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DESTINY DIARY 2008, A Steep Learning Curve, Part 3.

So, to take up the story so far - We are in La Caletta on the east coast of Sardinia, having sailed down from Porto Cervo.

La Caletta Dolphind Ahoy!
The Port of La Caletta Dolphin visit to La Caletta
In the end we stayed 6 days in La Caletta waiting for more favourable weather to continue South. David left with Mascarade and we found a few other cruisers waiting for the weather to improve. We met Bruno and Sandrine and their lovely daughter Carla, they were re-doing a very old wooden motor boat ’Charleston’ and were planning to take her back to France for the winter. We also met Christian and Ursula on ’Kheops’ when they crashed into the port, (had a few problems when coming in with a fierce squall, John helped Christian with his Radar and some electrics problems, Christian helped himself to John’s Irish Whiskey!
Then we met Lynne and her daughter Ilona on ’Maya’ strange ladies who liked chocolate ice-cream with red peppers - it takes all types! Finally, we met Rosen (The Guru) sailing single handed on ’Turiya’. Before we left we all got together for drinks on ’Destiny’ we didn’t know we could fit so many people in the wheelhouse - Amazing, out of 9 people, we had two non-drinkers, two vegetarians, and one serious whiskey drinker (Hi Christian :) )

Lunch Alone
Ducks in Arbatax - the official welcoming party. All alone in Villasimius
We left La Caletta on September 16th, the weather was changing, it was the first time we travelled with the doors closed - chilly, and stopped overnight in Arbatax, not really a nice place, except for the ducks who came to greet us.
Next stop was Villasimius, an amazing place, a new harbour and nobody around, we had the whole pontoon to ourselves,and it still cost us 40€ - nice to be welcomed. We were still undecided whether to go to Sicily or Tunisia, so we continued on to Cagliari and moored in the Marina del Sol, as recommended by Lynne (see chocolate and peppers above).
Another experience, a family run place, basic, but it all worked, it was windy when we went in, but John did well and we slotted in without problem between 2 sailing boats. We noticed a Nordhaven 47 (another Trawler yacht) moored in the next marina and went to introduce ourselves. Milt and Judy and their lovely little dog invited us to look over ’Blue water’. Later we hoisted the American Ensign on board ’Destiny’ as the ’bars open’ signal and M and J + dog came over for an inspection.We spent a couple of evenings together, shared a pizza, and talked about boats, cruising, etc. We were very happy to have met them, new friends to add to the list.
Milt and Judy left for Spain where they were going to ship ’Blue Water’ back to the US.We had decided to go to Tunisia, as Peter and Coralie were quite happy to join us there instead of Sicilly. We left Cagliari on 21st September and dropped the anchor in Punta du Pula, just around the corner, so that we could have a few hours sleep before the two day crossing ... but... at 22h45 the swell had got up and was making sleeping impossible (no rolling, just slamming) so we upped and headed for Bizerte.
At 11:00 on September 22nd we saw the coast of Africa! The crossing was comfortable enough; we tamed the swell with a fish. I finished making the covers for the fenders - now they all have their pretty green dresses. (Tart - ed). We arrived in Bizerte at 15h30, not exactly what was in the brochure, you might say - still in a couple of years...it will probably be the same!.
Dolphins Ruins
Dolphins playing with 'Destiny' Tunisia - The Romans were here as well.
We had to clear customs and police, three uniformed officers came onboard, all nice and friendly, asked for papers, passports, list of electronics on board, if we had any quantity of un-opened bottles of spirits or cigarettes, and would we like to sell them the boat for 3 camels, 6 sheep and a big ram - welcome to Africa. They went through the boat and asked John for a PRESENT. What kind he replied, money was the answer, having no clue as to how much, he called me and I looked in my purse, I thought I needed to give them one note each, all I had was 20€ notes, they got one each.. How stupid we were, one would have been more than enough, after the crossing we were too tired to think properly, this was our first mistake, the second problem was that we had arrived during Ramadan (all of September). This is really the wrong time to be in Tunisia, and I presume in any Muslim country. It means all the bars and restaurants and shops were closed. It wasn’t even possible to find wine in the supermarkets - quelle horreur.
View from the top Water suppies
Bay of Tunis and the harbour at Sidi Bou Said The ancient Aquaduct supplying Carthage. (100+Kms)
Bizerte is a small Tunisian town, not really set up for tourists, but interesting to see the ’real’ Tunisia. We organised a Tunisian phone card so that we could phone and use the Internet at a reasonable price. The only good thing about Ramadan was the local patisserie, so nice, so sweet like my mother use to buy a long long time ago. We stayed in Bizerte waiting for the rain and wind to stop.
On the 25th we left for Sidi Bou Sad despite the fact that I had called them and they had said they were full. On the way we had a pod of Dolphins that came and played on the bow of the boat, racing and looping under the water, this was really great to see. When we arrived in Sidi, they really were full, but they kindly put us on the fuel quay next to fishing boat quay, no water, no electricity, plenty of cats and a million flies looking for a change of diet. The harbour master(Lotfi) was very friendly, he would see what he could do about finding us a better place, but we needed to rent a car as they were no taxi or buses and the town was far away. He quoted 400 dinards, this sounded a lot, but it soon became apparent that if we wanted to stay we would have to rent a car so that he got his commission, as it turned out, we needed a car to collect Peter and Coraalie from the airport. As it turned out, there were plenty of Taxi’s coming to the harbour.
The following day we forced ourselves on to the end of a pontoon so that we could have water and electricity and be away from the entrance, the cats and the flies. The cats wanted to be fed and would keep jumping on the boatwhen food was smelt - the fishermen told us that the best way of chasing the cats away with hurting them was with water - so I loaded up the buckets and went on the defense - what I really need is a water pistol!! The fisherman were quite happy to chat to us and give us local knowledge about the weather and navigation hazards.
On Saturday we went shopping to a ’Carrefour’ supermarket, it was nice to be able to buy proper food again. We went in to Tunis, but it was impossible for an Englishman to find a parking spot, so we went back to the boat, in fact we never made it to Tunis, we just got lost 3 times driving through the town, but never stopped to visit. On Sunday we took the opportunity of having a car to drive inland, we visited the Romans ruins in Thuburbomajus, and saw the huge viaduct that brought water to Cartagena from the mountains, but again being Ramadan we found nowhere for a coffee and lunch so we went back to the boat by mid afternoon, hot, thirsty and hungry and a bit disappointed, but we drove pass the Prsidential Palace and saluted - as you do.
The Guests The Crew
How long did you say you're staying?' Legs Eleven
Monday, we went to the airport to meet Peter and Coralie - MOFI's back, it was another world, you could have a coffee in the middle of the day, it's little things that make life better. We went to Sidi Bou Sad village for dinner, but didn’t find anywhere open, so back to the boat, this Ramadan is becoming too much. The weather was still not good, dull and raining. We gave the car back and organised a taxi to visit the site of Cartagena, we had a super taxi driver, Ben Amara Hassen taxi N 3597 tel 98.348.120; we promised him we would do some advertising on our site - so far he’s our only sponsor - and it cost us!
Mosque Carthage
The Magnificent New Mosque at Carthage. Some of the ruins of Carthage.
Hassen drove us around and showed us new Great Mosque, it really was impresive and immaculatly finished. The design and the decoration are wonderfully done.He also showed us the anti rooms inside, and explained the washing ritual necessary before going to pray, a bit a islam culture. Then he dropped us at all of the sites of Carthage, The Acropole of Byrsa and its museum, The Citerne and Malga Aquaduc, The Roman Amphitheatre ,the Odeon Roman Villas, The Archeologic park and the Antonin Thermes and the old Punique harbours. He even took us to a good patisserie unfortunately they had sold out at is was late, but we arranged for the supermarket to sell us some wine from the back room as they weren’t on display for Ramadan, (in fact the check out girl was very reluctant to even handle the bottles - we had no such scrupples).
On 1st October we topped up one diesel tank (the first time we’d bought fuel for Destiny, but at half a Euro a litre, we felt we had to support the economy). Ramadan had finished so we visited the old town of Sidi Bou Sad - a very pretty old town, a Tunisian version of Grimaud, all blue and white (the blue colour is supposed to be a repellent for moskitoes.
Princesses Hammamet
And I gave 3 cammels and 5 Goats for this pair. View of Hammamet Bay.
Back in the harbour we met with Mike Jackson, the owner of a boat called ’Gitana’, he is an American and has sailed around the world many times, he was on his way to Asia, having been North to Scotland, the Orkneys, Shetland and Scandinavia. We exchanged our charts and pilots from the East for his from the North. At 4 a.m. On Thurday 2nd October with Lord Peter on the helm we left Sidi for Hammamet (Coralie stayed in bed till around 10 O’Clock, and then got up declaring that she enjoyed sailing like this!
We arrived at 18h30. I think Peter enjoyed doing a night crossing, the weather was good, we had a bit of wind and swell until we rounded the corner. Peter encouraged us to put up the mainsail - sailor that he is - and I have to say it made a great difference to the feel of the boat - so thanks Mr P (Mofi, is laid to rest for a while). We even sat in the cockpit for a while in the sun admiring the scenery.
We were all pretty tired at the end of the day as it had been an early start (except for Coralie), so we found a restaurant for dinner and went to bed early. The marina is a strange place, it’s a tourist town, lots of hotels, bars, restaurant and souvenir shops, but not much for buying food so Coralie and I went for long walk trying to find a proper shop, but we ended up buying carpets. We visited the Medina of Hammamet and did some bargaining in the souk. Peter enjoyed having fresh dates (he hasn’t had a date in years!), the Tunisian patisserie and specially the Halva. We also had some good couscous. We stayed in Hammamet until Peter and Coralie's departure on Sunday.
We were planning to go on to Monastir, but after checking the weather forecast, we found that the weather was closing in for the crossing to Malta, the next week showed strong winds and rain from the wrong direction, We had little choice, but to leave Tunisia for Malta to avoid the worst. So on Monday 6th October we hurridly left Hammamet having cleared customs (no time for more shopping) and by 9.40 we were off. Weather beautiful, sunny, slight breeze, but John is not feeling very well, he must have eaten something bad. By the time we reached Malta it was flat calm but the sky (and my stomach -ed.) was stormy. At 14.00 on Tuesday we found a mooring in Mgarr marina on the Island of Gozo, very friendly and good price (13Euro/night).
Bye Bye Africa - For now. Malta
The Tourist Pirates of Hammamet Malta in sight.
We stayed in Gozo until 12th (Mike J in Gitana turned up two days later, having had a horrible crossing) Gozo is a nice little island with very friendly people. Busses are very good and cheap (0.47Euro fixed price). We visited the main town Victoria (Rabat) and I found an optician who was selling snorkel masks with corrective lenses, I bought a mask and now I can go snorkelling and see! (I had to check them but the water was a bit cool so it was a short swim, but successfull). We visited the citadelle on the top of the town, it was midday and we had a wonderful bell concert (it lasted 15mn), then went for a nice lunch, well I had some rabbit which - a local dish and John had soup as he was still feeling funny. The Mgarr marina was not comfortable, we were moored at the end of a floating pontoon and in the wind and rain, the pontoon was going up whilst the boat was going down, John put out some extra lines and springs to ease the motion.
Look Carefully - D's down there Gozo City
Malta seen from Gozo Victoria - the capital of Gozo.
Tender To Destiny DIY
Our Neighbour in Mgarr Maltese home improvments.
Next to us was a pontoon for a sea plane flying tourist trips around Gozo and Malta, that was interesting to watch. On the 12th we moved to Malta Grand Harbour Marina, where we had a place booked opposite Valetta. Malta is a very interesting country, so much history from the prehistory settlements, the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Christians, the Arabs, the Norman Conquest and the Knights of St John, the Great Siege against the Turcs, Napoleon and then the British. They all left their mark on the island and on the people and their language. They suffered very badly during WWII and after their independence from the British in 1964 the new republic became very socialist and the country went downhill: so there are so many old building, warehouses that are left to waste.
On the 15th, Geoff came to check on us for a week, so the three of us went of exploring Malta. We went to Valetta, the War Museum, the Maritime museum, the Aircraft Museum and took a bus tour around the island and stoped at the market in Marsaxlokk (try saying that with your teeth out!). We went to the old city of Mdina (the ancient medieval capitol of Malta) and saw Humpty Dumpty on the wall (right Geoff?).
Frog.... Geoff
Queen Neptune came aboard... Replacement Crew.
I don't think Geoff has been on so many busses, or has been so scared in years. The weather was shorts and teeshirts and we topped it off with a grand dinner on the last evening - All in all, a great time had by all.
We are waiting to see if we can stay here in Malta to winterise the boat but there is such a demand and little space available. We hope to go back to our land home in La Clayette in November and sort some winter work, hopefully starting cruising east again in spring.

Geoff in Valetta Doing what they do best
High there - Presidential Candidate? Geoff, Deborah and Vince.
Valetta View from the Deck
Grand harbour Marina, Malta. Nelson parked here!
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