Archive for August, 2010

Aug 31

Porto Corallo

The wind changed direction several times that night. Basti and I were constantly waking up and checking if everything was ok with the anchor and the other boats. There were 4 other yachts in the bay anchoring. And one of them, depending on the wind direction, got sometimes a little too close. But between 04 and 05 am the wind direction and strength got constant and we were then able to sleep better. We missed a romantic sunrise though since we were too tired to watch it ;-)

The first thing Basti and Andi did after getting up was snorkeling: I was too tired from the sleepless night and I just wanted to stay in bed as long as I could!

The water was cold but very nice (they said) and there wasn’t again much to see but they were fresh and awake after :-)

After breakfast we decided to move on and sail to Porto Corallo. The water tanks were almost empty and we needed more food.

We sailed most of the time to Porto Corallo. Sometimes we had wind…sometimes we had almost no wind … but we sailed! The guys try to fish something the whole day but…once again: without success! I layed down for a while and they went bathing…It was a quite, relaxing trip to Porto Corallo.

We arrived around 17h. After a docking beer/martini and doing the necessary paperwork we all had a shower and got ready for exploring the neighborhood! We asked at the Marina office for the closest town: Villaputzu was the nearest one. The lady also told us there was a Bus but we could also take a Taxi into town.

We decided to take a taxi. There was a bus stop in front of the marina but we weren’t sure about the timetable. We started looking for a Taxi where the lady had told us there should be some: we saw nothing. We walked for a while and ended up asking in a restaurant where or how we could get a taxi. They had no idea! But the Bus to town should be there in a couple of minutes! Well…we run back to the Bus stop and we made it right on time!!! Cool…

We had no idea how the town looked like or if there was anything interesting in it… there was no information about it in the guides we had.

The bus trip took more time then we expected and we started wondering how far that town in fact was. Sometime during the bus trip one thing occurred to us: how are we going to get back to the Marina? From what I could remember, that was the last bus going to town. The bus drove through a group of old houses and we were wondering if that was Villaputzu?!?!?! Hopefully not! And…it wasn’t. The trip continued and each minute that passed by we were getting further away from the Marina! That wasn’t looking good. By then…the excitement about going to town was disappearing and instead we were getting worried how we would go back!

Finally we got into a village and the bus stopped. The bus driver turned to us and told us to get out: we were in Villaputzu. My task right now was: to get as much information as I could from him on how we could go back to the Marina. If necessary we would continue in the bus but no way we would rung the risk have to walk back all those kilometers!

Unfortunately that was the last trip of that bus and the worse was: he told us there were no more buses going to the opposite direction that day! Ouch!!!! That was not good!!!! The good thing was: he point out to a shop and told me to go there and that they could help us to find a solution.

We run to the shop!!! Well I at least. There was a very nice old Italian in the shop. I turned to him and tried in my Italian/Spanish/Portuguese mix to ask him how we could go back to the Marina. After an “interesting” dialog, we found out there were really no buses that day going to the Marina but he also gave us a taxi number. That was a success for now! The only thing was: we had to call as soon as possible since he wasn’t always available. Fortunatelly: Tina had her mobile with her (that was really luck!). We called him immediately: we couldn’t do the job but he gave us another number from another taxi driver. We called the other number and this time we were lucky: we said he could take us to the Marina! We arranged with him to meet in the main street at 22:00 so we could have dinner in between.

Suddenly, while we were walking in the main street, looking for a place to eat, a car stopped by us. There was a couple inside and the man started talking at us. I got closer and for my surprise it was the taxi driver! He had recognized us and was presenting himself so we could know who he was later. Wow!!!! We don’t really look so different from the Italians but somehow: he knew who we were!!! Amazing…. We started wondering if we were the only tourists in town that evening!!!

We ended up having dinner in a pizzeria with a nice terrace close to the main street. Food was really good!!! Around 21h45 we had paid already and we started to walk to the meeting place. It was closer then we though -> only a couple of meters away! The taxi driver wasn’t there…we thought. As we looked to a street on our right…what a surprise: we could see the terrace where we just had eaten and …another surprise: the taxi driver was waiting there! Groovy…….amazing….we cannot explain it but: he could almost bet he knew we had dinner there and was just waiting for us to come outside!!! We really must have been the only tourists in town!!!

The trip back to the Marina went fine and we were happy we didn’t have to walk all the way back…it were for sure more then 6 kilometers!

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Aug 30

Cala Pira

Although the wind still blows (and how it blows!) we decided to continue the trip. We choose a small bay on the east coast which should be ok for staying over the night.

The Bay is called “Cala Pira” and we’re anchoring there. The wind blows stronger then expected but Basti and I are confident it will be no problem with the anchor à we had worse in Favignana :-) Let’s see how things develop for the rest of the day… the wind should get weaker …but you never know!

Andi and Tina took the Dinghy and went to the beach. Basti and me, decided to stay on the boat, took a rest and updated the blog ;-)

We went snorkeling later…there wasn’t much to see though. We ended up swimming/snorkeling to the beach and stay a while with Andi and Tina.

For dinner we convinced the guys to cook! Nothing special though: they just cooked some pasta and warmed a instant Bolognese sauce :-)

We enjoyed the evening eating outside and watching the stars after dinner. It was really nice. The only thing was the weather: it’s really colder since Andi and Tina arrived. Before we needed no long shirt at night and now we need a long shirt and trousers!!! It’s really cold at night!

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Aug 29

Back to Villasimius

After checking several weather forecasts from different sources (just in case…if they all say the same, then it’s a higher probability the forecast is correct, right?), we decided to go north on the east cost. The wind is supposed to blow very strong for the next days and the waves won’t be small until some days after the wind got weaker! We’re on vacation and there is really no need to take unnecessary risks :-)

After breakfast we got ready and left to Viallasimius. Basti and I had really enjoyed the Marina and the beach there as well as the little town that we had no problems in staying there again.

The wind still blew strong and the waves were hitting us from the backside … it was not an easy trip and you could easily get seasick. Fortunately, this time it was a short trip and around 16h we were already there! We went straight to the beach and enjoyed snorkeling. It was crowded again and it was really difficult to get a place for the four of us! We got one temporarily, but we soon had to leave since it was close to the “public” nature toilette and you couldn’t stand the smell there!

For dinner we went with Andi und Tina to town and showed them the little we knew.

Once again, we were all soooooo tired…

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Aug 28

Cagliari – we got visit!

From the moment on we got up till the moment Andi and Tina arrived, we didn’t stop! We rearranged the whole stuff inside the boat. Clothes, shoes, book, bags, Toilette stuff…everything got a new place so there could be enough place for the 4 of us! It’s a small boat so, you do need to trick a little and if it doesn’t fit in at the first time…just push a little and it while fit at the second or third attempt ;-)

Well…once again we had to go shopping …and by the time they arrived: everything was done!

We spent the rest of the day chatting and exchanging news. By the end of afternoon, they had unpacked their stuff and most of the things had found a place in our small boat so we went for a walk in the city and ended up having a typical Sardinian dinner over there.

Cagliari has a nice small old town, a beautiful Castello and Basilica but the rest of the town is a little to gray.

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Aug 27

Cagliari

Both of us didn’t sleep well today. No idea why but that’s not good when the first thing you do in the morning is diving!

Well…there wasn’t much you could do about it -> we just picked up our diving gear and went to the diving center meeting point (fortunately, only 2 minutes walking from our boat :-D ).

The dive was interesting. It ended up taking more time then planned (not unusual in Italy from our experience!) but it was worth it. Although the water at the surface is really warm here (around 28 degrees) everyone was wearing a really thick diving suit. We were going to dive 30 meters and the water over there was about 18 degrees!

There were really beautiful corals and some big fishes (called “Grouper”) and lots of small fishes overall.

After the dive, we went straight to the yacht and left immediately to Cagliari: Andi and Tina are coming tomorrow and we had a lot to clean and to rearrange before they arrive.

The trip to Cagliari was ok but since we both didn’t sleep well and both of us were tired from diving we were both a “little” grumpy :-D

We got to Cagliari around 19h and as always we had to clean the chaos inside the boat and we were both very tired once we got to bed!!!

Amazing: we’re on vacation but we’re always complaining “we’re tired”!!! What are we doing wrong???!?!?

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Aug 26

villasimius / a day off

After around 30 hours on the boat (from Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia to Villasimius in Sardinia) we decided to have a break and take the day off.

After having breakfast in the Marina we did some laundry and some shopping (once again: no shoes or clothes but Food and Drinks!!!). We also managed to arrange a diving trip for the next day.

Cool…the main things were done: now we could have some rest!

We decided to do our own expedition and for that we put our snorkeling gear together with some food into the Dinghy and went exploring the island by sea. We explored the coast by the Marina and it was great! The water was so clear and warm and there were so many fishes!!! Really great!

In the beginning of the afternoon we took the Dinghy back to the Yacht/Marina and went to the other side of the Cape by foot. We went to the beautiful beach “Timi Ama”/”Simius” (I couldn’t figure out what the correct name was!). wow…really nice…but toooooo crowded!!! After some time searching we were able o find a place for us and we just spend the rest of the day enjoying the sun and the warm water!

In the evening, we went again to the village for dinner…and early in bed ;-)

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Aug 25

back to bella italia

The trip back to Italy was exhausting but went without any problems.

As soon as the sun disappeared at the horizon and the full moon in the opposite direction appeared, we got dressed for the moment: each of us had a hot shower and dressed with waterproof and warm clothes. I cooked some tomato rice and Basti grilled the three fishes he catched during the day.

The wind was constantly light and the waves were small. The first shift was done by me. Basti checked first if there were any big ships in our way and once everything was OK (via AIS) he went to bed.

We decided to do a 2h shift and always 30 min together. In this time we explained the other the current situation and any unusual events.

I saw dolphins in my first shift! It was really cool. The full moon was reflecting on the water, no clouds in the sky. Suddenly I just saw a fin coming outside of the water just beside our boat. I looked better and there was another fin! It was a small group of dolphins and unfortunately it stayed with us just for a while.

Basti’s shift was quiet and with no special events to tell. At 03:30 I woke up and before 04:00 he as in bed. During my second shift the sky started to get cloudy and once in a while the moon disappeared. While the moon was gone it was sometimes a little scary since it was really dark!! But once you get used to it, it’s ok. Unfortunately the wind had by than started to increase and the waves were a little “uncomfortable”!

Basti’s second shift started at 06:00 am. He got to see the sunrise -> I slept like a stone by then!!!

During his shift he saw suddenly something like a lighthouse in the water moving quite fast! There was no boat sign on the AIS… so our assumption: it must have been a military submarine since we were close to the frontier by then.

By the time I got up to do my last shift the wind had gone a little stronger and the waves were higher but nothing to worry about. It was constant wind and it stayed like that for the next hours.

We were so tired the rest of the day that we continued shifting ourselves and sleeping when we could.

Around 13:30 we saw the island! We only had 3 hours left :-)

At 17:00 we finally arrived at Villasimius!!! Great!!! We made it!!!

The Marina was really nice and the people too -> and there were no people asking for a present ;-) !!!

After a shower and putting some stuff into place, we managed to get some energy and went for dinner in the village. We were really tired and as soon as we managed to get some food we went back to the Yacht and went straight to bed! God, we were tired!!!!

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Aug 24

Bizerte / Monsieur, possible un present?

We left really early the Harbour since we had again a big trip in front of us: 45 miles again (about 9h). We wanted to use the fact that the wind forecast was good and we were expecting a quite day with a light breeze (from the locals -> ours was no longer to trust!).

The only thing which bothered us was that the Chart Plotter (navigation system) stopped working: software error! Fortunately we have everything duplicate with us: we had a Map in paper format and Basti had a GPS receiver. We could with the GPS receiver know our exact position and then we marked it in the Map. It was an interesting challenge and we managed it without any problems ;-)

The navigation tasks and the constant search for fisher nets occupied us most of the time and the 9 hours trip went by really fast. We were also happy about being on the way since the temperature forecast for Tunis that day was of 45 degrees!

A couple of miles before getting to Bizert we started thinking about our trip back to Italy (Sardinia). We couldn’t trust the weather forecast we had with us (it was also almost one week old) so we asked Andi in Germany to send the actual Forecast per SMS.

Based on the new forecast, the wind was suppose increase in the next days, and to decrease by the end of the week. We had two options: stay for 2 days in Bizert and wait for the wind to calm down on use the chance and just stop over in Bizert for Diesel and then continue the trip immediately to Sardinia.

We decided to take no chances and go for the second option!

The tanking maneuver in Bizert was unfortunately not so easy as we thought. The documentation we had on the Harbour/Marina was no longer up to date and the Gas station was no longer where we expected it.

Well…. Basti ended up taking a Taxi and going to the next gas station to get us some Diesel.

Meanwhile the police come to the yacht so we could do the necessary paperwork in order to leave the country. We heard then for the last time the already known question “Monsieur, possible un present?”

Well…after a calm day we had now a 24 hours journey in front of us. Hopefully, was the weather forecast this time right and we just started preparing for the long night!

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Aug 23

Sidi Bou Said / Tunis

We had a really good night Sleep last night. We really enjoyed the peacefulness in the Marina and slept as much as we could. We took the day off anyway for visiting Sidi Bou Said and Tunis.

While we were getting ready, we suddenly hear someone calling outside: it was Saro!!! Cooll!!! They managed to arrive also the day before: 30min/1h after us!

We ended up going together to Sidi Bou Said and to Tunis. Saro had to check some stuff at the boat so he didn’t come along. It was the two of us with the Italian/Portuguese family.

Sidi Bou Said is a picturesque small village: really nice white houses with blue windows and doors. It’s a lovely Tunisian small village.

Tunis is the completely opposite: it’s big and crowded: people and cars!

We took the train from Sidi Bou Said to Tunis: it was interesting to travel with the normal public transport in Tunis. You only have a couple of minutes for people to get out/in…if you’re not fast enough you almost don’t manage to fight through the crowd getting in (we experienced that!)!

We visited the Medina: old town from Tunis. It is a labyrinth of covered passages, full with shops of every kind. A very beautiful old Market, really nice and interesting to visit. You can find almost anything over there! The only thing we didn’t manage to get was: food!

When we got to Tunis, Jasmin (the oldest “bambina”) asked me what I was going to have for lunch. She was going to have a “Kebap”. I said: “that’s a great Idea. Basti and I will also ave one!”.

There was only one problem: it’s Ramadan time for the Muslims. That means: no food from dawn until sunset! All restaurants were closed and those we found open didn’t sell any food! Buuaaaa….. around 14h we were so hungry! Starving! We just wanted something to eat… unfortunately we didn’t really know what to do so we just started looking for a supermarket where we could get anything…just anything to eat!!! FOOODDDD!!!!!

We did find a supermarket and we managed to get some bread and cheese and something to drink. The next problem: we didn’t see anyone eating on the streets. Where should we go now for eating? Not in front of the supermarket for sure…not on the crowded main street…but then…where? Well….we just walked for some minutes …and the hunger was so strong we just went to the garden in the middle which separated the big main street and ate there!!! Amazing: it was the first time I felt uncomfortable about eating!

Learned lesson: learn a little more about other cultures before you get into a situation like these!

After this experience…we just enjoyed the break and decided to go back to the Marina. Small Problem: by the time we got to the train station -> the train was broken!

Hummm… we ended up chatting a Tunisian on the street who offered himself to take us to the Marina in his Audi 80. Well: it was him driving and the 6 of us inside!!

The day ended with dinner and some drinks on Saro’s yacht.

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Aug 22

Trip to Sidi Bou Said

We got up really early today. The trip to Sidi Bou Said was longer: ca. 60 miles -> about 11 hours. According to the Weather forecast the wind was suppose to increase against midday and go up to 12 Knots in the afternoon (really nice sailing weather for us!). In the first 4 hours our trip we were supposed to have the wind against us, so we wanted to leave as soon as possible while the wind was still weak. For the remaining 4 hours, we had to change direction so the stronger wind would help us to finish the trip faster (and have fun with some sailing). That was the forecast and the Plan!!!

Well…by now…my belief in Forecasts is really down!

The first 4 hours did go as planning and we were happy about it.

A couple of miles before we reached the Cape where we had to change direction the wind got stronger …and the waves got bigger. The 5 miles before, during and after the Cape were really hard: the wind blew stronger and the waves got bigger and bigger and we had the feeling we weren’t moving at all!

I just remember sometime after passing the Cape, that I looked for 5 minutes into the Instruments displaying the Wind strength and it was the whole time above 20! Once we had 24 Knots!!! And the waves were for a while about 2 meters (without discussion!!).

12 Knots was the forecast -> we had a gust of wind with 24!!! Thanks Mr. Forecast!!! Well…there was nothing we could do besides going through this and head as direct and fast we could to the next Marina -> Sidi Bou Said!

There was a time, we were both concentrated in searching for fisher nets (very hard to see in the middle of those waves) as Basti missed to see a big wave approaching us. By the time he realized the wave it was too late: the top of the wave just washed us completely!!! We were soaked to the skin! What a wave! It was like one of those “Volvo Ocean Race” videos you can watch at Youtube :-D (well… boat and wave in smaller proportions ;-) ).

By the time we got to Sidi Bou Said we were both really happy to get there: the Marina was nice and people were friendly and you could hardly feel the wind blowing outside.

We had a hard time but we learned a lot and we had fun!

The first thing we did though was to wash the boat -> inside the boat was everything outside its place! A real chaos!!! And outside the boat was everything full with salt.

Let’s say: we enjoyed our “Docking Beer” (“anlege Bier”) tonight!

The only worry we had: where’s “Jonathan’s Isle”? Saro and Crew were also coming to Sidi Bou Said…they just left later then we did. Sometime before we passed the cape we saw a Mast some miles away from us but we had no idea if it were them. We had no signs of them since we passed the Cap.

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