La Graciosa

First impressions of this island were perhaps colored by the journey to get there. We arrived at the end of a two day sail from Morocco during which two of us had stood watch and watch about including manual helming. The last few hours had been spent navigating around the partly unlit and unseen  islands in perfect darkness and when we switched the engine on it smelt of burning circuits. The final two miles were through a strait with 35 knot winds and when we made fast in the marina, I thought I was back in the Falkland Islands – barren, wind swept and treeless.

Later the wind dropped and we enjoyed a stroll through the sandy streets of Caleto del Sebo and visits to the cafes and bars along the sandy water front. It was here that I realized the serenity that this backwater island radiates. Here the rest of the world is far far away.

view from the summit of Montana Bermeja

view from the summit of Montana Bermeja

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Marrakesch

There is only so much to do in Agadir so, after a few days of waiting for good weather, I decided to see a little more of Morocco and took the express bus to Marrakesch for a little over ten Euros. Most of the journey was through a barren landscape of sand, stone and scrub but occasionally we passed a colorless village with the square minaret of its mosque. A highlight was seeing the snow capped Atlas Mountains in the far distance and in the foreground a farmer ploughing with two donkeys.

Information_SignGoing to Marrakesch I caught a bus from CMI and on the way back Supratours. Both offered a luxury version but I took the standard bus for about ten Euros.

We reached Marrakesch bus station just before sunset and I hiked through the city to the Medina where I found a room on the roof of a house in a side alley. The Medina is a warren of small streets and deep, partly roofed alleys that block the sun. As you move around you compete with bikes, motorcycles, donkey carts and a press of people moving at random. It all takes patience and time. Tiny shops line the alleys and spill out in to the street. Everything from bike repair to butchers and carpenters to tourist traps is mixed together with no obvious system.

a tannery in Marrakesh

a tannery in Marrakesh

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Agadir

We were on our way south from Spain to the Canary Islands and had experienced an “exciting” crossing of the Straits of Gibraltar with more than enough wind, large waves on the beam and a few huge container ships, so were glad to finally reach Agadir. The approaches to the harbour were guarded by erratic fishing boats and strings of unmarked fishing nets which we negotiated shortly after dawn. The buoyage was interesting. We were flummoxed by a buoy with the top painted green and the bottom red. The marina ignored our radio calls but some one was waiting on a pontoon and waved us to a berth.

buoy seen at the entrance to Agadir

strange colored Buoy, Agadir

Despite it being Saturday, customs, police and immigration were relatively quickly dealt with even though they had to copy all the information by hand. The marina had working water and electricity on the pontoons but was let down by a very “north african” toilet block. (We paid €18 a night for our 36 feet.) Around the marina are a selection of bars, restaurants and shops and, particularly at the weekend, it was very lively. The restaurant Pure Passion is well worth a visit with the best irish coffee I have ever drunk and tasty, well presented food. The Wifi from the restaurants nearly reached the boat. Continue reading