Tangier, Morocco - checking in and out
Arriving in Morocco using the Fishing port of Tangier as the first port of call was quite an experience, the smells, the sounds, etc.
Checking in was equally challenging.
Ahead of departing from Gibraltar to Tangier, we did our research and in all places stated we must wait in the boat for authorities to come, a quick chat with another fellow Aussie that had visited this port months before letting us with the warning of a possible scam they had suffered there. They told us that while waiting for the authorities in the boat a guy in uniform showed up saying they must follow him to the office for formalities, in the end, they ended having to pay the guy a few hundred euros for the “courtesy”.
With this episode in mind and after having managed to manoeuvre The Dream into its spot behind the two big coast guard ships on the super greasy wall we called the harbourmaster over the VHF radio and requested their assistance contacting the relevant authorities, the reply was we should wait in the boat they had already called them.
So we sat and waited while having a cup of tea, alcohol is not well seen in Morocco so the celebratory beer was out of the equation. We waited two hours and then a guy in uniform arrived and told us to follow him... with the fellow Aussies story still fresh in our mind Ana replied the guy in French that we had received instructions from the harbourmaster to wait in the boat. The guy kept insisting so Ana replied she would confirm with the harbourmaster via VHF radio, the guy shrugged his shoulders and left mumbling.
After reconfirming the instructions to wait, we sat and waited for another hour.
Having waited for 3h now we contacted the harbourmaster again and this time the reply was that maybe we should go by ourselves to find the offices, they explained we needed to go find Aduane services by the ferry terminal.
We got ready, with our passports and boat documents and made our way shyly towards the big ferry terminal.
This was it we were walking in Morocco streets without proper papers of arrival or even a person or number of a contact in case we were stopped by the police.
We walked towards the ferry terminal but the moment we got close to the gates we got stopped by the guards, this was the car's entry and exit and although a lot of locals were crossing these gates by foot we clearly didn’t belong there so we needed to be stopped. After big conversations between Ana and the guards that gathered around us, they finally told us to go to a specific booth and ask for the supervisor Mr Xxx. And so we did.
Mr Xxx was quite amused by our story and immediately gave us all the details of what we needed to do.
He took copies of our passports and boat documents, gave us a receipt and directions on how to get our passports stamped, after getting the passports stamped we should return to him and only him to get the final paper from Customs clearing our yacht of formalities.
We left the ferry terminal and walked towards the Capitaine (harbourmaster) building failing to realise that we needed to go to the identical building immediately behind.
The nice lady with whom we had been speaking on the VHF directed us to the right building straight away.
Once we finally arrived at the immigration office the lady in charge was not happy at all, it had passed 4h since our arrival and we had refused to follow the officer she had sent for us. She couldn’t be bothered to go out of the office with this heat.
We told her the story of our fellow Aussies and that we had been instructed by the harbourmaster to wait a few times and apologised immensely, she got over it and stamped our passports after seeing the receipt we got previously from the Aduane.
She informed us that if we wanted to leave the harbour with our yacht even if to return at the end of the day we needed to come and stamp our passports before and after. Right on that moment, we scheduled with her the time for our check out the following Sunday because she wouldn’t be at the office but only on call.
We left towards the ferry terminal with our stamped passports to complete the formalities, Mr.Xxx was waiting for us with the final papers completed, these we would have to return only before leaving the country in the last port of call.
On our departure day, we went to the immigration office as scheduled to stamp our passports out although we were going to Rabat, Morocco capital, that’s another story I’ve already told on post Morocco heading South.