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14th November, 2012



A long rolling swell from some distant deep low pressure system way out in the North Atlantic, made the night an interesting one at times as we made our way up the Moroccan coast. The swell only increased as we made our approach into the harbour, bringing it onto the beam as we turned to the south east to cover the last half a mile. With stabilisers still extended and speed maintained we passed the breakwater into sheltered waters, the pilot boat racing to catch up as we slowed down. The ship had rolled through about 10 or 15 degrees, which was nothing compared to some of the cargo ships we witnessed later, but still it would have been somewhat alarming to our average passenger if I hadn’t warned them first and suggested that they should all remain seated or lying down if still enjoying the last of the night's rest.

The morning remained windy and cool, but fortunately we were upwind of the various bulk carriers that were unloading there powdery cargoes just across the dock. The berth was not exactly geared up for passengers, nearby it was cluttered with trucks taking away bulk sugar and leaving their sticky tracks behind. Right next to the bow there was a huge muddy ‘lake’ left over from the previous night’s rain and the smell of fish meal hit the nostrils as the gangway was crossed - not very romantic, but colourful all the same. I was amused when John our cruise director said, with a wry smile, ‘I can see why Ingrid Bergman loved this place’.

I stayed on the quayside for a short while to wave off the tours to the city, the Hassan II Mosque (very impressive) and Rabat. Their guides, some dressed in Arab garb, were all raring to go, and then we were left with just the shuttle bus. That left every half an hour to drive into the melee which is the confusion of traffic within the city. I would perhaps be over generous if I were to say it was one of my favourite journeys. Educational all the same.

We stayed until eight, the engineers completing some more routine maintenance on the main engines. The departing pilot was somewhat amused when I asked him to leave the ship as soon as we had come off the quayside. I explained that I wanted to extend the stabilisers and to put on speed before we passed the end of the breakwater almost a mile away. He wanted to be reassured that we would not cause too much wash and then damage the King’s royal yacht moored nearby. I smiled and said the ship was just a little heavy to expect that amount of acceleration. He waved warmly after he had jumped down to his boat; we built up the RPM and within ten minutes were making 12 knots, the breakwater passed, not quite in a flash, but quick enough to make the stabilisers do their stuff, and the royal yacht? Well, I haven’t received any furious emails as yet.

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