Rabat, Bourgreg Marina – Updates from Cruisers
Published 8 years ago, updated 4 years ago
Posted February 2015
We’re staying in Bourgreg Marina at the time of writing.
This is not a port to enter at night or in unsettled weather. Fishermen lay their nets, sometimes merely marked by soft-drink bottles, right before the mouth of the river. The moles are unlit and hard to identify against the city lights in the background. (We were delayed by engine failure and taken in after sunset by the marina’s RIB with no wind and hardly any swell, and I didn’t manage to identify the structure until we were actually entering the river.)
The entrance is narrow and notoriously dangerous when swell rises above 2m. Yachts will not be permitted entry under such conditions. In such cases, one will be diverted to Mohammedia. Beware of the second port-hand mole, that consists of an array of low-lying rocks. Small, unlit buoys mark the channel. Dredging was on-going when during our two-week stay. It is therefore essential to carefully time the approach, to minimize swell and take advantage of high water. If you must make landfall at night, call and wait for the RIB to take you in. This service is free to all yachts who stay at the marina. They are listening to VHF Ch 10, but the range seems to be limited.
Despite the more challenging entrance, sailing beneath the towering Kasbah and gaining tranquil waters while sailing past the walls of the medina is awesome! So is mooring in the shadow of the magnificent Hassan II tower.
Formalities were fast and officials were friendly. At check-in formalities, no tip seemed to be expected and none was given. All was taken care of in the marina office, except for a short walk to customs on the other side of the dock the next morning. They brought along a sniffer dog, but it seemed they didn’t want to squeeze the poor beast in the narrow confines of our Nicholson 32. Security is tight, with guarded gates and guards sitting in front of the pontoons, to the point of feeling watched all the time. Before inviting Moroccan visitors on the boat, they should first identify themselves at Customs.
This is a very safe place to leave your boat and explore inland.
Water and electricity on the pontoons. Comfortable and very hot showers. The WiFi wasn’t working during our stay, so we bought a USB stick with one month wireless internet access for 290 Dh. A laundry service is available for 25Dh/kg.
The adjacent town of Salé isn’t particularly pleasant, less so after sunset, but transport to Rabat at the other bank is fast via the tram, with a station in front of the main gate. A more traditional and interesting alternative is using the ferry service at the small quay a small distance downriver: fisherman will row you to Rabat for a few dirham. Provisions are good, with fresh produce aplenty in the medina. For more Western shopping, Carrefour has a few branches in Rabat.
Nautical supplies seem harder to come by, apart from some general hardware sold in the medina and other shops in Rabat. An engineer is available for emergency repairs. Rabat is no longer a commercial harbour, so serious maintenance is best carried out elsewhere.
Prices are very low for European standards. We’re being charged 7 Dh/day. Rabat is an interesting and laid-back city, with friendly people and almost no hustlers. Fez can be visited on a day trip by train.
been staying here for two weeks now and warmly recommend a visit!
Facebook Page: “Cruising Vagabonds”
Posted October 2011
See more recent update from July 2013 below.
We are now in Morocco, so here is an update for Rabat Marina. It’s great here and we have been off and done loads of land travel, even the Sahara camel and tent experience, just great.
The new marina in Casablanca looks a long way off being finished from what we could see, but we have friends tied up in the little marina at Mohammedia and are very happy there. They made a night time entry in there (Rabat was closed with high swell) and were able to anchor just outside the marina, then a marina boat came out for them in the morning and took them in.
Cruising Info for Rabat, Morocco Oct 2011
BEFORE ARRIVING –
The marina sits on the northern shores of the Bouregreg River, about a mile inland from the river entrance. The entrance has a bar across it between the outer (new) breakwater and inner (old and partly submerged) breakwater. The marina should be contacted on VHF 10 about 5 miles out to advise your arrival and then again when 1 mile out.
If conditions are ok they will then send out the marina boat to the entrance to escort you over the bar and up to the Customs Dock. If conditions are not good enough for crossing the bar they will either advise to standoff until the tide rises/swell drops, or if the harbour entrance is closed suggest you continue to Mohammedia (approx 30 miles south) which can be entered in most conditions. Therefore you need to TIME YOUR ARRIVAL accordingly.
If conditions are ok, it seems they bring in boats from around 3 hours before high tide until 3 hours after high tide, however, on the outgoing tide, the bar can get more unruly so try to time arrival just before high tide. It is also very important to watch the swell forecast; www.windguru.cz is one site that has the wind and swells forecast for Rabat. It is unlikely that the harbour will be open if the swell/wave height is over 6 feet, if over 5 feet it will depend on the conditions but expect an exciting ride in – with the possibility of turning the boat so the bow rides the breaking surf!!! We came in with a 3 foot swell and very little wind and all was fine.
Nighttime entry in good conditions is possible, but not without the marina boat escort. We came in just on dawn and could not see a port light on the outer breakwater wall, and no lights working on the inner breakwater wall. Also, the local fishermen sometimes lay nets across the river.
The marina staff seem to use only handheld VHF’s so can be hard to hear, also only a couple of staff speak English (all speak French), however, they monitor 24 hours and SEND OUT THEIR MARINA BOAT to escort boats in 24 hours. If you can’t raise the marina staff call for any boat in the marina to relay, most boats keep channel 10 on.
WHEN IN –
The marina pilot boat will escort you to the customs arrival dock (North side of the river) approx 1 mile inside the entrance. Generally, a port side ties up, fenders just above water line. The dock only fits two boats and that is a tight fit. All arrival paperwork is taken care of there, it takes about an hour or so. They also board the boat and have a good look through, some boats had a sniffer dog, we didn’t. Everything was undertaken in a professional way.
You can walk across after clearing in to have a look at the marina berths before coming around. The berths in the marina are all finger berths with very short fingers that don’t have cleats. It is rather an interesting challenge to tie up. There are clean showers and toilets and a token-operated (50 dirhams approx €4.50) washing machine. There is no swell or wash in the marina, dead flat (wonderful). Security is excellent. Wifi is free and is quite good.
Amanda and Mark on Balvenie
Update July 2013. Agree with report above which helped us regarding details. Most of above still current. We are a 14m catamaran and no problems on entering or docking. The marina is very sheltered as reported, our boat hardly moves. Could not find evidence of the washing machine. Toilets 5 out of 10 at best. Staff very helpful and skilled at docking. Customs/immigration operate 24 hours allowing choice of entry and exit times. Paperwork approximately 1 hour in AND out. For both procedures one needs to tie up at their dock just inside the marina entrance and well protected. Marina operates 24 hours with offices and payment more restricted.
A word of caution re time. Rabat is on London time except, it appears,for Ramadan when it appears they drop back to UTC. Can be confusing working out when high water is.
Some advice on the trip down regarding fishing hazards. Within reach of shore by traditional boat, nets and fishing gear very hard to see, can be marked by a soft drink bottle. About 5 miles off shore one finds only the bigger boats which appear to be fishing with nets and pose no hazard if one stays clear. Closer in we were approached by a number of the smaller boats. Very disconcerting to have them heading towards you at some speed and coming very close. Many arms waving that confuses as to whether they are indicating danger from nets. In each case, we found it was to sell us fish or cadge a drink or smoke. My advice, stay 5 miles or more off.