July 1993 - Cagliari to Al Kantaoui - Page 3

21 July 1993 Ilas de Lampedusa
We planned to leave today in a light NW 5 knot wind, but the Italian guy (Calogero) next door said that it would be a NW 35 knot “Maestrale”, so we decided not to go. I’m glad that we took his advice because by lunch time it was blowing 25 knots in the port. By two o’clock, we were the inside of a raft of five yachts being blown straight onto the quay. I spent 1½ hours putting tyres, planks and fenders between us and the rough nasty wall. Calogero cooked a load of fish at lunchtime and gave us about 2 kg of it – very tasty!

22 July 1993 Ilas de Lampedusa
It was blowing a hooley all night. We spent the morning on chores and schoolwork and went to the beach after lunch. We carried the windsurfer to the beach which is about 1/2 mile away – it was very heavy and Glenys had a sense of humour failure! The windsurfing was very difficult because of gusts (great!) I sailed the windsurfer back to the fishing port.

There are a lot of fishing boats here, Lampeduesa depends on processing fish and more recently tourism. There is a deep continental shelf off North Africa and the Sicilian trawler fleet come here to fish.

23 July 1993 Ilas de Lampedusa
We are still trapped by NW 20 knot winds. Glenys and boys went to the beach. I stayed in and worked on our tax returns. I reckon that the whole of the Lampedusa and a quarter of the Sicilian fishing fleet are holed up here too! The fishing boats are rafted 6 deep as well as yachts.

We’ve realised that we don’t have a courtesy flag for Tunisa, so Glenys spent a few hours making one from bits of scrap material. Some countries are sticklers for flag etiquette.

24 July 1993 Ilas de Lampedusa to Madhia, Tunisia (Day 1)
The wind was still NW this morning, so we decided to stay for the day. At about two o’clock, I was starting to wonder if perhaps we should leave. Calogero from the Italian boat next door (Classe II) decided he was going to Conigli and we decided to go too. We motored to the beautiful anchorage.

We left the port in such a hurry that Glenys couldn’t post a postcard to her Mum. Since it already had the Italian stamps on it, I volunteered to swim across to “Classe II” and get Calogero to post it for us. The topsides of Glencora are absolutely filthy from the tyres, oil and garbage while we were against the quay wall. We spent an hour cleaning off the worst of the dirt and cleaning the fenders.

We left the anchorage at about six o’clock in the evening heading for Tunisia. We were going to go straight to Monastir, but Mahdia looks very interesting in the pilot, so Mahdia it is!

25 July 1993 Ilas de Lampedusa to Madhia, Tunisia (Day 2)
Its funny how at three o’clock in the morning when I come down to write the position in the log, I normally write 1450 instead of 0250, my mind obviously believes that there is only one three o’clock and that’s in the afternoon! It was a beautiful starry sky with bright milky way only slightly marred by the profusion of fishing boats and the lack of wind. At dawn, the sea was like a mirror and I think I saw quite a few flying fish – do they have flying fish in the Mediterranean?

We arrived in the fishing port at nine o’clock in the morning and rafted alongside 3 other yachts. The entry formalities were in triplicate, but fairly straightforward. By midday the wind was SE 20 knots, so we had timed it well!

26 July 1993 Madhia
I woke up at half past six this morning partly because of the noise outside with the fishing boats unloading and partly because we have put the clocks back 1 hour! I went for a walk around the port watching the noisy auctioning of fish.

The bartering starts as the fish are unloaded and continues down the chain until the fish are bought in smaller lots by people outside the port. In the chaos of the bartering, eight year old boys pick up fish dropped on the floor (or steal them from the piled up boxes and then sell them to other people. I bought about 1½ kg sardines for 1 dinar (£0.66) and I think I was charged too much. One of the traders gave me a fruit that I think is part of a Prickly Pear cactus. Tasted like the middle of a honey dew melon – loads of seeds and a bit slimy.

Glenys informs me that today is our 13th wedding anniversary! I spend an hour or so filling up with fuel. The easiest way to get fuel was to walk down to the petrol station and fill up one of our 25 litre fuel cans - it took three runs to fill up. We went for a hot dusty walk around the old town (Medina).

27 July 1993 Madhia
The wind went from SE20 to NW20 overnight, so we are trapped by the Maestrale again!

I find Tunisia fascinating because it is so different from what we have seen up to now. The fact that the country is Muslim gives the place a different feel – mosques calling the faithful to prayer, women walking around in traditional sifsaris and the difficulty of buying alcohol...

We made a big mistake and didn’t stock up on wine before we left Spain - we’ve now run out. We have been used to buying 1 litre “tetra-bricks” of red wine for 35 pence. It was expensive in Malta and it’s even worse now because Tunisia is predominantly muslim and all alcohol is difficult to get hold of. The pilot book says that “Wine can be found in an inconspicuous store on the main road along the water front.” I walked down this morning to look for it, but couldn’t find any sign of a liquor store.

A guy off another yacht told me that the shop is there, but is only open after four o’clock in the afternoon. So at half past three, I walked back hoping to find the “inconspicuous” store. The shop has no sign, just blue shutters, but it was very obvious because of the crowd of about fifty Tunisians crowded around the entrance waiting for it to open. I joined the throng, barely escaping being burnt by cigarettes held in wildly gesticulating hands. Just after four o’clock, the doors opened and the crowd surged forward into the tiny shop, sweeping me along. The noise was incredible as everyone started to shout their orders to the two people behind the counter.

I finally managed to push my way to the front. There were no goods on display so, with no knowledge of Arabic, I struggled to ask for red wine with my basic French. “Vin Rouge, Vin Rouge”, I shouted. The guys behind the counter just shrugged and served other customers. Eventually one of the other customers helped me by figuring out that I wanted six bottles of red wine and ordering on my behalf in Arabic. I eventually escaped with my wine and a couple of cigarette burns.

Buying a chicken is just as interesting - the chickens are held in cages outside the small shop and I had to go in and point at the one I wanted. The shop keeper grabbed the chicken and plonked it onto a scale to weigh it. I was amazed that the stupid creature just sat there looking around amidst the chaos.

With a deft slash, the butcher slit the bird’s throat and then dropped it into a big plastic barrel, slamming on a lid. There was a sickening thumping. while the chicken thrashed about in the barrel in its death throws. After a couple of minutes, the butcher reached in and pulled out the bloody, dead bird. Then holding the chicken by the feet, he dipped it into a pan of very hot water and thrust it into a machine which looked like a giant rotating shoeshine brush to “pluck” it. With economical, quick strokes of the knife, he cut off its head, feet and gutted it in about 20 seconds flat. The bird was pushed into a white plastic bag and handed to me over the counter. I walked out in shock, clutching my steaming purchase.

28 July 1993 Madhia
We did a few jobs on the boat today because the wind is still NW10-20 and the sea looks a bit rough for going north. We went out for a meal in the evening. I was disappointed because I wanted a “traditional” meal but the restaurant we chose was too western. I asked for couscous with fish but was told I had to order that in advance! I ended up with fish and chips!

29 July 1993 Madhia to Monastir
There wasn’t much wind this morning, so we motored north. The Mediterranean is the pits for sailing! We had to go round the end of a tunny net which was stretching north from Ile Kuriate. There were a couple of empty 4-masted boats at the end but no activity.

We motored all the way into Monastir marina which is a very typical modern marina – lots of quayside restaurants and tourists strolling about. We went alongside the quay right next to a children’s merry-go-round which Brett and Craig thought was ideal! Glenys and I didn’t think it was ideal at midnight, when the loud disco music was still blaring away.

30 July 1993 Monastir to Al Kantaoui
We went for a walk round the town this morning. We got pestered most of the way “come and look at my shop” and “half price, Asda price”. We finally gave in and bought two toy camels for the boys. We went and looked at the President’s Mausoleum which is very impressive, then walked to the Ribat which is just a castle.

Exhausted by the heat, we made our way back to the boat and got ready to leave. I went to start the engine, but it wouldn’t start - I had to bleed the diesel system.

Finally, we filled up with fuel and set off for Al Kantaoui in a bracing south easterly. We had a very pleasant sail to Al Kantaoli Marina - it was a bit of a hairy entrance with a 1 metre swell and 25 knot wind behind us. We also had a bit of a struggle to get onto the short 5 metre finger pontoon with a strong cross wind.

31 July 1993 Al Kantaoui
I went diving in the morning which was on a disappointingly boring wreck - the gear that they had was very basic with no BCD, no pressure gauge and a J-valve to open up some reserve air.

We went to a swimming pool in the afternoon. The marina is very pleasant to look at and be in. We met Dennis and Denice on “Denecia” who have their boat based in the Mediterranean and come out for long holidays. There was another couple on a boat called “Vonder” who have been in Tunisia for 2 years (who are a bit odd - gone tropo...)