Sailing in Morocco – Essaouira (24-26 September)

Essaouira is also a small fishing town. There were no special facilities for sailboats so we had moor in the fishing harbor like in El Jadida. This time, though, next to another sailboat who in turn was moored next to the local pilot boat. So the boats were moored there to another and you needed to give the local guys a present so they would keep an eye on your boat. The Norwegians next to us gave a pack of cigarettes to the local guys . We gave them a hand full of pencils, which they seemed to be really happy about…

 

When we arrived, Margus went to the harbor office to sort out the formalities. Soon it turned out that although we had done everything correctly in last port and we had our exit stamps, it was not registered in their computer system. For Essaouira officials it seemed that we are not giving the right info to them and this is our first port in Morocco although our passports say something else. In addition, they wanted to charge visa fee, because on their printer information sheet there was no info that Estonians can visit Morocco 90 days visa-free. Margus even had to call to the embassy to sort things out and the embassy convinced them to look at the renewed info from the web. After 2 or 3 hours of waiting and despite Margus texting us that he might be in prison soon, everything was sorted and we finally were allowed to the shore.

Like in El Jadida, there was a historic fortress in Essaouira. The Medina Essaouira, formerly known as Mogador (“little fortress”), is an outstanding example of a fortified city of the mid 18th century, surrounded by a wall. Most of the inside of the wall was filled with shops, cafeterias, and market but there were also people actually living there. There was considerably more tourist around than in El Jadida and this also meant higher prices on the market and restaurants or cafeterias. Still, there were cheaper alternatives if you dared to look around. We walked around inside the city walls and discovered the history and made some pictures. There was certainly much more to see than in El Jadida.

 

Later on, we took a taxi to the supermarket to fulfill our ships stocks. Taxi is really cheap – it was 7 dirhams (70 euro cents) no matter where you want to drive in the town. However, the taxi driver took 10, probably because he did not have enough change or he saw we are a tourist and saw an opportunity. Still, the price of a taxi is really cheap. But on the opposite, the prices in the supermarket were quite high. We bought mainly milk and meat products, water, canned food – the stuff you can’t find at a market or which we did not dare to buy from the market. On the way back with the taxi, we had an exact 7 dirhams so I gave this and taxi driver seemed satisfied. If you go to Essaouira, then bear in mind that blue taxies are the state taxies and the ride with those is a fixed cost of 7 dirhams. Any other taxi is so-called private taxi and they can charge whatever they want.

 

Before we called it a day, we also wanted to have some dinner ashore. In the morning when we started our city tour we walked by a food street next to the harbor and one guy offered us seafood selection for three persons for 180 dirhams drinks included. So we decided we go back to the same guy. However, there was another guy there now who tried to sell us 2 lobsters for 1300 dirhams 😀 – we looked up the guy we saw in the morning and explained that in the morning you promised us a good meal for 180. After negotiations we managed to get grilled shrimps, some mussels, calamari, few sardines and some white fish for 200 dirhams, drinks included, plus some salad. The portions were enough for three. Everything was really good and tasty although we must say that the El Jadida fish was much juicier and tastier and the sides were better.

As we said Essaouira is more touristy and you get as good service at the restaurant how much you are willing to pay. For example, at first, no drinks was provided so we had to explicitly ask for those. Some people around us were looking with their eyes big and jaws open – it seemed that they must have paid much more for their dishes. Also, we paid to another guy than we ordered, and he was also surprised that Jaanus only gave 200 dirhams to him so he went to check with the guy from whom we ordered. Anyway, we were happy to get 200 dirhams (18 euros ) dish for three – really fresh seafood. You really need to know how to haggle in Morocco.

We spent 1 day at berth and second day we moved our boat to anchorage area next to the beach. Since there were no facilities in the port anyway it didn’t matter where we stayed and at anchorage, we could at least go swimming – which we didn’t because when we did take a look at the water temperature, it showed only 14 degrees. This is some strange phenomena of this area because 100 miles to north or south the water is around 20 – 22 degrees. The locals said that it is normal this time of the year and starting from October water gets cold. No wonder that no one was swimming or surfing although we were next to a really nice beach.

Next day Margus took us ashore with a dinghy – we wanted to do some work with our blog, went hunting the fruits and vegetable from the market and did some more discovering of the city. But firstly, we needed to find a possibility to have a shower. The harbormaster said that some hotels allow using their showers facilities so we started to look at some of those. Apparently, all the hotels on the beach were really fancy and they did not allow this kind of random shower unless you book the room. However, we found a surf equipment rental at the beach and they had a hot shower there. They allowed using this for free of charge. We enjoyed the shower to the fullest considering that the last time we had a hot shower was in Portugal. We were super grateful.

Next, we went back inside the city walls to buy some foodstuff from the market. Despite higher prices than in El Jadida we still managed to buy local falafel wraps with reasonable price and the whole grilled chicken for the dinner. The chicken, fries, and salad altogether cost 100 dirhams (9 euros).

 

During our stay in Essaouira, we had difficulties to get to WiFi. WiFi connection is super important for us not only for boosting our social media account, but we actually need it to look at the weather and wind forecast. There was no WiFi at the port and the WiFi in most of the cafeterias was also not that good. During our search for good WiFi, we found a really nice rooftop bar. It turned out the WiFi there sucked as well, but at least the view was great and the traditional Morocco tea as well.

 

Next morning, we set the sails towards the Canaries. Our first stop is planned on the island of Lanzarote and the journey to there takes about Essaouira days and 2 nights. We had to maneuver through many fishing boats which were fishing close to the harbor.

 

There was also an enormous anchorage area for cargo ships which we passed late at night. It was a beautiful sight because when the cargo ships are in anchorage they often have all their lights on and we were sailing like in the middle of Christmas decorations lights at sea.

During our journey to Canaries we had a nice dinner at sea. Actually, we always have a nice dinner at sea, it is just few of which we have captured.

 

Also we observed many cargo ships and a beautiful sunset.

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