Route to this magnificent port from Alcaidesa Marina to Morocco and its main entrance marina in the country, with visit to Tetuan
This time we will experience the Moroccan adventure. This route we can do in one day, although it is advisable to do it in two to enjoy the attractions of this country more calmly. We can leave from Alcaidesa Marina on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. We expect a 26-mile crossing to the port of Marina Smir and we recommend arriving when it is light due to its shallow depth at the mouth.
As always, the Strait can surprise us with its life; tuna, migratory birds, a whale, and the ever-friendly dolphins. We must be especially vigilant when passing the traffic separation scheme.
Once in Marina Smir, the first thing we have to do is enter the country and in the control tower at Marina, they will facilitate the procedures for us. Marina Smir is a marina complex and residential holiday area. There isn’t much to see from the restaurants with a strong Western touch; what we want is to immerse ourselves in Morocco.
We have two interesting excursions, the first and closest is to the fishing village of Rincón. It has one of the most important fishing ports in this area, especially for sardines which they cook at lunchtime at some of the bars in the same port and this is something we can not miss (cheap and delicious). It is also the place for the summer holidays of the royal family, there is a port exclusively for them to use which will not let us dock. It is interesting to take a walk around town and along the promenade at sunset.
The other excursion that you can not miss is to Tétouan. It is a beautiful Andalusian city, also called the White Dove. It is the ancient capital of Northern Morocco, currently with a strong regional influence and with the strong presence of Spanish culture, where its schools (El Pilar, Jacinto Benavente and Ricardo de la Cierva), as well as the Cervantes Institute, stand out. The city has many relationships with nearby Andalusia, with a branch office in the city, contributing to the protection of its rich heritage. We should visit the Ancient Medina, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, as well as the Ensanche Español (Spanish New Town), which is considered the best colonial neighbourhood in Morocco.
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
If you plan to visit the Medina of Tetouan, it’s best to contract a tour guide to avoid getting lost in its narrow winding streets. You can do so at the marina itself for an almost ridiculous price. Also, don’t forget to carry your passport on you and it’s advisable to exchange some money into the local currency (dirham). And make sure you surrender yourself to the pleasures of this amazing country’s cuisine. Always remember to offi cially leave the country before returning to your home port.
Careful when entering Marina Smir as there is little draft; if you’re on a deep-drafted boat, you’ll have to arrive and depart near the breakwater.
Type of navigation: Coastal
Distance in Miles: 26 Nautical Miles
Duration: 2 day/s
Degree of difficulty: Medium
Terminates in base port: Yes
GPS: 35°45’01.7″N 5°20’16.5″W
Coast: Bay of Algeciras, Strait of Gibraltar and the East Coast of Morocco