Rota, Spain sailing to Rabat, Morocco
Although slightly off route, one of the main reasons for us going to Cadiz, was that we missed it out on the way into the Mediterranean. This was the one place that I had heard so much a about and we were really keen to spend ‘a few days’ exploring. A ‘few days’ being the operative word. However, we did not fully appreciate that our crossing back south to Rabat would be so weather dependent on the Gibraltar Straits! After a few days, we checked the daily weather forecasts, but they continued to show consistently strong easterlies through the Gibraltar Straits, although they were beginning to ease. After a week, the weather appeared to be more favourable and so we departed Rota at 1820 hrs on 13 Sept 2010. Within moments of exiting the harbour we were sailing with a single reef in the main and half the headsail on a close reach into an easterly F4/5. This was fine until we reached Cape Trafalgar, when the easterly wind started to increase to F6/7, so we pulled in another reef and shortened the headsail. Nimue was brilliant and was flying along at around 8-9 knots. Of course it was starting to get dark as we entered the shipping lanes of the Gibraltar Straits and so had to start negotiating the many ships entering and leaving the Straits. This caused little problems, especially has we had AIS (Ship identification system giving speed and course) and once through the Straits and nearing the Moroccan coast, the wind started to ease a little. By morning we had sun, fog then mist and Michael had a fun time missing the numerous large fishing vessels which don’t have AIS and wander at will all over the sea. For the remainder of the day we had variable winds and eventually ended up motor sailing to Rabat. We had been advised to arrive at Rabat at high water and contact the marina who would send out a pilot boat to show us the way past the shallows and into the marina.
Michael hoisting the Morooccan courtesy flag
Morocco is 2 hours behind Spain, so it took some working out as to when high water (local time was), but anyway, within 10 minutes of calling up on the VHF, the pilot boat came zooming out to greet us.
We followed the pilot boat into the deepest water and then continued into the main Bouregreg river. On both sides of the river many of the locals were waving and shouting and some of the teenagers were even jumping into the river. It was a fabulous welcome and it was a shame I didn’t get any photos.
Nimue following the pilot boat through the
Rabat harbour entrance Nimue following the pilot boat through the entrance
Anyway, we had a welcome party as we entered the marina:- the customs, the police and the marina officials. However, they were extremely pleasant and courteous and after an hour or so everything was complete apart from the visit from the ‘sniffer’ dog. Eventually ‘Boris’ a large black Labrador arrived and after his handler give him a ‘lift-up’ on to Nimue as his ‘doggy steps’ had been broken, he couldn’t wait to get sniffing. First around the decks, then down below in the saloon, forepeak and our aft cabin. Within a few minutes Boris was up, out and gone and that was the end of the formalities. Welcome to Morocco and it is looking really great!