View Full Version : Port Marina Smir

16th January 2010, 04:19 PM
Port Marina Smir – Morocco

Dec 2009.

Catamarans are charged by the square meter. Charges are very low compared to normal Med rates at £0.16UKP/msq/day based on a monthly rate. All the pontoons are concrete (non-floating) with lazy lines. The tidal range is around a metre so allowance has to be made for this when mooring.

Simple entrance to starboard but the entrance has silted with sand so care needs to be taken although there were buoys to port indicating the sandbank when we arrived. We called in on all of the normal VHF channels with no response so entered and tied up to the reception berth to port. We were immediately boarded by both a police and customs official who wanted to search the boat we presume for stowaways. A cursory look under each quilt was as far as they went and were quite courteous. The office staff wasn’t over friendly although they spoke good English and just passed a pile of paperwork that needed completing. We then walked the 20m to the customs office who cleared us into the country. The office does hold your registration certificate during your stay. The Port Captain then arrived and escorted us to our berth. The marina (in December) was around 10% occupied and we could have basically moored wherever we wanted but we were advised winds are worst from the East so we decided to moor side-to port and attached the lazy lines to starboard. During our week there the majority of high winds were from the West so I’m not sure which direction would be best?

There are no gates on the pontoons but we were moored near the boatyard where they have a guard dog on a long chain. The guard dog was a large German Shepherd which seemed to hate all of the locals with a passion but we managed to play with him with no problem which completely baffled the locals. You occasionally see the odd member of security staff but the marina is mainly quiet apart from a few local “youfs” hanging around. As westerners you do feel conspicuous walking around at night as a lot of the locals are dressed like OB1Kenobi and you therefore tend to stand out. To say we felt threatened would be wrong but you were always checking over your shoulder when returning late at night. During the summer with a lot more people around you would probably feel a lot safer. We did get a phone call from the Port Captain a week after we left to say the wind had loosened the cockpit surround which was now flapping so it seems they do take an interest in the security of the boat.

The marina was built on the instructions of the King of Morocco whose vision was to build a holiday complex and marina to rival Puerto Banus in Spain. He even got the same design team to build it but unfortunately even though it isn’t that old it’s starting to look quite tatty. It is difficult to judge what the marina would be like in summer when there are a lot more boats and people around but a lack of general maintenance is quite evident now. The pavements painstakingly laid with shaped stones now have numerous stones missing and potholes that can easily trip you up in the dark. There are a few of cafés and restaurants along the front but there was only one of each open when we were there. The majority of shops are Estate Agents selling apartments and villas around the marina.

Make sure you hone your haggling skills before arriving as everyone expects it and I can assure you it will cost you a fortune here unless you do. There is a Port Taxi driven by Mustafar who will take you anywhere. He drives a very old blue 240D Mercedes that has over 700,000 kilometers on the clock and the noises coming from the transmission and drive train will have your teeth on edge. We went on a few trips whilst we were there to Tetouan and also to Cueta.

Tetouan is around 20 minutes away but make sure you arrange for a guide with Mastafar before you go or you will get very lost. It’s a typical large market town with a labyrinth of small streets that the guide will take you through. You will be taken to a local restaurant for lunch (€50 for 3) and finally to the guide’s family shop where the real haggling starts. Whatever the first price they offer, quarter it, and start from there else you will be paying Harrods prices. The trip cost €30 Euro for the taxi and guide, lunch was extra and you can watch your guide getting his back-handers from everywhere he takes you.

Cueta is a Spanish run enclave opposite Gibraltar and likewise is duty free. The border is only a 10 minute taxi ride from the marina and will cost you €10 with Mustafar. Once there it’s a right bun fight getting through border control on the Moroccan side. As normal there are plenty of locals who will help you fill out the customs exit forms and take you to a corrupt official so you can avoid the massive queues for a fee. If you don’t want to part with any cash then be prepared to fight your way to one of the windows to process your exit as “forming an orderly queue” isn’t in their vocabulary. Once through the Moroccan side the Spanish side is a breeze but prepare yourself for the return as it means more form filling and more pushing and shoving. The bus from the border to central Cueta is only €0.70 and you get off when you see the sea. Cueta is very nice and has a number of large supermarkets plus numerous other shops as well as what looks like a very nice marina. From Cueta you can get high speed ferries to Algeciras which run regularly to the Spanish mainland.

We flew out of Tangier Airport which is around an Hour and a half from Smir. Again we negotiated with Mustafar and this cost €50 (everything here seems to cost €50!!) which we didn’t feel too bad for the length of trip. After seeing the condition of the taxis and some of the driving I wouldn’t recommend hiring a car unless you are feeling very brave.

There are a couple of small supermarkets within the marina but they are only good for general supplies. For serious provisioning you again need to talk to Mustafar and arrange a taxi to the huge Marjane supermarket which is near Tetuoan. The supermarket is very westernised and has everything you would ever need including household goods, clothes, DIY, electrical as well as an excellent range of foods and alcohol.

All of the skills and services are available in the marina but I cannot advise on the pricing or experience of the workmen. Fuel and gas bottles are also available.

Do not get anything shipped to Morocco by freight as we had some watermaker spares Fed-Ex’ed from the US and when delivered it was a bag of sand??
Although very reasonably priced and probably ok for a winter lay-up it wouldn’t be my choice of marina to spend any time.

Latest Info
Please ignore the last paragraph above about being an ok place to leave your boat over the winter as we got back after 2 months to find serious gel coat damage to one side of Tulliana. We have discovered a flaw in the design of the whole marina in that the concrete pontoons are too low and during a spring tide the water level actually covers them. The majority of the damage was caused by a storm BUT the 8 fenders we had protecting that side were useless when the sea level is the same as the pontoon. The fenders must have popped with the tide so high and then as the tide reduced there was no protection. Tulliana was moored side to with two lazy lines keeping her off the pontoon. These had been tightened prior to leaving her at low tide by loosing the warps to the pontoon by 8ft and then re-tightening the lazy lines. We were so far away from the pontoon that we had to borrow a plank from the boatyard to actually get off and at high tide you could have played a tune on the lazy lines they were that tight.
The marina managements attitude was one of total un-interest. They said we hadn't paid a warp maintenance contract at €200 per month and therefore they weren't responsible for even a cursory look at our ropes or mooring security? The stupid point is that we weren't even offered this service when we arrived. The marina staff definitely have no experience in dealing with boats as we saw numerous faults with other boats lines in the marina and the staff would just walk straight past them. A mono beside us their Genoa had unfurled a bit and must have been like this for weeks as it had been completely shredded by the wind. The marina even refused to give us their insurance details as they said that it would be admitting liability?
I originally couldn't understand why this marina was so empty but I do now. If I again had the choice of Gibraltar or Smir I would go to Gib everytime. The storms they get hit with are the same but at least you would have half a chance of someone actually taking care of your boat.
If anyone wants photos of the damage or marina faults please PM me.

Website: http://www.portmarinasmir.com/ing/index.htm (http://www.portmarinasmir.com/ing/index.htm)

Email: portmarinasmir@menara.ma (portmarinasmir@menara.ma)

SY Tulliana

16th January 2010, 07:54 PM
Hi Andy,

this is Michael from LinoCat, we met in Lanzarote, Rubicon. When i visited Smir Marina it also was like a Ghost town with maybe 50 boats in the water.

The water was clear and much warmer than on the atlantic side where we came from. It was a nice stay.

The spanish enclave is written "CEUTA" if i am not mistaken.

Have a pleasant onwards journey.

Regards from the Caribbean