Gibraltar – we all know it as that small British enclave in the Southern corner of Europe; like marmite some love it, and some hate it. A place we yachties visit perhaps twice a year for cheap fuel, cheaper alcohol, and British pork sausages. But is that really all that is on offer?
In 2015, not one, but two Superyacht Marinas were announced by independent developers. Additionally the Gibraltar Port Authority has over 400m of new berthing facilities. With completion fast approaching, Gibraltar has the potential of being your yachting home for longer periods than it previously might have been. The days of Gibraltar being a bunker pit stop will be a distant memory; soon it could well be a Superyacht destination of choice for crew.
Let’s look at the facilities; the international airport is a 2-minute drive with direct flights to London Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester and Bristol amongst others, with British Airways, Easyjet and Monarch Airlines providing daily services. What could be easier than signing off your yacht, hopping into a taxi for a two-minute drive and boarding the plane? Gibraltar is a 35-minute ferry journey to Morocco, a 35-minute drive to Marbella or a 15-minute drive to Tarifa which is kite surfing heaven.
Then there are the all-important practical aspects to Gibraltar. The PYA has a new regional office in Gibraltar through How2Yacht, so crew can now get their documents certified and drop off their testimonials to get their sea time recorded and verified through the PYA’s Service Record Book. Beyond that there is a wide range of English branded provisions and Alcohol available VAT free in Gibraltar. There’s even a Morrisons supermarket to stock up on all your supplies! Marine parts and very well priced bunkers, not to mention ENG 1 medicals, RYA / STCW 95 training schools, shipyards etc. mean that Gibraltar now offers everything visiting yachts need. Gibraltar’s facilities do not end there. It’s also possible for crew to organise their personal affairs in Gibraltar with everything from International Crew Banking, investments, health insurances and tax consultancies available.
Gibraltar government, Port Authority and Maritime Administration together with local yachting services providers, who have recently launched Gibraltar Yachting Business Development Association, has put objective for Gibraltar to become a major superyacht destination. Not just for bunkering, but make a stay of Superyacht and its crew in Gibraltar as useful and pleasant as possible. You have probably heard about Gibraltar Superyacht Forums being held for last 4 years, as well as hugely successful 3 day Gibraltar Maritime Week held last year on board of Yacht Hotel “Sunborn” in Ocean Village.
The best thing about Gibraltar for yachts is that no diversion is required. Geographically Gibraltar is better positioned than any other port, at the very crossroads between the Atlantic and Mediterranean. Why deviate and sail across (at a cost) to layover elsewhere, when you have all these facilities en-route?
What is there for the crew to do in Gibraltar?
As you eagerly wait for the Captain to announce the shore leave times, a rush of selfishness to get away before some change in the ever-daunting watch schedule takes effect. What to do? Go into town to buy cheap booze? A visit to Morrisons? A rock tour?
How about a far more pleasant experience such as a crew bonding session spent caving in Lower St. Michaels Cave? Or perhaps you fancy a visit to the Gibraltar Wine Vaults for a tasting event or to do a course with a Sommelier in wine and food pairing? There is also the option of buying some very well priced bottles for the crew or restocking the yacht’s bars with VAT free wines and liquors. If you’re feeling extravagant following a charter tip, you could treat yourself to a VAT free luxury watch or piece of jewellery in one of Gibraltar’s shopping boutiques.
The Sunborn floating yacht hotel is the ideal place for crew to pamper themselves in a beautiful, comfortable and convenient atmosphere. Treat yourself to a luxury spa experience in the Sunborn’s serene Infinity Spa, or take advantage of the fully equipped fitness room, where in addition to tailored workouts from the qualified gym instructors, you can get involved with exercise classes or relaxing yoga sessions. The hotel casino provides the full range of table games along with Electronic Roulette, top-of-the-range slot machines and progressive jackpots.
Crew in Gibraltar can complete training courses in the sun or renew their ENG1 medical certificates, all within easy reach of the marina.
For something a bit different, take a short ferry to Morocco for a weekend of cultural awakening, head over to Marbella for a completely different kind of experience, or embark on a professional kite course in nearby Tarifa, where the wind is guaranteed.
All the above will soon be possible when the long-stay berths become available in the coming months. A change is in the air for the rock, and perhaps your next visit will be an unforgettable one.
Article kindly provided by How2Yacht in Gibraltar providing Yacht Management, Crew concierge and Financial Services.