First time in Morocco

Thu 12 Aug 2010 13:47

We decided to head for Melillia, a Spanish enclave on the North Moroccan coast and approximately 90nm due South of Almerimar.  An overnight night passage, which started with a quite brisk close hauled sail, although it only lasted a few hours.  The rest of the night was pitch black, with the odd shooting star and a few dolphins sweeping in.  Due to encountering some favourable current, we arrived outside Melillia port entrance earlier than planned, but it was still dark.  So we waited until daylight before entering and called up on the usual VHF CH9 (no English, only Spanish or French spoken this time!!).  There were numerous officials on the quayside making out the marina was full for the next 3 days unless we were in the Regatta!  We weren’t, so where could we go? By now it was becoming obvious that I was tired, with little patience!  Anyway, we were advised that it would be okay to go and anchor outside the harbour, which we duly did.  The 3 days only turned out to be one, as on the second day, a Spanish equivalent of our lifeguard came out on his jet ski to advise that the weather was getting bad (which only turned out to be swell) and we were to go into the marina.  Somehow, a berth was found for us in between the racing yachts and all was well! 

Enjoying the sail to Melillia

We had arrived at the start of the annual Melillia Regatta (something like Cowes week, but on a smaller scale).  Actually, it turned out to be rather fun as we saw some of the yachts racing and there was a good ‘buzz’ about the place.    One of the yachts racing in the cruiser event, was Waterhoven a Moody Eclipse.  We knew it’s UK owners, Peter and Romey, but has since been sold and apparently now resides in Benalmadena, Spain.  It’s still not a good boat to race and apparently some of the racing participants were getting really fed up, after having to wait nearly 1.5 hours for it to finish and before the afternoon’s racing could commence.

 A few pictures taken of the Regatta yachts as they were coming round the finishing mark




..............and finally Waterhoven bringing up the rear!!!


Michael played a valiant part too! A racing yacht retired with an injured skipper, (he crushed his finger on a winch) and was subsequently escorted to hospital.  After seeing no less than 10 people trying to moor up his 46ft yacht, Michael could watch no more.........armed with very little Spanish, but with practical ‘knowhow’ he managed to co-ordinate all present to attach lines in various places, pull and hold them when told and within minutes the boat was safely tied up.  He even told off a Guardia Civil official who was about to let out a line without being told (one doesn’t usually mess with the Guardia Civil!).  Anyway the injured skipper’s daughter thanked Michael and handed over 2 beers.  A few hours later, this was followed by a bottle of wine by a very thankful and ‘mended’ skipper!

Melillia is a little gem of a place, a semicircle of 12 sq km and has the ‘old’ town with a highly complex multilevel fortress that juts out of the sea and the ‘new’ town, a broken grid of streets and 900 Modernist buildings. Melillia is equally divided between Christian and Muslim, so we found few locals wearing shorts!

Views of the 'old' walled town with it's impressive fortress and views taken from it.


          San Miguel fortress                                                                                The square at the top


View from fort towards Morocco                                             Expansion along coast from Melillia


The beach with cave entrance to the fort                                                                                        Anne with map shaped fan


  18th Century main entrance to the fort                            Franco's statue - he started Civil War from here


              Modernist Melillia                                                                 View of marina and yacht club where we dinner


Michael resting (well putting a plaster on his foot)               Paying a bill at our favorite 'art deco' cafe.

We thought this 'floating shed' would suit Alan & Carol (Sant Carles).  It would fit nicely in front of their boat and Alan could easily keep a few chickens on the roof!!

Having taken in the various sights and with little information available on tours across the Moroccan border, we decided to fuel up (only 90 cents per litre) and head 130nm east to Ceuta, the other Spanish enclave on this coast.