After a quick trip to the grocery store Tuesday morning to restock ice and meat, we readied Apogee for sea. Clearing customs out of Rabat was straightforward and took just under an hour. Our friends from the Bourgreg Marina escorted us out the river and we got a small glimpse of how dicey the breakwater can be with a couple of small breaking waves at the mouth.
We tossed them some dirhams and cigarettes and waved goodbye. Between the markets and mosques and forts, it felt like we had spent far more than two days in Morocco's capital, and it's a place I would definitely recommend visiting.
In a brief moment of light wind on Tuesday morning we put up the reacher. It didn't last long!
Getting offshore we avoided a few fishing boats and nets but had no major issues. The route to Essouira was almost dead downwind to the south so we we went out on starboard tack on a broad reach for about a day then headed back on a port reach just after our first dinner, a ginger orange stir-fry with a mystery meat labeled "Dinde."
The seas were large and we did quite a bit of rolling but Apogee handled the building wind well. We reefed in about 20 knots Tuesday afternoon, then put in a second reef and rolled in the jib a bit around dinner. We dropped the main and switched to stays'l only just before I got off watch at 6:00am Wednesday morning. By this time we think we were in about 30 knots but with no working wind instruments it's hard to be sure. Nate said he would be windsurfing on his smallest sail (a 4.2m) so we know it was windy!
We've had a lot of shipping traffic here on the north African coast so we're keeping strict 3-hour night watches and we're glued to the AIS.
Wednesday we sailed most of the day under stays'l alone, sometimes going up to 9 knots through the water. We also spotted three sea turtles! A little flatter would have been nice but at least we've been making good time. It was too rolley for cooking dinner so Wednesday night we had cheese, crackers and salami.
The water temperature dropped almost ten degrees overnight and Ben had a stressful watch in thick fog from 12 to three am. Our AIS was in and out so we used radar as a backup to make sure we could see anything coming our way. As the sun rose, we could just make out the Atlas mountains through the haze. A big pod of dolphins escorted us toward shore which was strangely comforting as we weaved through the morning fishing fleet.