29 November We waited until midday when Moussa, a friend of Mark and Jennifer’s arrived, he brought us a big box of Moroccan treats from a Patisserie, which was such a lovely gesture. We left straight away and caught a train to Casablanca. It was only a 15 minute trip. We got seats and there was a young Moroccan lady on her own sitting there. Eventually she spoke, and we had a great chat. She is a civil engineer and working on the project for a new railway line from Agadir to Casablanca. Once we arrived we met up with Moussa’s beautiful friend Mirian. We had a good walk around Casablanca Medina (old town) and enjoyed seeing all the markets, and tasting some of the treats, including a gorgeous peanut brittle.
There were a couple of Moroccans dressed in traditional dress and I took their photo, next minute one came right up to me with his hand out with some coins in it. I thought he wanted to give them to me but he wanted me to give him coins for taking his photo. I had nothing on me so luckily Moussa had a couple of coins he gave him. I will be better prepared next time.
Moussa and Mirian were excellent tour guides and they bargained for me when I brought a gorgeous hand carved wooden camel and a giraffe which I thought was wooden but is actually made of leather. Real cute. The only pets I am allowed on Southern Star! Ghada the Giraffe, an Arabic name meaning beautiful, and Ceyda the camel also Arabic meaning good person. There were lots of absolutely beautiful paintings, carpets and pottery items. I could have brought so much – the downside to living on a boat!
We found an interesting place to eat lunch where they cook chicken or meat, and vegetables in a pottery slow cooker over hot coals. It was really good. We also had the traditional Moroccan Mint tea, it’s very hot and sweet and very minty. It was nice. We wandered round the markets and Jennifer brought some hot salted cashew nuts which got very high reviews.
We then caught a taxi to the Hassan II Mosque, it accommodates 25,000 worshippers at prayer and its minaret is 210m high, the tallest in the world. It’s a beautiful building, situated right on the coast and has stunning mosaic and patterned walls. We were fortunate enough to be allowed into the women’s wash area with Mirian, and Robbie and Mark went to the men’s area with Moussa. We were not permitted to go into the main prayer area but apparently it is absolutely stunning and has beautiful carpets on the floor. It was a hive of activity with armed guards wandering around, a couple of school groups who were really enjoying themselves and many Moroccans just wandering around enjoying the sights.There was actually one young boy swimming in the surf right next to the Mosque and also one surfer.
We farewelled Moussa and Mirian and caught a cab back to the railway station. Mark brought the train tickets while we went to Telecom Maroc, to sort out a sim card so we can have internet and phone. This took a while so we actually missed the train that Mark had tickets for, then Mark decided to get a sim card too. We walked towards the entrance to the trains where you have to physically show your tickets, there was another train in a few minutes, and as we were queuing up I said to Robbie “where’s the back pack?” He took off running back to the Telecom shop where he had left the back pack. Mark & Jennifer were ahead of us and didn’t realise what was going on. I was a bit worried as the passports etc. were all in the back pack. He ran back, retrieved it and we ran to the train and just made it on in time. Never a dull moment!!
We arrived back in Mohammedia and tried to catch a cab back to the marina. Robbie hailed a cab and soon as we all climbed in, he said No, No and indicated only 2 people. So we had to get out and then tried another cab. Same thing. So we had to get 2 cabs for the 4 of us. It was very cheap though, less than 20 dirham which is just over $2 each cab.
Mark & Jennifer invited us for dinner on Starlet which was very nice, chicken breasts in mushroom sauce with Broccoli and rice.
30 November We were aiming to depart at 10:00am but Marks phone with the new sim card wasn’t working so he walked into town to try and get it sorted. Jennifer came over for a coffee and then Mark turned up. Robbie and him played around and confirmed that the sim card was fine the phone was faulty. Robbie then walked to the immigration to get our passports stamped and our ships registration papers back so we could leave.
Robbie asked me did I want to take her out of the dock, hmmm I thought about it, low tide, very shallow water, very small marina, lots of floats and debris in the water, no – thank you I will give it a miss today! Such a good decision, I did the ropes, Robbie moved off the dock to try and turn around so we could go out forwards. As soon as he moved away from the dock to turn, he touched the bottom. He then had to come back in towards the dock, and then slowly back all the way out. It was quite narrow and not so easy. I was so glad it wasn’t me!
I started putting away the fenders and ropes and just as we were coming to end of the pontoons I heard shouting, oh no – one of the local fishing boats had a long rope coming from the back of his boat, right in the entrance to the marina and we had just run over it and of course our line cutter had cut it! They were not so happy but as Robbie gestured what were they doing with a rope across the entrance to the marina? Had we have been going forward no doubt we would have seen it, but Robbie was concentrating on backing past the boats and missing the floats etc.
The rope did have lots of knots in it so I presume this has happened a few times before. Starlet were right behind us and Mark gave Robbie a new nick name – “Chopper”!! We continued on and exited the port, into very calm conditions but a large gentle swell of 2 metres rolling in. Virtually no wind just the swell, not so bad! It was very hazy and we could see a definite line of smog/haze over the land as we departed the coast.
Well we are having one of the smoothest passages ever, on the North Atlantic Ocean. this photo is looking towards the African Coast. We are pinching ourselves, it is that calm and flat. We are making good headway and will actually arrive into Agadir way ahead of our ETA, in fact it probably be in the dark but we will anchor out and go into the Harbour in daylight. It is so calm that I even cooked a beef casserole today, and a Chicken curry yesterday, normally on passage we just heat up pre-prepared meals I have frozen as it is too rough or roly to cook.
We are dodging a lot of small fishing boats, and they also put out nets with flags, but they seem to be well lit at night and there are pockets of them concentrated in small areas. Today one of the boats came real close to us which was a bit disconcerting as we didn’t know what they wanted, but we think they were just making sure we didn’t run over their nets. Perhaps news travels fast and they heard about Chopper??