It’s a week since we returned to our glorious Bay of Gibraltar, tired, sunburnt and some nursing the odd blister or mosquito bite but above all proud to have raised more than £8000 for the Red Cross. The entire funds will go for Ukrainian humanitarian relief. In another corner of Europe Ukraine fights for its very survival. Hundreds of thousands have been killed, wounded or displaced. Our frontier issues seem inconsequential in comparison.

The way to resolve conflicts should be reasoned dialogue without raised voices or violence. In that respect the Boatshed Gibraltar/Alcaidesa Marina/Tanja Marina Bay Charity Yacht Rally, to give it its full title, tried in a very small way to create a model of cross border collaboration. Without the enthusiastic and material support of Alcaidesa Marina and Tanja Marina Bay the rally would not have been possible. Ukrainian civilians would not be receiving the little we have been able to do for them. It would also not have been possible without the support of other generous sponsors across both sides of the border. In mentioning some I risk irking others but here goes because they deserve to be in the limelight:

Land Rover Future (Andalucia).
Gibraltar Asset Management.
Euroshipping (part of GibMaroc Group)
Lewis Stagnetto Ltd.
Fastafoods Ltd.
Spirit of the Rock gin distillery.

I hope those I have omitted will forgive me but I have been guided by quantity as well as quality of the support.

What of the event itself? The boats set off on a calm, foggy morning following the start given by the Royal Navy patrol boat HMS Dagger. The sea was alive with playful dolphins but there can’t have been a mind in the flotilla that wasn’t apprehensive about the potential appearance of orcas. Orcas have been playing havoc with yachts in the Straits. Orcaphobia has definitely influenced participation in the rally with less boats setting off than in previous years. Thirty minutes into the rally and a lively Levante breeze dispersed the mist helping the flotilla make a safe dash across the traffic separation scheme to the south side and the inshore traffic zone. Cruising sailors like the wind astern or on the beam anything else involves slow tacking upwind, not an easy thing when unfavourable currents can run up to 3 knots in an easterly or westerly direction.

By late afternoon we were all safely tied up in Tanger. That evening the Tanger Port Authority made available the old port railway station for us to celebrate our arrival with prosecco in privacy and without offending local sensibilities. It’s good when your host accommodates your heathen habits with good grace.

After a restful sleep, although I have to confess that aboard my boat there were complaints about snoring, we were treated to a walking guided tour of the Medina, souk and casbah. Slowly the group got smaller as traders enticed crews into their Aladdin’s cave like shops but not before we were treated to local dancers and snake charmers.

On the Saturday evening we held the prize giving, auction and handed out the raffle prizes. The costumes stretched from a whole crew dressed up as me (really) to a yacht full of zombies who tried to frighten other diners but the only shrieks were of laughter at the curious habits of these foreigners!

Most of the boats departed on the Sunday morning which the weather forecasters had correctly promised would bring a fresh Poniente breezes, up to F6, which propelled the yachts back into the Med like prosecco corks pop out of bottles.

I want to think that we all got to know each other a little better, the snoring feedback was gracefully accepted and we made new friends. How lucky we are to live in this blessed corner of the world and not in Ukraine.