(A diary of John Huber's Atlantic crossing, relayed & edited by Kathleen Molinaro)
10/2 Checked into Ocean Village Marina. It is a beautiful new marina complex between the airport runway and and the Rock of Gibraltar.
10/3 Today we cleaned the boat and did boat work went to the marine store, had an excellent lunch, walked across the runway to Spain, did grocery shopping, got our passport stamped to show we were leaving European Union countries. Had a great dinner complete with live band we then walked into the old city. The old city is protected by wall that surrounds the old city.
10/4 Gibraltar was given to the British by Spain by a treaty in 1713. In 1776 Spain tried to take Gibraltar back but were unsuccessful. They started building tunnels to defend Gibraltar in the late 1700s and tunnels were expanded during WWII to total over 30 miles. There are also natural caves that were used as a hospital during WWII. We took a tour of the rock which was very interesting and had great views of the city and African coast.
10/5 Departed Gibraltar for Rabat at 8:30am. Thanks to our AIS we could see all of the commercial ship traffic in the Straits of Gibraltar, their direction, speed, and closest point of approach to our boat. The strait is only 7 miles across, at its narrowest point, between Gibraltar and Africa. We had almost a full moon until about 5:00 a.m. That, along with radar, we were able to dodge the many fishing boats with nets. Two other boats hit nets a few days before.
10/6 We had a following current and arrived at the entrance to Rabat around 7:30 a.m. We were early for our planned entrance at high tide between 10:00 a.m. and noon. You can only enter with the help of a pilot boat because of the ocean swells and shallow water. The pilot boat arrived around noon and said we would have to stand by until around 1:00 p.m. After sailing all night and waiting in the 6 foot ocean swells for 8 hours we were finally escorted in and up the river to the marina. After checking in and getting to our slip it was 5:30 p.m. and time to eat, watch a movie and go to bed.
10/7 There is all kind of new construction at the marina but not a lot to do. We are actually in the town of Sale just across the river from Rabat. Rick and I went to the walled city in Sale and exchanged euros into dirhams. 11 dirhams to 1 euro. We also found a cell phone store with a store clerk that is an American citizen from Washington DC. He was able to put a new SIM card in my cell phone so we could get internet service. We then took a tour of Rabat with a great Muslim guide named Moncef. We saw many of the old ruins and Mosques and learned a lot about the history of Morocco and the local area.
10/8 We took an all-day tour to Casablanca and saw the third largest Mosque in the world. We also went by Rick's bar from the movie "Casablanca" and saw one of the king's residences. We went to the area where our guide Moncef was born, the Kazbar, or walled fortified city. We then went to a Moroccan artisans market. We were invited to Moncef's house for a Moroccan dinner of couscous and lamb. He had slaughtered the lamb the day before as part of a religious ceremony. The meal was delicious and served with mint tea and goat milk. The goat milk tasted a little like butter milk.
10/9 We went to a local open street market along with other cruisers we met at the marina. The market is used mainly by local residents and covers many city blocks. It has almost anything you can imagine. We had dinner on the boat, watched movies, and almost got sick by eating more peanut brittle than I've ever eaten. We bought 2 kilos so we barely made a dent in our supply.
10/10 We retuned the rigging, fixed the refrigerator latch, and the shower sump switch to get ready for our crossing to the Canaries.