Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Road to Saidia

21 04 2012
Saidia Marina, Morocco

35 06 61 N
02 17 74 E

When You Arrive Saidia Marina is Welcoming and Attractive
Saidia, Morocco is a simple 36 nautical mile sail eastbound out of Melilla, Spain's tiny outpost pinpricked on a peninsula jutting out of north Africa.

Advertising Image of Saidia Marina
It Is Accurate
Our month long barrage of 40 knot winds ended one afternoon and next day we sailed.  Our concern was that we would be beset by calms and forced to motor.  Ironically given our frustration with the unending winds we actually wanted wind for just that one day of sailing.  We got them.  Perfect 20 knots out of the west with 2 metre waves following us the entire trip.  Overnight winds died and we are indeed beset by calms.

Finding Saidi

It is a bit difficult to find Saidia Marina as it is not shown on any electronic charts, not even our totally up to date $500 CMap chartplotter charts.

Enroute the Budget Committee Emerges for Her Watch
Our very expensive Imray MedGuide had virtually no information on Saidia and if you choose to come here, and you should, you are on your own.  I guess the British publishers have decided no one will go to Morocco.  This is a big mistake on their part and once discovered Saidia should become very popular indeed.

Islands in the Stream
The Marina is NOT located at or even near the town of Saidia as we discovered to our discomfort.  We sailed direct to that town out of Melilla, foregoing a coastal cruise because the waves were pushing us hard into the shore.  A little distance is a good thing in these circumstances just in case propulsion fails.

A word of caution here: the GPS did not provide reliable coordinates and were off by several miles.  This may be due to the NATO exercises being conducted on the island of Alboran just north of Melilla or perhaps some other physical anomoly.  Today readings are rock solid.  A good plan, if weather permits, would be to run the coast until you spot the high rock breakwater protecting the marina.  It is 2 to 3 nautical miles west of the town of Saidia marked on your charts.

Once Found Saidia Marina is a Gem
Whatever, we overshot the marina by about 4 kilometres.  Luckily the boat we travelled with, Calypso, which was a bit behind us saw a large sailboat exit the marina as they passed.  This boat, B 40 we think, British flagged, failed to return a radio hail from Calypso which was just plain rude.  Buoyed by the exit of that boat Calypso ventured closer to shore and found the marina.  This left us with a 2 mile slog into 2 metre waves and 20 knot winds to make back the distance of our overshoot.

Clearing In Procedures

Clearing in was a pleasure.  Our radio call to the marina was returned with a slip assignment and directions to the pontoon.

You need to take care as there is a long entrance to the marina proper and the channel has silted in and narrowed.  The channel is marked (treat the yellow markers as if they are green and once past the turning basin keep close to the wall) but slow ahead is the order of the day.

Moroccan officials met our boat as we docked.  Everyone was pleasant and businesslike.  Four men boarded the boat, asked a number of questions, reviewed our documents and then after the necessary inspections were made we all retired to a spaceous office to complete the formal paperwork.

It seemed to be appreciated that we brought photocopies of our passports and official boat documents.  Perhaps it was just that this was a sign that we treated their jobs with respect. 

Entire the process took half an hour.

We love it here.

Daily Grind: Food, Currency and Transport

Moroccan currency is the Dirham which trades about 11 to the Euro so make it 9 cents or a dime Canadian.  Our €100 bought us DH1,80 at the Societe Generale located at the marina.  Lunch at a fancy french style resto cost us DH100 tip included for meal, ice cream sunday and non alcoholic beverage.  Food was excellent.

There is a well stocked supermarket, Marjane, at the marina and prices for most items are similar to Spain.  Meat and cheese is very expensive (twice the price or more) so bring these items with you.

The Bread Truck
There is a bus running every half hour from the marina into Saidia and there you can go crazy in the Souq.

Below Connie Enters the Outdoor Market at Saidia

Butcher Shop in the Souq
And if Don't Want the Main Selections You Can always choose some stomach or lungs, above.  Or maybe some Goat's Head.

Different tastes indeed.

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