Gibraltar to Safi, Morocco, Oct 15, 2011
Gordy and Matt having also arrived, we planned our
departure of the last leg of our summer adventure for 10:30 Saturday morning,
Oct 15, 2011. Ken had long since assured me that my 25 and counting overnight sails would come to an end, yet here we
planned a 3-day/2-night sail to reach Safi, Morocco. With such a good crew, Ken privately let me
know that he was not planning on using me in the shift rotations, rather I
could be shift relief when needed and provide the meals, etc. I would also help with AIS as I knew it
inside and out. I am quite happy with this arrangement and hope that the crew would be ok with it also. All in all, they seemed quite happy with the
arrangement. I made sure each night there was quick food for the shifts if needed, snack bags, beverages (sometimes
hot chocolate, or soup), and had it out on the counters so they could access it
easily and without too much noise for the other sleeping crew. I would also come up to relieve someone of
their watch early so they could get a bit more rest on their off –time.
Again, we did our zigzag across Gibraltar’s Strait this
time heading out to the Atlantic. We had nice visit of several dolphins along the way out and with ENE winds of 15kts,
and Jib sail only, we utilized Auto most of the first afternoon. Pork chowmein for dinner with hard cooked
eggs for overnight snacks. Put the main up around 7pm (really 5pm Morocco time), double reefed for the overnight and
set on our way.
Sunday was a mixed day of sailing, motoring, 2 hours with Spinnaker up and heading into light winds for the evening. Ended up motoring most of the night and
around 4AM, we ran out of diesel (still had our spare jerry cans to get into port). Monday, we sailed and “floated”
with little or wind. Very frustrating, but had 1kt current to help us. We encountered heavy fog in the morning with “0”boat speed at 10AM. We could not see past the bow and were a bit
disheartened that we might not make Safi with enough time to go inland for a visit to Marrakesh. We ended up floating
12 hours and finally a soft wind allowed us to sail 3kts top. Sailed around Cap Cantin where there were
huge breaking waves at shore, then again heavy fog and mist.
We put one of our jerry cans of fuel in and motored to get on to Cap Safi, hopefully without running out of this fuel. Matt stayed on foredeck with our fog horn and
we were set with rain gear and life vests.
Close to Safi, the fog became thick as the sun set. In the dark and fog, we could hear fishing
boats come out of their harbor and motoring all around us. One person called out and we answered. Only having Ken’s
chart on screen, we followed the way to the jetty searching for the green entrance light. Matt at the bow again,
this time with our spotlight and the rest of us searching the foggy darkness for light to guide us. Soon we could see a
brighter dark fog as we neared the entrance of the marina. This was one of the most frightening harbor
arrivals Ken and crew had ever experienced and as we slowly moved into the
fishing harbor, we could see outlines of boats slowly showing. The Quay spotlights were now brighter and alongside
one of the Quays, a large fishing style boat sat with a man waving for us to come alongside and “raft” to the boat.
This was a very agreeable solution as we could not really see any other open areas for our boat to tie-up. Even
with the large language barrier, we managed to get the boat safely secured.
It wasn’t too long before a huge parade of fishing boats made their way out of the harbor for their nights
fishing. We were immensely grateful we arrived before their parade. In the dark
and fog, we would have been messin’ our pants coming in as they were coming
out. They of course, knew where they were and where they were going, we did not!
The overnight harbor master arrived with a bit of paperwork for us, and soon we were visited by the local Military police and
Our appointed driver that expected us to arrive hours earlier was also there and soon it was realized
that he wanted to take us to Marrakesh to our Riad (private house lodging) as
it was arranged. We scampered to get an overnight bag packed for the trip and get the boat closed and secured for the
night. Totally exhausted, we got in the van and set out for our 2 hour drive into Marrakesh. This part of the inland trip had been
previously arranged with the help of several of Ken’s friends that had
connections in Morocco. The road was so bouncy most of the way it was impossible to sleep in the car and we arrived
weary around 1AM where we were led down several dark, narrow alleyways to a
huge dark door. The caretaker was called and soon we were led into the most beautiful, residence inside the city (Riad
LaSouk I believe it was named). We were given a quick tour and told that breakfast would be served at 9am in the
morning and we would debark on our day tour soon after that. Showers, beer and bed (we had brought 6 beers and a bottle of wine from the boat
at the last minute) although we found the refrigerator fully stocked.