the Degree Confluence Project

Spain : Andalucía

11.5 km (7.1 miles) NNE of Isla de Alborán (Island), Andalucía, Spain
Approx. altitude: 0 m (0 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreetMap ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 36°S 177°E

Accuracy: 62 m (203 ft)
Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Captain Peter preparing papers in his cabin #3: GPS #4: Alborán on the electronic sea chart #5: the tiny islet of Nube NE of Alborán #6: aerial view #7: the lighhouse on Alborán built in 1870 #8: Spanish fishing boat near Alborán #9: Chief Officer Edilberto Beniga

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  36°N 3°W (visit #1)  

#1: Alborán seen from the confluence

(visited by Captain Peter and Edilberto Beniga)

18-Sep-2003 -- After our yesterday's visit to the confluence North of Mallorca today we arrived in the Alboran Sea, the westernmost part of the Mediterranean. It is still six hours to go to Ceuta, the port where the ship will take fuel for her intended voyage to Ecuador - and where I will sign off. Therefore I am already preparing the necessary papers for the handover to the next captain.

Close to 36N 3W, between Morocco and Spain, there is the small island of Alborán, belonging to Spain. The island is flat, reddish in color and about 20 m high. The island of Alborán is the peak of a mountain which existed prior to the birth of the Mediterranean Sea, a five million years ago. It is 550 m long and 290 m wide. The red color comes from iron ore. To the passing mariner Alborán's shape resembles a little bit to a submarine. Alborán is separated by a narrow channel from a small islet, rather just a small rock, - Islote de la Nube.

Due to the steep-to coast surrounding almost the entire island, landing is difficult there and only possible at two points. There is a pier in the SW, built in 1870 together with the lighthouse. Another pier exists in the SE and was built in 1960 during the construction of the radio beacon for air navigation (ALB - 419 kilocycles). The beacon, however, has been discontinued in 1984.

There is a landing place for helicopters as well, which can be well seen on the aerial view.

Already in 1456 a navigational mark has been erected on Alborán, being permanently maintained by a warden, living there with his family. According some historical sources, a lighthouse has been built already in 1490 by the Venetians, but being demolished shortly after. In 1897 a modern lighthouse has been built on the highest elevation of the island, and working automatically since 1946.

The abandoned warden's house today is occasionally used as a shelter by shipwrecked crews. Once a year emergency food rations are exchanged and replenished there by the Spanish Navy.

No endemic fauna had developed on Alborán. There live, however, lots of seabirds, several species of spiders and lizards. Fish is quite plentiful around Alborán. During our visit a few Spanish fishermen were around. There are only a few bushes and grasses, but no trees. Since 1967 Alborán is a protected nature reserve. Although a special permit is required from the Spanish Government for landing, a lot of divers visit Alborán without holding such a permission. Therefore the Spanish Navy is carrying out patrols on the island in regular intervals. This patrols, however, are obviously not sufficient to keep the diving sportsmen away.

Alborán was known already to the Phoenicians and later to the Greeks and Romans. But as there is no water, the island had never had any importance to shipping. Close to Islote de la Nuba archeologists found fragments of ancient amphoras, proving that a Greek ship had stranded here once.

It is believed that the ancient Greeks have maintained a light about 900 B.C. on the island, enabling ships to pass it without danger on their way to the Strait of Gibraltar. A proof for that assumption, however, has not been found by the archeologists, yet. About 1520 a small chapel has been built on the island by Jesuit monks. Later, probably in the 16th century, it had been abandoned and subsequently it decayed. Today only a few derelicts give evidence of this building. During the time of the attacks of the Moors on Spanish towns the island was a meeting point for ships. In these times a huge house has been built, whose base walls are still visible. In the late Middle Ages Alborán became a hideaway for pirates. From here they chased ships bound to the Strait of Gibraltar. During WWII the island enjoyed a certain significance, when British elite troops built a radiogoniometric and radar station, in order to spot German submarines.

In recent times the island has obviously become again a hideaway for pirates. In 1981 an American yacht had been attacked off Alborán and subsequently sunk, and in 1983 an Italian yacht was attacked and robbed.

This time the visit of the confluence fell into the navigational watch of my deputy, Chief Officer Edilberto Beniga from the Philippines. Here we see him standing close to the Engine telegraph.

The detailed historical information and the aerial view I obtained from Mr. Wolfgang Schippke from Germany (amateur radio call DC3MF). Thanks!

 All pictures
#1: Alborán seen from the confluence
#2: Captain Peter preparing papers in his cabin
#3: GPS
#4: Alborán on the electronic sea chart
#5: the tiny islet of Nube NE of Alborán
#6: aerial view
#7: the lighhouse on Alborán built in 1870
#8: Spanish fishing boat near Alborán
#9: Chief Officer Edilberto Beniga
ALL: All pictures on one page
In the sea, but with a view of land