Discover this border town, collage of civilizations and door of Europe in Africa departing from Alcaidesa Marina
Set sail at first thing in the morning from the Control Tower of Alcaidesa Marina to enjoy the passage, during which it’s very typical to spot dolphins and schools of tuna, especially at Europa Point in spring and autumn, with sightings of sperm whales and orcas also being commonplace.
This is a very pleasant cruise with prevailing beam winds from the west or the east. If you’re on a sailboat, in about three hours you’ll reach Marina Hércules and moor right in the heart of the city. A must-see once there is the Royal Moat, built by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century.
Although it’s the most striking tourist attraction in Ceuta, it’s not the only one, so head down to the tourist office in the city walls and pick up some information on places to visit. Make sure you have a look around Plaza de Abastos (Market Square), which offers a huge variety of fish, seafood and spices. Ceuta’s cuisine – very affordable, by the way – is another of its attractions, so head downtown for some great tapas bars or try some spicy brochettes or fish dishes on Calle Obispo Barragán. Good fi sh or shellfish can be found all around town, in fact, as can Moroccan cuisine at many restaurants.
If you have a dinghy, sail down from the marina to the southern part of Ceuta through San Felipe Moat and enjoy some beach time once there. If you prefer the pool to the beach, take a trip to the Parque del Mediterraneo, designed by the renowned artist Cesar Manrique.
After a day sightseeing, head back to the marina a few hours before sunset, but obviously you can stay as long as necessary if this one-day trip hasn’t been enough.
This trip involves crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, one of the world’s busiest maritime channels and where there are often strong currents and winds. Careful with the choice of day for sailing and check the weather forecast, bearing in mind that there is often a strong current, of around 3 knots, that sweeps into the Mediterranean from the Atlantic with eddies forming near the coast. What’s more, once you’ve checked the weather forecast, remember that westerly winds tend to funnel and pick up speed after Tarifa from anything between 5 and 10 knots.
While the crossing by motorboat can be made directly, special attention should be paid to the wind and the current when on a sailboat, with two typical situations affecting how you complete the crossing:
- Levante (easterly) wind: This is the most conducive wind for crossing and is usually light to moderate, meaning you can cruise on a straight course to Ceuta from Europa Point, as the leeway will offset the drift coming from the currents in the Strait. Likewise for the return crossing.
- Poniente (westerly) wind: Take into account the sum of the current and the leeway, as well as the acceleration of the latter, so it’s advisable to leave the Bay of Algeciras right next to Punta Carnero and head southbound towards Mount Jbel Musa, letting the wind and current propel you towards Ceuta. In this case, the return should be on a westerly course up to the town of Benzú, sticking right to the coast, and then setting out northwards to Punta Carnero, letting the leeway and current steer you back into the bay
Type of navigation: Coastal
Distance in Miles: 17 Nautical Miles
Duration: 1 day/s
Degree of difficulty: Medium
Terminates in base port: Yes
Coast: Bay of Algeciras, Strait of Gibraltar and North Africa