Alcaidesa Marina to Ceuta – Part 1
The Spanish enclave of Ceuta, Northern Africa, is a favourite passage for boat owners from Alcaidesa Marina and Gibraltar.
Boat owners and their crews have for many years sought out charming and exciting locations. These voyages allow them to explore the hidden treasures of delightful anchorages and harbours, but also to connect with people of different nationalities and cultures.
With the ever-increasing number of boats berthing at Alcaidesa Marina, we thought it would be interesting to explore the sea routes that boat owners are taking from Alcaidesa Marina and Gibraltar.
This is the first in a series of articles about these amazing sea passages that await boat owners and their crews. Our first Port of call is the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa. It sounds a long way away by boat – but it’s only 17 Nautical Miles (19.6 land miles) and in a modern, medium sized twin engine motorboat, that’s going to take about 1 hour or less!
In a yacht making 6 knots (nautical miles per hour) the voyage will take just under 3 hours. So, think about this for a moment – you can leave Europe just after your breakfast and you and your crew will be eating lunch in Africa – now that’s pretty cool!
*Set sail first thing in the morning from the Alcaidesa Marina Control Tower, during this passage you’ll have the opportunity to spot dolphins and schools of tuna, especially at Europa Point in spring and autumn, with sightings of sperm whales and orcas also being commonplace.
This is a very pleasant cruise, with prevailing beam winds from the West or the East. If you’re on a sailboat, in about three hours you’ll reach Marina Hércules and moor right in the heart of the City. A must-see is the Royal Moat, built by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century.
It’s the most striking tourist attraction in Ceuta, but it’s not the only one, so head down to the tourist office within the city walls and pick up some pamphlets on places to explore. Make sure you have a look around Plaza de Abastos (Market Square), which offers a huge variety of fish, seafood and spices.
Ceuta’s cuisine – very affordable, by the way – is another one of Ceuta’s attractions. Head downtown for some great tapas bars, or try some spicy brochettes or fish dishes on Calle Obispo Barragán. Good fish and shellfish can be found all around town, as can Moroccan cuisine.
If you have a dinghy, sail down from the marina to the southern part of Ceuta through San Felipe Moat and enjoy some beach time. If you prefer diving into a pool rather than the sea, take a trip to the Parque del Mediterraneo, designed by the renowned artist Cesar Manrique.
After a day of exploration, head back to the marina in time to watch the sunset. Of course, you can stay as long as you want if this one-day trip hasn’t been enough.
This trip involves crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, one of the world’s busiest maritime channels where there are often strong currents and winds.
Plan the day that you set sail, and check the weather forecast, bearing in mind that there is often a strong current, of around 3 knots, which sweeps into the Mediterranean from the Atlantic with eddies forming near the coast.
Once you’ve checked the weather forecast, remember that westerly winds tend to funnel and pick up speed after Tarifa from anything between 5 and 10 knots.
Levante (Easterly) wind: This is the most conducive wind for crossing and is usually light to moderate, meaning you can cruise on a straight course to Ceuta from Europa Point, as the leeway will offset the drift coming from the currents in the Strait. Likewise, for the return crossing.
Poniente (westerly) wind: Take into account the sum of the current and the leeway, as well as the acceleration of the latter. It’s advisable to leave the Bay right next to Punta Carnero and head southbound towards Mount Jbel Musa, letting the wind and current propel you towards Ceuta.
In this case, the return should be on a westerly course up to the town of Benzú, sticking right to the coast, and then setting out northwards to Punta Carnero, letting the leeway and current steer you back into the bay.
*Owners and crews are responsible for making their own passage planning and the above should not be used for passage planning but rather as a useful guide.
Alcaidesa Marina to Ceuta – Part 1