A two day cruise to the North coast of Morocco to enjoy that extraordinary Country’s cuisine and culture. Crossing the Strait of Gibraltar from North to South and then cruise along the Moroccan coast from East to West.
Today we’re going to explore the North coast of Africa and visit the most important city in northern Morocco. The gateway between Europe and Africa, Tangier is the second largest economic hub in the Kingdom after Casablanca. It is also a modern and vibrant metropolis undergoing change at breakneck speed.
We set off early as some thirty Nautical miles lie ahead, so it should take about 5 hours in a typical mono hull, average sized cruising yacht or of course potentially much quicker in a motorboat. It’s advisable to make the crossing with light winds from either the East or West, although it is always better with Easterly winds that will help us cross the Strait against the prevailing current. Ideally, we should head to Tangier with Easterly winds and return with Westerlies. From Alcaidesa Marina we’ll head first towards Punta Carnero, at the western tip of the Bay of Algeciras and then take a direct course to Tangier. However, the ideal route is southwards towards Africa, as the direct route will take us through the traffic separation zone for many miles, which is something if possible we should avoid but if you do cross the traffic separation zone then this should be done perpendicular to the traffic until one exists the separation zone. In short, we should try to cross as perpendicularly as possible to this scheme. During the crossing, we’ll get to admire the biodiversity of the Strait of Gibraltar.
Once off the Moroccan coast, we should raise the courtesy flag of the country. It’s a good idea not to sail too close to the coast, remaining at a distance of at least three nautical miles, as there tend to be hard-to-spot fishing boats around. Five nautical miles before arriving in Tangier, we’ll see how it’s welcoming bay opens out before us. Precaution is needed here as there is a shipwreck that naturally we need to avoid, however the wreck is well indicated on the charts and on warning signs.
There is a whole host of things to do in Tangier, such as exploring its ultra-modern marina, unwinding on the beach, strolling around the historic quarter and exploring the must see Kasbah, a walled fortress atop a hill that leads to the maze like medina; a true shopper’s paradise. Another must do is a lunch of fresh fish at a restaurant, at prices which are much cheaper than in Europe.
For longer stays in Tangier, other stunning attractions include Cap Spartel, the Caves of Hercules and the breathtaking Medina of Asilah, which lies some thirty kilometres south from the city on the Atlantic coastline. Meanwhile a camel ride can be a fun option to enjoy.
Weather and time permitting another possibility is a circular route through the Strait of Gibraltar, which if well planned will be blessed by prevailing winds, setting sail from Alcaidesa Marina over to Ceuta, where we can spend a night and enjoy the city and then head to Tangier aided by the Easterly wind. Once in Tangier, we can explore its medina and relax on its beaches until the Westerly wind comes up when we can cross the Strait again and drop anchor off Bolonia beach near Tarifa. That said, the anchorage here is only suitable in really good weather, so plan your trip well. From here, we can sail with the wind behind us back to our home port.
This time we’ll be crossing the Strait from East to West and back, as well as from North to South so the most important thing to bear in mind is that there’ll always be an incoming current into the Mediterranean that is offset by outgoing tidal currents. When planning the trip it’s paramount to take this incoming current into account. We should also bear in mind that Westerly winds pick up speed when passing through the Strait, so we recommend undertaking the outbound cruise with Easterly winds, which in turn pick up in the Western part.
We should carefully select the weather conditions for sailing as we’ll be cruising through the Strait of Gibraltar, one of the most complicated areas to navigate in the whole world because of its weather and maritime traffic. Pay very close attention to the ferries and cargo ships entering and leaving the Bay of Algeciras and on the approach to Tarifa watch out for the ferries entering the port, especially in summer as the traffic increases considerably. It’s important to cross the maritime traffic separation scheme as perpendicularly as possible to the traffic, always avoiding the cargo ships that have restricted manoeuvrability in this area. Also be careful when passing by the port of Tangier-Med, as there’s a lot of cargo traffic and ferries in the area. It’s best to keep a distance of about three nautical miles from the Moroccan coast to avoid smaller fishing boats. During the tuna fishing season in early July, watch out for the huge number of boats looking to catch this fish.
Type of navigation: Coastal
Distance in Miles: 30 Nautical Miles
Duration: 2 day/s
Degree of difficulty: Medium
Terminates in base port: Yes
GPS: 35º 47′ 32” N 5º 47′ 44”W
Coast: Bay of Algeciras, Strait of Gibraltar and Northern Morocco