Thursday, 14 July 2011

Gibraltar – Solid as a Rock ….. June/July 2011


18 June – 05 July 2011

After our short lived stint at anchoring we are back in a marina.  We have tied up in the new Ocean Village part of Marina Bay Marina in Gibraltar, it is handy to everything and it certainly is a welcome change to be able to speak English and understand people again (well I say that loosely, there is a huge selection of English speakers down here and quiet a variety of different accents.) 

Our main reason for tying up again is to get our refrigeration fixed.  We have a huge freezer and 2 fridges that are cooled via a compressor driven by the engine. Very efficient when we are running the engine to move in and out of anchorages, but the down side is having to run the engine if we are not moving each day.  As a result, we added a 12 volt motor to one of the fridges back in Turkey enabling us to use the boats stored battery power and we have used this fridge for most of our time in the Med. Its enough to keep wine and beer cold and hold a few provisions.  So every now and then we turn the freezer on to make sure it is still working, and we did that coming into the La Linea anchorage adjacent to Gibraltar, and no prizes for guessing – this time it didn’t work.P6220026

Our fresh water pipes had developed a small leak over winter and we hadn’t been able to source the correct sized piping in Spain to replace it, so that was also on the “to do” list.

We arrived in the marina on a Saturday and decided to take the weekend off, Skipper indulged in watching several sporting fixtures on the very big screen televisions in some of the bars adjacent to the marina, with the added bonus of having a English commentary.  There has been a frenzy of summer sport for him, golf, tennis, cricket, Grand Prixs, cycling, what more could he ask for.  We decided to do as the Brits do, even in this warm climate and enjoyed a fine Sunday roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, yummy.  We had been for a big walk earlier in the day so it was well deserved!   

The Gibraltar maintenance diary reads as follows -

Monday - it was back to work, Mark found someone that could come the following day and check the gas levels in the refrigeration.  

2011 Ceuta & Gibraltar-1 Tuesday – Marcus turned up with his gas bottle and pressure gauges to check refrigeration gas levels. Hmmm… no pressure. We had no gas.  Then as he starts refilling, a loud hissing noise not unlike the noise of escaping gas could be heard. Bugger !!. We had a pin hole leak in the copper piping.  

Wednesday – Tony turns up with his welding gear to repair the leak.  But the leak was under the wooden support that holds the stairway in place, and it was both screwed and epoxied in, it wasn’t coming out anytime soon!  So Tony tried his best to access the pipe with a small blow torch but in doing so burnt a hole in an adjacent pressurised fresh water pipe under the galley.  Gave the saloon a nice fresh water hose down. Things had just got worse. It was clear that the copper pipe and attached condenser would have to be removed for a proper welding job to be done.  2011 Ceuta & Gibraltar1

Thursday – Skipper and able bodied helper (me) start the long and fiddly procedure of removing the condenser from the bilge for possibly the first time in 20 years, it looked suspiciously like the boat had been built around it!!  At some point before dark we got it out, after damaging one tube on it, removing lots of engine hosing and disabling the engine. 

Friday – We give it to Marcus for repairing, and it makes its way across to Algeciras the big Spanish port on the other side of the bay for repairs.

Saturday and Sunday saw Skipper well rewarded for his hard work with as much sport as he could squeeze in, sometimes watching two big screens at once.

Monday and Tuesday – We found a plumbing store with all the piping and IMG_0010-1 connectors we needed to replace the sizzled fresh water hosing. So it was time to hacksaw up our existing leaking pipes and replace them.  Sounds easy enough, but lying upside down attaching pipes with glue that sets in seconds to other parts of pipes you can’t even see, requires a certain amount of skill, flexibility and just as much luck.  After the 3 hours required time for the glue to cure we turned on the water pump and no leaks, yippee we have a fix.   

Wednesday – the repaired condenser returns and we spend several hours trying to re-house it back in its cradle without snapping anything off.  Success at last, the water pipes get attached, the seacock opened, and seawater spurts out of the gas pipes!!!!  This is NOT a good thing, there is an internal leak, it should have been pressure tested.    Out it comes again and we give it back to Marcus who sends it back to Spain, flip!P7010002

So we took some time out and explored Gibraltar, which really doesn’t take that long.  We have walked miles and seen most of what Gibraltar has on offer.  The Botanical Gardens are very pleasant, plenty of shade on a hot day.  We caught the cable car up to the Top of the Rock, (£9.00 each return)  it was just too hot to face the walk.  The Barbary Apes are definitely the main attraction up there, they are the only wild primates in Europe, although I am not sure how wild they are, they certainly were at ease posing for photos.

There are old derelict army buildings up there, bunkers, lookouts, half torn down fences all in a dilapidated state –and litter everywhere. They really should be investing some of the entrance fees into tiding it all up, I imagine every visitor to Gibraltar (cruise ships by the dozen for a start)  goes to the top of the rock and it really is a disgrace up there. The Mayor of Gibraltar and the Head of Tourism should catch the ferry across the straits to the Spanish enclave Ceuta and see what a wonderful job the Spanish have done to restore and preserve the historical fortresses and buildings. P7010017

As I was once told…”There are ruins and there are ruined ruins”. I’m afraid the Upper Rock Nature Reserve in Gibraltar is a classic case of the latter. 

Tuesday – the condenser and attached copper pipe return with assurances that it has been repaired and pressure tested.  We did our own little pressure test with the use of a dinghy pump and water hose.  All seemed good.  We set to and reinstalled it, we now know which pipe to pull, push, squeeze etc to get the condenser in!

Wednesday – Tony returns and finalises the plumbing, attaching the gas pipes to the condenser, then Marcus comes by to re-gas the whole system, no leaks, this is good.  The engine has all been plumbed back together and we run the engine and freezer for 2 hours.  It all works, no leaks and the temperature drops at the regular rate – maybe we will be able to stock up the freezer for the Atlantic Crossing after all – or maybe not (don’t miss the next instalment!!!!!)

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