We stayed for 8 days in Rabat and on the last day visited Casablanca by train, this time with Sim who had recovered enough from Moroccan belly to make the journey. The focal point of Casablanca which is a city of 5m people is the Grand Mosque which was built between 1998 and 2005, the third largest in the world after Mecca and Riyadh. It is spectacular and blows your mind. It accommodates 25,000 worshipers inside and 80,000 outside, attracting at least this at Ramadan.
Beneath are baths where the congregation can wash as a part of the ceremony and each person has 2 minutes to complete their cleansing before moving on at the mushroom fountains where 12 people can wash at one time. Incredible to imagine this whole religious process working.
This is one of the few mosques in the world where infidels can visit on cultural grounds and we felt quite privileged to see the mosque and understand a little more about Islam. The Mosque is built out on the sea on pillars with each pillar dedicated to a script from the Koran, “Allah has his seat on the sea where he can survey the universe”.
This photo was taken as we sailed past Casablanca – “You must remember this” we never did find Rick’s Bar and anyway Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman would be long gone!!
We left Rabat and headed for Mohammedia about 40 miles down the coast but we were too deep drafted to get in and anchored in the bay, Here is Sim relaxing after arrival.
We only rested overnight here and set off early morning to cover the 80 miles to El Jadida which is purely a fishing port and doesn’t cater for yachts at all, it was also filthy and we couldn’t get out quickly enough. We also had Kika the British boat and Island in the Sun, our German friends with us. We three skippers were all queuing first thing to get our exit permits to leave next morning which quite upset the harbourmaster. This was the worst place we have visited in Morocco.
While going through clearance I spotted this guy taking his shark for a ride.
Our next destination was Essaouira another fishing port 110 miles south where we ran aground on entry but on a rising tide.
We were given a deeper berth alongside the Lifeboat and met the skipper “Horace” would you believe, who was one of those founts of all knowledge and a smashing bloke to boot.
The town was very attractive which made up for the lack of facilities in the harbour, and very clean with quite an extensive souk. Here we met Jennifer from Connecticut who was rafted outside us and was on a circular tour of the Atlantic single handed.
It was Sim’s 21st birthday or so he said so we all went ashore, the crew of Kika and Jennifer for a birthday meal and a few medicinal beers to kill any potential bugs.
Back on the boat at 2am for a nice long sleep – it’s such a hard life!
A fish restaurant offering on the harbour at Essaouria – just a work of art.
That afternoon we set off for Agadir on an overnight sail arriving at 6 am off the port. Sim does the early watch 8pm to 2pm and I do the late watch 2am to 8am and as I approached Agadir spent the early morning dodging untlit fishing boats some of whom kindly flashed a torch if I got too close!
We are now moored in Agadir which is very much a tourist town which also means the search for beer is a lot easier – we even had pints of local beer last night – what luxury. In the supermarket we had to go to an underground cell to buy alcohol as its against the rules of the Koran and only vaguely tolerated for foreigners.
We went off to try to find some bits for the boat in the massive Porte du Pecheurs which houses over 600 fishing boats, sadly most in decline as a result of quotas. Here we met Mohammed who was our guide and managed to route out places which sold the bits we needed. Afterwards he took us to a series of fish restaurants where the locals eat fresh fish straight from the boats. Each family has a strip of tables elling the same fish at the same price – wonderful but no alcohol.
about 50 ft in length and all hand built from eucalyptus as they have been for centuries.
They build 20 a year but this is dwindling fast as more secondhand boats come up for sale.
Tonight we had a light dinner on board after our huge friture de mer at lunch time this next photo shows the marina at night.
Up on the hill behind is a huge inscription which says ” Allah, King, Country” which all lights up at night. Tomorrow we are off to Tardouant, an oasis in the desert some 80km from Agadir. We have rented a little Fiat Punto for £25.00 for the day, after some negotiation so we are off exploring in a country of mad drivers and bad roads.
Our next stop and post will be in the Canaries where we plan to visit Isla Graniola just north of Lanzarote a sail of about 240 miles. From there we will make our way south down the chain of Islands to pick up Nancy and Kate in Teneriffe, Sim;s wife and daughter and then on to Gran Canaria to collect Gill and Ray who will help us crew the boat to the Caribbean