Lanzarote to Greece, more than a yacht transfer – Part I

Do you wonder how many nautical miles that is?

Try something over 2.535nm

Once the decision was made that we will offer “my way” for charters in Greece for the 2019 summer season, we had to make the wheels spinning. This means that some charter licenses where required, the German to be updated and the Greek to be issued.

In simple words this means we had to equip the boat and arrange for a meeting with the German surveyor in Palma de Mallorca to inspect the boat and provide us with the precious Bootszeugnis (German International charter license) based on which, along with the survey of the Greek surveyor in Greece and a bunch of paperwork and more proof of safety equipment i.e. liferafts, life jackets, flares, radio, EPIRB, etc the Greek Ministry would provide us with the Greek charter license and therefore the allowance to sail you in the amazing Greek waters.

Sounds like a hell of a job, right? I assure you, it is. Yet it is absolutely worth it and we are happy EU states are so strict with safety issues cause the sea should never be underestimated and if things go wrong, a boat should be equipped to the best standards to eliminate severe accidents or even worse human loses.

So, waiting for a “Calima” (Canaries local SSE winds) that never came we took our next best window to sail up to Gibraltar with weather stations reporting a beautiful NNW for the following 3-4 days.

We left Arrecife/Lanzarote with a sweet taste and eager for some serious sailing and getting back to the Med. The plan was to sail non-stop to Tanger, get some rest and then plan the next leg according to conditions. Well, that was the plan but didn’t happen. On the highs of Casablanca weather picked up seriously, “my way” halyards and rigging had to be inspected since she was sailing non-stop for almost three days already with an extensive amount of time under reefed sails and the radar reflector on the upper cross decided to unhook itself (one holder broke) so we would either lose it in the sea or get it on our heads.

Desperate for some sleep as we both had none so far, we entered Casablanca port which is a rather disputable manner, forbade us to stay and instead redirected us to continue sailing up to Mohammedia which is about 35nm North. We decided to push ourselves this bit more and set sails again. Once in Mohammedia we found out in the weirdest way possible that the once called marina was closed and spent one hour under engine inside the port talking with three different people who all claimed to be the harbormasters but somehow one was telling us to leave at once, the other that is working on a solution and the third that is fine to stay!

After one hour we decided that this parody had to end so we called CH16 for advice and support from which we never heard back… Things were so weird and we were so tired that decided to push our luck further and just leave. Once we were moving to the exit of the port, a person with military uniform called us to approach and Moore alongside on a pilot boat!

We wouldn’t believe our luck and I have to admit we both were rather unsure whether it was a good idea to approach or not. Hope wins always, so we did. Turned out, his boss was listening on CH16 but decided not to answer officially and gave him the order to provide us shelter for the night. This extremely polite officer apologized for the situation, explained to us that we were in what currently appears to be a military port and that things had changed since our last visit. He updated us on the procedure that should follow and told us that we are safe and we can sleep. An hour later or so, a guy from the immigration office appears and tells us we have to go. To top this up another two people show up and here we go again. However, we were not going to play their game anymore so we had the German embassy’s number in Rabat on the fast dial and we told them that we would not move before we would sleep sufficiently and prepare the boat to sail us safe calling for our International right to safety for ourselves and other boats. Eventually, the “show” finished, they left and we had a blessed sleep. The next morning one of them appeared again and told us that we need to pay 26 euros for the night. We agreed to do so only if an official receipt would be provided since he and his friends the previous day didn’t seem to agree on their stories and therefore we had no reason to believe any of them.

So this guy, spent the following three hours driving me around the military premises, to the city to change currency (since we only had euro with us), to three offices to create, fix and accept the payment and eventually back to the boat to wait for our passports to be released.

Needless to say that Tanger was no more a target since we had enough bureaucracy already but mainly because once we reached the Gibraltar straits the wind was just perfect to sail directly to Gibraltar where we stayed for about four days waiting for storms to calm.

Gibraltar was a bless! We had lots of fun with the monkeys up in the mountains, we did some great shopping to the local chandleries and of course stocked our whiskey bar with some special whiskeys and rums!

We sailed next to Almerimar planning initially to stay for a couple of days but we had to stay for almost two weeks as the weather wouldn’t settle.

Once the weather changed in our favor, we sailed the next leg to Palma de Mallorca from where a whole new chapter started!

Part II is following 😉

The “my way” crew

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