Saturday 16 February 2013

Everyday in the marina is a day closer to sailing!

16 February 2013
 As we get closer to leaving Gibraltar and getting underway for the new sailing season we’re trying to make sure we get around to all those things we said we’d see and do while we’re here before we run out of days.
Karen looking over Spain from Princess Caroline's Battery high on the Rock
Yesterday it was another stroll around the top of the rock, but this time we made our way to the northern end to see the Great Siege Tunnels carved out of the limestone by hand in the early 1780s. It was an eye opener to walk the full length of the tunnels and look down on the surrounding area through the series of gunports. We really did marvel at the engineering achieved with pick, shovel and gunpowder along with the very rudimentary surveying equipment available 230 years ago.
A series of excellent signboards and audio points detail the origin and history of the tunnels making it a totally enjoyable experience. During the siege around 8,000 barrels of gunpowder were expended to fire 200,600 rounds of shot down on the attacking Spanish and French forces. No wonder this place has been known as Fortress Gibraltar for centuries. The tunnel network was greatly extended during the Second World War and now the Rock of Gibraltar is not quite so solid with 40 odd kilometres of tunnels honeycombing the limestone. Click the link for more information about the Great Siege Tunnels
St George's Hall is the largest chamber and held seven guns
We left the tunnels and reached the lookout at Princess Caroline Battery with perfect timing to witness one of Gibraltar's most unique features. We watched below as all vehicle and pedestrian traffic to and from the Spanish frontier was halted to allow a jet to take off from the world's only major airport runway that's crossed by a main road.
Jet aircraft have right of way in Gibraltar which is avery  good thing
We then made our way to the Moorish Castle that dominates the view of the western side of the Rock. This amazing structure was built by the Moors in the 1300s during their occupation of Gibraltar. It was an integral part of the city’s defensive walls but its major role was as a last point of refuge where the moors could hole up until relief forces arrived. Being Australians not used to buildings much older than a century or two we still find it extremely surreal wandering through a place built 700 years ago that will no doubt easily stand for 700 more with ease.
Gibraltar's Moorish Castle has stood since the 1300s
Rob atop the Moorish castle with the Bay of Gibraltar in the background
After walking for quite a few kilometres all over the place, we took the short cut back down to the town via the Castle Steps. This may be the most direct route but trooping down the almost 400 steps certainly gave our calf muscles a workout. We’re glad we went down them and not up.
We ended the day with the serious business of commissioning the latest piece of equipment fitted on Alcheringa. Marc bought the boat its own Christmas present in the form of a shiny new BBQ so with another glorious warm sunny day we felt we really should test it thoroughly before heading to sea. It passed with flying colours, beautifully flame grilling our huge slabs of pork spare ribs which we devoured in the cockpit with sundowners.
Marc sea trialing Alcheringa's latest upgrade
Life is good on Alcheringa.

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