Anchored in the backyard of 1000 fishermen; visiting El-Jadida

Returning to Tangier, the weather had not improved, and we spent some more days in the marina, waiting along with everybody else who also wanted to go south. And then finally a couple of days without wind showed up in the weather forecast. Most boats in the marina planned to go directly to the Canaries, but we wanted to make a stop in the fishing town El-Jadida on the way. After hurrying to check out before a huge cruise ship came over to check in, we left in pouring rain. We soon lost sight of the other boats leaving Tangier, and motored on alone. The next to days were wet and cold, with a lot of seasickness, as we entered the big Atlantic swell after almost a month in Tangier. And despite of seeing the biggest pod of dolphins on our trip so far, we were pretty happy that we were not going all the way to the Canaries at this time.

As we approached El-Jadida, the sun came out and we slowly followed the many little and colorful fishing boats into the harbor. El-Jadida is located around an old Portuguese fort, and the harbor used to be the first shelter of the Portuguese boats heading down the coast of Africa towards the Indian Ocean. As we entered the harbor basin, we saw numerous fishing boats filling up the inner harbor, and a couple of sailboats anchored in the outer part. Much of the area dries completely at low tide, so we were careful to stay in water deep enough, but soon we were anchored comfortably below the fort. To us, arriving in El-Jadida felt a bit like going back in time; this was the first place we had been where sailboats were so obviously not the norm and it was very nice to simply be treated like a bit of a strange guest, who was, for the most part, ignored.

In the harbor we were on first row to the lively fishing scene; boats zoomed in and out between each other, with some of the crew barely hanging on, and we were happy that we were not any closer to the harbor wall where the bigger of the fishing boats were moored. We never saw them hit anything or anybody – but we saw them get very close, and I am pretty sure I would have had a heart attack if we had been the sailboat closest to the action.

We were moored right below the massive walls of the Portuguese fortified city of El-Jadida, so we naturally had to go for a visit. The old fort is still inhabited, creating a village within the city. We had a stroll around the fort on the still intact walls, where canons still looked ready to shoot Chip-Chip down if we made a wrong move. In the middle of the fort, we visited the old cistern, which apparently had been forgotten about until a shop owner wanted to extend his shop and dug into the old cistern about 100 years ago. We honestly found the story hard to believe, as the room is huge and above ground, but I guess you never know. We found the place cool to see, but we were done pretty quickly. One more UNESCO world heritage site crossed of the list (they seem to be everywhere we go).

Since El-jadida had no showers and no access to potable water, and a favorable weather forecast showed up, we soon prepared to get moving towards the Canaries. We managed to get the officials to check us out in the evening, and early the next morning we hoisted the anchor and made our way out in the Atlantic swell, with the course set for La Graciosa, the most northerly of the Canary Islands.


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