Due to its close proximity to Morocco and Spain, Gibraltar is included in this edition. It offers an excellent base for provisioning, equipping the boat and repairs. Crew changes are easy due to the international airport with flights to the UK and Morocco. It is also a good base for wintering with its two sheltered marinas, and an ideal departure point for Morocco, just a few miles to the south, across the Strait of Gibraltar. It is also a convenient point from which to explore coastal and mainland Spain.
Described as the Gateway to the Mediterranean, Gibraltar, occupying a 3 mile by 1 mile peninsula, sits on the southernmost tip of Spain overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar with Morocco to the south, the Mediterranean coast of Spain to the east and the Atlantic coast of Spain, which stretches north west from the western end of the Strait. Gibraltar is dominated by the massive 426m limestone Rock of Gibraltar, itself an excellent landmark seen for many miles on approach. Directly across the Strait on a clear day can be seen Jebel Moussa, of similar size and stature to the Rock, and the distant peaks of the Rif mountains disappearing southwards into the mist.
Gibraltar has its own unique weather and tidal system. Winds usually blow strongly from the East (Levante) or West (Poniente) year round. During Levante, a thick ‘Levante’ cloud often hovers over the Rock. Gales can blow for several days, some bringing torrential rain in winter; but for most of the time the climate is sunny and pleasant, out of the wind. The heat in summer is mostly tolerable and there are occasional days of thick sea mist which usually lifts by late afternoon or evening but can sometimes last a couple of days.
Crossing the Strait from north to south and vice versa must be planned carefully due to strong, usually east going currents, and east or west winds blowing down the Strait. Guidance can be found in the Transiting the Strait of Gibraltar section (page 33). Sailing all year round is practical given the close proximity of marinas. Several sailing schools run RYA courses throughout the year.