Fishing Gear payback in Morocco…

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Tuesday 10 September 2013

After 4 weeks of sailing along the coast of North Africa, and having left Algeria, our next destination was the town of Melilla, a Spanish enclave on the northern coast of Morocco. We had previously visited Ceuta, another Spanish enclave in Morocco, close to Gibraltar, and had found it ok if not that exciting. We didn’t have high expectations but we needed a marina and a fill up of fuel. To our wonderful surprise Melilla really was a Spanish town, clean, a nice park, a town fountain, supermarkets and – hallelujah – tapas bars! The marina was clean, with bars and restaurants on the waterfront. We took deep breaths, relaxed and immediately decided to down tools and stay a while. Do remember we had been staying in shipping harbours and fishing ports for 4 weeks!

Blue Gate entry into Fes

Blue Gate entry into Fes

With the marina being secure, we decided we’d catch a train in Morocco and visit the ancient city of Fes. For three weeks we had been in Algeria where nobody wanted a penny, and indeed people preferred to help and give. Morocco was quite the opposite – every man and his donkey was going to fleece you for every penny they could! Walking over the border from Melilla into Morocco, a man asked for our passports waving entry papers. Not wearing military uniform we questioned him if he was an official and if he needed money for filling in the papers. Needless to say we filled in our own papers!

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Train ride in Morocco

The five hour train ride to Fes was lovely as we passed through exquisite country side and before we knew it we were happily esconded  in our Riad. We spent two days exploring Fes and avoiding the money scammers. Fes boasts more monuments than Marrakech and its medina/souks are more authentic and not as geared to tourists as Marrakech. At the same time, we noticed there was more hassling, but felt perhaps this was due to the fact Marrakech is more aware tourists are put off by the constant hassling. Most of the time you just ignore it, but at other times when you think you can trust someone it gets tiresome. Simple things like a restaurant bill was inflated, and a purchase of postcards and stamps bill didn’t tally up. But it was good to see all of the ancients moorish buildings so well preserved, and we enjoyed our stay in Fes.

Tanneries of Fes

Tanneries of Fes

Back in Melilla with Tom being sick with man flu and with us being ahead of schedule we decided to linger longer, something we haven’t done since leaving. After that we decided to strike straight to Gibraltar, a 27 hour sail away. The winds were annoyingly right behind us but we were treated to numerous sightings of dolphins.

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Gardens of Fes

The fishing rod has been out regularly but alas the score along the theoretically fertile North African waters was two plastic bags landed and one lost. After a sighting of dolphins the rod spun out and off Tom ran. Whatever was on it was heavy. Had we caught a piece of furniture, a can full of water? Tom slowly reeled in whatever it was. Something was poking out of the water. As it came in bits of silver were flashing. Could this really be a fish? Shouts for hammer, towel went up! It was indeed a fish, and it wasn’t just a mackerel! This was a tuna! Tom grabbed the line and hauled it up with his bare hands – forget gloves, no time to waste, this was one fish going nowhere, scores had to be settled. Once we had it on deck, we realised this wasn’t a simple case of ‘put a towel over it’s eyes and bash it on the head with a hammer’. Susie was dispatched to get the cheap Whisky bought to bribe Moroccan officials with. In theory a splash of alcohol in the gills does the trick. In her excitement Susie proceeded to distribute nearly half a bottle of Whisky over the stern deck. It was a beautiful tuna. In no time Tom had gutted it and popped it into the freezer for dinner in Gibraltar. The dreaded lack of real fish curse has been broken – onward and upward. Sword fish next?

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Tuna landed!

The approach to Gibraltar is a busy shipping lane and through the night we kept ourselves busy focusing on not colliding with any 300m long cargo ships!

The next morning dawned and with sloppy seas and gusting winds around the rock of Gibraltar our adventure in the Mediterranean was complete. We’d set out to spend 5 months in the Mediterranean getting to know Adina. While we didn’t get as much sailing experience as we would have liked we certainly knew the mechanics of how Adina worked a lot better (and are still learning). The highlights for us were the number of friends we met up with and we appreciated how people took time for us, bought stuff out for us, looked after us. This trip makes you realise how important people are. From a travel point of view we loved Almeria and Granada in Spain. The highlight of the Baleric islands had to be the Cabrera Islands. Sardinia is just a beautiful sailing ground and Tunisia is a destination we’d like to see more of. Algeria will without doubt stand out as one of our trip highlights – a world on it’s own.

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Sloppy seas off Gibraltar

Now in Gibraltar we have boat maintenance to do, a new towable generator to install, and we play host to Susie’s parents. We’ll be here for at least two weeks before our biggest sail to date to the Canaries. Other boats are flying the ARC banners which signify they are crossing the Atlantic as part of the Atlantic Rally Crossing in November. Time to hoist ours and we’ll go and say hello!

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One response to “Fishing Gear payback in Morocco…

  1. Mike says:

    Sorry to burst your bubble but the 1st fish caught on a new rod has to be thrown back. Doing otherwise is about as bad as eating bananas on a boat or wasting good whiskey! ;p