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Old 11-11-2012, 10:32   #1
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Update on ports of Morocco, Atlantic coast.

I just wanted to give an update on the Atlantic coast of Morocco as I believe, more and more yachts will visit this country on their way to Canaries or Atlantic crossing.
First of all, the reason of visiting (transiting) Morocco was the motor yacht (52 Feet) delivery to Tenerife. The yacht was delivered by ship to Gibraltar and from there on, we (crew of 2 people) had to do 900 n.m. trip. The main problem was the refueling. We could do 200 - 300 miles before we "went dry".
I can give an update on four ports of Morocco - Mohammedia, El Jadida, Safi and Agadir as those were our "fuel stops"
Morocco in general;
Be ready for a very long immigration and customs clearance! As a first time visitor, you might have an unpleasant surprise. The officers always come on board themselves to start the paperwork. I mention "to start", because after their (about one hour) visit, you are not done yet. They take away your passports, yacht registration, the proof of ownership e.c.
If you are visiting more than one port, you will have to do the "blue paper" (special customs form certifying that you are bringing the yacht in transit, you are not trying to sell it in Morocco or didn`t purchase it there). It will take an entire day to make it and you will get it some time next morning (if you are lucky). You can get your passports back in a couple of hours time together with the "port passes". Technically you will be able to get out of port and back by just showing your port passes, but my advice is always to carry your passport with you. From port to port the procedure might have a little different twist to it, but basically it is more or less the same. Do not lose your port pass!!!
At each port you will get two stamps in your passport - the entry stamp and the exit stamp (four ports - eight stamps!). Be absolutely sure that you get the second one! Do not leave the port without it, especially if you have gotten your passports back and feel free to go to your next destination. Morocco immigration is very particular about that!
Make sure that at least one person on your crew speaks some basic French! It is extremely helpful as the first foreign language Moroccans learn in school is French (not English and not Spanish). With some your limited French and their very limited English you should be able to manage.
Sailing along the coast of Morocco can be treacherous because of unlit fishing nets. You can find those as far as 10-15 miles from the shore. If possible, do not enter any port at night time! Wait for a daylight!
As painful as the Moroccan paperwork is, immigration, customs and police officers are very nice and friendly. They really try to be helpful and there is no hostility towards you! But... be patient!
Mohammedia;
It is a somewhat equipped yacht marina almost attached to the fishing harbor. It is quite dirty and smelly during the low tide. It gets better with the high tide.
Customs and immigration process takes a long time. The offices are far away. Showers, fuel pumps and WiFi are available. Tourist buses to Casablanca are at the port gates. Taxis are very inexpensive. My advice - for a short trip, take a cab! Once you exit the port, many young ("English speaking guides") will try to hustle you. They are not aggressive, but very annoying!
As the first port of entry, Rabat probably would be a preference. We were not there, but that`s what locals were telling me.
El Jadida;
A fishing port. Not equipped for yachts at all! Very shallow! Watch for tides! Immigration and customs quite chaotic! No showers, no Internet. Fuel is delivered by hand in 35 liter barrels. All payments in cash. No receipts! You have to pay in advance. We just handed them a 1000 EUR. When we came back from our dinner, we had been already refueled and NOT cheated, which was quite amazing!!!
There is quite a good restaurant just next to the place you will be moored, at the Association Nautique dEl Jadida. The place sells alcohol (as oppose to many others that do not carry the alcohol licence).
Recommendation - enter only in case of emergency! Town has an interesting Medina (the old city center), but otherwise it is quite poor and dirty.
Safi;
Very large commercial port and a fishing port. Not equipped for yachts, no fuel pumps for yachts, no Internet. At the same time, people are extremely helpful. Showers are available at the Capitainerie building practically next to your mooring place. Port gates (where the police and immigration offices are located) are quite far. There is a local civilian who takes care of all your needs. His name is Bouchaib. He speaks a few words of French, English, Italian and Spanish and has a good experience of handling yachts.
There are practically no draught limitations.
Highly recommended to visit the town! If you are already in Morocco, try to see Safi! It is worth it! Also try to go to Essaouira (ex Mogador). The Medina of Essaouira is even more spectacular! I have no information on Essaouira port (I believe it is like Safi), but the bus trip from Safi is certainly worth it! The distance is about 125 km.
Agadir;
Very modern European/American style marina! Fuel, showers, WiFi and upscale shopping available around marina. Immigration and customs are the most proficient of all visited ports. They share the same offices so, you will not have to run around the port searching for your papers and passports.
Agadir is quite expensive even by EU or US standards. As the town was practically destroyed during the earthquake of 1960, there is no historical part left for us to see, which is extremely sad!
At the same time, it is a very pleasant last stop in Morocco, before going to Canaries or somewhere further, for those who enjoy comfort, clubs, pubs e.c.
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Old 11-11-2012, 10:46   #2
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Re: Update on ports of Morocco, Atlantic coast.

Thanks for taking the trouble to write out this detailed info. Morocco may be a stop on our way out of the Med eventually.
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Old 11-11-2012, 11:07   #3
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Re: Update on ports of Morocco, Atlantic coast.

You are very welcome! Once you get used to it, it`s not that bad.
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Old 15-11-2012, 13:44   #4
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Re: Update on ports of Morocco, Atlantic coast.

We have been at the Marina Bouregreg in Sale/Rabat for a week now and it is quite nice and reasonably priced. The officials are all located on site and were very professional and friendly. When we checked in the first thing I was asked was did we vote in the American election. We are the only American flagged vessel here but have had no issues and everyone is friendly and polite. There is a new modern tramway into Rabat and a great little grocery store not too far away. Showers and laundry room as well. Their website is Bouregregmarina.com The entrance to the river is best navigated when the swell is not directly into the mouth of the river and it is recommended you do not attempt to enter with a swell of 2 meters or more. In a swell less than that, the marina will send a pilot boat out to meet you and guide you to the reception dock. Quiet, good marina security. Some construction noise and dust from the development of the pedestrian walkway along the riverfront.
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Old 07-03-2018, 15:09   #5
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Re: Update on ports of Morocco, Atlantic coast.

Hi All,

New here and looking for a bit of help and advice:

I’ve been asked to help take a friends’ 2006 Jeanneau Prestige 42 Flybridge from Gibraltar to Tenerife, down the Moroccan coast starting around the last week in October 2018, weather and conditions permitting.

I am asking for help and would like to hear from any motor-boaters or sailors that have experience of this stretch of water, down the Moroccan Atlantic Coast; Rabat, Agadir etc and perhaps over to the Canaries.

Specifically:

What are the likely sea-conditions, wave-heights, period, fetch-direction, and windspeeds and directions?

What have you experienced? Was it particularly rough or challenging?

Anything in particular to be aware of / advice ?

If you’re reading this and have experience of this area - sail or power, or this type and size of motor boat, do you have alarm bells ringing thinking this is ‘crazy’, or are you thinking “yes this should be fine if you time it right”.

I have consulted charts, pilot books, online forums, North Atlantic pilot charts for weather trends, online planning resources etc.

Fuel planning is a major constraint and Rabat and Agadir seem to me to be the only ‘major’ marinas that have good access and fuel.

This particular boat is new to me although I am not new to the style and, even though I do say so myself, I would consider myself quite experienced having done several offshore passages in motor boats, and have undertaken various training and qualifications.

I will be accompanied by a friend who has similar experience and training to me plus we would be taking two experienced and useful crew able to take a safe navigational watch (any volunteers?!)

Any advice is gratefully received as I want to be as safe as possible - despite whatever past boating experience I think I might have I would always want to hear views of others who have done this or a similar trip before.

Thanks guys

David
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