Posted by: admin on Nov 05, 2010
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What a day?! We have had a great day sea kayaking, staying with a Moroccan family, and enjoying time around Casablanca. It is worth stating for the record that the waves increased in size from the day before when we hatched the plan to sea kayak from the Mosque. Today was not ideal with huge Atlantic swell and breakers and also a very confused sea. We woke to the serenity of Le Doge hotel and enjoyed the last elements of luxury. The hotel is amazing but more than that the staff were very friendly and made us feel at home.
After breakfast there is a little bit of admin to do. I write up our blogs from the day off whilst others download the memory cards from our Olympus Cameras and Sanyo Xacti Vids. Eventually we clear down our kit from the rooms and load the van ready for the off. We head off down to the Hussan II Mosque weaving our way through the crowded streets, it is an art form!! Having guessed various left and right turns we make it to the roundabout by the Mosque, Jammy or what?!
We enter the road adjacent to the sea wall which it seems is reserved for learner drivers. There is a fleet of dual control cars, being piloted by student drivers. The instructors are standing safely our the cars as they parallel park etc etc. Goodness knows where they learn the evasive driving skills needed for Casa at rush hour?! We park and survey the waves piling in next to the Mosque wall. After nearly 30 mins we are both less sure than before. No doubt it is do-able but it varies between big powerful 3m plus breakers and an occasional lull. To the left around the bay the waves are even bigger and confused due to waves reflecting off the sea wall.
The only thing we can agree on is that the waves are huge, potentially dangerous and completely erratic. The 30 mins seems to show no real pattern as to when the ‘big boys’ head in. Worse still the sets start so far out that you might leave the beach and get half way and then get trashed by something huge that arrives out of no-where. Unusually Olly is nervous and although we both know we could do it we also know there is no room for error, and potentially we still have a problem with getting out. We want to launch here, I want it real bad, the money shot, sea kayaking with the Mosque for the backdrop.
Eventually to break the moment I suggest we check out the beach further along. We find a more sandy stretch with a small channel out through the breakers. Worth a go we figure. We conclude we need to understand the exit strategy as some of the bigger breakers are dumping. We drive down the coast and follow huge sweeping bays all decorated with massive white surf. We are stopped at a traffic light when a lady beeps here on and starts talking to Rob. Her husband has just started kayaking and has bought a kayak. She pulls over and explains more about better beaches and where they live.
Wafaa, the lady who is now a friend(we have been out for a meal with her and Fouad, her husband.) We follow her in the van and find reputedly one of the best surf beaches in the world. Fouad tells us that they try and stop non-locals surfing when the waves get above 5m. Just before the beach and location we spy a small local port which at least offers a safe get out if we need it. The beach in front of their house is beautiful, brilliant surf and something of a Mecca. The only problem is still that the waves coming in today are huge and still very inconsistent in terms of a pattern. Again it is doable but could go very wrong especially in a 5.5 m kayak.
Wafaa explains that they have two flats that they rent out in their house. We are given the guided tour and quickly agree that this will be our home for the evening. We head back up the coast North to the get in, by Mc D’s of all places. The waves have increased in size even at this location, the best that we found on our scouting mission. We are both a little nervous and tense. The kit is unloaded from the van and we get ready. It is now mid afternoon so on top of a difficult time getting out in bid surf we also need to paddle hard to get down the coast before it gets dark.
The beach itself has less rocks than most of the others we have viewed but never the less we launch between two large rocky areas. As we do final preparation it is clear it is very big. Locals cant believe we are going out. There are only one or two surfers out and they obviously know what they are doing. A local chap stops to offer advice, mainly don’t go out there, you are crazy and be careful, very dangerous!! We nearly lose our Sony video camera as a huge erratic wave piles up the beach and almost washes over it. Kayaks float in the opposite direction as we scramble to save the camera. Lucky! Ollie and I put our spraydecks on and say little. See you out the back, if we make it. We push off and the game is afoot.
I have paddled plenty of big water but heading out was not convinced we had made a good decision. We got hit time and time again by big waves and this was just the soup (the smaller broken waves). In truth we were lucky that we never got any of the massive freak waves or things might have been different. It was however big enough to detach my deck bag clips, first the front two so I was getting hit in the face by the bag as I paddled through big waves. Then it detached completely and was sat on my deck (in my lap if you like). Somehow I managed to paddle and between waves hold it on. The force of the waves also undid the front deck hatch clip on Ollie’s boat. It also washes my Sanyo video camera off as well, twice.
Holding my deck back I make it out back as does Ollie. We have had luck on our side, and complete some running repairs, fixing deck bags back on and tying them on (not sure why I didn’t do that in the first place). We start heading South down the coast in huge swell. To our left we can hear thunder noise as the waves break and crash. We are now nearly a mile out to be outside the breaking waves. Every so often the swell picks up and a wall of water lifts us and heads in to the beach. The wave period is about 13 seconds and probably about 3-4 metre waves.
We pass a small island, about 50 metres out from the coast with a small causeway to it(not today as the waves are making that impossible). It is a hospice and Mosque for terminally ill folk. We are paddling straight into the sun which becomes slightly annoying after a while. There is a push South from the swell so we make great progress. Eventually we reach a headland and are at the place to turn and try and get into the harbour. It is a big reef break breaking right. We follow the channel in on the left side and enjoy some surfing but without the big breakers ripping up the right and even bigger waves back along the bay on our left.
Then we have made it to the small fishing port. They seem surprised to see us, two strange kayakers paddling in from the huge surf, surely not!? We chat to the local kids who take an interest and I try and text from i-phone with wet hands which makes the touch screen interesting. We then employ the local labour (the kids) to carry our kayaks through the fishing boats (traditional row boats) to the road. I have a few Dirhams to give out and other random coins. The embarrassment they hand back the Euro cents and GB coins. Rejection! The guys arrive and we load the van and head back to our accommodation. A job well done.
Rob has been busy with his fluent French and Wafaa and Fouad will join us for food, they know a place. We are also invited to pre-dinner drinks in their house which is fun. They have a 3 month old Husky pup called Charles, he is pretty much the centre of attention. We head out to a fantastic restaurant with a butcher etc on site. The concept is buy your meat etc at the butcher and then head down to some gardens and hand it to chefs who cook up your food. You sit in these little hedged courtyards with tables and chairs and then order the other stuff, e.g. Whisky De Morocco and salad.
The food and company is great. We laugh lots, plenty of teasing and nice to sample a little piece of Moroccan life. Wafaa is convinced Ollie is the boss, I am the slightly crazy kid and she starts mothering me which is the source of much humour. It turns out that Rob and Wafaa share the same Birthday so they are long lost brothers and sisters. It is all good and we return to the house to get some rest having had an awesome day. New friends, big surf, great food, it doesn’t get much better!