Île de Gorée; visiting the slave island

Sailing in to the anchorage in Dakar, we passed close by the Île de Gorée, where two forts can be seen along with old and colorful colonial houses in different states of repair. This island is the place where the slaves used to be collected before they were shipped off towards the other side of the Atlantic. Now it’s a UNESCO world heritage site. Continue reading

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A little oasis in a city on speed

We had heard that the anchorage in Dakar was located where the city’s sewage washed into the sea, that it could be so smelly that you wake up from it at night, and that you must wash your hands if you accidentally get any of the water on your hands, not to contract som illness or infection. And yes, the water was pretty much the filthiest we had seen so far, so we were happy that the CVD provided a ferry shuttle that would sail around the anchorage every couple of hours and pick up the people who would like to go on land. Continue reading

Visits from home on the Canaries

When I crossed the Atlantic about 15 years ago, we started the trip from San Sebastian in La Gomera, so I knew that we had to visit this little gem of an island. As we approached the marina, I finally got the cruising guide out – only to read that it’s a bad idea to just show up here without a reservation… But since we were already there, we figured we would have the best chance of getting a berth if we went into the marina. And it turned out to be no problem, they had loads of space for boats smaller than 10 meters. Continue reading

Kid boats and Christmas in the Canaries

Arriving in Gran Tarajal on Furteventura was quite the contrast from touristy Lanzarote. In this sleepy town, the streets were covered in sand and the boats in the marina seemed to have been staying there for a very long time. We enjoyed the laid back atmosphere, and soon the kids realized that the boat across from us had a Belgian boy onboard. They couldn’t really understand each other, but Mattis got a truck out and soon the language differences didn’t matter. Continue reading

Lanzarote; the island of fire and lava

The sail down to the Canaries ended up taking four days. The whole trip was done using the genoa alone, and was a pretty rough affair, with large waves and quiet strong wind. But then we were in the Canaries! Since arriving in the Mediterranean in September, we had had the feeling that we were running from the weather, and now, in early December, we were finally in the Canaries where the sun was shining and we didn’t have to bring an umbrella everywhere we went. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Our Moroccan road trip, part 3: Across the High Atlas mountain range

Driving away from Merzouga, Mattis insisted we stop in one of the fossil “Museums” along the road. By coincidence we were really lucky, and walked into a shop, in which the owner took part in scientific expeditions to excavate the fossils, and who showed us articles featuring him in National Geographic. Mattis loved the place, and spent probably an hour looking around. Meanwhile, Mohammad, the owner of the shop, told us stories about the Moroccan fossils, and taught us how to test if the very fancy ones are real (see if they melt when they are burned…). In the end Mattis could only afford one type of fossil, so it was very easy for him to choose, but he was very happy. Continue reading

Our Moroccan road trip, part 2: Into the desert

The first two nights of our trip had been spent in hotels, but for the third night we had found room through airbnb in the house of a young Berber couple living in the Ziz Gorge. The drive from Meknés to our hosts took us from green and fertile meadows, across the barren Middle Atlas mountain range, where snow could be seen in some areas, and finally into the desert. What a day. We made a few stops along the way, and even saw the same species of barbary macaque monkeys which we had met in Gibraltar, but we mostly spent the day driving. Continue reading

Our Moroccan road trip, part 1: Sleeping in medinas

An hour after leaving Gibraltar, an alarm went off. This time we knew where it came from – the engine was overheating again. After a bit of discussing back and forth, we ended up continuing very slowly towards Tangier. This would keep the temperature of the engine down, and we would be arriving early the next morning. We could have gone back to Gibraltar, but we knew that bad weather was approaching again, and we preferred to spend that time experiencing Morocco rather than being locked in Gibraltar again. Continue reading