Okay, we were in Smir for four days and had a great visit. I am very happy to say that our concerns and those of our friends are completely unfounded. Below is a recounting of our experiences while there. I also sent this to the Noonsite folks if they want to post it.
We had been staying in Gibraltar
for a few months and wanted to sail over and visit Smir, Morocco
. Some of our friends in Gibraltar advised against it telling us that it was unsafe. As one of our friends said, ďA lot of Muslims donít like westerners in general, and Americans in particular. If you go, at least promise me you wonít fly the stars and stripes.Ē
I am glad to say that these fears are overblown. We stayed in Marina Smir for four nights and thoroughly enjoyed it. At no time did we experience anything but friendliness and helpfulness from the marina staff and those we met.
We visited in mid October, and this is the rainy season. The marina is not crowded at all, but there were a few boats with owners aboard. When we arrived we saw the tall ship Alva, a 44 meter three-masted schooner teaching ship tied up on the dock
along with 20 or so teenage students. This was our first indication that safety
would not be an issue. Teaching vessels do not seek out areas where their students are at risk.
We tied up to the fuel dock
to clear in. The harbormaster, Tarik, speaks very good English
and did all he could to ensure we were happy. Checking into the marina was quick and easy.
For formalities, all officials are present in the marina and the process was quick, professional, and courteous. The two young police offices came on board and just looked at the boat in general. They did not open any lockers, but did a thirty second inspection
. Since we had no obvious firearms lying on the salon
table, they were satisfied.
officer was not present, and we were asked to return to the office at 10:00 the next morning. We did so and the customs procedure was also quick and friendly. He did not visit the boat, but we spoke for about 20 minutes about Morocco and the close relationship between his country and the US. He was genuinely interested in the United States and proud of his heritage and culture. He was very helpful and gave us a lot of information about Morocco in general and the surrounding area in particular.
There were no fees
of any type, nor were we even hinted at for bribes or unofficial fees
. Everything was straightforward.
We were directed to a spot on the east wall that did not have lazy lines for the bow. I asked if I should drop anchor
and they told me to just come alongside. Since tides were only about a foot, this was fine with us. We laid alongside happily the entire time we were there. Two other boats arrived while we were there, a powerboat and a sailboat. Both tied up alongside near us. Other berths did have lazy lines, but during off season the marina is fine with having vessels tie up alongside.
Facilities at the marina were average to good. Water
and electricity are metered from a locking box at your berth. I did not use the showers ashore, but there were two in the menís room. There were two clean toilets with toilet seats and toilet paper. The inside door handle on one of the rooms was broken off, which kept me from opening the door from the inside. I had to climb out the window, which thankfully was only a four foot drop to the ground. There was no soap nor a means to dry your hands. The womenís bathroom also had two heads and showers with similar accessories.
Because of the proximity to Ceuta, Spanish is widely spoken; English
much less so. The local currency is the dirham, which is equal to 0.10 US dollars. Local merchants and cab drivers equate this to 0.10 euros, which not only is simple for them, but to their advantage. I withdrew 1000 dirhams from an ATM for trips to the market and used a credit card for two restaurants and the marina charges.
The marina is lined with restaurants, which by Moroccan standards are very expensive. By European standards they were about the same or a little cheaper than Gibraltar. The town of Mí Diq is a 5 euro taxi ride or 4 dirhams bus ride away. The town has much more affordable restaurants and a varied outdoor market. We bought some produce and a few gifts for our grandkids. The seafood was plentiful and (for us) cheap
Marina charges for a 15 by 4.5 meter boat were 234 dirhams per night plus 20% tax. Electricity was 60 dirhams per night. Although the electricity was supposed to be metered, I did not press the issue.
In summary, we had a very pleasant stay in Marina Smir. The staff were friendly and efficient and I would recommend this marina for anyone wishing to visit Morocco.