The Last Sail of the 2018 Season- From Pantelleria, Italy to Monastir, Tunisia - August 4, 2018


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Africa » Tunisia » Monastir
August 4th 2018
Published: August 5th 2018
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Yesterday we had a long passage and during that time I had a chance to write down a few thoughts - I know that there are still numerous blog entries I need to do to "catch up" with what we have done since my last entry, but thought you might be interested to find out what we did just yesterday.

Saturday, August 4th - our last sail of this season. It is coming early this year, but that is the way it worked out with our visa. Weather forecast has been checked and double-checked. All looks good for the 17 hour crossing to Tunisia if predictions hold. Tried to get some sleep last night but neither of us could so just rested. The alarm went off at 1:30AM and we go through all the tasks to be done which have become automatic by now - power turned off, electric cords rolled up and put away, put the kettle on for hot water and put it in the thermos for later, start the engine, turn on chart plotter and instruments. Ask each other, “are you ready?" and then slip the lines from the quay and start the journey. We left as planned at 2AM and fortunately had a clear sky and an almost half moon to give us light. A great start.

We come out of the marina and almost immediately we see "twinkling lights" and a few fishing boats ahead. Must be lights on the fish pots. Why do they put them right outside of the marina?

We had put the main up when we were still tied to the quay, now that we are out of the protection of the break wall we decide there is light wind as predicted and we will put out the staysail. We head for the rhomb line that Bob has planned out. Once on it there is no deviation until we reach our goal of Monastir.

Typically one of us would stay on duty for 4 hours while the other rest. With neither of us getting sleep last night we decide to both stay up for awhile. We spot some fishing boats in the distance and are happy to have moonlight. All of a sudden Bob is pretty sure he saw a flare go off which convinces us more than ever that we will both stay on duty together for a little longer.

The clouds start to move in and eventually they "turn off" our moonlight. Fortunately it doesn't last too long and the moon is back. Seems to be quiet with no traffic so Janice states she will stay on duty so Bob can rest at 5 AM. Needing something to pass the time besides staring into the empty seas ahead, the camera comes out to experiment with some shots of the moon and sail - it is beautiful at night, but not sure if it will show up. I keep trying but never have much luck. The horizon starts to lighten up some around 5:45 and by 6:30 AM Janice is treated to a fabulous sunrise. Out comes the camera again to try to capture it, but it never does it justice. At least it helps pass the time. It is 7:25AM and Janice can't stay awake so has to get Bob up to go on duty. He makes a cup of coffee and heads up to the cockpit and Janice lies down. We will keep this pattern for now but once we both have had some rest we will probably stay up for the rest of the day. Time will tell.

Wind stays as predicted. We are doing better than we had thought with some consistent speeds of over 6 knots. Our conservative planning was with both 5 and 5.5 knots so doing well. If this continues our trip will be shorter.

Completing the entries in the logbook, looking out with the binoculars and just looking out over the beautiful sea fills the time. It is 11AM and just saw the first pleasure yacht heading in the opposite direction.

The water is a deep blue, the sunlight makes it glisten. We both always keep a look out for dolphin, but nothing seen. The only signs of life have been numerous terns that glide seemingly effortlessly what appear to be inches away from the surface of the water. They are almost mesmerizing to watch, but you always have to remember to scan the waters ahead.

We passed the half way mark and by 11AM we only have 32 miles to go of an 84 mile crossing. Winds are predicted to die down some later - hope it holds off a little longer. Janice is pretty sure she spotted land, but Bob thinks she is seeing things. It is now noon and the winds have cut down some so we pushed up the rpm's on the engine some as we found out that the marina monitors the VHF radio but only until 6PM - would like to get there before that so we can contact them to find out where they want us. Also will have to do the formal check in to the country when we arrive so would be good to do this as early as possible. We always chuckle at the fact that many marinas only monitor the radio during "office hours" but boats do not usually move on that type of a schedule. Oh well, it always seems to work out.

12:30PM - time for lunch - seas have calmed down since we started - they were somewhat confused earlier and higher, it is times like these that sometimes you always forget you are on a moving sailboat. Guess we have gotten used to the movements of Tsamaya over the years. The winds did cut down some, but we were able to still get some benefit from the sails. Bob went to lie down again in the afternoon and
Hours and Hours of Open Sea Hours and Hours of Open Sea Hours and Hours of Open Sea

always on the lookout for boats and fishing pots
the winds picked up enough that with Janice tweaking the sails some we got up to speed again. The seas were empty except for us for a long time and then we would come upon a fishing boat or a couple of fishing pots. As it got closer to arriving in Monastir the skies started to darken quite a bit and we were happy that we had done as well as we had. We took down the sails and just then the wind picked up drastically – a great time to pull into a marina! Called the marina on the VHF as instructed but no one answered. Called on the phone and I was told that someone would be at the marina to meet us. Fortunately we saw him straight ahead of us and he helped us in to a side tie. Pretty sure it will be a temporary spot but for now we were just glad to be tied up.

Had to take our paperwork (boat papers and passports) to the police office located right at the marina. Filled out some forms and visited with them asking some questions about local customs regarding times for eating and dress code for walking around the town. Once the paperwork was completed there we had to go to the customs office to complete more paperwork. Paperwork was reviewed and stamped. Then the police and the customs officer came on board. They needed to check the boat – looked in a few of the cupboards, asked about firearms and flares and then what seemed most important, where do we keep our alcohol. We had told them that we had mostly wine, but did have a ½ bottle of gin and a bottle of rum. They weren’t that interested in that and we were flat out asked, “Don’t you have any American whiskey? I thought I could get some of that from you”. We explained that we were more into wine and told them we had heard that Tunisia makes a good wine – he concurred about the wine and then told us we had a nice boat and left. We had heard that sometimes people in the past had been asked for “a gift” but thought that wasn’t done so much anymore. Our first experience of it here in Tunisia. No problem though with saying we didn’t have anything for him.

We completed our passage in 14 ½ hours – not bad for planning on it being a 16.5 - 17 hour trip – the wind was good to us today. We are plugged into electricity now and battened down the hatches as we are sitting on Tsamaya now listening to the rain on the roof. We haven’t heard that sound for quite some time. A nice change. Will wait for it to stop and then get out to check out the area. We are in a temporary location and will be moved on Monday as no one seems to work at the marina on Sunday and they will wait for the weather to calm down. Rain storms are predicted for the next couple of days. Welcome to Tunisia!


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The Skyline of MonastirThe Skyline of Monastir
The Skyline of Monastir

much different than in Europe!


6th August 2018

Well, I guessed your itinerary wrong!
I though you would go to the Adriatic this season. So you will keep the Tsamaya in Monastir for the winter?
6th August 2018

staying in Monastir
Yes, we will be here in Monastir until we fly back to the US on Sept 7th - hopefully we will be able to survive the heat, then will be back probably mid-March next year. Have to change our schedule some for the sailing conditions, heat and crowds for the Med. With our visa situation and our delays along the way with repairs to Tsamaya we couldn't make it as far this season and knew that Tunisia would be very different from any place we have been before - looking forward to doing some exploring while here - are you still on for coming in Sept to Italy - sorry our paths won't be crossing!
6th August 2018

Safe travels! Glad you had a good season even though shorter than you had planned. Always glad to read your blogs.
7th August 2018

thanks Nelson
Hi Nelson - nice to hear from you as haven't in a while - hope things are going well with you!!
7th August 2018

I spent Thanksgiving in Tunisia in 1983...
and loved it. You will have much to occupy your time over the next month. Yes, my son and I will be touring Italy from 11-26 Sep, starting in Venice and ending in Sorento with Tuscany, the Via Francigena and Rome in between.

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