I have crew!!

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Emmanuel Renoir arrives from Paris in one hour!!  It’s good to have friends!!

I was not looking forward to another 10 day single handed journey back to Barcelona.  Now with Emmanuel onboard and a very favorable weather forecast we should be able to cut that time in half!

Thank you Catherine for loaning me your husband (and figuring out how to get him here)!!

I’ll send him home after a couple of celebratory nights in Barcelona!  Don’t worry, he’ll be fine…

 

Interesting Facts about Gibraltar

I am certainly no fan of Gibraltar as a “vacation destination”.  It’s a very confused place that seems to struggle to come up with an identity, and the folks that come here on vacation seem to come for the shopping more than anything else.  But…Gibraltar is an amazing physical sight, and does have a very interesting history.

I’ve been somewhat bored lately waiting for help to arrive for my return trip to Barcelona.  Here are some “interesting facts” that I’ve learned about Gibraltar.

  • The road into Gibraltar gets closed down every time a plane lands at the territory’s airport.  The runway runs the whole width of Gibraltar alongside the border with Spain and you can walk right across it when there are no planes coming or going.Facts about Gibraltar
  • There are more than 50 kilometres of tunnels dug into the Rock of Gibraltar, some of which were dug at the time of our American Revolution.
  • The Second World War led to another great wave of tunnelling as work was undertaken to enable The Rock to house a garrison of 16,000 men with water, food, ammunition and fuel supplies sufficient to last a year under siege
  • During the Second World War, the Germans devised plans to take Gibraltar, which was a strategically placed naval based for Great Britain. The operation with the codename Felix never got off the ground, but it was on the books until 1944.
  • Hidden in the famous rock is a secret chamber, known as the “Stay Behind Cave.” Measuring 45 x 16 x 8 feet, the enclosure was the site of a top secret World War II plot called Operation Tracer.

    In 1940, the British Intelligence was privy to Hitler’s desire to invade Gibraltar and cut off Great Britain from the rest of the British Empire. British Admirals suggested that a secret room be constructed within the Rock of Gibraltar, where six men would hide and observe from two small openings any movement they could see on the harbor.

Facts about Gibraltar

  • The apes – Gibraltar is the only place in Europe with monkeys. Legend has it that if the apes ever leave the mountain, Gibraltar will cease to be British.During the Second World War there were just 7 of them left but the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, ordered that new ones be brought across from North Africa to replenish the colony. Now there are about 300 of them wandering around the rock, stealing food from unsuspecting tourists.Facts about Gibraltar

 

  • Anyone can get married in Gibraltar with just a day’s notice – and it will be recognised worldwide.  Sean Connery has been married in Gibraltar (twice) and this is where John Lennon and Yoko Ono tied the knot as well.
  • Gibraltar has applied to be a part of the Olympics but so far hasn’t been accepted (and probably never will under the current rules).
  • Referendums: There have been two referendums on Gibraltar´s future in recent times. In 1967, Gibraltarians were asked if they wanted to become Spanish, with locals being allowed to keep their British citizenship. A total of 12,138 said they wanted to remain British. Just 44 voted to go with Spain. Then in 2002, locals of The Rock voted on whether Spain and the UK should ‘share’ Gibraltar. Only 187 people said yes. That was just 1.03 percent of the vote.
  • One of the main sticking points between the UK and Spain is over the waters around Gibraltar. The original 1713 treaty handing The Rock to the British Crown didn’t specify who these belonged to. The United Kingdom now “applies a 3-mile area of British Gibraltar Territorial Water”. But Spain “exerts its sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its territorial waters that include all maritime areas around Gibraltar with the only exception of its port facilities”.

DO NOT tell me I made this trip for nothing!

Catalonia’s leader: ‘We will declare independence in a matter of days’

  • Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, the head of Catalonia’s devolved government Carles Puigdemont, said his administration would declare independence from Spain “act at the end of this week or the beginning of next.”

 

From what I understand, if Catalonia declares its independence and separates from Spain they will be out of the EU.  I am fairly certain that admittance to the EU requires all current members to approve any request.  Something tells me that Spain might not be in a very cooperative mood!

That means that I could have avoided this 1,000nm round trip to Gibraltar and just stayed in place!!

 

Life is what happens while you are busy making plans…

Yesterday

I woke up thinking that I was going to leave Barcelona this weekend and make my way South to warmer temperatures and southern Spain.

There I would await Deb’s return and greet our friend Emmanuel Renoir prior to heading farther south to the Canary Islands.  The Canary Islands were to be our departure point for the Caribbean on November 19th.

By the time I went to bed, all of that had changed!

I heard from Deb that she was not going to be able to return any time soon (real life issues at home), and listened to reports of Hurricane Maria taking out a few more of our potential Caribbean destinations.

Deb was delayed, the Caribbean was a disaster area, and Morpheus was currently docked at our favorite boatyard.

All of this combined to turn my plans upside down, and I was leaning pretty hard towards delaying our Atlantic Crossing by another year, spending a couple of weeks here in Barcelona putting Morpheus to bed, and then heading home until next May.

Please note that we had already delayed our crossing by a year.  Morpheus was initially scheduled (ha! love that word!!) to cross to the Caribbean last Winter.  If she had, would she have perished in one of the two recent hurricanes??  I’m thinking yes.

Today

I woke up and started getting the paperwork together to get Morpheus hauled out of the water and “put into bond” by the local EU Customs agents.  Visiting boats are granted an 18 month timeframe to visit the EU.  We are currently working on month number 13 for Morpheus.

If your boat stays in the EU longer than 18 months, the authorities have the right to charge you an “import tax” of 20% of the boats value.  Putting your idle boat “into bond” stops that 18 month clock from running.

I took my paperwork up to the yard manager expecting no issues since we had done this once before.  He broke the news to me that the “bond process” had been discontinued by the EU a few months ago.

Damn!  Our 18 months end aprox. March 1, 2018.

So here’s where things get ridiculous.  If you take your boat out of the EU for even one day and then return to the EU your boat gets an additional 18 months!!

Now as I get ready to end my day, my plans have once again changed dramatically from this morning.  Now, it looks like I need to take Morpheus 550nm south to Gibraltar for the day, before turning around and returning to EMV Marine for the winter.  With no available crew I’ll be traveling by day only and that journey will probably take me a week (assuming no issue with weather which looks good right now.)

How will this affect our Atlantic Crossing decision?  I’ll be right where I’d planned to be when we were definitely crossing this November.  Will I really think that its a better idea to turn around and sail the boat all the way back to Barcelona?

I’m really not sure.  Stand by for additional updates…

 

VERY Interesting Times in Barcelona!

Anger in Barcelona after Spanish police arrest Catalan minister and 12 officials in raids over referendum

Spanish police on Wednesday seized millions of ballot papers in Catalonia due to be used for an independence referendum which has been banned by Madrid, a source close to the case said.

The source, who requested anonymity, said officers were currently counting them again, but that the number of ballots confiscated in Bigues, about 28 miles north of Barcelona, could reach nine million.

The seizure comes as thousands took to the streets in Barcelona on Wednesday over the detention of 13 Catalan government officials as the wealthy northeastern region presses ahead with preparations for the October 1 vote.

The police raids came amid mounting tensions as Catalan leaders press ahead with preparations for the October 1 vote despite Madrid’s ban and a court ruling deeming it unconstitutional.

Among those arrested by Spain’s Guardia Civil police force was Josep Maria Jove, secretary general of economic affairs and the deputy of Catalonia’s vice president Oriol Junqueras, a regional government spokesman said.

The others work in various Catalan government departments, including its economic and budget affairs departments, a local Guardia Civil spokesman said.

People surround Spanish Civil Guard Police cars outside the Catalan Vice-President and Economy office as police officers hold a searching operation inside on September 20
People surround Spanish Civil Guard Police cars outside the Catalan Vice-President and Economy office as police officers hold a searching operation inside on September 20 CREDIT: DAVID RAMOS/GETTY IMAGES

The reasons for the arrests were not immediately clear, but Spain’s central government has warned that officials who help stage the referendum could face criminal charges.