We had a calm sea as we entered the Strait of Gibraltar at 8AM. The day was glorious – with sun, blue skies, puffy white cumulous clouds and just a hint of a breeze. The Strait can sometimes be treacherous with high swells and swift currents. We entered sailing on the African Coast. This Strait carries half the ocean-going commercial shipping in the world. To control this massive volume, the Strait is separated into two lanes – if you are going eastbound you must sail on the African littoral and if you are going west on the Spanish. The currents are stronger on the African coast and so we had a slight boost and we were making 8 knots. We drew abreast of the Rock of Gibraltar by 10AM. The Strait, at this point, is just 8.1 miles wide and ferries from Morocco and Spain make the crossing in 35 minutes. At one point when we were abreast of Ceuta, we had Spain on both coasts since Spain owns this small sliver of land in Morocco.
Gibraltar is a British possession and was acquired by the British in the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 to block the French from controlling the Spanish throne and Spain’s very rich territories in the Americas. Great Britain and the Netherlands joined forces to force the French to agree to the treaty. This alliance was made easier because the Queen of England, Mary Stewart, was married to the Protestant William of Orange from Holland. The treaty has lasted three centuries and as far as the United Kingdom is concerned – despite the occasional outburst from Spain -- it is here for perpetuity.
Historian Tom Heffernan gave an informative talk, “From Mecca to Al An-Andulus,” a history of Islam and its presence in Spain as a preparation for our visit tomorrow to the Alhambra. After lunch, the Sea Cloud’s boutique shop opened selling items featuring the Sea Cloud logo. At 3 PM we were surprised with a special opportunity, as the seas have to be just right: a Zodiac cruise around the Sea Cloud while she was under sail. This was a fabulous opportunity, particularly for those of who take pictures. How often does on get a chance to photograph a square masted sailing ship at sea – a ship designed after those vessels of the last quarter of the 19th century when sail was still king.
At 5PM Certified Photo Instructor, Myriam Caspar, gave her second helpful talk on iPhone photography. The captain gave the order to sail stations and the sails were put up. We were not going terribly fast in such little wind, but they so complement the Sea Cloud that I always love to see. We enjoyed drinks on the Lido Deck as we sailed through the little known Alboran Sea. Various sections of the Mediterranean have regional names, e.g., Adriatic, Aegean, Balearic, Ligurian, and Tyrrhenian Seas. Dinner was served at 7:30PM in the lounge.