Monday, October 25, 2010

Goodbye Gibralter,we’re Morocco Bound
15th –20th October 2010  
Our last couple of days in Gibraltar were very busy tying up loose ends and preparing GWTW for the thousands of sea miles that lay ahead. .
We also caught up with Phil and Karel, an Ozzie /Canadian couple from the Tayana 53 “Tehani Li”. We had spoken to them a few times on our regular radio net, “The Dragnet’’, but  so far had never shared the same anchorage, so it was lovely make new  friends who were also going to the Caribbean.
Many a trip was made back to Morrison’s supermarket  buying last minute provisions for the pantry and especially a few treats for the coming festive season. Liam fitted additional mast steps to our rig checked on board systems and bought some essential spare parts for the boat. We purchased a backup auto pilot, chart plotter navigation cards for the USA and Caribbean, and a few other bits and pieces.
Sheppard’s is the only chandlery in Gibraltar and contrary to what you may think, their stocks are very limited. The enticing element about making purchases in Sheppard’s is that they are ‘Tax Free’.
On October 19th we dropped our dock lines for the last time in the Med and motored out into the Straits of Gibraltar, ready to head into the Atlantic and down the Moroccan coast to the port of Rabat.
As we turned left out of The Straits and passed Cabo Espartel we poured a small glass of wine and toasted goodbye to The Mediterranean and hello to The Atlantic Ocean.
The180 mile passage to Rabat was a mixed bag of sailing conditions. But what really kept us on our toes was the ever present threat of fishing nets.  Tunny nets (Tuna) present a real hazard off the Moroccan coast. These nets stretch several miles out to sea and at night some are lit  with flashing lights and some are not. Many a yacht has fouled their propeller on them, luckily we were not one of them.
The port of Rabat lies on the Bouregreg river. At the entrance of the river is a bar where the sand and depths frequently change. To assist vessels with the bar crossing the  marina staff come  out and guide the boats across. We timed our arrival to coincide with high tide and we glided in with plenty of depth under our keels.         IMG_0933
The marina staff escorted us to customs dock and where we were welcomed by the local authorities including a drug sniffer dog who looked more like your household  pooch than a working dog. After a quick sniff around the boat the dog and his master were on the way.
After completing entry formalities we headed around to the marina which is actually on the Sale side of the river. Our marina berth was a bit of a tight squeeze  to say the least. At times we had mere inches between the sides of GWTW and the menacing looking anchors on the bows of the moored yachts as squezzed down the alley towards are allocated berth. Eventually with the help of  the staff and friends from other boats we eased our way into our slip.The marina was excellent value and included power, water and wifi and was within walking distance of town. this would be home for the next couple of weeks and we were looking forward to exploring whatever Morroco had to offer.

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