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Morocco, Safi: Yacht Break-in and Burglary - April 2012

By Sue Richards last modified Sep 26, 2012 09:28 PM

Published: 2012-04-30 11:40:00
Topics: Piracy Reports 2012
Countries: Morocco

Due to rough weather en route from Gibraltar to the Canary Islands, we called in to the Moroccan port of Safi on 13 April 2012. We tried to check noonsite before leaving for Marakesh, but the internet cafe we were in had very poor connection, so we didn't read your warnings in time.

We checked in with police, customs and the harbour master and (with no marina facilities) were directed to tie up alongside a larger commercial vessel. The harbour area was completely surrounded by a high concrete wall (at least 4m) separating it from the fishing boat harbour. Entry was via a police controlled gate, where we had to show our passes each time on leaving or entering. There were some other big steel gates, but they were chained and padlocked, so we thought it was safe.

While waiting for more favourable weather we visited Marrakesh, advising the authorities and our boat "watchman" before we left on 15 April 2012. Before we left, we spent whole day with our "watchman" (named Bush), who was introduced to us by harbour police to look after us and our interests. He organised our tickets, took us to a wifi cafe, ordered tagine for us in the restaurant and showed us the old medina within the Portuguese castle walls.

When we returned from Marrakesh at approximately 23:00 on 17 April, we found that our vessel had been entered, although we had left it fully locked. Cupboards and drawers had been rifled through as had the travel bags of our guests, brother and sister in law who were visiting us. Apart from marine electronic equipment we had few valuables on board, except some gold jewellery my sister in law had stored in a small zippered pocket on the top of a back pack left at the foot of her bed. Value about $2,000, it was gone.

Obviously it was the work of a professional(s) as there was no sign of forced entry, most items (cupboards etc.) were left in a reasonable state and the companion way hatch had even been made to look as though it was still locked - although once the key was put in, it was obviously not. We called the police who came, talked, inspected, tried to take finger prints and took a statement from my sister in law, writing in Arabic. She was asked to sign six copies but was not permitted to have a copy. The police gave a short document, recording that a report had been made, in French.

The watchman, Bush, was not on board when we returned from Marakesh, however the port authority watchman was on board the bigger vessel we were tied up to. The following morning Bush came to the boat. We told him we had been robbed and he left very quickly and we did not see him again. Even though Bush was introduced to us by the police, the port captain later told us that he was not authorised by the port!? Maybe the port police and port authority do not share information or perhaps it was an inside job? He also told us that the port authority were working very hard to improve security there.

In addition, the fees here were twice those at Rabat Marina. On arrival we were advised that the daily fee for our size vessel was around 28 Euros (40 feet) and we were shown an official looking paper advising harbour fees for pleasure vessels. We sent an email to Rabat marina enquiring about Safi’s fees and who to contact to verify them, but never got a response. Before leaving Safi, the harbour master reiterated the fees were official and we paid what we thought was an exuberant fee for no power or water, let alone being robbed!

Yes, Safi itself is a pleasant place, but security will have to improve dramatically.

Roger & Sasha
SY Ednbal (Australia)