First of all, the Finkbeiners traveled from Lake Constance or the Rhine via the French canals to Marseille and then across the Mediterranean to Gibraltar. While the classic route would continue via Madeir to the Canary Islands, the two have decided to sail south along the Moroccan coast. Here is her current report:
The Gibraltar Rock as seen from LLineaus
»Line on the Spanish side of Gibraltar is our last stop on the European mainland. From here a new section of our journey begins: the Atlantic Ocean. The pillars of Hercules, the 426 meter high Gibraltar Rock on the European side and the Jbel Mus on the African side, which is exactly twice as high at 852 meters, mark the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar and thus the gateway to the ocean.
In the street, the wind blows either from the east or from the west - and mostly relatively strong because of the jet effect. Other wind directions are rare here. In addition, due to the tide and the difference in level between the two seas, there are strong currents, mostly from the Atlantic, which is 1.6 meters higher, into the Mediterranean. Three hours after the high tide of Gibraltar one finds currents settling west near the banks, the so-called Neerströmme, which flow against the main stream settling to the east.
The Strait of Gibraltar as seen from Tangier
So the departure time needs to be chosen well. In our case, with 15 to 20 knots of wind from the east, ideal sailing conditions are predicted for our "Aracanga". Out of the Bay of Gibraltar, we stick to Tarifa, the southernmost and probably windiest city in Europe, on the northern side of the road. Wind and electricity push us westwards at a good eight knots above the ground.
Then it goes across the traffic separation area to the African side, where the Neer currents start a little later and give us an additional four knots. Although we have only set the jib, it is a frenzy to the west.
Africa place Madeira
While most sailors after the Strait of Gibraltar approach a destination in southern Spain or the Algarve or tackle the first, long crossing with the destination Madeir or the Canary Islands, we have decided to explore the African west coast. In Linen we use the good internet to do research, because there is little information for sailors about North West Africa.
Sunrise over Morocco
Little by little, a plan is being formed: First of all, it should go to Morocco, there are several good contact points there, and the country has upgraded its infrastructure for sailors in recent years. There are a few good marinas along the coast, and the TanjBay Marinin Tanger on the west side of the Strait of Gibraltar has recently opened.
We would like to go to Tangier, Rabat and possibly Agadir. After Morocco, we plan a short stop on Lanzarote before continuing to Dakar, the capital of Senegal. We will leave out Mauritania south of Morocco, where the security situation appears to us to be a little more critical than in neighboring countries.
We have read various, partly contradicting reports about Senegal, especially with regard to the security situation. Therefore, we have only planned a stop in Dakar for the time being and then we will see further on site. The next destination and the real reason for the trip along the African coast is Gambia. Gambi is enclosed on three sides by Senegal and borders the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The country stretches along the river of the same name and is primarily known for its diverse ecosystem.
The old town of Rabat
From Gambiaus we would like to sail to Cape Verde and further across the Atlantic, but there are still many miles ahead of us.
Our first stop in Afrikist Tanger, and after a day's stage of 30 miles we moor in the huge TanjBay Marinam Zollsteg, which has just opened. Clearing in is quick and easy. Only our drone causes a bit of a stir, it is confiscated by customs for the time of our stay and registered and locked away by the boss himself.
Lots of space in the new port
The search for a berth in the huge marina turns out to be very complicated for some inexplicable reason, although only 15 of the 400 places are occupied. After about an hour, the harbor master solemnly announces that he has now found a suitable berth for our boat and whether we would like to see it first before we moor there.
Entrance to the Bou Regreg River
After the tour and our satisfaction with his choice, there is brief confusion as to who the captain is, i.e. why the woman is at the wheel - they are crazy, the Europeans!
Morocco is only one day away from Europe, entry is uncomplicated and no visas are required. With the new Marinin Tangier, which is protected on all sides and employs more security personnel than currently boats in the marin couches, a completely new area opens up for many sailors, either as a short stop on the "transit" to Madeira, as an alternative to wintering, as the first stop on a Moroccan cruise or to know that the boat is in a safe place while exploring the country by bus, train or rental car.
Fishing boats in Rabat
Tangier is the provincial capital with around 750,000 inhabitants and is one of the most important trading and port cities in Morocco. It is the oldest continuously populated place in Morocco and is still a stronghold of drug trafficking and smuggling. Tangier has always been borne out by a myth - Noah's Ark is said to have landed here after the Flood. For a long time the city had the status of a free trade zone and attracted speculators, soldiers of fortune, gun and drug dealers, prostitution, artists, free spirits and the international jet set.
Between Orient and Occident
The city is the border between the European Occident and Arab culture, and this is still, or especially today, visible on every street corner. The Medin (the old town) and the Kasbah (the castle), the old part of the city, merge almost seamlessly into the modern new part of the city with skyscrapers, banking district and promenade, the two parts of the city collide like two worlds.
On the way south
For us, of course, the old town with its souks (markets) is primarily of interest. In the markets in the narrow streets you can find just about anything: fresh food, mountains of spices, pottery, clothes from burqa to lingerie, the most modern and antiquated electronics to cheap and overpriced kitsch.
In between there are small food stalls and kiosks where you can get delicious, local dishes such as tagine or couscous in all variations for cheap money. Traditionally, you can drink sweet, green tea with fresh mint or freshly squeezed juices.
For us Morocco is a new and exciting world, beautiful, fascinating, but also exhausting. You can hardly get enough of the hustle and bustle of the market, but you also can't wait too long, otherwise, whether you like it or not, you'll have a carpet dealer, drug seller or self-appointed city guide by your side.
The lively old town captivates us, but we are happy to have our boat as a counterpoint to the hectic city life.
After three days in Tangier, the weather looks good for the stage to Rabat, the capital of Morocco, about 130 miles to the south on the Atlantic west coast. For the first few hours to Cape Spartel, the north-western tip of Africa, Neptune brings us a lot of wind and waves.
The cape officially marks the border between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, which is celebrated with a sip of rum for the crew and for Neptune. Shortly afterwards we change our course to the south and thus leave the nozzle of Gibraltar. The wind and waves ease and we are pushed south by a gentle 15 knots along the west coast of Africa and along eternal sandy beaches.
On the second evening of the crossing, about 50 miles from Rabat, the wind slackened so much that we were bobbing more than sailing. But since we won't be able to enter the navy until the next noon when the river Bou Regreg floods, the slack doesn't bother us much. Nevertheless, at some point during the night we decide to start the machine, because from the 100 meter depth line onwards there is a lot of activity on small fishing boats that are only very sparsely lit, if at all.
Every boat needs at least one fishing net, sometimes better, sometimes worse, sometimes not marked at all, the night turns into an exciting zigzag ride.
At sunrise we are a few miles north of Rabat and call the Marinan by radio to order the pilot for the midday flood, who will guide us through the shallows in the river. In order to be able to enter the Marinvon Rabat, you need luck with the weather, because from two meters wave the entrance is too dangerous and the port is closed. The Marinvon Rabat is about a mile upstream; once in the harbor, you lie all around and protected from any weather.
Market in Fes
The entrance to the river is beautiful, behind the pilot boat it goes between the two old towns of Sale and Rabat, past the said, but brightly colored, fishing and rowing boats and the customs and police jetty to clear what has to be done from scratch in every port here in Morocco.
Strictly speaking, we are not in Rabat, but in the neighboring town of Sale on the north side of the river. Rabat and Sale form a metropolis of millions, with Sale taking on the role of the residential area of the factory workers in the shadow of the capital. The medinas of the two cities are only a few hundred meters apart on the south and north banks of the Bou Regreg.
The river with its natural protected harbor has always given both cities an important role, protected natural harbors are few and far between on the north-west African coast. Discounts and sales couldn't be more different.
Spice seller in the market
Rabat as the capital is clean, spruced up and geared towards tourism. The kasbah is relatively small, but beautiful and furnished with great attention to detail. Sale, on the other hand, is poor, narrow, dirty and yet also fascinating.
Tourists hardly ever get lost in Sale, here the meat and fish are for sale unrefrigerated on rough wooden planks, and a tagine costs the equivalent of two euros on the street corner. Sale is a city where you feel guilty about unpacking your expensive camera and taking photos, while in Rabat you don't even think about whether that is inappropriate.
Rabat-Sale is also convenient for exploring the interior of Morocco. And you can safely and easily leave the boat alone in the marina for a few days. So we get a rental car and make our way to Fes. This is said to be the most beautiful of the four royal cities in Morocco.
The Medin von Fes is the largest in North Africa with 2.8 square kilometers, more than 400,000 people live there. For someone who did not grow up here, the city gives the impression of an almost unmanageable labyrinth.
The alleys are so narrow that only mules are suitable as a means of transport, and if it weren't for the Arabs' love for mofund smartphones, one could easily feel transported back to the Middle Ages.
Mountains of fresh fruit and vegetables, sacks full of oriental spices, the centuries-old tanner's quarter and the many small sewing shops make the city an unforgettable experience. There is haggling and trading in every nook and cranny. What quickly sounds like a heated argument to us is usually just a lively sales pitch.
Excursion to the royal city
Hurricane Leslie is holding us prisoner
Fes is a very special experience. However, it is easy to forget that the Medina is also the place of the poor people who cannot stay in the chic new residential areas, that child labor is the order of the day and that many people cannot read or write.
Back on the "Aracanga", we wait for a suitable weather window to sail the almost 500 miles to the Canary Islands, which is a long time coming. Hurricane Leslie and its aftermath keep us trapped in Rabat for now. The marin is closed because of the high swell.
The next few days both wind and waves will decrease and it looks like it will be a light wind crossing to Lanzarote. But that doesn't matter, we are so full of impressions from a wonderful country, a few days' rest is good to deal with everything.
Safe marinas for yachts in Morocco (Atlantic side, from north to south) are Tangier and Rabat, Mohammedia, Agadir. Other ports / mooring / anchorages on Morocco's Atlantic side are Asilah, Larache, El Jadida, Safi and Essaouira. Most and best information about Morocco can be found at www.noonsite.com.