A Quick Hop to Africa

Africa, Ceuta, Gibraltar, Sailing, Spain

Songbird in Ceuta.

Being so close to that other continent, we of course had to visit Africa. Spain conveniently has an outpost there, a city enclave named Ceuta. The Moroccans are as unhappy about this as the Spanish are about Gibraltar. For us it simply meant we could step on the African continent without leaving the EU, saving us a bunch of paperwork and customs hassle.

The whole passage was only 18 miles, including getting out of the Bay of Gibraltar and across the strait, through the busy shipping lanes while being chased by hydrofoil ferries at 30 knots that get very, very close.

Most of Ceuta.

A helicopter came flying out as we approached, had a look at us and returned. The harbour had plenty of space, in fact it seemed we were the only visitor there, although over the next two days a few more arrived.

Celebrating the new continent with our last Vinho Verde.

This was the first time we had to med-moor, stern-to with laid lines. These are also known as "slimelines", due to resting on the seafloor when not in use and thus being covered in disgusting stuff when you fish them up with a thin retrieval line that is tied to the quay. The slimy brown "mud" inevitably gets sprinkled all over the side decks and topsides every time you moor like this. Often your clothing too, as with a bit of side wind, you want to be quick to attach these lines.

She might look innocent now, but at night it was cats gone wild on the back of the boat.

While this was the first time we moored stern-to, it was also the last. Stern-to it's easy to step on and off the boat via the transom platform, but it wasn't nice having the cockpit, the companionway and our view towards to a series of fast food restaurants that fried smelly food all night. Plus there were strange sounds in the dark, which we identified the next morning when we saw the dirty cat footprints on the transom platform. At least they had fun. We decided to moor bows-to henceforth.

Looks deceive: This is actually not a statue of a wizard who makes children disappear.

The town of Ceuta was nice, if a bit bland. It certainly didn't feel like being in North Africa, but then they built a six metre tall fence to keep that out. There was good shopping though, with a Lidl nearby, which we used to stock up on food and try some Horchata de Chufa (tigernut tuber milk). It was really disgusting. The town even had a Decathlon store, so Elvyra bought some cheap sneakers while I rode around the aisles on a scooter.

View of the harbour entrance from the bridge across the waterway.

There's a waterway right through the town, under a few bridges, to the other side of the land tongue on which Ceuta is built. We assembled Chirp (our tender) for a short trip to the other side and back - much to our surprise the channel was also used as a shortcut by biggish fishing boats, which caused a bit of a squeeze. That was pretty much all there was to do in "Africa Lite" and the marina wasn't the cheapest either, so we left after 3 nights.