Mediterranean Morocco: Marina Saidia

This report from US yacht ChaliVentures III, who visited Marina Saidia to re-start their 18 month VAT clock, and because it is the closest non-EU marina to Cartagena, Spain where they plan to spend the winter.

Published 9 years ago, updated 5 years ago

First Impressions

Approach

Only the most current charts show the layout of the marina.  We didn’t have them, so we used the coordinates from GoogleEarth which matched the Noonsite page to program our waypoint to the entrance. There are no offshore rocks or other hazards.  The least depth we saw at the entrance was about 15 feet. After passing through the outer basin, you’ll turn left and will see red balls marking BOTH sides of the channel to the inner harbour. The Quai d’Accueil/Welcome dock is on your right as you enter. This harbour is very secure.

The Marina 

Not quite what the promotional U-tube and photos look like, but it’ll do. As Americans, we needed to get out of the EU for our 18-month “VAT-clock re-starting exercise,” and this was the closest NON-EU place to Cartagena, Spain.  It’s a massive harbour, although only the inner harbour for “normal-sized” boats is completed.  The outer harbour for superyachts is not.   Ramadan and Eid are over now, so the place is beginning to fill up, although there are many berths still empty.

The security is good; each pontoon is guarded by human beings for a change instead of electronic key cards.  Everyone is VERY FRIENDLY.

There are lots of restaurants surrounding the harbour and a decent Marjane supermarket.  Well, it’s decent now.  Our Aussie neighbours have been here for 2 months, and she said that up until this week, the fresh veggies and fruit were awful.  We are told that there is a proper town, Saidia, about a 10-minute bus ride away.

The “Commercial Center” or “Medina” advertised on the marina website, where the supermarket is, has at least 3 ATM machines; of 3 that I tried, only 1 worked.   Sadly, many of the storefronts are empty.   Although…. you can bet that there are several tourist shops selling souvenirs!   And of course, there are a few dance-clubs right around the harbour playing music til about 3 am.  Hopefully, you have a fan in your berth to block the noise.

Formalities

All the authorities are conveniently located right at the marina office and the welcome dock.  The Customs officials will come to your boat and look around, open a cupboard or two, ask if you have any firearms, and that’s it.  Then you go to the office to fill out all the paperwork.  You’ll be without your passport for maybe 45 minutes while the officials make copies, etc.  It’s very helpful if you speak French, although some English is spoken.  There is NO HINT of baksheesh here.

Costs

In high season, the cost is merely 16 euros/night for our 12m boat, including electricity and water.  The WIFI costs extra, but at least it’s good and strong!

The Fuel dock accepts cash only; no credit card and the cost in August 2014 is about 1€ or 10 dirhams/litre (they’ll accept both currencies).  They do sometimes run out of diesel fuel (hence we have been delayed a day).

The marina itself accepts credit cards, but apparently, they don’t always work.

Facilities

My husband said the men’s bathroom had a large cockroach in it;  I didn’t dare try the women’s facilities!   There is no laundromat.  Although supposedly there is one in the town of Saidia.   The “slime lines”/ mooring lines are some of the slimmest we’ve ever seen.

The electrical outlets on the first 2 pontoons are the big 32 amp ones, so most boats will need an adapter. The 3rd pontoon in DOES has the smaller 16amp plug.

A little history

After talking with cruisers who have been here a long time, this place used to be a lot more crowded with foreigners, per the King’s hopes and dreams.  But, somewhere along the line, they changed the law… or supposedly changed the law, whereby foreigners and/or their boats couldn’t stay as long as they THOUGHT they could, so many of the boats that were wintering here last year got fined and/or impounded. It was a real fiasco, and supposedly most left in a rage declaring they’d never come back!

Whilst this is hearsay,  I would certainly advise anyone who plans to winter here to be SURE they know the current laws about how long THEY and/or their BOAT can legally be here.

Conclusions

While walking around the area between the inner harbour and the outer harbour with my little dog, I felt a little oppressed by the bleakness of it.  Unfinished.  Dusty.  I don’t know if this place already had its heyday or if it’s still building up to it.  I’m afraid it’s the former.

The infrastructure here is crumbling, especially the quay where the “quai d’accueil”/customs dock is attached. Amazing, since it only opened in 2009.

We’re anxious to leave, but HEY!  It’s cheap; it’s relatively close;  it’s got a WIFI;  it solves the VAT problem for us, and at least in August, the supermarket has food in it, so no complaints here.   I can’t imagine actually being on my boat for a whole winter here.  Tunisia’s Hammamet and/or Monastir is better than this place.

Alison Spinney

Onboard ChaliVentures III 

www.sailblogs.com/member/chaliventures

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