After the relief of sorting out a second car the night before and meeting many of the other Group 6 teams in the bar, day five was largely spent running around like lunatics around getting sorted for Africa. Priorities being a roofrack - the feet of the previous being on Bertha - so we could actually get most of our stuff to Morocco and a spare wheel for the Audi.
Those chores done, time to whittle down our kit to fit in/on. After 4 days of incidents and driving this proved slightly delicate as the odd touch of strain showed among the Sahara Surf massive over what was really essential, but ultimately common sense prevailed and the ukulele, bowler hat and dartboard were packed (!) and Daffy and the Green Machine were off to Tarifa. Sunshine, a good view of Gibraltar, and onto the ferry for a stunning sunset. Roll-off and whahey its Africa! We made it this far.
Relatively easy border…a few pointed questions about import/export of 9 surfboards on the roof of a car containing 2 people, and Steve being dragged “round back” for questioning not withstanding…… and we were on a very good road south. Straight into Rabat, bump immediately into loads of rally folk at the first hotel we pull up next to. No mistaking that stickered-up white Lada with a broken fuel pump - sleep.
Rabat south looking for surf. There’s definitely a swell but finding a feasible beach proves harder. Eventually find a spot, down a bumpy grounding out kind of dirt track, that looks promising. Potential left of the rocks under the cars and beach break further round. Both prove somewhat better from a distance and the team get out wet and exercised but without much of a wave count. A day or two late it may be, but it is good to at last be in the water.
There follows a few hours night drive south, which once the new payage finishes and we’re on the coastal road, is sufficient to make it clear why most advice is against driving after dark in Africa. If you miss the pedestrians ambling down the side or across the road and manage to spot the cavernous potholes or mountainous suspension killing bumps, the oncoming trucks with blinding extra headlamps turned up higher as they approach or the stealth light and reflector free bikes will soon catch you out. Oh, and don’t even mention the sign-posting! But I did get to overtake my first donkey and cart - with real panache - I might add.
Thankfully we make it, with sore eyes but incident free into Oulidia at about 8pm or so and now all driving will now be in daylight. It’s a beautiful spot set around a lagoon and with an outer beach break and inner sheltered lagoon beginners’ break - although it is rather hard to see or appreciate any of this right now in the dark and rain.
Tiredness was beginning to get the better of the team and cabin fever was evident after these long days on the road, so it’s a good fish meal and an early night. Fingers crossed for good surf tomorrow before picking Jon up at Marrakesh airport.
Massive messy storm swell but sadly not surfable this morning at Oulidia. Should be good once it settles though. Grey half dark and feeling more like Polzeath on a wet May weekend we head for Marrakesh.
Almost inevitably now the drive took way longer than planned. And amazingly non typically Moroccan everything is green and it pours with rain all morning.
Pick up Jon about five hours late. Poor guy must wonder whats going on…..apart from the late arrival we are meant to be picking him up in two big 4x4s and quite blatantly are not. He takes it in his stride though and immediately finds himself as navigator getting us out of Marrakesh traffic chaos.
Now for the drive from hell. We had thought that the conditions today were pretty extreme for Morocco, but oh were we in for worse. We had been assured in Marrakesh the new motorway went all the way to the coast. So we headed for Agadir in good spirits expecting a quick trip to sun sand and waves. 10kms out of Marrakesh the motorway stopped. Of course. We were now on winding bumpy single lane road packed with lorries, and as we rose over the Atlas mountains we found ourselves in a howling blizzard. Jon, expecting to fly in to hot deserts and blue skies was blinking in disbelief. The going was slow and it got dark. Marvellous. It was painful enough in these conditions overtaking crawling lorries….but add a steering wheel on the wrong side and it really was fun. Cue passenger leaning out window trying to see on coming traffic in a dark blizzard. They also like to flash you on full beam as they come towards you here and don’t do road markings. They do massive potholes rather well though….a speciality you could say less. The last 70kms to Agadir seemed to go on for eternity.
But we made it and a beer in Taghazoute was the much needed reward. And we could hear the waves as we passed out.
Awake to clear blue skies and waves at last! Tahazoute is a small fishing village about 10kms north of Agadir which has become the centre of surfing in Morocco, with about half a dozen breaks strung out along its length.
The now five strong Sahara Surf posse surf out front first up in the vicinity of Anka Point, interestingly named Hash Point and down to Panoramas. The most heard phrase being “bit different from back home this” as the extra power out here takes some adjusting to.
In the evening the crew head for a more mellow surf after the pounding of the morning, to Banana Village point and catch some beautiful shoulder high long sunset rides. Many big smiles and a very happy crew exit the water. Our faithful donut seller, Hussein, whom we asked to keep an eye on the Green Machine while we surfed has done a rigorous job. We could see from the water he spent most of the time actually sitting on the bonnet warding off potential troublemakers. The Audi is safe and we negotiate a fee of donuts we must now buy to pay him back for his time. We scoff down many donuts and give the genial Hussein a lift and throw in some JSC tee shirts and a football for his troubles. By his grin I think he got an ok deal.
Tomorrow south and down into less travelled areas with very little on the map and the search for breaks less surfed and desert less travelled. Bring it on!
Welcome to the plateau. It's where we gather to watch Yago Dora soar above our heads.
These are the fortunate few. Many epic sessions have fallen by the wayside, victims to our ruthless monthly culls, but the results are wondrous to behold.
Patagonia is a challenging lover, said the English novelist, Bruce Chatwin. It haunts you, it bewitches you, it wraps you in its arms and does not let you go.
Welcome to the winners' podium. The cream of February lies before you in four spectacular Atlantic sessions, big barrels being the theme.
The symbiosis of surfer and winter. The Astray Collective and Finisterre bring you a short narrated by Matt Smith and produced by Mickey Smith