Yachting in Gibraltar: A captain, guest, owner and crew destination guide
Last updated: 05/07/2017
Known lovingly as “The Rock”, Gibraltar is already well known to most superyacht captains for its superb location at the entrance to the Mediterranean.
With local agents reporting a notable increase in the number of superyachts calling in to Gibraltar in recent times, and the extended length of their stays, Gibraltar has seen itself transformed from a key superyacht bunkering port to a well-rounded yachting destination in itself.
As such, Yachting Pages spoke to Alex Lavarello at Turner Yachting about the sights and sounds of Gibraltar for those captains, owners, guests and crew looking to stay awhile.
Visiting Gibraltar aboard a superyacht
Alex said, “The number of superyachts visiting Gibraltar continues to increase: In 2016 there were 593 superyacht calls to the commercial port - an increase of 24% from the previous year. With the port authority’s efforts to show maximum flexibility to yacht captains, and 500m of newly created berths dedicated exclusively to superyachts, more yachts than ever are staying longer than the time it takes to bunker.
“There has also been an increase in the number of nights that yachts have stayed in Gibraltar - up almost 280% from the previous year. In 2017, 37% of yachts have stayed over 24 hours compared to 27% in 2016.”
Captain of Gibraltar Port, Commodore Bob Sanguinetti added, “The commissioning of over 500m of deep water berths exclusively for superyachts has dramatically improved Gibraltar’s ability to accommodate the largest yachts afloat. This, together with improvements to the bunkering infrastructure, and wide range of facilities, services and attractions for the crew has clearly made the Rock an increasingly popular hub, as reflected by the rising number of superyacht calls.”
When to visit Gibraltar
The yachting season here in the Mediterranean is known to start in April/May and remains active until early October. However, in recent years, agents at Turner Yachting have noticed superyachts are leaving it later to cross the Atlantic, with some also choosing to return earlier.
Set at the gateway to the Med, the summer season is a busy time for Gibraltar, with its streets, bars, and restaurants busy with both tourists and locals. The climate is very stable, the summer months are sunny and hot, with mild winters sometimes leading to cloudy weather and high winds.
What to see and do on your trip to Gibraltar
Famous for its friendly Barbary Macaques and military history, Gibraltar provides a plethora of sightseeing tours and activities for those on-board visiting superyachts.
Alex advised that popular activities include tours of The Rock of Gibraltar, caving, diving, fishing and a visit to the resident Macaque monkeys. The country boasts numerous beautiful beaches all around its coast, and there is ample opportunity for adrenaline-filled water sports or a more sedentary tour of the Great Siege World War II tunnels. Duty-free shopping is also popular with Gibraltar’s visitors – guests and crew alike.
Onwards from Gibraltar, a two-hour sail sees yachts arriving in the superb cities and facilities in Spain. Alex explained that Cadiz, Seville, Malaga and Granada are all easy to get to, with their tens of golf courses, ample water sports and skiing opportunities, and a great nightlife.
Superyacht berthing: Ports and marinas in Gibraltar
The Marina features over 200 fully serviced berths, which can accommodate vessels up to 100m in length with a draft of 4.5m. As such, it’s capable of accommodating most vessels, including some of the world’s largest superyachts.
The Queensway Quay Marina features 185 fully serviced berths which accommodate eight vessels up to 30m LOA, and two at 40m LOA, with an additional 75m of berthing space available.
In the relatively sheltered waters of the inner harbour, Gibraltar’s newest marina is open to the world’s largest superyachts. It offers 500m of dedicated superyacht berthing, with fresh water facilities allocated by the Gibraltar Port Authority.
Alex said, “Over 400m of the facilities’ berthing has a minimum depth of 7m, allowing the largest superyachts to berth there. With a price of £5 per metre per night, it offers great value in comparison to other Mediterranean locations.”
Superyacht support services in Gibraltar
World-renowned as a superyacht stopover destination for yachts transiting the Atlantic, and now a longer-term yachting destination and onward sailing base, Gibraltar offers ample superyacht support services.
“Fuel in Gibraltar is some of the cheapest in the Mediterranean. There is a dedicated yacht fuelling terminal with three suppliers for drafts up to 3.5m. Alternatively, within the commercial port there are three suppliers allowing for yachts of all sizes to bunker.”
“There is an existing infrastructure for ship and yacht repair in Gibraltar. With the airport a five-minute drive from any berth, as well as good connecting flights to Malaga Airport, connecting service engineers and technicians is straight forward.”
Crew changes, supplies and provisions
“With duty-free shopping and its English supermarket, Gibraltar is a favourite amongst yacht crew. There are a multitude of ship chandlers and provisioners operating locally who provide a wide-range of services. Gibraltar also offers excellent conditions for crew changes, having both local and nearby Spanish airports just a drive away, as well as the capability of issuing letters of guarantee for temporary visits, rather than applying for visas.”
Yacht clearances, customs and immigration
Alex advised that it’s a legal requirement for all yachts over 300GT to use a yacht agent when clearing into Gibraltar. He explained that a good agent will send out and handle all requirements prior to the yacht’s arrival.
For yachts under 300GT, clearance can instead be completed through the marina office, but having an agent certainly has other advantages, as they can guarantee clearance for all foreign nationalities on board with local immigration authorities, allowing for any nationality to go ashore providing they leave with the yacht.
Agents can also purchase a written port clearance letter from the Gibraltar Port Authorities stating the arrival and departure time, a useful document when required to prove the yacht has been outside the EU. Further details can be obtained from your local yacht agent.