10-Apr-2004 -- On Feb. 7th we were entered into the Mediterranean Sea, and today, after two
months and three days, we have left again the "Mare Nostrum" ("Our Sea"), as
the ancient Romans used to call it.
We had a pleasant time during this period, and what is most important:
Northern European winter 2003-04 is a thing of the past, which we could
almost entirely avoid :-)
At 2:30 pm we passed the Strait of Gibraltar westbound. The first Spanish
town to see when clearing the narrowest point of the Strait is Tarifa
on the Atlantic Ocean, and it is worth to know why this small town bears
Tarifa comes from the Arab "al-ta`rīfa", which means tariff, fee or toll. When
the Moors held large parts of Spain in the Middle Ages, they controlled the
Strait of Gibraltar as well, and they were collecting tolls from all passing
ships exactly here at this strategic point where Tarifa is located.
So Tarifa is present all the times in our daily language, for who of us does
have to deal daily with tolls, fees, taxes, dues and tariffs?
Today they are no longer collecting tolls at Tarifa, the passage through the
Strait of Gibraltar is free. But "Tarifa Traffic Centre" is located there,
to whom all ships intending to pass the Strait have to report by VHF.
Proceeding exactly towards West we arrived at the confluence one and a two
The largest town in the area is Tanger in Morocco. It is Africa's gateway to Europe, a busy
ferry port and quite a dangerous place, if you are not careful.
SSE of the confluence we see the rocky Cabo Espartel (Cap Spartel), and looking
towards North there is Cabo (Cape) Trafalgar.
Cape Trafalgar gives rise to reminiscences as well. British readers will
remember it proudly and they know the reason for in London to be a
It played a significant role in these times when things
were still in order and on their place, thus when Britannia ruled the Seas
and when and wherever a British sailor put his finger into the water and
licked on it, he could say: "Tastes salty - must be British!"
(Today in our globalized World the rule has been slightly amended to:
"Tastes oily - must be American").
Well, lets go back in history:
October 21st, 1805.
The British Admiral Horatio Nelson, on board of his flagship "Victory" during the Third Coalition War, - just here near this
confluence -, defeats the French and Spanish fleet in the Battle of
Trafalgar. The French and Spanish were commanded by Vice Admiral
Pierre Charles de Villeneuve, who had received the order from Napoleon to
break out from the port of Cádiz which was under British blockade then, in
order to bring several contingents of troops to Southern Italy. The Battle
of Trafalgar ended with a disastrous defeat of the French and Spanish Armada
of which twenty ships have been seized or sunk, whilst the British did not
loose a single one. Nelson, however, was killed during the battle, but his
victory set a definitive end to Napoleon's invasion plans.
A final view to NE
shows us the Spanish mountains.