July 1993 - Cagliari to Al Kantaoui

1 July 1993 Mahon to Cagliari, Sardinia (Day 3)
We motored all night. At six o’clock, just as the sun came up, we got a nice NE15 knot wind and sailed for about 1 hour before we had to put the motor on again. We managed another one hour of sailing later on as we made our approach to the port.

I’ve been using our trailing log to try to check the hull log impellor. Just outside the harbour, we took the sails down and started to motor. Unfortunately while we were dropping the sails, the trailing log ended up wrapped around the prop. I spent 15 minutes diving down to unwrap the damn thing in the middle of the harbour. I ended up with lots of small, painful cuts on my arms from the barnacles on the propellor.

We went alongside a quay in the port and chatted to a German couple, Regina and Thomas, on “Aphrodite”.

Our passage was 284 miles by the trailing log but only 252 miles by the hull log, which is about 15% low. The impellor itself looks OK, so I’m not sure what is wrong. I’m a bit reluctant to pay the exorbitant price to replace the whole unit. We tried to get some Italian Lira without any luck.

2 July 1993 Cagliari
We went to the bank and got ¼ million lira - I love this currency! We then walked to NW corner of the port to see if we could motor over and get some fuel. There is a small marina, but the depth is only 1.7 metres so I had to carry fuel in a 25 litre container from a garage which was (fortunately) only 400metres away. It took me five trips to fill the fuel tank and probably lengthened my arm by 2 centimeters. We decided not to bother getting a cruising permit (Constituto) because our next stop is hopefully Malta.

3 July 1993 Cagliari
The forecast was for strong SE winds, which is roughly where we want to go, so we decided to stay. We did school work, went shopping and generally lounged about. Brett and I went for a walk and came across an art event at a church with about 10 artists each painting a picture. Brett found it interesting (and amazingly so did I!)

When we got back Brett, was so motivated that he decided that he wanted to paint, so he and Craig set up a makeshift easel on the quay and painted pictures.

4 July 1993 Cagliari
I talked to some Americans in a trimaran who arrived early this morning. They said that there was an unpleasant SE swell about 2-3 metre high. The forecast was SE 4 (not very good). We decided to try to go somewhere else to escape this miserable quayside, for a swim, etc. We motored out, rocked and rolled and came back – we’re trapped!! In my depression, I sulked and built a new power supply for the computer.

5 July 1993 Cagliari
It’s been another hot sticky Sirocco day with SE force 4-5 winds and a large swell coming into the port, so we had another day of hanging about. The forecast looks like it’s going westerly tomorrow, but might be quite strong. I had a long talk to the Americans, Bob and Liz on their trimaran “Baccante” about going around the world.

6 July 1993 Cagliari to Valetta, Malta (Day 1)
The wind blew up from the west last night. It was still pretty strong in the morning, so we waited for the weather forecast which said NW 4-5 increasing to 6 so we decided to “go for it”. When we got out it was gusting up to 30 knots, so we ran for 2 hours under just a jib.

The wind started to drop just after lunch, so I rigged up twin running sails. The wind picked up at about ten o’clock, but was OK with twin running sails as long as we helped the Hydrovane in the gusts. The Hydrovane seems to be OK as long as the wind is constant, but as soon as we get gusts it struggles - I ‘m not sure if it’s the effect of the mizzen.

7 July 1993 Cagliari to Valetta, Malta (Day 2)
It was gusting 30 knots at midnight – I had a very exciting time for a while, surfing at 10 knots! Fortunately, I had rigged the pole for the starboard genoa with a block at the end to take the Genoa sheet. This meant that it was fairly easy to roll away the sail leaving us with just the hanked jib. The wind gradually increased, so that at three o’clock in the morning, I dropped the hanked jib and Glenys ran with just a scrap of roller genoa out to port. At dawn, we gybed the jib and poled it out on the starboard side.

By mid-morning, the wind had dropped to 15 knots so I re-rigged the twin sails. The wind is not a problem, but the swell and waves are really annoying. When the wind is high the waves can be anything up to 30 degrees from the wind direction, so we get pushed all over the place – I hope it’s not like this when we cross the Atlantic! I ran the engine for 1 hour to charge the batteries. We ran through the night with twin fore sails.

8 July 1993 Cagliari to Valetta, Malta (Day 3)
The wind dropped at about half past eight in the morning, so I put the engine on. We then had to motor all the way! The last 3 hours to Valletta, while we were passing Gozo and the western end of Malta, were the longest of my life – I just wanted to get there! We moored in Lazaretto Creek (fore and aft) and cleared customs. The customs guy was the friendliest that I’ve come across so far.

9 July 1993 Valetta
I went to the “Marina” office and was told that we “may” (probably) be moved about if we stay for 1 week. They seemed very perturbed when I said I might go away for a few days! They rang Msida Marina and arranged a berth for us, so we motored around there.

It took me about 2 hours to get my brain in gear – I don’t like coming to large cities because there are too many options (and decisions!). We went into Valletta Town on a very “colonial” type bus with bright shiny paint and lots of chrome bits. Valletta is a very interesting town with incredible fortifications. We went for a meal on an old ship restaurant right next to our pontoon. Glenys ended up chatting endlessly to two girls in the playground. (Funny how girls always like to chat!)

10 July 1993 Valetta
I’ve decided to get the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification, so I spent most of the day rushing around to arrange a diving course. Glenys stayed on the boat and got hacked off because all she seems to do is household chores and looking after the boys. Brett asked when we are leaving Valletta because he wants to go to a beach – perhaps we ought to review our plans and lifestyle and not go to Greece. We bought Brett and Craig a small dinghy which they love!

11 July 1993 Valetta
It’s blisteringly hot. Most of the day was spent doing schoolwork, tidying up the boat and revision for my diving course. We all went to the fiesta at Ghizra – not very spectacular!

12 July 1993 Valetta
I caught the bus across the island to Ghar Lapsi Dive Centre and did two shore dives. One was a check-out dive and the other was a navigation dive. After I had completed the navigation exercise, I was used as the “student” for a guy who was training to be a Dive Master. I had to remove my mask, BCD, do a emergency assisted ascent, etc, etc. It was good practice.

There are lots of octopus here. On both dives we managed to catch an octopus. They are amazing creatures. If you are gentle, when you let go of them, they will float in front of you and then slowly try to “jet” away. You can then catch them in your hands and slowly pull them back. On the second dive, the instructor put an octopus onto my face - it was very weird to have it clamped onto my mask and regulator.

Glenys stayed on the boat and scrubbed the deck - I feel a bit guilty...

13 July 1993 Valetta
I went diving and did two dives. I did a deep dive down to 30 metres and a shallower dive as the “boat” dive. Nice dives.

On the second dive we messed around doing “moon walking” which is good fun. You simply take off your fins, pick up a big rock to weigh you down and then walk across the sea bed. Really funny. You can do back loops and giant strides. I also found out that when you laugh underwater, you get water leaking into your mask as your face crinkles up.

Glenys went to Selima and bought Brett some real deck shoes.

14 July 1993 Valetta
I went diving (again) and did two dives - wreck and night dive. The wreck dive was a bit of a mission having to swim against a strong current going to the wreck. My “buddy” used a lot of air and ended up using my octopus when his air got down to 25 bar. The night dive was interesting but no great traumas. I got my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver qualification and got back to the marina really late.

Glenys had tried to take the boys on an excursion, but they didn’t have any places left - she’s getting a bit cranky.

15 July 1993 Valetta
I did various jobs on the boat - it’s bloody hot and there’s no wind at all, so it’s very oppressive. I changed the oil and fuel filters, which was not pleasant in this heat. I rang John Day and confirmed that we will meet him in Tenerife during the first week of December ready for crossing the Atlantic. He seems pretty relaxed about where and when we go and when we arrive.

16 July 1993 Valetta
I did various jobs on the boat. We decided that we will go to Tunisia rather than Greece and then head back to the Balearics and on to Gibraltar. It would be too much travelling to go to Greece and back. We went to the fuel dock to fill up with diesel.

17 July 1993 Valetta
We did more jobs on the boat in the morning then went to the Fiesta at Msida. Contestants were trying to run to the end of a 50 ft pole placed at 30° over water and covered with grease! Highly amusing. The church was covered in red drapes, gilt and frescoes, which was very impressive. There were the obligatory Maltese fireworks from eight o’clock in the morning to eleven o’clock at night.

18 July 1994 Valetta
I did various jobs on the boat; tightened the forestay and backstay; stripped the fridge pump and fitted a water filter.

A French guy and Algerian woman arrived on “Nagawicka”. They could only speak French and were struggling to make themselves understood in the marina office. Glenys just happened to be in there and helped translate for them. The couple were very grateful and came by at eight o’clock in the evening and offered to take Brett for a walk. Glenys said yes and they disappeared towards town. After about five minutes, Glenys realised that she didn’t know these people at all and she’d let them take her eldest child away! She rushed out to try to find them. Brett came back at twenty past nine without Glenys! A mildly panicking Glenys turned up fifteen minutes later.

19 July 1993 Valetta to Ilas de Lampedusa (Day 1)
I went to the customs at eight o’clock this morning and cleared out. They had a record of when John Holms was here with Glencora in 1988 and I had to wait while they changed their records. Before we could leave the marina, I had to radio Valletta Port Control to request clearance for leaving and then wait while they checked with customs. Very bureaucratic!

We motored along the NE coast of Malta and through the channel between Malta and Gozo. The wind was coming from the West, which was the course we wanted to steer, so we had a long beat - fortunately the seas were very calm.

At about half past seven in the evening, we decided to start the engine and put the sails away. I tried to roll the Genoa away but it was very, very stiff. I had to go up the mast in the Bosun’s chair and found that one of the shackles holding the genoa halyard to the roller reefing swivel was binding on the swivel. I temporarily sorted the problem by rotating one of the shackles, but it needs a longer shackle.

19 July 1993 Valetta to Ilas de Lampedusa (Day 2)
We had to motor all night. Glenys lost a contact lens when we were changing our watch at three o’clock in the morning. We spent ½ hour searching for it before we gave up. We eventually found it in the morning, stuck to the bottom of the lens case!

We arrived at the busy little port of Lampedusa at about nine o’clock in the morning and tied up alongside an Italian yacht against the Favalore quay next to a whole load of fishing boats. We went to the beach, and had a meal in a restaurant. They didn’t have any menus, but instead expected customers to ask for what they wanted. As we spoke no Italian and they spoke no English this was a bit of a difficult thing to achieve. Eventually they brought out a poster showing marine life of the Mediterranean and we were able to point at some snapper-looking things. They produced a fantastic meal. We got back to the boat to find that we are now on the inside of a raft of three yachts!

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...)