Morocco - Rabat | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

Morocco - Rabat

Hello Everyone,

Just a note to say we arrived safely in Morocco after a great overnight sail from Gibraltar and are now in Marina Bouregreg in Rabat.

Attached is an account of the passage. We've posted photos about it on the Home Page. On the website you will also find past newsletters and blogs from this year's voyage from England through the French Canals then along the coasts of France and Spain to Gibraltar.

Passage to Morocco
We left Gibraltar around 3:30 PM on Sunday. This was 2 hours after HW which is the recommended time to take advantage of tides and currents when heading out of the Mediterranean. The sail out of the Med through the narrow Strait of Gibraltar is always a bit like being thrown around in a washing machine with the tides, currents and winds being funnelled between the Pillars of Hercules, but once through it and out into the Atlantic the seas settled into a familiar and gentler rhythm. 

There was a full moon which lit our way and sparkled on the sea throughout the night and we had soft warm winds behind us. We had 3 other sailboats in sight all night and were in touch by VHF so had a very pleasant night sail down the west coast of Morocco towards our destination, the port of Rabat also the capital city of Morocco.

In the morning as the sun came up and the moon went down we had hundreds of dolphins come play around the boat and we got some great footage! Most of the morning we were sailing past huge sand dunes along the shoreline. Just beautiful. The winds were offshore all day which gave us smooth seas down the Moroccan coast.

Before we arrived at Rabat the wind built a little, right on the nose, but it was light and we were soon in port just at high tide at 13:50 UTC which we'd timed so as to get safely over a bar at the harbour entrance (not really an issue with a Southerly but the required pilot boat that guides you up the river to the marina needs the water as do most other sailboats). We called the marina on VHF 10 and were instructed to wait at the entrance until the pilot boat came out to guide us in past the fortress and up the river to the customs dock and then to our assigned berth in the marina. We waited at the entrance for an hour with 2 other boats until the pilot boat arrived.
Clearing in with customs in Morocco was a record-breaking experience. We've been cruising on sailboats internationally for 23 years and thought we'd seen it all. But after the hour wait at the harbour entrance, we were at the customs dock for another 3 hours filling out paperwork and waiting in-between for new officials to arrive and go through each of the 3 boats. We heard the Call to Prayer 3 times before getting safely moored in the marina at 1800. And we had every kind of official on board including a dog to sniff for drugs. That was a first!
The dog assigned to go through Distant Shores II was a cheerful black lab called Boris. The officers were all very friendly and nice but, wow, what a procedure. Welcome to Africa. And to add to the fun, by the time we finished the paperwork and were directed to our berth it was pouring rain. We had a hot shower and decided to cocoon for the evening.

So after an exciting sail from Europe to Africa, we and Distant Shores II rested in a cosy berth in the new very protected marina in Rabat. We used this as a base for exploring inland.

Here are a few shots from the old town at Rabat, and from our trip inland to visit the amazing city of Fes.
The old gates of Rabat’s Kasbah. A Kasbah is a fortified city and was our amazing landmark as it guards the river when we sailed up!
Rabat Kasbah street
Spotless streets in the Kasbah -
Fes Atlas
Fes is near the Atlas mountains - this is the view from our rooftop of our hotel "Riad".
Its very busy in Fes on a typical day - many surprising sights and sounds for us "western" visitors. It is a maze of narrow streets - in Fes there are apparently over 9000 streets! But we were both surprised that this huge Medina (walled old city) was not as noisy as most cities.Due to bans on motorized transport, the pesky motorcycles, scooters, crd and trucks we are all so used to was absent. We spent 2 days without leaving the old city area and it was quite a revelation!
Fes Donkey
Narrow streets with no cars/motorcycles allowed. Heavier deliveries by donkey.
Gas deliveryCooking gas delivery by horse in the Medina - old town.
Riad Soup CU
Slightly overdecorated restaurant entrance...
Sheryl reclines in our very luxurious guest house (just 75Euro/night!!) after a tough day filming in Fes!

Next we continue on to the Canary Islands to prepare for the ARC

Best regards,

Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard Distant Shores II
Rabat, Morocco
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