set off at 11.30 pm, with a suitable light northerly and had a tranquil
crossing, partly motored and partly sailed. With the professional fishing
tackle we caught two smallish fish in Tunisian waters, which are much
richer in fish and they were exquisitely cooked by Mabi.
the crossing, we spotted a whale and were followed by a large group of
playful dolfin. We arrived at Bizerte in Tunisia at 5 pm, just before
nightfall (which is 6 pm local time in October).
would have been possible to head for the island of La
Galite, 22 miles off
the Tunisian coast of Cap Serrat, thus reducing the Sardinian Channel
crossing to 100 miles instead of 122. However having already visited it
previously, I found that it has little to offer, with its stark geography
and no harbour, other than fresh fish and lobster from the local fishermen.
But then you have a 48 mile trip to Bizerte, which can be heavy going in a
is a pretty city, but very much run down and far removed from tourism and
progress, though since my last trip a year ago, I found considerable
restructuring work around the old port area. I do hope that this work will
also include the creation of a proper sewage system for the city which is
very evidently lacking. As you walk around the city, you are often
overwhelmed by a powerful stench, which the locals apparently have grown
should visit the covered market with its multi-coloured fruit stalls, the
fish market and the meat section, which provides an educational study in
animal anatomy. The arab medina, a walled-in city within a city, should
also be visited. I have found that it is quite safe to wander around each
medina in the various cities of Tunisia, though they are a maze of
alleyways and very easy to get lost in.
French is the second official language in Tunisia, so one can easily get
by. This is my third visit to Tunisia and I still haven’t learnt to
bargain hard enough – so my advice when shopping, is to bargain, bargain.
You will still pay more than a local, but compared to home prices you will
get an excellent deal. And there is very much to buy, carpets, ceramics,
spices and art crafts, the temptations are unending. Keep an account of
your available storage space on the boat, as here you will very easily
found that the local pastry shops in Bizerte were clean and the goodies
excellent, but I shied from the restaurants. Tunis was different.
Bizerte marina is reasonable and is a short walk from the city centre.
Taxis in Tunisia cost almost nothing and can therefore be used at pleasure.
Arriving in Bizerte, or any port for that matter, you must report
immediately to the local police and customs for registration. They come on
board, boots and all and require detailed information on the consistency
of crew and passengers, equipment and stores, especially the alcoholic
ones. Alcohol is prohibited in Tunisia and this means that you cannot sit
down at the bar for a beer. However they tolerate that you have your own
on board, or rather, they do their best to help you liquidate it. “If
you are nice to me I will be nice to you” is the typical welcoming
remark in Bizerte, so make sure that you have extra bottles of whiskey on
board, as they will come in handy.
make sure that you notify the police of all boat movements and of any
changes in the passenger list, as they are very strick about this. Non
Europeans need a visa and being Australian, I had problems and was
confined to the boat until approval came through the next day. My
departure from Tunisia was another bureaucratic nightmare, which I will
suggestion to the Minister of Tourism is to lessen restrictions and
formalities for visiting cruising boats and so encourage tourism, which
would be a boon to the local economy.