Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cruising the Strait of Sicily and Tunisia in October 2011

Its always a pleasure to sail with an expert crew. Everybody knows what to do, no directions necessary, enjoying wordless accordance. So this is reservered for the last cruise of the year, when you expect stronger winds and heavier sea conditions. With my sailing friends Gerhard Rothfuss and Gerhard Westphal we boarded S/Y Sea of Joy late evening on 19th October.

Next day before setting sail we had to re-adjust the hydraulic steering of the autopilot. A short sea-trial
confirmed good function, but we saw that during last month the underwater ship was grown over with algea. So a nice diver cleaned our ship in the morning of October 21st. We waited for a severe thunderstorm to pass and then set sail to Pantelleria, where we anchored at night in Cala Levante.

Next morning we moved the boat to the northern tip of Pantelleria where we found a quiet place in Porto Nuevo alongside some discarded boats used by refugees coming from Tunisia. We visited the town and had a traditional meal cooked by an old lady near the harbor.

At 4:00 am on Sunday, October 23th we sailed south west to Tunisia, where we declared entry in Port Yasmine near Hammamet. For Tunisia it was an important day, because they held their first elections after spring-revolution. Everybody seemed to be happy and all was quiet. Next morning we bunkered
diesel at a legendary price of 0.50 Eur and crossed the short distance to the picturesque harbor of El Kantaoui, where we found a secure place inside and a good fish dinner.

Next day we sailed on southward to Monastir. The friendly harbor master gave us a place alongside and we visited the famous Rabat and the Mausoleum of Habib Bourghiba. On Wednesday, October 26th we sailed on high waves on a 7bft northerly wind round the shallows southeast of Monastir and finally found a place on the customs quai in Mahdia. We had a long walk around this beautiful city to its famous lighthouse and had a very good dinner at Lido restaurant.  

Early next morning we declared exit from Tunisia and sailed east to Lampedusa, where we moored in front of the Capitaneria in the northeastern corner of Porto di Lampedusa. In search for the famous restaurant "al Berto" we climbed the hills north of the city, finally found it and had a great dinner with the nice family.

Next day before leaving we bunkered good Italian food and then set sail to Malta. We had a nice northerly wind with 6bft, but it turned west. So we had to tack for the last third of our distance. We finally logged 140sm and moored in Grand Harbor Marina in Birgu / Valetta after 25hours. We visited Valetta and the historical sites, enjoyed good restaurants (Chez Cyrille) for the next two days.

On November 1st we bunkered diesel at the tank ship in Msida and finally set sail for our last leg back to Licata. Weather was rather bad, a lot of rain, high waves, but strong wind from north east brought us with good speed back to our home marina in Licata.

The next two days my friends helped me to winterize the boat. On November 4th we left back to Austria after an eventful sailing season around Sicily, Malta and Tunisia.

This cruise took 11days with 100 hours sailing a distance of 564sm. You may download our track in gpx-format or view it directly on Google Maps.

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