I safely rounded Capo Bon without
incident and as the sea was very calm and for other urgent reasons, I
changed direction for Italian Pantelleria,
but naughty naughty, without having my passport stamped by the Tunisian
police. I did call the Guard National and told them of my change of plans
so that they would not worry at my non arrival. (When back in Rome I went
to the Tunisian Consulate to regularise my position, but after many calls
and showing proof that I did not sell my boat in Tunisia, the official
called me to say that nothing could be done and that I would have to fly
there to get my passport stamped….and they wonder why the country is
still so poor! The economy is so stifled by stupid, useless beaurocracy,
that it will never get off the ground, or even remotely approach European
well being. And the boat people will continue risking their lives to reach
Europe in shoddy boats: the same day I reached Pantelleria, some 300
clandestines were intercepted.)
have witnessed the changes in Sardinia over the past 30 years, passing
from a poverty stricken region, to a wealthy modern economy, due mainly to
the prosperous development brought by an upmarket tourism. Tunisia has all
the attractions and potential to follow suit, but it must do away with
their Police State attitude towards tourists.
strict application of travel formalities in Tunisia will be a complication
for cruising boats, whereas the sea imposes its own timetable and rules.
So you should consider this possibility when you decide to visit Tunisia,
as you may not be able to go back there for reasons beyond your control.
But never mind there are 20 other countries in the Mediterranean to visit.
had a tranquil run to Pantelleria, amongst dolfin and a swirling sea full
of tuna fish, especially around Capo Bon. Head wind all the way, and
alternatively a favourable and contrary current. I arrived at 11.00 pm and
asked the Customs authorities for immediate clearance, so that I could
leave at sunrise. No problem. “No formalities, you may leave when you
wish”. I was in another continent, another world!
Pantelleria – Marsala (66 miles)
next morning I set off Northwards with a constant South Easterly wind of
12 to 16 knots, and I flew along at an averaged speed of around 8 knots,
all the way to Sicily, where the wind picked up to 22 knots. I reduced
sails and comfortably arrived in Marsala early afternoon. I reckoned that
with a minimum of crew I could have made it for lunch!
I closed up the boat, in the new protected tourist section of the Marsala
harbour and left it to get back to work. An extraordinary beautiful bus
ride through Sicilian vineyards and olive groves to bustling Palermo.
There is much to visit in this part of Sicily and the plan was to come
back later for a more thorough look and also to visit the Egadi islands,
which lie just a few miles away and then later on, who knows!
The Mediterranean Sea