Hello from Africa!
16 June 2014
After another enjoyable winter in Marina di Ragusa, Sicily, it was once again time to slip those lines and get back on the water, destination Africa!
We left Sicily at about 5pm for a 40hr journey to Monastir, Tunisia (2 nights for non-sailors reading this). Over the winter Chris had installed an AIS (Automatic Identification System) which enables other vessels that have this system to see us and for us to see them. All ships are required to have this system on board, whether someone is looking at it at all times is another thing though! However, on our trip all the ships we called up were looking at it, thank goodness, as it was a very busy journey with cargo ships, tankers, commercial fishing vessels and pleasure boats coming and going in all directions. The AIS enabled us to call the ships by name and check that they saw us (they all did) and for us to make sure that we were going to pass with no problems.
Just as we were making our approach into the Monastir, with the beautiful Rabat (fort) towering above the town, a swordfish jumped out of the water several times. It was great to see it's long, pointed sword piercing the sky and then plunging back into the sea, something that we had not experienced anywhere before.
Check-in was straight forward and simple. When the boat was being checked out, we were asked if we had any Italian coffee on board that we could give one officer but the only one we had was already open. The other officer wanted to know if we had any expired flares he could have. When I asked why he wanted them, he said that he was getting married and wanted them for the party! I replied that they are a bit dangerous for a party and that we didn't have any. Once into our berth in the marina, we quickly caught up with some fellow cruisers from Sicily who very kindly showed us where things were as we have never visited Tunisia before.
Next day, Branko & Maggie from Sicily arrived and we planned a 3-day driving trip together. We had a fabulous time and will write about that separately.
First impressions of Monastir and Tunisia - great!