Saturday, 28 September 2013

Rabat to the Canaries

We left Rabat around 13.00hrs and settled into a comfortable routine for our night passage. The wind died in the night which meant 10 hours of motoring arriving in El Jadida around 10am. Unfortunately there was no room on the jetty so we anchored up with stern lines ashore.
Kika , in the firing line.

On arrival the usual rigmarole with police, the port and customs took all morning so we had a look round town in the afternoon. The old Portuguese fortress enclosing the Medina is impressive and maintained with a grant from the Portuguese government. The cannons however are gradually rusting away in the sea air.

Old relics on the ramparts. There were rusting guns too!

 After visiting the local Souk we walked into the Hotel Andulusia a very scruffy building on the outside to be rewarded with the most fabulous interior. The Spanish Muslim Andalusians when they got kicked out of Spain after the Moorish defeats either became very effective pirates or built wonderful buildings in an Andulusian style. We enjoyed mint tea in the courtyard reclining on large cushions, and then repaired to a cafe on the beach , famous with Moroccan holiday makers for its Cornishe where everyone promenades in the evening. Instead of seaside donkeys you can send the kids on a camel ride.
Mint tea, at the Hotel Andulucia 

Dubious customers taking tea , its not a brothel, honest!

Thursday found us a short taxi ride way at the Royal Golf Course a beautiful place a thousand miles away from the dirt, smell and disorganisation of El Jadida. We did 9 holes and each had a caddy. My lad Mustafa was brilliant. He could see I was rubbish and told me exactly what to do and what I was doing wrong and went into ecstasy every time something good happened. He also improved the lie of the ball when it arrived in the rough! (local rules)Result won 5 euros off James and Colin who suffered when their long range drives with the woods went off course. The course  passed lakes with fountains and had splendid views across out across the bay and the white surf of the Atlantic rollers coming in.

With Mustafa, the caddy who secured the game for Jon

First tee, Royal Golf Club El Jadida

 In the evening we caught up with Mike and Simon in their Najad at the fish restaurant and scrambled up Mikes mast in the morning to look at a malfunctioning wind indicator.

Very tempted to leave the sod up there!

We departed El jadidaFriday 20th September at 11.30 for Essouria and just avoided being charged for another day by the port officer who came after us in his launch. The marina prices were very expensive for nearly zero facilities and a lot of paperwork. Our overnight passage was marked by engine failure. We waited till the morning when it was light . The filters looked Ok and there was no water in the fuel we picked up from Rabat so James diagnosed  a tank breather pipe blockage. After unscrewing the fuel cap to let the air back in and release the vacuum all was well and we arrived in Essouria in the afternoon.

Essaouria, when the boats come in with Kika in the distance

Essouria is a spectacular harbour. We passed purple island on the way in a source of Lapis luzulae die for the Romans. The fortifications were built by the Phoenicians and the Portuguese . Lying beneath the snow capped Atlas Mountains the harbour is a hive of activity with fishing boats of every description landing huge sharks, swordfish,tuna,conger eels which were covered in ice sold and sent off in lorries to Marrakech and Casablanca.
Boatbuilding is all done by eye ,not from plans and the slipways produce sturdy wooden trawlers with 400horse power engines that can go for many days. Even the open boats stay out 4-5 days.

Shark for tea tonight!

The town was originally a slave port. Ships and Arab caravans would bring black Africans to the local market(now a restaurant area) where they were sold to English ships and taken down to the docks casting a last look at their homeland. The official history of the town on the notice board seems to skate over this very significant part of its history.
building boats by eye and hand using an adze

Eucalyptus ribs on a new trawler

One third of the towns population used to be Jewish, and with their disappearance in the 50s and 60s to Israel due to the politics, the town lost a lot of its business mojo. Jimmy Hendricks local hippy colony didn't quite fill the space. A lot of families come back to visit the graves. Relationships are good and the exiled Jewish community provide a lot of development support to the local community encouraged by the young King Mohammed who is highly respected

Spent two nights here and met up with Barry Everson a retired fisherman from Ipswich who had led a very colourful life and settled here. He took us to the wholesalers where craftsmen have made beautiful wooden items of furniture and tableware since Roman times from the local walnut like hardwoods. Barry invited us to a prawn dinner at his place which was absolutely delicious . We had a shower because there were none in the port, and he regaled us with tales of being a mate on a Thames barge running down the East coast which sounded a pretty hairy business especially shooting the bridges on the Thames using the tide with the mast down and almost no steerage.

Garlic prawns and a tall tales from Barry Everson

After a roller coaster ride, Cockney and Berber seal the deal!

After Colin had sent the local traders into despair with his negotiating tactics ( a Berber stallholder even worked out that he was a cockney)  we set off on a two day passage to the canaries and said goodbye to Africa at 1300 hrs on Monday 23 September.  We had good nor nor west winds for one and a half days and made good progress under the parasail helped along by the canary current which runs South at over a knot. The wind generator and is definitely not charging and we think the problem may be the regulator, so plenty to fix when we eventually arrive in Las Palmas. In the meantime the beautiful green volcanic mountains of Graciosa Island are in sight and we should arrive at La Sociedad at 1300 hrs in 4 hours


  1. Fabulous pics, Colin. The blue boats and the eucalyptus ribs are particularly good. Hope you all made it out of the volcano. Bx

  2. Agreed, great photos! Hope you gave the traders a tough time whilst haggling! I'm craving Moroccan mint tea now - delightful stuff! Jen xx

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