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PASSAGE TO AFRICA

June 15th, 2012 No comments

In our wildest dreams, our Med Adventure did not include North Africa. . .but the thing about “adventures” is that they take you to places that you never imagined going. 

After spending considerable time in Sicily and hearing cruising tales of Tunisia–including the fact that diesel fuel and yard work are super cheap–how could we not make a 132 NM overnight passage to Africa–leave at noon, and arrive the next morning.  Besides, some dolphins accompanied us on the way to Trapani where we planned to check out of the EU, and every sailor knows that dolphins bring good luck.

Dolphins racing Destiny. . .guess who won!

Trapani is a large commercial port on the west coast of Sicily and makes a good jumping off point for a passage to Tunisia. 

A fort greets visitors to Trapani.

The harbormaster in Trapani runs a very tight ship and fines of 300 euros are handed out to any captain who dares to enter the harbor without calling in.  The dolphins must be lucky because we poked into the first marina we saw and were immediately told to “radio in”–a savings of 300 euros right there!

Once settled into Marina Vento di Maestrale (highly recommended for our cruising friends) I went to check out with the Guardia Costeria.  The English speaking marina manager arranged for the Immigration officers to come to the marina to stamp our passports, and we were off.

A fishing boat accompanied us out of the harbor. . .arrivederci Sicily!

We have frequently left the EU for other countries, but this was our first voyage to another continent.  Thankfully, the wind Gods cooperated and we were able to sail for the first half of the trip.

Making 7 kts. in 15 kts. of breeze.

As sunset arrived, we were motorsailing and the passage through the straits between Sicily and Tunisia took us through a heavily travelled shipping lane.  We were very glad to have AIS which allowed us to track up to 22 vessels at a time that were converging on us, and even communicate with one or two whose paths were dangerously close.

As the sunsets we are out of sight of land and any other ships. . .but only for a while as AIS targets start popping up.

When we are on overnight passages we take turns doing “watches” although I think Kent sleeps with one eye open.  My watch is usually until midnight and Kent does midnight to 4 a.m. after which I come back on watch.

At 5 a.m. we were within 27 NM of our destination–Marina Yasmine, just south of Hammamet.  There were small fishing boats off the coast, dotting the horizon with red and green lights.  Then sunrise–my favorite time of day.

As dawn breaks, only Destiny's wake disturbs the flat calm water. . .

until the African sun is above the horizon erasing the pink of morning.

As we entered the marina we had our first “Barbary Coast” sighting as a pirate ship filled with boistrous vacationers blasted its way past us.

We entered Port Yasmine. . .

as a pirate ship was leaving. . .

loaded with vacationers from one of many hotels that line the beach.

After checking in at three offices, and being boarded by customs and immigration police with their hands out for “gifts”, we were officially in Tunisia.  Jolie, for one was glad to be back in sight of land.

Jolie's nose starts twitching after a passage as we get near land.

Our first impression?  Marina Yasmine in Hammamet is to Tunisia what Fort Lauderdale is to Florida.  More Tunisia to follow.

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