traffic build up on the Spanish side of the border, just north of the airport, and traffic has to be stopped altogether when an aircraft lands or takes off.

We enjoyed our visit, and our activities are recorded in our log.

Yacht services

We did not have occasion to try to dig very hard. However, it did not seem to us that Gibraltar was continuing to provide good yacht services. Shepherds chandlery has moved into one of the newly developed Ocean Village buildings, just behind the Marina Bay harbour. They did not have what I happened to be looking for, and offered me a seized ball valve as a substitute: others have said that they are not particularly good value and do not have much stock.

The north mole container quay, where it is
apparently possible to be lifted out

Their workshops have moved down to the quay immediately north of Queensway, and they only have limited lifting capability there for smaller boats. Larger boats can be lifted on the north container mole, but I was given to understand that this was only to be entertained in desparation.

The marina across the bay, at Algeciras, does apparently have lifting capability, provided you can stand the smell. It is to be hoped that the facilities at the new Alcaidesa Marina, at La Linea, will come on stream soon (promised for Autumn 2011) and that these will provide what is surely needed.

Queensway Quay Marina

This area has been redeveloped as a rather chic marina basin, with smart apartment buildings and restaurants and bars to suit. Apartments have been built on the 'island' that has replaced the former breakwater, and additionally small stub breakwaters have been built out in the entrance at either side. The entrance to the marina is now at the north end, and involves a sharp turn to starboard into the marina basin. A call on Channel 71 resulted in an answer and move to Channel 72, and would seem to be essential before attempting entry. The marina office has moved to occupy the ground floor/end of a new apartment block facing the entrance (the near blue one). Facilities remain in the original marina building, on the north east side of the basin, and the laundry is situated elsewhere. The rate in Queensway was competitive, marginally more expensive than La Linea (where the sales tax is heavier).

The entrance to Queensway Quay is to starboardQueensway Quay, with the 'island' opposite and surrounding
development. The entrance, and Shepperds workshops, are top right

Queensway Quay had a reputation for bad surge. During our visit there were no south westerly winds, but it would be surprising if this is still a major problem in view of the shelter and works at the entrance to the basin.

The marina is run as a tight ship. Security gates control access to the pontoons, operated by code locks, and the same code operates the outside doors for the 'facilities'. Curiously, when the office is unattended, a boom is placed across the entrance. This prevents anyone entering or leaving. The toilets and showers are also locked at night, leaving a single bathroom available for all comers. Electricity and water are pre-paid on a meter, but in our case the electricity meter did not work so we relied on honesty. There was also a midday deadline for checking out.

Marina Bay

We did not visit the marina by boat, as Queensway came back with an offer first. It is said that there is often not room, although there appeared to be plenty. The published rates are similar.

The entire area has been extensively re-developed as part of the Ocean Village development. There are extensive boardwalks, with restaurants, bars and similar establishments. This is no doubt convenient, if that is what you want, but along with the nearby aircraft movements, it cannot make for a peaceful berth.
A yacht alongside the fuelling berth at Waterport
with the new Ocean Village development beyond
Another shot of the Marina Bay development

Waterport

Cepsa now have a monopoly for the provision of fuel, so that the rates were the same as on the forecourts in Gibraltar. Diesel cost 1.013 per litre. There is space for perhaps 3 yachts to fuel at the same time.

We cleared in at Queensway, so did not have any contact with customs this time.

Alcaidesa Marina, La Linea

The new Alcaidesa marina at La Linea, and yacht club beyond,
with Marina Bay in the foreground adjacent to the airport runway
The new Alcaidesa Marina is enormous, and is as yet far from completion. However, there are a good number of yachts now berthed there, of all sizes. The rates are very competitive, but subject to a higher rate of Spanish sales tax (iva) than the Gibraltar marinas. The numerous office staff were friendly and spoke English. Alcaidesa marina is twenty minutes walk from the airport, situated immediately south of the customs and immigration controls.

The scale of the operation, and the developers' interest in golf courses, has led them to adopt the golf cart as the favoured transport around the marina. It appears that the marina does not yet possess a rib or similar workboat, so the marineiros are limited in what assistance they can provide in case of difficulties. There is in fact no convenient berth for a rib adjacent to the office! In any case, they seemed more interested in reading the electricity and water meters, than helping to secure the boats.

The marina control office is on the end of the outer mole/breakwater. This runs S/N, and on the end there are also fuel pumps. The end, and immediately inside, are also used as a waiting berth while checking in. Because of the rise and fall of the tide, and the height of the mole, this may not be particularly convenient for a small yacht. A floating reception pontoon would be preferable. I visited the office by rib on one occasion, and managed to scramble ashore. On the second occasion, at a lower state of the tide, I found it impossible and had to use one of the 'emergency' ladders (of which there appear to be only two or three).

On the inside of the outer mole are fixed concrete bridge pontoons on piles,with tailed moorings for larger vessels. A wide central mole that also runs S/N, laid with bricks and landscaped with palm trees, runs from the roundabout at the entrance. At its extreme north end there is a facilities block. It is not known whether more facilities are intended to be developed: they will certainly be needed but none are shown on the plan. On each side of this mole, are floating pontoons running to the west and east, on piles, and fitted with substantial finger pontoons. Access to each of the pontoons, and to the facilities, is controlled by a card system. There are therefore two distinct pools for the average yacht on each side of this mole, the inner pool being the more sheltered. Pontoons are equipped with metered power and water, charged for on a usage basis at moderate cost. Just over half the pontoons are currently fitted with electricity, water and are in commission, with many vacancies.

To the north of the site, running out from the shore to the east, is a further substantial mole where the hard standing and workshop areas are being developed. This is said to be operational from this autumn, but on the face of it there are as yet no buildings, no travel lift, cradles or similar equipment, and no site access or security provision. The latter will be important as it is adjacent to the town shore and remote from the office.

Facilities include Male/Female showers, toilets and laundry. The Male provision is for 6 showers, 3 toilets, 6 wash basins, and urinals. The Female provision is for 4 showers, 3 and 6 respectively. A curious attempt to automate and save electricity has resulted in lights that flash on and off, unless you maintain continuous movement while in the toilet, as if you were conducting your own orchestra. As the lights flash here, and in the showers, so do the extraction fans! Not efficient, and must surely be fixed sometime. It may be there are additional facilities behind the office, but these are too remote from the main yacht mole to be of any value to the 'average' yacht.

There is wifi provision, but the rates charged were not competitive when compared with mobile broadband offers.

There is considerable rough ground around the marina, and it is understood that in time this will be developed with retail shops, restaurants, and club facilities. For the time being, access to the site requires a moderate walk around the southern perimeter, where traffic queues to cross the frontier, to the roundabout at the end. A security hut is manned 24 hours.

La Linea

The town has something of a shady reputation. The immediate area around the border is not particularly attractive, and the southern fringe is mainly new urban poured concrete architecture. However, an effort has been made with landscaping, parks and fountains. In the old town, there are pedestrianised areas, and it is good to see the locals perambulate in the evenings in their families, stopping at the various bars and tapas establishments.

In town, there are good local shops, and a Mercadona supermarket. There is a Carrefour on the outskirts to the north, and a Lidl on the main road to San Roques. We did not see any nautical supplies.

The Club Nautico Linense occupies its original position at the base of the mole extending west on the north side of the harbour, Puerto Chico. Its pontoons are secured by gates. We attempted to land at the club, but were shown to a pontoon, and charged 5 euros for the privilege of berthing the dinghy there. The restaurant offered an extensive menu, but rather expensive. On our first attempt it was closed, and on the second we were put off by the fact that it was empty and by the prices. There is a second Real Club Nautico, with premises across the street from Linense.

It is possible to anchor within the shelter of the original outer breakwater, but outside the area controlled by the marina or Club, where there is plenty of room, and depth available in good shelter. We understood from a yacht that the Guardia Civil launch had moved them on from the anchorage, possibly in response to representations from the marina. During our stay, we noticed a number of boats anchored there over the entire period, and we ourselves suffered no hassle from this quarter over two or three nights. Unless you want to pay the club, or abuse the marina's hospitality, it may be possible to land a dinghy at some steps on the north side of the breakwater.

Algeciras

We considered visiting Algeciras as we planned a visit to Ronda by rail, the line terminating at Algeciras. Accordingly we entered the harbour, and beat an immediate retreat. There was a strong smell of hydrocarbons, sewage and dead fish, and the marina did not look particularly attractive. New pontoons, opposite the yacht club, are in use, and some visiting yachts were berthed there.

Ceuta

We visited Ceuta. The marina was more expensive than the Gibraltar marinas. There was limited space for visitors, although it was not a problem for us as there were very few. It did not appear that the fuel station was operational, but we did not investigate as filling station prices were only marginally cheaper than on the mainland. The beach on the south is accessable via the moat around the town fortifications. Tours to Morocco are said to be available. There is a Lidl and a SuperSol some 20 minutes walk from the marina.

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