Swimming from Europe to Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar…

It was an uninspiring day when I was asked if I’d like to join a group on a swim to Africa. I thought to myself if I want to get wet I could just swum across the bay of Barbate or perhaps just take a short dip off El Palmar beach. If that’s too challenging maybe a quick swim in my pool or (worst case scenario) a shower. On reflection swimming from Europe to Africa seemed like a much more exciting prospect.

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you…” Well that’s another inspirational quote to lean on as I struggle and splutter on my first training swim across Trafalgar Bay. On this occasion however I think it’s probably true…

This is the story of James Stuart and friends in the unexpected challenge of swimming from Spain to Morocco. Nobody’s obliging us to swim, this is quite simply about the challenge. Why? Well we all have our reasons, whether we find them or not is, I guess, part of the story.

The pandemic of course interrupted our schedule and like life itself has required a huge degree of readjustment to our schedule. We’d originally planned to cross the Strait in 2021, it now looks like it will be 2023. This blog has become more than just a tale of swimming the Strait but a means to delve deep in to my own archives and adventures and tell some more (hopefully interesting) stories about adventures past.

What’s our swim about?

We’re swimming from the Spanish mainland to Morocco, North Africa. The swim is a minimum of 16km., following a wavering line across the shortest route of the Strait of Gibraltar.

There’s a time limit so we have to swim the full distance non-stop at an average of 3km/hr. for 5 + hours. The crossing is famed for difficult currents and strong winds.

On the way we have to avoid the world’s busiest shipping lane, orcas, sharks, assorted whales and remember to take our passports.

James Stuart (hotelier and restaurateur) lives and works in Vejer de la Frontera in the province of Cádiz (Andalucía). Vejer is located just a few kilometres from Cape Trafalgar on Spain’s southern Atlantic coast.

Text and photographs © James Stuart 2019-22 unless otherwise credited