Nov 09 2012

The ferry crossing

9th Nov 2012

Chefchaoune, Morocco

Just so that there is no confusion – Africa officially starts at Algeciras ferry port, which sadly thinks it is still on the Spanish mainland.

Our ferry was at 0900, so we made every effort to be there before 0800 (even with returning to retrieve African GirlChild’s forgotten jacket).  0755 we pulled in, and joined the vehicle queue in – let’s call it – waiting area 1.  Plenty of time.  Noel and Ping arrived about 0810 and were about 6 or 7 cars behind us.

It didn’t take very long for the ticket booth to open, and we could proceed from waiting area 1, have our tickets changed from open to booked onto the ferry, and proceed to the next queue – waiting area 2 for ease of use.

0900 came and went.

By this time, Noel and Ping had been informed that they weren’t going on the 9am ferry after all (too many tall vehicles) and were in their own waiting area.  They were due to leave on the 1200 ferry.  So, we stood around, Ping cooked some breakfast, and we chatted.

As it transpired, the incoming ferry was struggling its way across the Straits in stormy weather.  It was estimated to arrive at 1000 and we would be departing at 1030.  I was quite impressed that they could offload and reload the ferry in 30 minutes – maybe this part of Africa is slicker!

1100 the excitement resumed – we moved from waiting area 2 into a long queue on the quayside as we waited for the arriving ferry to unload.  Then, suddenly, it was our turn to board.  Of course, all vehicles needed to turn around and reverse in, so make disembarking easier once we had crossed.  The first vehicles on were the 18 wheelers, followed by larger trucks, overloaded people carriers, campers, 4x4s down to sedans.  We parked our truck and headed upstairs to the deck to watch the final loading and departure from Algeciras.

1200 came and went … still the ramp hadn’t been raised.  Eventually, 5 men emerged wiped greasy hands and we were off … 1215 departure for the 0900 ferry.

Next up – the 35 minute crossing through stormy straits.  It was still quite calm as we left the port and made our way past the little rock that is Gibralter, but gradually the waves grew.  While Viking Explorer stood outside the whole time, African GirlChild found a quiet chair indoors … and attempted to doze.  We finally docked in Ceuta, the Spanish enclave on the tip of Africa at 1345 … the longest 35 minute crossing in history!

Great excitement – we all headed down the vehicles, hopped in … and waited.  We grabbed a book, read a bit, had a nap, read some more … nada.  As it transpired, they couldn’t lower the ramp.  It only took them until 1500 to figure it out!  Those men with greasy hands in Algeciras all made sense now…  Right, no problem.  Just turn the ferry around and we’ll exit the other way.  The way we all aren’t pointing, because we had to reverse onto the ferry.

But never fear.  This should be a piece of cake.  Afterall, the unloading only starts with those large 18 wheelers, reversing at a funny angle down a ramp … Inch by inch, change of drivers, inch by inch … and it was off!  One by one, the remaining vehicles either reversed off or turned around.  Finally it was our turn … 1520

You just gotta love Africa!


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  1. Heather

    Love it! Congratulations on making African soil! Enjoy and good luck x

  2. Eirik

    :-) Should have been ther to help you unload those 18 wheelers….. Stay calm and enjoy!

    1. African GirlChild

      Yip! We almost did need you!

  3. andy cook

    welcome to Africa! and africa “time” :)

  4. Scott Laddiman

    TIA….. ”This Is Africa”……………..!!!! Just classic… LOL………

    1. African GirlChild

      Absolutely brilliant! And that is why we started early …

  5. Arno & Elize van der Merwe

    Welkom in Afrika! Hoop om julle in Mosselbaai te sien:-)

    1. African GirlChild

      Baie dankie! Dis altyd goed om in Afrika te wees! Ons sal jou beslis in Mosselbaai sien ;)

  6. patrick gilligan

    It’s all hapening !

  7. Vibeke

    LOL, I so wanted to press the ‘like’ button after reading this :-)

  8. Nita

    yay…africa…would still rather be there…

  9. paul and cathy

    great stuff guys, keep the blogs coming!

  10. Kirsty

    Sounds like Morocco is stuck in a warp of “manyana” and “hakuna ma ta ta”…. Welcome to Africa. Hurry up and wait ;)

  11. Vic

    Brilliant news that you’re finally on African soil, despite the hassles getting there… Eish…!!! I laughed out loud… Would love to be there with you, soaking up those African rays…

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