We started our journey to Canary Island traditionally in Benalmadena. On the first day we moved just a little bit further, made only 6 miles to Fuengirola where we picked up the rest of the crew. Finally we were all 4 brave men on board. Because of the bank holiday in Spain that day we couldn’t do any shoppings. The same day at the evening we went to Ceuta as fast as possible. The weather prediccion wasn’t optimistic at all, with a low pression coming from Atlantic over Canary Islands in a few days time and a low in high levels of atmosphere, so called DANA, which would cause serious instability all around the region in the following days. That meant to us to be in hurry, exacly like the last year.
The plan was to make as much south as possible before the conditions worsen. A half day in Marina Hercules in Ceuta was just enough to do provisions and make a quick tour around the town. We bought some 60 liters of beer, vine and liquers and filled up our tanks with cheap petrol. After the dinner we had with fried devilfish, fresh from the local market and few bottles of wine the spirits of the crew were high.
Zbyszek, Sergio and Maria
We left Ceuta for the evening low water, hoping to get some kind of superficial streams which would help us against the counter wind and dominant western stream in the Strait of Gibraltar. After a quick start we were really struggeling some for couple of hours, making 1-2 kts of speed at the middle of the night. To keep the resonable speed we were going on engine and sails, slowly making up the 30 miles distance to Tanger along the marrocan shore. By the sunrise we passed the Cap Espartel lighthouse and entered to the Atlantic.
Sunrise over Atlantic
In the morning we set up the sails with the 10-15kts of wind from the south and started going towards the ocean on 240 course, leaving the african continent out of sight soon. All day we were tacking between 150 and 210 degrees with avarage speed of 4kts. The fresh forecasts we got on the satelite phone told us about the Low geting deeper (for the moment 994hPa) and coming through Canarias directly on us. The question was if we have enough time to get to Safi or Essouira before the storm starts. Light wind changes to W and NNW later in the evening. In the evening of the second day we had Mohamedia just in 25 miles distance but still considering going further.
Breakfast and decisive news
The only way to reach a safe harbour somewhere down from El Jadida was to start the engine again and with the help of the sails try to make 160 miles in the next 24 hours. With the average 6 kts of speed and surprisinly calm sea we were able to make it. By the sunset the next day we were security tied up to the pilot boat in Safi.
Safi is a large industrial harbour, between El Jadida i Essaouira. It is very safe port with easy approach. You can call the port control on chanel 14 or 16 and will be directed to moor in the front of the control tower, where the harbour master’s office is. The police and custom officers appeared in less than an hour or and all the paperworks went smooth.
They kept our passports, which is quite usual in Marocco and we were given special tourist cards to pass the gate of the port. The same day we lost one of the cards but finally the control in the gates wasn’t so strict and we all moved freely up and down to the town. The place where we were moored was the restricted zone and looked really safe but it’s better to lock the boat always when you leave. There are no facilities at all. The petron can be brought in cans from the town by someone local, anyone you ask will help.
The town is famous for pottery but in fact dosn’t have much to offer apart from its small medina and old townwalls. It has a nice sandy beach with a surf break but there are no tourists at all. We were the only Europeans we saw by the whole our stay there.
The wind finally came at night, with squalls of 12Bf from SW and the heavy showers. We were quite happy to be safe and with 400 Nm on the trip log which was just a half way from Malaga to Lanzarote. The weather forcasts weren’t too good though. Instead of going to the notheast, on the normal atlantic depression road towards Europe, this tropical storm was going to stay and come back to Canary Island in the following days, getting stronger fed with the humid and warm air it met on the way. And it got its name, now was unofficially named Carolina.
So this way our stay in Safi was getting longer. After a few days we were truely fed up with the place but I didn’t want to risk to go out because of the gusts of 45kts and the waves of 3 meters getting bigger every day. 4 days in Safi cost us 100 euros and the most of our alcohol provisions but at least we managed to fill up water tanks for free thanks to one very kind local official. It needs to be said that everyone there was really nice to us and no bribe was necessary but a few bottles of beer we gave away the very first day.
Under the rain
On Tuesday the centre of the depression started to move away to south-west so we decided not to wait anymore. The waves were still around 3 meters high but the wind decreesed to 4-5Bf. The sky was stormy, with rain and thunders. In the next morning the wind droped and changed direction so we could set up our spinaker for a while. We had even some sunny intervals and the rainbows all around were just amazing.
Few times we saw big whales at the distance and some packs of dolfins too.
And again in the afternoon the wind increesed to 6Bf with squalls up to 40kts and heavy rain. Later on by night in the pouring rain we start the motor. Trying to keep a good speed we added engine always when it drops below 4kts. This repeated every day, strong wind in the mornings, later weaker in the afternoons and at nights.
The last bottle of wine
On friday we passed La Graciosa 25 miles to the south. This year, due to the plane tickets, we had no time to visit this beautiful island. We headed straight to Santa Cruz.
Arrival to Santa Cruz
Finally we came to Marina Atlantico on saturday afternoon, having done 900Nm and 180 hours of sailing from Malaga.