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Marina Smir: Updates from Cruisers

By Sue Richards last modified Oct 04, 2017 08:42 PM

Published: 2017-08-30 00:10:00
Countries: Morocco

August 2017 - Report from Bob Sadler

Wednesday 30th August ’17 - made our way some 10Nm south from Ceuta to Marina Smir in Morocco.

Given the recent terror attacks in Barcelona this landfall was viewed with a certain degree of anxiety.  In the event these concerns proved unfounded and checking in to the marina, getting Moroccan entry/exit stamps and customs clearance in/out could not have been simpler.

Marina, Police and Customs personnel all spoke some English (and French and Spanish) and all were pleasant and helpful. After entry formalities were completed our passports were returned to us. You are required to clear out with Police and Customs, but at night the Police handle both and are on duty day and night (or so we were informed). We cleared out at 0800 without problem.

The marina at Smir is “all weather” and adequately maintained with both “along-side” and “Mediterranean moor” berths. Toilets and showers are somewhat decrepit, but clean and no worse than we’ve experienced in some Spanish marinas (though you may want to take your own toilet paper).  The adjacent development includes a hotel, beach club and restaurants. There is a convenience store in the marina and one outside the hotel but their stock is limited (there is a large supermarket about 15 minutes by car towards Tétouan). Our taxi driver/tour guide advised us not to eat at the marina-side restaurants as they are “dirty” – given that none of them, including the hotel, serve alcohol this wasn’t a huge sacrifice – but to eat on our boat. Security guards are on patrol 24/7 however a sensible regard to personal safety is, as always, advisable.

Acceptable dress for females seems to cover the entire range from crop tops and short shorts to the niqãb and everything in between (though erring on the conservative side is probably a good idea).

When entering the harbor keep hard to the starboard side of the channel - there are small port-hand buoys in the channel – as the port side of the entry is silted (the shallowest we saw was 2.7m but  this was hard against the port-side buoys).

Bob Sadler

January 2017 - Posted as a comment by Vagrantuk

Sitting in Smir on the fuel dock waiting for the customs who won't clear you until 10.00 local time. So much for an early start. Smir is expensive to moor. They have put up their prices for 2017. The alongside mooring was very noisy with loud music at night. The café's are three times more expensive than in the city. Wifi is only available in the office, unless you have an expensive cup of coffee in a café and get a code for their wifi. Marina staff are friendly and helpful. The complex and surroundings are ultra tat. It is after all a holiday complex. I certainly wouldn't go again. M'diq looked more interesting.
Oh, and they had no diesel. If you do decide to go, Tetouan is worth a visit. We flagged down a blue and white car which is a public taxi. You cram in with the locals and pay 10 dirham to the city. At 12.5 to the pound thats cheap travel.
The entry to the port has plenty of water if you keep the red buoys to port as per norm.

October 2016 - From Steve Brown, SY Orontes II

We recently went to Smir, Morocco and had a very good visit.  Since we heard a lot of people saying negative things about Smir, I have the feeling there is some disinformation out there.

We had been staying in Gibraltar for a few months and wanted to sail over and visit Smir, Morocco.  Some of our friends in Gibraltar advised against it telling us that it was unsafe.  As one of our friends said, “A lot of Muslims don’t like westerners in general, and Americans in particular.  If you go, at least promise me you won’t fly the stars and stripes.”

I am glad to say that these fears are overblown.  We stayed in Marina Smir for four nights and thoroughly enjoyed it.  At no time did we experience anything but friendliness and helpfulness from the marina staff and those we met.

We visited in mid October, and this is the rainy season.  The marina is not crowded at all, but there were a few boats with owners aboard.  When we arrived we saw the tall ship Alva, a 44 meter three-masted schooner teaching ship, tied up on the dock along with 20 or so teenage students.  This was our first indication that safety would not be an issue.  Teaching vessels do not seek out areas where their students are at risk.

We tied up to the fuel dock to clear in.  The harbormaster, Tarik, speaks very good English and did all he could to ensure we were happy. Checking into the marina was quick and easy.

For formalities, all officials are present in the marina and the process was quick, professional, and courteous.  The two young police officers came on board and just looked at the boat in general.  They did not open any lockers, but did a thirty second inspection.  Since we had no obvious firearms lying on the salon table, they were satisfied.

The customs officer was not present, and we were asked to return to the office at 10:00 the next morning.  We did so and the customs procedure was also quick and friendly.  He did not visit the boat, but we spoke for about 20 minutes about Morocco and the close relationship between his country and the US.  He was genuinely interested in the United States and proud of his heritage and culture.  He was very helpful and gave us a lot of information about Morocco in general and the surrounding area in particular.

There were no fees for check-in, and not a hint of anyone asking for a bribe or unofficial fees.

We were directed to a spot on the east wall that did not have lazy lines for the bow.  I asked if I should drop anchor and they told me to just come alongside.  Since tides were only about a foot, this was fine with us.  We laid alongside happily the entire time we were there.  Two other boats arrived while we were there, a powerboat and a sailboat.  Both tied up alongside near us.  Other berths did have lazy lines, but during off season the marina is fine with having vessels tie up alongside.

Facilities at the marina were average to good.  Water and electricity are metered from a locking box at your berth.  I did not use the showers ashore, but there were two in the men’s room.  There were two clean toilets with toilet seats and toilet paper.  The inside door handle on one of the rooms was broken off, which kept me from opening the door from the inside.  I had to climb out the window, which thankfully was only a four foot drop to the ground.  There was no soap nor a means to dry your hands.  The women’s bathroom also had two heads and showers with similar accessories.

Because of the proximity to Ceuta, Spanish is widely spoken; English much less so.  The local currency is the dirham, which is equal to 0.10 US dollars.  Local merchants and cab drivers equate this to 0.10 euros, which not only is simple for them, but to their advantage.  I withdrew 1000 dirhams from an ATM for trips to the market and used a credit card for two restaurants and the marina charges.

The marina is lined with restaurants, which by Moroccan standards are very expensive.  By European standards they were about the same or a little cheaper than Gibraltar.  The town of M’ Diq is a 5 euro taxi ride or 4 dirhams bus ride away.  The town has much more affordable restaurants and a varied outdoor market.  We bought some produce and a few gifts for our grandkids.  The seafood was plentiful and (for us) cheap.

Marina charges for a 15 by 4.5 meter boat were 234 dirhams per night plus 20% tax.  Electricity was 60 dirhams per night.  Although the electricity was supposed to be metered, I did not press the issue.

In summary, we had a very pleasant stay in Marina Smir.  The staff were friendly and efficient and I would recommend this marina for anyone wishing to visit Morocco.

Steve Brown
Orontes II (USA)

 

April 2014 - From Peter (www.786Global.com)

Port Marina Smir:
Time of visit: November 2013 – March 2014
* Great Location just 10nm South of the Strait of Gibraltar and the (Tax & Duty free!) Spanish town of Ceuta.
* Narrow, well protected entrance from the South, however this tends to silt during the winter, leaving a rather narrow navigatable canal (marked with buoys). Expect a hard turn to StB immediately upon entering, when approaching from the East.
* The harbor is deep pretty much everywhere. We had no problems with our 3m of draft.
* Reception Pier immediately on Pt right in front of the conspicuous Marina-Office Tower and “around the corner” from the fuel station.
* Staff is friendly and helpful, all fluent in English and Spanish.
* Immigration is kind, fast, efficient – we did neither encounter ourselves – nor have we heard from other visiting yachts any kind of stories that there would have been any hassle or undue delays. No “strange fees” have been charged – actually: No fees at all! Keep in mind that the maximum stay for foreign yachts is 6 months – for foreigners max 3 month within any 12 month period! Stay can be extended but involves a lot of hassle, paperwork etc. – (hearsay)
* Don’t be too surprised not to receive an answer when calling ahead on Ch9 VHF. Just enter, tie up to the reception pier and walk with all boat papers (they don’t care about proof of insurance) and Passports of all aboard into the office.
* The Marina has been designed and is owned by Marina Marbella – and it shows; It is built surrounded by an “artificial Morrocan village” with plenty of Restaurants (great authentic local cousine – since the patrons mostly are locals), Bars (No Alcohol!), Caffees, little shops with the rest being apartments to the local well-to-do’s.
* The marina is a little run down and does show signs of neglect – but this quite honestly adds to the charm of it. …and its some 500 berths are (at least during the winter) almost completely empty! (Except for more Jet-Skis ashore than I have ever seen anywhere).
* Facilities are marginal (at best!) so you should be prepared to use yours on board. Don’t even think of using those (few) of the Marina. (Only inside the Marina Office Building and in the boat-yard anyway).
* WiFi from the marina and the yard, but speed and reliability is very limited. All of the Café’s offer at least short range WiFi but for a longer stay it pays to purchase USB prepaid service from Moroc Telekom at € 8.00/month unlimited data-volume!
* Limited provisioning in local Supermarkets (non on site) a 5.00 € Taxi-ride away in the town of M’dique.
* The boatyard run by “Mohammad” features a 150 t (!) Travel-Lift and a bay that is wide and deep enough for really big vessels. Lift out includes basic hull cleaning, steps, work platform, Water and Electricity. Rates are the best I know of in all of the Mediterranean
(We paid for a 20m / 25t yacht € 150.00 per crane operation and € 13.00/day W&E included --- in the water/Marina that came to € 19.00/day)
* Absolutely no Wood-Work available and you should bring all your paints and other material if you don’t want to settle for Moroccan quality. (Even so their Antifouling, € 8.00 (!!) /2Liters is excellent! (Hard AF)
* Plenty of unskilled labor available at very cheap rates – But be prepared to supervise every step and movement they make. A tad slow, but willing and if instructed properly you can expect good results.
* The expertise of the yard and a Swedish guy by the name of “Lasse” who is operating a full machine-shop from within two containers located at the yard, is anything that concerns steel.  (We had a complete new rudder-assembly made and installed for some € 800.00!) I’d go as far as calling Port Marina Smir and their yard the “Mecca of Steel Boat Owners”. A little guy by the name of Rachid is a “welding-genius”! (Thanks Rachid for all your great work!)
* Don’t expect “Western European Standards” also when it comes to electric wiring! The way things are I’d call it the “adventurous approach”.
* No laundry nor coin machines on site – but ask any local and they’ll be happy to take care of your needs. (Everybody has a mother or wife at home happy to make a little extra).
* Most people speak Spanish, but also English is widely spoken.
* Euros are accepted everywhere (gladly!) but the exchange-rate you’ll be given is rather lousy. It sure pays to figure how much you’ll be needing, take a Taxi to M’dique, get yourself “Morrocan Dirhams” and do your provisioning while in town. The Taxi will be happy to wait.
* When in the water (versus on the dry) it sure pays to pick a good day, sail the 10nm to Ceuta and do your groceries there.
* No bothering by loud “Muezin’s” calling for prayer 5 x a day – but the Islam clearly is being observed and it is a good idea to pay the locals at least that much respect not to approach and bother them while praying! Also it should not need mentioning that i.e. the display of
too much nudity is considered offensive.
* Diesel –prices (March 2014) were some € 0.70/Liter – so it sure pays to arrive with empty tanks and fill her up there. Diesel-Quality: Absolut Top!

All in all: A great place to winter, with excellent climate between October and April, and extremely polite, nice and forthcoming people who never hesitate to help and give in any way they can.

Major Plus’s: Friendly, Excellent Prices, Close to Europe & Gibraltar, Great Boatyard especially for steel, Cheapest Diesel near and far, Good place for wintering.

Major Minus’s: Catastrophic Facilities, Traveling to/from Marina Smir can be a bit bothersome:

Getting there: Fly into Malaga – Take Bus to Main Bus Terminal (€ 3.00) – Take Bus to Algeciras (€ 18.00) – Walk to Ferry Terminal – Take Ferry to Ceuta (€ 38.00) – Take Taxi to Moroccan border (€ 10.00) – Walk (approx. 1km) across the border – Take a Taxi to Marina Smir (€ 10.00)

Serious Advice:
(1) Even so Haschisch (Marihuana) is being offered widely and quite openly (even right ON the border, under the eyes of the police!) DO NOT go for it! It is still highly illegal and Moroccan jails do have a bad reputation. What is being tolerated with the locals is a 100% “No Go” with foreigners.
(2) Weapons carried on board MUST be declared upon entering. Then no problem – but if you withhold that information from the officials they can get nasty and major problems for you will ensue.

Please always check our youtube-channel for our videos also from many/most Marinas visited:
https://www.youtube.com/user/786GlobalTour

July 2010 - From Jeremy Shaw

Twenty five miles from Gibraltar, just south of Ceuta on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast, Marina Smir is a great place to stop for those who want to enjoy Morocco, be sure of good weather and be out of the VAT zone.

Approach by Sea
The approach is straightforward, but entering the marina boats should keep to the starboard side of the channel – a row of red buoys is currently across the port side. Then turn to port and tie up on the customs dock to await a berth. Boats up to 60m are accommodated. The marina monitors channel 9. For more info visit the marina website. There is a useful plan of the port here which will help with choosing a berth (see below).

Berths
The marina is rarely full and many boats berth alongside, although the designated berths are Med style with lazy lines to a ground chain.

Many visitors go to the main waterfront which is convenient for the restaurants etc. but obviously more busy. That said, it is a family resort though some say the bars are noisy into the small hours. If you don’t want to be by the promenade then the north side of the marina is quieter, but a good 15 minute walk to the marina office and you have to make friends with the guard dog.

The "boatyard" docks are concrete, a few metres wide, and as they are less busy quite useful for scrubbing down boat gear – though dirty engine work would not be permitted.

NOTE: The docks are popular with seagulls, so a good early use of the unlimited high pressure water may be to hose down the whole dock area round the boat. By high season they are pretty clean, but in low season with few people about the gulls move back in.

Services
Water and electricity are unmetered, with reasonable per diem charges. We read 210v AC at 50hz.
Rubbish is collected from the docks twice a day.
There are showers etc. both at the buildings by the entrance and in the boat showroom on the north side.
There is no laundry in the marina, but we are told there is one in the nearby village of Mdiq.

Customs and Immigration
Customs and Immigration (police) is on the far side of the marina, at the entrance. Papers are retained by the Marina Office.

If you are planning to stay in Morocco for some time, it seems that a foreign flagged boat is given 6 months on arrival. After that it can be put into “storage” (ashore or afloat) for six months, then put into "use" again. In this way we are told it is possible to keep a foreign flagged boat in Morocco permanently without import problems. However if the correct switch-over of documentation is not carried out a EU1000 fine can result. Normally the marina office will organise the paperwork subject to a note of authority.

Port Captain
The port captain is Miguel, who is Spanish and also speaks good English. He is responsible for the whole of the marina. In season he tends to start the day in the yard and go to the office in the afternoon. He is often around in the evenings too, rescuing idiot day boaters who have run out of petrol. We have found him very helpful and efficient.

Boatyard
The boatyard is run by Luiz, another Spaniard. The travelift can haul boats up to c7m in beam. Boats apparently come here from Sotogrande for painting as it is cheaper. Mechanical services are available, but with limited parts and probably only suitable for basic work.

Chandlery
There isn’t one. You can't even buy a simple bit of rope. A sail training boat comes over from Gibraltar a few times a week and may, apparently, bring parts - consult the port captain. Parts for yachts in transit are free of import duty. We brought in parts by car without problems, but were waved though customs - so don’t know if it would have been more complicated had we been questioned.

Restaurants
There are several restaurants in the marina, although none of them outstanding. This is not a place for cheap booze and not all serve wine or beer, though the Relais de Paris has a reasonable wine list. Most of the restaurants have bar areas so you can either just sit and drink or eat. The fresh orange juice is usually good, but avoid the Asian restaurant where the cooking is poor and the juice both expensive and out of a box.

Dress
Marina Smir is pretty westernised and the normal Moroccan strictures about bare arms for women and shorts for men don’t seem to apply. Young men sit in the bars in sleeveless t. shirts and trunks, and young girls wander around in shorts. But you won’t see a lot of bare bellies, older women cover up more and many people also wear traditional dress. Bikinis in a bar would not be appropriate, but there is no need to cover up in the way you would if visiting a town. If in doubt dress cautiously first and then see what others are doing.

Provisioning
There is a small shop on the road into the marina selling dry goods. At the main road junction with the marina road is a modest supermarket. You can get most basics here including vegetables and alcohol, but no fresh meat or fish.

On the outskirts of Tetouan is the Marjane hypermarket where you can get almost everything (apart from pork products). You will need a car or taxi and it’s about 15 miles. Take the fast toll road to Tetouan (6 dirhams each way) and turn off at the roundabout signed for the airport. Double back on yourself to take the old road out of town (towards Mdiq) and you will see the huge Marjane shed after a couple of minutes. Credit cards accepted. Do not exceed the 120kph speed limit – the police hang about with radar.

Internet
The marina has an open router in the boatyard and the main office ("Marina") but with very limited range – these are just standard routers like you’d have at home. The Relais De Paris also has free access (“Wireless”) for those in the vicinity. Other open routers seem to be available. Speeds seem OK. We have been able to pick up wireless most days on the boatyard docks using a Radio Labs RVII booster hoisted about ten feet – you’d have no chance with built in wifi or even a standard USB unit.

Wintering in Smir
Smir is pretty dead in the winter, with the restaurants practically all closed. There is no real live-aboard scene. The gulls tend to occupy some of the docks which can become less pleasant.

For storage however, Smir is a good option to leave the boat. In the winter of 2009 there were some unusually violent storms which swept over the sea wall (which must be at least 6m) and pushed the water level up to the top of the docks (normally it’s a metre below at high tide). A coast guard crew member was even swept off the deck, and there was some damage to boats in the water. However, with an anchor deployed (usually permitted), the boat kept well off and good fendering you’d usually be OK – though of course in the Med nothing is certain when it comes to the weather.

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