Alan and Jean sharing our cruising news with friends, family.

20 July 2015 | Rabi Island Fiji
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18 December 2013 | Auckland
05 December 2013 | Auckland
27 October 2013 | Vavau Tonga
12 September 2013 | Samoa
24 July 2013 | Moorea, Tahiti
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02 June 2013 | Pacific Ocean
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13 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
06 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
08 April 2013 | Shelter Bay marina, Colon.
28 March 2013 | Belize
27 March 2013 | Belize
03 March 2013 | Panamarina, Panama

Rugby and Swell keep us in Rabat

22 October 2011 | Rabat Morocco
Atlantic swell rolling into the Bouregreg river, Rabat, Morocco

Rabat the capital of Morocco is an interesting place to visit and the Bouregreg Marina is a good place to tie up, which is just as well as we are still here. 18 days after being led in by the marina pilot, through the break waters and over the then calm bar entrance, we are still here in Rabat. Many other yachts have come and gone but we are still here, why? A good question. Two answers, a fanatic rugby fan of a husband and the Atlantic swell.

During the last Rugby world cup in 2007 we were cruising Indonesia, no TV or internet coverage to be found . We relied on text messages to get the results. The skipper missed out on pool games, quarters and semis but we were on track to see the All Blacks in the final in Singapore. Well that's what we hoped until anchored up the Kumai river in Borneo, at 4am our sleep was interrupted by our phone beeping. Messages at 4am do not bring good news.

Oh my god, the French have done it again, they have beaten us.

In London watching with Aussies and South Africans, Sarah was so upset she didn't include the score. Not that it really mattered, the AB's were on the way home, getting to Singapore on time didn't seem so important. We did arrive in Singapore on time and the 2007 final was watched in the comfort of the TV room at the marina. This World Cup we are in Europe where it should be easy to see the games....right!

The skipper was determined to watch as many games as he could. We sailed into Cartagena, Spain, in time for the opening, not a sports café in sight. The day before the RWC opening game we visited the Vodafone shop bought a data card loaded with 2G of viewing time. Back to Tuatara and with trepidation I put the card in my dongle and hey presto we were connected to cyberspace. Next step was to pay money for a streaming site for the opening game. I could relax everything was set for Rugby viewing and a happy husband. The next morning, 30 minutes before the All Blacks v Tonga match was due to start, I thought I had better check the site and make sure everything was working as it was when I paid the money. The first swear word alerted Alan to the fact that perhaps watching the match was not as certain as it was 24 hours before. 10 minutes later, more cursing, still no joy with the pay site. I Googled for a free site, found one, held my breath until the ads finished and there was Eden park sprinkled with red and black shirts. We had missed the Haka but we got the game and the games the next day. Spanish internet is not cheap but what cost a happy husband?

Next stop Gibraltar but first we loaded up the data card again just in case we had to stop somewhere in Spain along the way or god forbid all TV's were broken in Gibraltar. Three days later by mid-afternoon we were tied up in Marina bay Marina, Gibraltar, with Cafes sprouting big screen sports within 2 minutes walk. There we stayed for just over 2 weeks, boat jobs and sightseeing squeezed in amongst the rugby. Black shirted New Zealanders bearing kiwi mascots appeared from around the marina to cheer on the AB's while munching on English breakfasts in The Ship cafe. We didn't confine ourselves to just the NZ games we cheered on other teams, even the Wallabies although we swopped to the Irish as they downed the green and gold. Our support for our favourite teams was loud but not as loud as the afternoon crowd watching English football, their cheering reverberated throughout marina. Rugby is definitely a minority sport in Gibraltar.

The original plan was to leave Gibraltar on the 3rd October after our friend had joined us. That would give us plenty of time to sail the 600 miles to Lanzarote, the closest Canary Island to watch the RWC quarter finals the following weekend. Many of the yachts in front of us had stopped off here in Rabat and gave glowing reports of the near new marina and the friendly reception in Morocco. Our experience in Egypt in early 2010 with demands for baksheesh, the dirt and the constant hassle with officials had made us reluctant to visit another North African country. We had enjoyed travelling in Morocco in 1977 we didn't want to spoil the memories as had happened a little with Egypt. Jan was happy with the detour, her time with us is a bit open ended so no problems there and the lure of cheap diesel and easy access to cooking gas , helped to make the decision. For me, the draw card was one last opportunity to visit colourful souks, take photos and buy one or two more carpets before Tuatara takes us across the Atlantic to wiggle our toes in the Caribbean sand. Of course I didn't voice this thought out loud in Alan's presence, he thinks I have loaded the lockers with too many things already! I will just remind him how I sorted out the rugby viewing for him and besides he loves the bargaining.

The All Black v Canada game was missed. NZ summer time kicked in the same weekend so the game was to be at 4am,Gibraltar time. As expected The Ship café owner said, that was a little early! Alan still managed to watch some games on Sunday before we finished our grocery shopping ready for leaving on the tide the next morning. 150 miles to Rabat we sped out of the Med on a 25knot easterly, then during the calm of the night dodged nets, trawlers and ships arriving off Rabat a 1pm, right at low tide. We called the marina, they would come and get us in 3 hours. On a flat windless sea we turned the motor off and drifted outside the ancient Medinas of Sale on the north of the river Bouregreg and Rabat on the south. Waiting for the tide to come in we floated slowly as the 0.8 knot current took us south, a small fishing boat came and offered us fish. We reluctantly refused as we had no dirham or cigarettes to pay for it. At 4pm on the dot the pilot arrived in a big RIB. Apart from one little beep at 0.9m under our keel we passed smoothly over the bar and followed the RIB down the river past the imposing walls of the Kasbah. Malta, Bonifacio and Rabat three sensational, memorable harbor entrances we have experienced in the last 4 months. The question on our minds was could the All Blacks give us another memorable occasion and just as importantly could we see the rugby in Rabat.

The Bouregreg Marina, was finished in 2008. Rabat is becoming a popular stop for cruising yachts on their way to the Canary Islands. Rabat is a safe place to leave the boat for land travel, train services from Rabat to all parts of Morocco are excellent. The new tram servicing Sale and Rabat whisks us around smoothly within 30 minutes we can be in the Rabat souk haggling for rugs or sitting down to a meal of poulet tangine and if tangine doesn't appeal a couple of horse meat steaks to bbq can be bought from the meat market. Of course the most important aspect of the marina is that it has a working internet. Via our free streaming site we watched the Rugby World Cup quarter finals. We got a little more sophisticated this time and ran the internet through the TV. Tuatara sports café was born.

Kiwis and Aussies got together in our saloon to watch all 4 quarter finals. During one game, our aussie crew was heard to ask as a penalty kick was sailing through between the uprights.

" ohh there's a bar, does the ball have to go over that bar?"

She is from Perth, so we make allowances!

Two 5am starts took its toll and by Sunday afternoon Tuatara was a very quiet ship.
We decided to stay another week, the internet gave us good rugby viewing and gave the crew time to go to Marrakesh and go on a cruise of another sort into the Sahara on a ship of the desert. We filled in the week with sightseeing in Rabat and Sale as well as a trip to Fes to reacquaint ourselves with the narrow winding streets and tanneries of that fascinating ancient Medina.

The semi finals weekend arrived, the internet still worked smoothly, free streaming thanks to Indian and Japanese TV with the bonus of New Zealand commentary. Surrounded by French boats we quietly cheered on the Welsh and tried not to be too smug during the Wallabies clash as our Aussie friends sat in the corner. As our favourite men in black were marching on towards a date with the French, Tuatara sports Café gave progress scores over the SSB to the Kiwis and Aussies on passage to the Canaries.

"How could a Kiwi and Aussie boat leave two days before the big clash, two days!!" Alan was heard to mutter to no one in particular!

Our friends Joanne and Selwyn on the NZ yacht, Morning Cloud left Rabat after the Sunday match, the last window of opportunity before an Atlantic swell closed the harbor. The crew arrived back on Sunday afternoon,as agreed, prepared for a Monday departure.

" sorry, looks like we are here for another week."

If we didn't get out by Wednesday we wouldn't have time to get to the Canaries for the final match. Monday and Tuesday we walked up to the first breakwater and watched the waves break across the bar as the surfers bobbed in the waves catching the big ones into the bay. On Wednesday evening a small rally group of French boats on a time schedule decided to leave, if it hadn't been dark we would have gone to watch from high up in the Kasbah. Four others decided to follow the French and grab this window as another Atlantic depression is pushing more swell in our direction threatening to keep us another week. No one came back so they got out safely. We went up to the Kasbah the following morning, the swell had diminished but two Catamarans still surged down the swells as they followed the pilot over the bar.
We could have left today too but that was unthinkable, only hours from the final whistle. We are the only Kiwi boat left so we feel it's our duty to wave the black flag amongst the tricolors Our French neighbour has arranged for one of the cafes to have the rugby on the big screen. We tried to do that days ago but our French is very basic, it was too hard so we stayed with the internet. Alan and Jean have put up a bottle of wine as a wager on the result. To be drunk after the match. He has already asked whether we like red or white. I think I detect a not very confident Frenchman.

As we look forward to tomorrow another Atlantic swell is rolling towards Morocco. 3 metre waves and 25-30knot winds forecast for Monday and Tuesday will keep us here a few more days. The weather maps are showing a window of opportunity maybe Thursday. We will be really ready to leave by then.

Vessel Name: Tuatara
Vessel Make/Model: Alan Wright 51
Hailing Port: Opua NZ
Crew: Alan and Jean Ward

Sailing in the Pacific

Who: Alan and Jean Ward
Port: Opua NZ