After topping up with diesel at the fuelling berth we headed out off the harbour and out to the clearwater water at the end of the Canal Norte. Here we could turn southwards and after passing the west cardinal buoy marking the rocks and shoals to the west of the Cadiz peninsular set a course for Rabat some 170 miles away. I had crew now, a Dutch girl, Merel, so it would help with these longer passages to come. There was a nasty cross swell so the boats movement was a trifle lively but with little wind, so progress was slow and eventually resort was made to the engine for an hour. Then the wind picked up , great at first but later after dark it further strengthened leading to to put in first one reef and then later a second reef in the main and furling the yankee. There were quite some waves, one even decided to join me in the cockpit, a fortunately unusual occurrence for Sea Bear.
Later the wind and seas calmed down but then it became foggy, very foggy. I knew there were some fishing boats about as I had seen their lights before the fog and I could hear their engines in the distance. The AIS told me they were 2 miles off so not too worrying but I slowed the boat down but loosing all the sheets and proceeded cautiously. The fog cleared later to return briefly after daylight. Then we had a nice day sailing, light winds, only 8 to 10 knots but progress on the desired course was being made. Just before sunset we saw a large pod of dolphins. Another night passed by . There were the lights of numerous fishing boats but none came very close and none for which we had to alter course for. In the early hours we could see the loom of lights on the Moroccan coast, the lights of Mehdiya and further on Rabat.
Dawn and were about 8 miles off Rabat however then the wind headed us so we had to go on the other tack and then it died completely. In a way this calm did us a favour as instead of slowly tacking our way in we had the perfect excuse to switch on the engine and motor the remaining miles. Of the harbour entrance we radioed the marina for the pilot and although we got no reply the pilot boat appeared and said to wait 1 hour and they would be back when there was enough water to cross the bar. So in due course the pilot boat led us in through the harbour entrance and up the river to the police and customs pontoon. I was glad for the pilot as the entrance was tricky and even what little swell was running made it a little exciting. But oh what an entrance, sailing up the river between two medieval walled towns, you knew you was arriving somewhere very different, was it even this century. There was a hug wow factor.
There was a little snag over our entrance formalities. You see the skipper had overlooked that the boat insurance had expired 2 days ago and we could not proceed into the marina until this had been sorted. They were pleasant enough about it and directed me around to the marina office who again were more than helpful and I could email the insurance company and I later phoned them and they emailed me a new insurance document which the police then printed out for me so it was all sorted in the end , it just took a bit of time, and we could moor up in the marina.
Eh it were a bit warm – 35 degrees in the shade thats in the nineties for us us oldies, but I love it.
In the evening we strolled into the walled city of Sale, we found a hole in the wall which accept my card and gave me some dirhams and then we wandered through the medina and after a glass of mint tea from a tea shop we bought some fresh cooked warm maize cakes from one stall and some fried fish with sauce in bread from another stall so dinner was sorted.