Moulay Bouzerktoun, Morocco

Moulay Bouzerktounis only just on the map; a tiny village near the fishing town of Essaouira. Once we heard through the windsurfing grapevine that it was home to strong summer thermals, decent swell and that Moroccan superstar, Boujamaa Guilloul, sailed there, the vans were as good as packed and we embarked on the 2000 mile journey by land and sea to Africa.

Fact File

Windy Season June to September; windiest period June/July
Wet Suit? Sea a little chilly – need summer suit.
Average Wind Speed Force 6
Flight Time (From UK) They drove down (!) but it takes 3hr 40mins.
How To Get There

Drive

We drove from Portsmouth to Moulay Bouzerktoun. It took 7 days at quite a leisurely pace. The ferry from Portsmouth to Le Harve costs around £150 depending how early you book for two people and a van. The ferry from Algeciras (near Tarifa) to Ceuta (Spanish soil in Morocco) cost £230 for two people and a van.

Fly

There are now charter flights with companies such as Easy Jet and Thomson; some fly to Marrakech, some to Agadir. Cost can vary from £90 to £300 depending on time of year, or you can go for the expensive option of flying schedule with the likes of British Airways. Excess baggage on the charter flights is £30 per windsurfer, but you could end up paying per kilo with scheduled airlines.

How The Wind Works

Windy season is the summer, with June and July blowing force 6-8 from the North making it starboard tack. The end of July until September sees a continuation of the wind, but a force less in strength. These are thermal winds and are not always on the Wind Guru forecast! It can be windy from 10am but many choose not to rig until later because it continues to increase until lunch time. At around 5-6pm it often drops another sail size, so if you still have the energy it could mean rigging down.

They only tend to get wind in the winter upon the arrival of storms, and when this is the case it is a south-westerly wind (cross-on port tack).

The Sailing Spots

Moulay Bouzerktoun

Beach faces: West

Tide: Easiest launch is at high tide making it sandy but it is a reef break and as the tide goes out the reef appears. It’s not a particularly sharp reef, but there are waist deep pot holes and the odd sea urchin which can catch you out.

At mid to low tide be careful how close you sail to the beach – it is shallower than you think and your fin will suffer!

Hazards: High tide presents the only hazard whilst sailing if there is a decent swell as the waves, just downwind, break and wash into the rock cubicles on the beach, so if you dig a rail you want to get out of there as quickly as possible.

Wipeout potential: The waves aren’t ridiculously heavy but they aren’t that light either. Moulay is notorious for taking noses off boards but none of us (party of 20) had any problems whilst there. There is no rescue cover so if you break something very far out you could have a very long swim in and could get carried down the coast quite a distance.

 

Essaouira

Half an hour down the road is the fishing town of Essaouira; a long sandy beach with an easy launch. It can get a little choppy in the summer thermals. At some times of year waves break by the harbour wall and there have been reports of it reaching mast high. The Mistral and Fanatic centres have rescue boats who I’m sure would rescue you if you were in imminent danger!

 

Sidi Kaoki

This is a sandy beach break half-an-hour away from Essaouira further south. However, here the wave packs quite a punch and on bigger days shore dump can be an issue.

Water State

Moulay can get decent swells during the winter and spring which can reach over double mast high. The summer is when it is flattest but we only saw it actually flat on one occasion when there was absolutely no wind. On average the waves will be boom height throughout the summer, and as you move through August to September they will get larger. We averaged head high but had some logo and mast high days at the end of August. The water temp is a little chilly. You could sail in boardies if you wanted but you wouldn’t last more than half an hour! It is far more comfortable in either a shortie OR a summer suit.

Instruction And Kit Hire

Moulay has no kit hire or instruction. You can hire kit from Essaouira and they will let you bring it here but if you break something it is not covered under the rental insurance. If you want a proper instructional trip to Morocco than go through Sportif and book a package deal to Essaouira.

Accommodation

If you are not driving and therefore not camping on the beach then there is only one place to stay in Moulay – and that’s Lawama’s. Owned by Fettah (a windsurfer who totally rips) they rent out three rooms in a Moroccan style house. It is very basic and you must remember that there is no running water or electricity in Moulay, so although there is a toilet you have to flush it with water that they provide you with from the well. There isn’t a shower in the house but there is a shower in the village which opens during summer months and costs around 50p to use.

It costs 10 euros a night to stay at Lawama’s including a delicious breakfast, and they have kit storage. To avoid disappointment during peak summer book ahead: lawama@hotmail.fr

Essaouira however offers a huge variety of accommodation. You can rent a flat from as cheap as 10 Euros a night, stay in cheap hotels for the same price or stay in the 5 star Sofitel right on the beach!

Food

Moulay:

The local kids bring round crepes and bread to the beach in the morning for less than 10p so that’s breakfast sorted!

The only restaurant to eat in is Lawamas where main meals average £3.50 (50 DH), and it is delicious. The local dish is Tajine which is full of vegetables, potato and either meat or fish. If you spend a lot of time at Moulay and stay on the beach the locals may approach you and offer to cook for you. They will often provide Couscous or tajine of your choice followed by mint tea and fresh fruit. It is certainly something not to miss out on. Both Arby and Masjid managed to cater for 14 of us at a time. It costs around 50 Dirhams per head (£3.50).

Essaouira:

There are tons of little stalls lining the streets that are the equivalent of a fast food chain. You can get steak/sausage/chicken baguettes with chips for 20 DH (£1.30) and any of us would recommend the steak baguette. There are quite a few little restaurants hidden away in the Medinat and you can get a 3 course set menu including tajine for around 75 DH (£5.00). The Moroccan food is great, but you do have to be careful with salad, often only washed with their tap water which isn’t the best. It’s a good idea to only eat fruit which you know had a skin on, and not buy fruit on the street because it could have been sat there for days. Morocco is notorious for getting the shits but as long as you are sensible you are fine – I didn’t get it and I have a really sensitive stomach!

If you are self-catered there is only one supermarket, but you will not necessarily have to use it. You can buy meat, veg, spices, pasta etc all from the market stalls in the Medinat and it is extremely cheap. Just try and make sure you shop early so that what you are buying hasn’t been sat in the scorching heat all day.

Nightlife

Drinking isn’t big in Morocco and if you are going to do it then it will get expensive. Beers from the shop in town are pretty much the same price as back home. There are a couple of bars near the waterfront and the windsurf centres sometimes run club nights but a vodka coke costs £6.00!

Bored Of Windsurfing

Surfing at Moulay is great and if you have a car then you can explore the coast for other surfing spots.

You could spend hours wandering round the Medinat discovering street after street, the place never seems to end!

I believe there are quad biking excursions that run from Essaouira along with organised surf trips. If you have a car then a trip to Marrakech is a must: the town is huge and comes alive at sunset. Temperatures can reach 50 degrees though so one day is plenty!

Surf Trip Companies: www.morocsurf.com,www.surfmaroc.co.uk

Car rental: www.carrentals.co.ukwww.e-sixt.co.uk,www.easycar.com

Hot Tips

Off the water:

They are a great nation of people and super friendly. The religion is Muslim so out of respect it is better for guys not to wander around with tops off and women to cover shoulders. On the beach, however, you can chill in the usual swim wear!

Good luck with the toilets! Take loo roll with you where ever you go, and strengthen your quads before the trip because there aren’t many places that you can sit down and go! Even if there are proper toilets, the chances are that you wouldn’t want to sit down for hygiene reasons.

On the water:

There is a wave spot 2 km upwind but it never gets that busy at the main beach, so we didn’t feel the need to trek upwind. If the horizon over land and sea looks a little hazy before sunset, the chances are you WON’T get wind the next day.

Essaouira is home to Boujamaa Guilloul and he has been sailing at Moulay Bouzerktoun since he was 13. It is his training ground and he is usually there for a break in the summer. He is amazing to watch on the water.

Conclusion

This place is amazing! I don’t think I have ever been to one beach which is so good for both riding and jumping. There was a whole range of abilities in our party and all were catered for. Various people learnt to waterstart, waveride, forward loop, back loop, aerial, vulcan etc etc!! The people are lovely and the culture is very different to ours so it’s fascinating to learn about it & be amongst if for so long. We shall be back!

Tourist

Name: Tanya Saleh
Local beach in UK: Hayling Island
How many years sailing: 8 yrs
Last windsurf move you cracked: Forward loop
What you’re working on now: The loop of the back variety.
Competition results: Student Nationals Champion 2004-2006

The Photographer Was….

Chris Hughes

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