My cousin Gerrit came over to Malta. He will sail with me to Tunisia. He, as I, retired early and is also a sailor and boat owner. So we have a lot in common.
A bit of bad luck for him though, because the wind forecast was very good for leaving the next day. So he could not enjoy Valletta very much.
It should be an easy trip of about three days and it turned out to be so.
I took all the shifts as I normally do, so Gerrit could enjoy a good night sleep, although he will hear my alarm every hour. But during the day he can be very useful. . .
No, he was really helpful. Cleaned the boat. Especially the kitchen and we had a good time together.
When near the coast of Tunisia, I tried to catch a tuna. They should be near this coast.
First I caught a seagull. I did not realize it at first, because the line is about 70m out.
I could get her in and while stabilizing her, Gerrit managed to free her without any harm done.
Later my rod started spinning like crazy. I only had 250 meter of line in total and it was completely out within seconds! Then, snap. Lost it. Think about it. 250 m of line and my spinning gear is a lot to pull in the water, but this one had no trouble what so ever. He swam within seconds almost 200m!
This happened three times and then I called it the day. I mean, seriously, I had no chance at all. A couple of hours later I discovered why.
There where tuna’s jumping in front of the boat and they where huge like 1,5 m to 2 m of length. It must have been these guys that broke my line. That is not what I intended to catch.
We where a bit in doubt where to go for a mooring in Tunisia. I had picked a marina, but I heard rumors that it was closed. In the end we decided to go for the safest option, Monastir. These guys answered a phone and assured me they had space for a catamaran.
It turned out to be a very good choice.
The first thing Gerrit did was visiting a barbershop and got the full threatment.
We went out to discover Monastir. A nice town and part of a couple of villages at the coast. So in total there is a lot of buildings.
Almost every village has a nice ‘medina’. It’s the old town. Originally build with a big wall all around, so inside there was not much space. This means narrow streets and lots of little shops and markets.
A trash can is a bit hard to find, but I found one . . .
We realized that at the coastline there is more wealth and influence from tourism, so we picked a spot more inland, Kairouan. This was the old capital. By train and bus we reached the old capital, with it’s large medina, mosques and, as we discovered, no alcohol. A glass of wine on a terrace is out of the question. But the tea was very good. Extra strong with fresh mint. We stayed in a very basic hotel, but with a nice rooftop overlooking the medina.
The next day we returned to Monastir and decided to take a day off. The beach is nearby, Gerrit went to bake there and I wanted to do some things on the Ellena.
Of course we had to visit the new capital Tunis. It’s a long ride, about 170 km and will take more than 3 hours. We made reservations at a hotel. When we arrived Gerrit went upstairs and I went to the desk to checkin and put my passport on the desk. A few seconds later it was gone. I thought the deskman took it, but this appeared not to be the case. After a lot of hassle a clerk came with my passport. A guest checking out had taken it by mistake. Pfffff.
A big city with metro and even a church, St Paul’s. We had lovely meals in small snackbars. In Tunisia you can order a nice plate with vegetables, egg, meat and tomato sauce, Ojja. All fresh and well made accompanied by lovely French bread.
Tunis has a lot to offer.
We decided to stay another night, but on the coast. Tunis has a region on the coastline called Carthago. We took the metro. While sitting, I had the feeling someone was touching my camera, so I was alert. Then at a stop the guy went of the train in a hurry. I felt and yes, my camera was gone. So I jumped out of the train and could catch the guy. Got my camera and all the images back.
While jumping out of the train it was just leaving but stopped again. When I returned, the doors went open and I could get in. The driver obviously saw what was happening and waited for me!
The hotel was very nice with a view over Tunis and the sea.
Gerrit had to leave and 2 weeks in Tunisia was a very good time.
My next trip would be Menorca. A long ride, but the winds are much better than I encountered in Greece. So after a couple of days of shopping, planning and prepearing I left to the North. A nice breeze. I knew the next day will be different with wind on the nose, but I will manage that day. And after that, there should be a broad reach all the way until Menorca. So nice sailing.
Then the first of bad luck struck me. My GPS failed, so my navigation equipment is not of much use anymore. I found an old map and I’ve got a phone with GPS. A bit old fashion navigating, but it will do.
Halfway I thought, could there be tuna out here? So I put out my revised gear and after an hour, yes, my rod started spinning. Not as violently as before, that’s good. I took my time this time, making him tired. After half an hour I could get him in. I thought one kilo, maybe one and a half. A good meal. . . .
A bit too much. She weighted 15 kg. I had a very nice dinner that evening. The rest cleaned, sealed and in the fridge. Hopefully other sailors will take some.
The next day another alarm went off. No autopilot! If you are sailing on your own, this is almost the worst that can happen. I have got a backup. I wanted a new one, but that is another 6000 euro, so I thought this oldfashion gear will do. Never installed it before. Something still on my todo-list, so hopefully . . . and it did just fine. And to make it all complete. On arriving at Mahon, the capital of Menorca, my anchor winch failed.
I was tired. Just dropped the anchor manually and took a beer. . .
But the sailing was near perfect. Six days and a 1000 km.