Tuesday, 18 January 2011

We are sorry for the long silence...

Part of it is because we've been lazy. Part is because we find ourselves in a marina in Isla Graciosa north of Lanzarote (Canaries) without electricity. That means that we are limited in the use of SSB and laptops. Also, I (Hampus) spent the first 8 days in bed with cough and a temperature that was pushing 40, it might have been pneumonia. I just finished the antibiotics today and now I'm alright again.

Without internet access I don't even remember our last post on the blog so I'm not really sure where to pick up...

We spent almost two months in Morocco. First in Mohammedia then one night in Essouira. That stop wasn't planned but we ran into strong head winds on our way to Agadir so we turned around and ran like little rabbits into the relative safety of Essouria. I say relative because the harbor was littered with fishing vessels of all sizes. Fortunately only the small ones kept bumping into us all night. Apart from that and that the entire harbor smells of rotten fish, Essouira is a very nice place. It was a haven for hippies during the 60's and 70's and Jimi Hendrix owned a house there. You can still see and hear the influences when you walk the streets. At night people, mostly young locals gather in the small shops to play music. In other parts of Morocco there are a lot of traditional instruments, in Essouira there's a great mix of traditional and modern instruments and the same goes for the music. This produces something that is a mix of 60's music and african rythms and it sounds very, very good.

After Essouira we finally made it to Agadir. Agadir was destroyed by an earthquake in the 60's and was rebuilt as a modern city with tourism in mind. Hence it's not very moroccan and not very interesting. The Marina is located in a very modern and expensive tourist area, the staff is friendly but the marina itself is subject to swell and surging. It's very uncomfortable and we had two lines snap off due to the constant surge. Others were not as lucky and lost more lines. Some had their cleats and toe rails ripped off their boats. This is by no means extreme weather. For the most part there was no wind and flat calm. The swell that came in from the atlantic was around 3-4.5 metres.

Morocco is a great place to visit. Marinas are fairly cheap while the ports are very expensive. Agadir, which is a full service marina with WiFi and everything charged us 130 euros a week while Essouira that offers neither electricity nor water or toilets charged us 24 euros a night. Fruits and vegetables are cheap. A kg of oranges is 4 dirhams (40 euro cents) and the same for a glass of fresh orange juice on the street. You can have a dinner out for 30 Dh (3 euros) if you look around a bit. A petit taxi will charge you around 2 euros for a 7 km trip but in some places, like Agadir and Marrakech you have to watch out or the drivers will try to trick you. There were never any problems in Mohammedia. We also payed a visit to Marrakech and Casablanca by train from Mohammedia. We stayed at a hotel in Marrakech. It was probably a high class place in the 50's. Now, not so much. At least we didn't wake up from cockraoches running across our faces. It doesn't mean they didn't, they just didn't wake us up. We didn't spend more than 30 euros for a double room though.

After Agadir we crossed 200M to Isla Graciosa. A little sandy, calm and quiet island just off the north tip of Lanzarote. At first we were sent away by the guards in the marina because we hadn't made a reservation beforehand. Slightly pissed off we left and we called Jabadao, a boat that left Agadir a couple of hours before us, on the VHF to let him know that we weren't allowed in and were continuing to Lanzarote. He said that he had problems with his engine so we offered him a tow into Graciosa. Apparently, towing a boat is a good reason to be allowed in the marina and we could stay. The next day we saw the harbor master, who has nothing to do with the guards, and he sorted us out with the permit and everything. We've been here ever since, watching boats being turned away. Some just moor up and refuse to leave. That also appears to be a valid reason to stay. If you can only stay long enough to talk to the harbor master you're safe. We would recommend that you get a permission before going here to save you some trouble though. The island is nice and it's the cheapest marina in the Canaries, we pay 8.50 euros a night.

That's about it for now. Pictures from here and morocco will come later when we have a real internet connection and electricity. There is a hamburger bar here that offers free WiFi and electricity, but you have to unplug the freezer for that and we couldn't have the melted ice cream on our consciences.

/Hampus, Isla Graciosa, Canaries

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