CRETE (Greece) -SICILY (Italy) - KANTAOUI (Tunisia )

JANUARY 2005---20th April 2005.

In Crete (Greece, Aegean Sea). Moored at Ayios Nikolaos Marina.

Pilot book says good all round shelter, but when the winds are strong (very often) and the sea rushes into the harbour (not only though the entrance but also through culverts in the breakwater), our mooring alongside the quay was uncomfortable to say the least. Sometimes it was dangerous to lower the passerelle & step off the boat, the water swirled around us (as if stirred by a giant paddle). The showers and toilets were portable cabins. Before we left, building work had started on new facilities, it's anybody's guess when/if they will finish the job. The old harbour area is pretty enough with pleasant shops and cafés. The overall look of Nikolaos is ugly (unattractive buildings, bad pavements with pot holes, unfinished pipe work and electrical wires to trip you up). When it rains hard you need Wellington boots as the drains are few and inefficient.

Trying to get marine parts and any maintenance work done was frustrating, people around were friendly enough but full of negative answers or tomorrows.

Ex: Ordered hooks for the canopy, it took 6 visits to the chandler before we got them (he forgot to order, wrong order etc.).

Told we could fill our large gas bottle, took it to a shop and left it. We visit the shop 3 times before they gave it back EMPTY (can't fill it?).

Wanted to send an EPIRB for maintenance, it would have to go to Athens, the company couldn't give a price until seeing it but wanted cash in advance (can't imagine getting any change from whatever cash they would ask us to put in post). No way would could we accept that situation.

Another yachtsman (Richard – M. Y. Joybringer) told he must contact America for an EPIRB battery (Athens agent doesn't stock them), what sort of agent is that?

If we left a shop with our telephone number, we found the Greeks wont call you back, you must call them. Thought it was treatment of foreigners, but locals say it's the same for them.

On the plus side, the beach (very close by) is pretty and we had very pleasant views of the Dikti (Diktean) Mountains& Sitia Mountains. Saw snow on the mountains sometimes (not always). The shopping was good and we hired a car to take trips out when the sun shone. We had some enjoyable days out. A lot of places are dry & rocky but some beautiful areas also. What a pity about the dumping grounds down mountain slopes & cars left to rot on the edges of many villages. Tony was surprised by the very poor building standards. We are told that in the past most of the trees were cut down to build boats. Not surprising then a minimum of woods & excess of Olive Groves.



2nd Attend a meeting at the yacht club, thought it was the usual get together, we all contribute some food & the club supplies wine & soft drinks (Tony made a big pan of Thai soup). It turned out to be a special event, the Mayor was there and TV coverage. Started 1pm, finished approx.7pm It was a fund raising event to improve facilities at the marina (the mayor was impressed with Tony's soup). After we help to clear up, a local yachtswoman Miriam and her small son come to the boat for a while, we entertain the two year old with Jakes toys.

8th Heavy rain and strong north winds last night. Early morning. SY Highlander 11 (on our starboard side) broke a mooring line. Too dodgy to get off the boat so I phoned around to try & contact fellow yachtsman Roger (he was responsible for this yacht while owners away). Instead of receiving thanks for this, it caused us problems. Roger wasn't happy because not contacted direct (we didn't know his number!), also some confusion about who said what to whom. Tony & Roger had never had a cross word before (think some 3rd party stirring?). Never did get to the bottom of it. A silly bit of nonsense (may sound familiar to other yachtsmen who winter aboard!).

10th Highlander 11 moved. A much bigger sail yacht takes it's place. It's too close and Tony insists on extra lines (for both yachts) & more space between us. The skipper of this yacht keeps a lot of slack in his lines, it will be dangerous when strong southerlies bring her over to us (the wind is strong off the land & the sea rushes in at the entrance). We got the extra lines, marina manager Yanis wasn't happy about giving us extra space, digging his heels in at the moment.

15th Finally we are allowed to move further along (more space between us and the big yacht now).

17th - 20th

Strong southerlies with some thunder & lightning. Very strong gusts at times. The yacht to starboard comes very close to us. Its a heavy vessel, if we hadn't moved, it's whole weight would be on us (crushing us against the next yacht & so on down the line), causing damage to us & others.

25th/26th Very strong southerlies again, getting worried about the canopy at the bow.

29th My flight Iraklion(Crete)/Athens/Manchester. Delayed at Iraklion, told the delay due to technical problems etc. (will miss Athens connection). Along with 5 other women, I left the departure lounge to reclaim my luggage (with difficulty, we searched for staff & complained a lot before luggage appeared on the carousel). We had to check-in again (very nearly missed the flight). At Athens we joined others who had the same treatment (various destinations). We are all put onto a coach & sent to stay overnight in a hotel. Suspect this is Olympia Airline playing numbers game? (under booked so cancel some flights).


9th My flight Manchester/Athens/Iraklion. Return to Crete after spending some time in Sheffield. It had been good to see the family again, daughter Caroline expecting twins & all is well. Left one piece of hand luggage behind (some of Tony's birthday presents in it).

11th We pick up hand luggage at airport, Son in-law Dave sent it cargo (Olympia), cost £64.

14th/15th Extremely strong southerlies, yacht to starboard touching our fenders.

17th Light winds, sunny day. Take the chance to enjoy some time out.

Drive to Kritsa & Kroustas (two typically Cretan villages), didn't stop to look around. Experimented with route on the return journey. A good road turns to bad, then disappears to rough track. Lots of steep twist & turns before going down into a valley. We passed a local couple coming up the track on a 3 wheel tractor, their heads covered to protect them from the dusty road. Very rough going at times & we began to worry the track might disappear altogether. Isolated houses along the way & lots of olive groves. Ended up near the coast & back to the boat on good roads.

? think this date correct? Look at photos.

18th Drive to Sitia (big town/east) & Lerapetra (southern most town in Europe).

We liked the harbour at Sitia (stopped for coffee). Didn't think the town very attractive.

Lerapetra we thought was down right ugly (stopped for lunch). Struggled to find somewhere decent in the centre (too noisy, nobody about or just didn't like the look of some places). Settled on a large, clean café with people in. Found later the beach front had better café's/restaurants (lots of them).

22nd Drive to Neapoli, Lassithi Plateau, Malia.

There's a prison in Neapoli, needless to say we didn't visit it. Neapoli is a very pleasant place to drive through. Didn't stop, we were heading for the village of Psichro to see the Diktaion Antron Cave. The drive up to and through mountain villages was spectacular. A steep walk up to the caves, donkeys to hire in the summer (no such luck for us). The caves well worth a look (an ancient site of worship). According to Greek legend, Rea gave birth to Zeus here (king of the gods).

Next to Malia, had a look at a stretch of beach, pleasantly surprised to see a few free facilities (swimming pools, children's area etc.). Some sections were pay & enter.

25th A morning drive to Ha Canyon (noted on the map as having rare species of Flora & Fauna)

After some confusion with signs, we finally found the right place. We were hoping to walk through the Gorge, instead, it was a rocky climb to find a small dam blocks the way. Water pipes lead from it (to supply the villages around or crops maybe?). As for rare Flora & Fauna, we probably wouldn't know rare plants if we passed any & we didn't see as much as a mouse move on the ground (did catch sight of a hawk flying), enjoyed the outing anyway.

On the way back we visit Gournia (Minoan Village). Being out of season we had the place to ourselves (except for staff burning bracken). A large site & interesting excavations, must admit though, we can only remain enthusiastic about stones for a short while. Time to go back to the boat for lunch. Strong southerlies in the afternoon.


02nd Tony went to pay another months car hire, guy in charge not there, asked to come back later. Returning a second time, still no George. Tony fed up with being messed about (didn't like the car anyway), he gave the keys back. Will find a different company.

09th Days drive, south to Kalo Chorio & Gra Ligia (south coast). West to Anos Vianos, north to Kasteli, east to Avdou and mountain roads heading back (some snow on the mountain roads) .

Driving to the coast we pass plastic tunnels for growing tomatoes etc.

Along the coast & up to Ano Vianos, we thought the villages were very drab.

Tried to find the war museum in Kastel (failed). Turned east for Avdou & enjoyed our drive on the mountain roads back home.

14th Windy, sunny, temperature 10c approx.

15 -17th 3 day trip around the island (Tue – Thur)

Day one

Some pleasant driving on the north coast (with ugly areas around popular resorts). We thought the mountain villages on the east side of Crete looked attractive & welcoming (beautiful scenery).

Spent our first night at Paleochora (south coast). A pleasant enough place (except for a couple of local yobs racing their cars around the sea front). Stayed at the Sandy Beach Hotel (new & not really ready for visitors), it was clean & comfortable. Got a shock when we were told we couldn't eat there (not even breakfast, just coffee facilities). In the evening we had some fun dining out at Captain Jim's restaurant, good food & pleasant atmosphere. It's family run, we got to chat with some of them (granny smiled a lot, only spoke Greek), the sons are fishermen (of course). The harbour here is being up graded, better moorings, water & electricity supply for yachts.

Day 2

Visit the Samaria Gorge (white mountains). With a little difficulty we found the tourist pavilion where you can look into the gorge (hiking only on Sundays at this time of year). It's said to be the longest Gorge in Europe (18 km). Hoping for a better view, we took a path up as high as we could (snow on the ground). Looked down into the Gorge, view no better but it was fun.

Making our way up north we drive through quiet valleys & villages surrounded by orange groves (this area is Keriti valley, I think?). Some sections were very scenic, when we stopped at times to take photo's (nice to be surrounded by greenery & hear birds singing). Driving away from Fournes we head south again, stop for coffee at new & very smart roadside restaurant (buy well presented souvenirs of local honey, raki etc.). Next onto Theriso for lunch, a pretty place, famous for it's history (war for freedom against the Turks 1908, started here). A bit touristy but very pleasant. Before leaving we chat with an English couple who live somewhere near Chania. They tell us about how difficult it is to build a home in Crete, problems getting labour & good quality work (especially drainage). We then drive up north & through the Therissos Gorge (6 km ).

Make our way back down to the south coast to Chora Sfakion our second night stop. The main roads varied from boring to interesting (some great scenery as we drive deeper south). The coastal village Sfakion is in a rugged & rocky area. It's a busy stop off point in the summer for tourist buses & boats (before or after trips to Gorge of Samaria). We didn't fancy the many small hotels at the sea front & chose a guest house set further back. Cheap & cheerful, very basic room but good food in the small restaurant (locals eat there). A second harbour in progress in Sfakion..

Third & last day.

Head east to Amaria then skirt the Ida mountains & south to Agia Galini.

So many villages to drive through or around and diverse scenery to take in (dry & drab to green & lush). Stop in Galina, a big harbour with a couple of yachts in but not much else, no facilities to speak of. No time to look around town but it's a pleasant place. Head east and follow a river. Flat land mostly and lots of agriculture. Slow going through some villages when large tractors seem to have the right of way (& best parking spaces!). Head north at Pirgos & make our way back to Nikolaos. We use the Lassithi mountain roads again because we like the scenery.

Tony doing all the driving (my name not on the insurance). A long & exhausting 3 days for him.

Crete 260km (160 miles) long & 56km (35 miles) at it's widest point / area is 8,260 sq km

18th Shopping in Iraklion in the morning. Parked by the harbour (what an awful place). It's big with lots of fishing vessels and a marina (but no atmosphere). We decide to visit Knossos, the reconstruction of a Minoan Palace of 1700 BC (thanks to Arthur Evans). This is the most visited site in Crete but up till now we hadn't got around to it. When we finally found what we thought was the correct entrance the gates were closed (such is life).

19th Glorious sunshine, Niko & his wife aboard (owners of a local boat used to take tourists to the Spinalong Island). They brought with them some home made Raki (pure distilled vapours, residue of wine making) and pickled Octopus, both excellent.

24th Tony's birthday (his 60th), the family wanted a party in Sheffield, we were worried about leaving the boat unattended & decided to celebrate with family later in the year. Had birthday supper on Southern Flight, joined by Richard & Elizabeth (MY Joybringer), a good evening.

Some very special presents sent by the family made up for not being with them.


01st Planned to leave Crete today but very strong north west winds delayed us.

06th Chatting with an English couple who emigrated here. They tell us about their frustrations when buying property (also controlling the standard of work), and buying a scooter. Their daughter makes jewellery, she worked for 4 weeks in a shop in Malia, told after this time there was no money to pay her, she may be paid in the summer? Immigrants beware

07th - 08th Ayios (Aghios) Nikolaos – Khania (north west Crete).

Depart 1104 distance 110M, trip time 21.06 hours

We expected a decrease in the north west winds, winds increased & the swell was awful. Decided against our original plan to head north & headed east. Looked into Iraklion to make a stop over, the swell was bad inside the harbour, decided to press on. It was a most uncomfortable night & we were glad to reach Khania. Tony didn't think the laid moorings at the marina were strong enough for us, nobody around. We tied at the fisherman's quay, fishermen gave us access to electricity & water. Days later, we were asked to go to the harbour office & check in. Paid the harbour office on leaving.

The shelter in Khania was good. We thought heading north would be possible in a few days.

In Khania

Tony pleased with the chandlers, excellent stock.

For a couple of days it was blowing a gale inside the harbour & we couldn't see the sea for fog. Our mooring spot OK but the yachts in the marina suffered from the swell (not too badly).

The fishing vessels were stuck in harbour almost all of the time, we made friends with the crews.

In the harbour we chat to an English guy who lives here. He tells us about a local fishing vessel sunk at sea recently, 3 men drowned but only 2 mentioned on T. V. & in local papers. The third man was Egyptian & the Greeks consider him a non – person (what an awful attitude).

We enjoyed our stay in Khania, not much sign of live aboards but the town is lively and so much more pleasant than Nikolaos. Getting restless though, waiting for the perpetual gales to disperse.

Having lost so much time we abandoned our plan to head north & go through the Corinth Canal. We need to be in Tunisia before the end of April.

20th - 23rd Khania – Catania SICILY

depart 1225, distance 449M, trip time 78.41 hours.

The first two days conditions were variable, mostly rough seas, a lot of time on the beam & uncomfortable (expected after such extended gales). We had winds F4/5 (gusting 6) on the first day. The Italian forecast from the Internet proved accurate, winds decreased steadily. From the second night, conditions were greatly improved. The last day was bright sunshine & fairly calm conditions. The sea a bit choppy on approaches Catania.

Our decision to keep the speed down was cost effective (Tony pleased with approx ½ gall per mile fuel consumption). Arrive Sicily early evening, we take a quick look around & shop, then rest.

We enjoyed Catania, around the harbour the buildings are dark & dirty, the centre is better. Very grand buildings & wide streets. We liked the people, the food & good shopping.

Catania notes

24th Look for chandlers shops, confusing details from the pilot book (found one or two). It's Sunday so can't buy anything.

25th Public holiday, Liberation Day. Lots of people milling about & holiday atmosphere. In Piazza Duomo a parade about to start, with various local groups (old & young ) lining up. Bit of a demonstration going on (against the government we think?) but nothing violent. We enjoyed a coffee and just looking around.

26th Looking for varnish, paint etc. No luck with the varnish & paint but did get some wing nuts. Sightseeing after lunch (take photos). Bought wine, 2 Euro per litre red (from cask, bring your own bottle), bottled white 7 Euro. A new venture selling from the shop but an old family concern (Baroneanionio, nice wines). The family also run a holiday farm on the slopes of ETNA, organic food (Sicilian recipes, cooking lessons if you like), good wine & tours of the area. The brochure looks good anyway

YC Diporto Nautico Etneo, 15mt boat, 70 E night ((approx £37), cash only, no receipt (I did ask).

27th - 29th Catania - Port el Kantaoui (TUNISIA)

depart 1020hrs, distance 283M, trip time73.44hrs,

During the afternoon an Italian warship crossed our bows, we expected a call on the radio but none came. The weather was so nice we get to sunbathe on deck. The first overnight passage was idyllic, calm seas & no problems. Well their was one exception! (on my night watch), it was a dark night with lots of traffic on the coastline of Sicily. I spotted a ship with small & weak lights, the lights however indicated a vessel over 50m. It would cross our bow & was too close for comfort. I turned to pass it's stern. How I allowed it any where near us in the first place I don't know?, maybe a fast ship that changed direction (when I left the wheelhouse to make coffee?). I am convinced some commercial vessels don't keep regular watch on their radar & don't see smaller ones (not an excuse, just a comment). Why some have such small lights I don't know?

2nd day & night were calm sailing & no problems (during the night we had some moon to light up that previously pitch black sky). The Malta channel was very busy with shipping.

We arrived in Kantaoui around 10am, the sun was shining & our reception was welcoming, even a customs lady remembered us from our last visit (2000/1). We move position 3 times before finally settling down. It was good to see old friends again.

With Caroline due to give birth to twins in June (but it could be May), I was preparing to stay with her for 2 (maybe 3mths). This would curtail our summer cruising.

One year contract = 3,100 TND (2.4 ex rate =£1292.00).


01st Our friends Habib & Sabah (locals) invite us for supper. Sabah made an excellent meal as usual, lots of different dishes

04th May (Wednesday). I fly to UK & leave Tony in Kantaoui.

Caroline pleased to see me, she's petite and carrying twins makes her look like Michelin woman (all baby, not fat), with one big tyre roll. She's finding it difficult to sleep and move about, twins are very often born a few weeks early, it should be over soon.

While I was in Sheffield, Tony's joy at being back in Kantaoui was spoilt by the ever increasing noise from surrounding café's & restaurants. He was trying to learn Arabic & doing OK until the level of noise simply ruined his concentration & enthusiasm. Starting from a mooring facing the road entrance, he moved the boat twice, before ending up back in our favourite spot facing the gardens of the Hannibal Palace Hotel. It was an improvement, but not for long. As the season for Tunisian school holidays crept closer (July – Sept), the café's on this side of the harbour played loud music until the early hours. Now everywhere was noisy. In 2001 this level of noise wouldn't have been allowed. So what's changed? (harbour & marina management).


04th June (Sat). Twins born, (Hooray). Jasmine (8.51pm /6lb 10oz) John (10.01pm /6lb 3.5oz).

Tony travels from Tunisia a couple of weeks later, we both enjoyed time with the family.


09th - 16th A week in Guernsey, catch up with friends. Son Bruce joins us for one day.

16th Return to Manchester & stay overnight with friends Chris & Pauline. Sunday morning we walk with them in the grounds of Dunham Massey, look at the area around the Old Cheese Mill, then a pub lunch. A sunny day, fresh air & good friends to share it with (just the job). Chris drove us back to Sheffield in the afternoon. More time spent with the family.

26th Tony takes Jake to Tunisia, I stay in Sheffield a while longer. Jake likes Tony's cooking, they have a good time together, swimming in the sea twice a day and relaxing around the boat. Jake makes a good impression with people around the marina (he's been here before).


03rd I return to Tunisia. Picked up at Tunis airport by Tony & Habib. Jake at Habib's house & we phone him, it's past midnight but he's still up and about. This is Tunisia school break time and its normal for families to stay up until the early hours (& sleep late next day). Jake had fun.

During the next week:-

We all swim in the sea a lot, Jake & I visit the water park a couple of times. Occasionally we go to the Hannibal Palace Hotel & use their pool. Made the mistake of asking a pool attendant once if it was OK, he wanted 15 Td a day (no way). Ignored him & just kept going.

We enjoy Tony's cooking or eat out at Jakes favourite restaurant (The Mediterranean), the staff are fond of him. On a visit to Habib's house we take flowers for Sabah, she was recovering from a fall (no major problems), spent the day with the family & their friends. Jake took his connect 4 game, everybody played against him (he's rarely beaten). Don't play 9yr olds at games they are good at.

15th - 21st Caesar (Jakes dad) to Tunisia. During the next week:-

Jake & Caesar get to enjoy some prime time together. We all have fun and the time went quickly.

We had mixed weather, mostly glorious sunshine & hot. One or two windy days & some heavy rain.

When eating out Jakes 9yr old smile and good manners are appreciated by locals. I make him sound angelic, like any 9yr old he can be annoying at times, generally though, he's a good lad. When we eat aboard, he likes to finish his meal with a crepe from a nearby stall, then sit on the stern with Tony & people watch (lots of locals & tourists milling about).

He was anxious at the end of the holiday to buy presents to take home. He couldn't get over how upset one young lad got when we didn't buy a piece of jewellery from his store. The lad a little cross at first, then looked as if he would cry. I explained to Jake “it's hard sometimes for the lads to make a living” (“maybe that shop isn't doing well”).

Later in the month Tony picks up a nasty virus infection (dizziness & digestive problems). The marina has a doctors surgery with an English speaking doctor, he prescribes an anti biotic (Tony OK again in a few days).

The doctor having his own problems (a leaky roof which the marina owners reluctant to sort out).


Annette helped us trace old friends (the Lawsons), it was good to speak with them on the phone.

08th It's hot, hot, hot, must be at least 35c

WIFI installed on the yacht. The marina have a WIFI aerial so we get free Internet. This aerial is temporary though (maybe a permanent one later?).

25th Our old friend Fethi Agaieg gets married. Before he went to bring his bride to the house, he looked very nervous but happy. This was the last day of a weeks celebrations.

In the courtyard of his house, the bride and groom sat all evening on a podium (very traditional) while their guests sat around or danced. The bride had very sparkly make-up on & Henna on her hands. Guests had eaten in a house close by & only women were in the fairly small courtyard. A professional photographer, the band & Tony were the exceptions (Fathi insisted Tony stayed). I sat next to a very old but lively lady, she spoke no English but we got on well (we danced together). it was a good wedding and we were happy for Fathi.

Speaking with Sabah later, she said modern couples like to mingle and dance with their guests.

28th Hot day, cooler evening.

Visit immigration police, find out about Visa Extension.

EACH PERSON REQUIRES: One stamp (10 Td each) for every week past expiry date of visa (purchased stamps from Ministry of Finance Office in Hammam Sousse).

2 application forms, 2 copies of photo page in passport & 2 copies of page with entry stamp.

4 passport size photos.

Proof of residence (for us:- the original & copy of Port Attestation D'amarrage (marina supplied).

Proof of finance (we supplied some cash till slips, credit card slips etc.).

Apply at least one week before leaving Tunisia, time needed we think for immigration to fax Tunis for I D check & authority to issue extension?.

When leaving Tunisia we were weeks over the visa expiry and the above was necessary.

It could an expensive fine if you turn up at the airport with a visa which has expired.?


01st Clocks back 1hr in Tunisia, now -2 for UK.

Chat with Leanne & Ray Holland (SY Ozsea, Sydney). Nice couple, set off from Australia 4yrs ago.

I would love to understand the words of Tunisian songs blasted out on the pirate ships, watching the lads dance on deck for the tourists is fun. The volume of noise is too much for Tony, he would like to blow the ships out of the water (many others share his opinion). .

On bike rides to the Hammam Sousse, I find it hard work in the heat, Tony has no problem.

03rd A typical day, hot & calm early morning, wind picks up before midday & dies again late afternoon. With no wind it's very hot. Did have short thunder storm & heavy rain.

05th - 12th Chris & Pauline spend a week with us. Our spell check doesn't like the spelling of Pauline, Chris said just type THE BOSS (sorry Chris couldn't resist adding it here).

Visits during their stay.

Sousse (Chris Pauline & I). Look around market & Medina (plus folk museum), then lunch.

El Jem, Kairowan (Chris, Pauline & I).

Tony busy that day, had arranged to see bikes (150cc scooters) with friend Dima.

We hire Mercedes & driver for the day. The driver spoke very little English, didn't like using his air-conditioning & we had to ask him to turn down his radio. His boss originally quoted me 120Td for the day & a driver with good English. The driver insisted on 150Td (approx £63) because we were back later then expected. We enjoyed the day, despite the driver.

Carthage, Sidi Bou Said & Tunis (Medina & Bardo Museum) (Chris & I).

Pauline ill in bed & feeling really awful, symptoms like Tony's virus infection. We had some tablets left from that time & she used them. Tony stayed aboard with her.

Chris & I get on a coach with tourists from hotel. Carthage was our first stop (history & interesting stones) then Sidi Bou Said (blue & white houses, beautiful views).

A break for lunch, it took 2 hours (confusion at the pre booked hotel, we had to go elsewhere).

In Tunis, the traffic was bad, by the time we arrived at the museum, it was closed (early closing, it's Ramadan time). We did of course get lots of time to shop in the Medina (old city) in Tunis The narrow streets inside form a market (Souk), one woman got a bit lost trying to find her way out (held up the coach). Too much really in one day but we enjoyed it.

Tunisian Folk Show

Pauline OK now. We all enjoyed an evening show. Pity we were sat at a table to one side of the stage & far back (not a good view). Tickets included as much wine as we wanted & a reasonable menu (wine weak, but OK). Some aspects of the show were boring, mostly it was interesting & well done. We had some very friendly Dutch people at our table which was nice.

An exciting out-door show to finish. Fast horses & excellent riders jumping on & off.

Changing Ladies Show

An evening show. What can you say, guys dressed as gal's. Their costumes & make-up were impressive, they mime other artists & do it well. Some excellent dance routines. A good show.

Some local chat about Ramadan (fasting between sunrise & sunset) & politics:-

Ramadan 2005 is Oct 05-Nov 02. Told the Islamic calender is now 1426 (counting is HIJRI)

First day of calender, prophet Mohammed (40 years old?) left his home in Mecca to go to Medina.

Leaving your home to live elsewhere is HEJRA, the pilgrimage to Mecca is HAJ (Hajj or Hajji).

Some Confusion with dates & words when I look in books but that's history for you.

Zlabia is one of the traditional foods at this time, it's a dessert (large, round, crispy & very sweet).

The first president Habib Bourguiba (from 1956 independence) preferred to spend money on education & health instead of arms. Didn't feather his own nest and wasn't a rich man at the end of his term. The current president Zine Ben Ali (since 1987) is OK, though he does tend to take for himself, his family & friends (jobs for the boys). When he finishes his term (terms), he's sure to have money in his pocket & a big house. Better not to criticize in public (it could be dangerous?).

19th It's hot (28/30c), strong SE wind (swell in harbour) & storm expected. Tony adding out riggers to stern, will ask for extra bow lines for us & security lines for yachts on starboard side.

21st Friend Edith & I visit the Bardo Museum. Restricted train service (Ramadan). Catch early train (will return on last train 3.10pm). The museum well worth a visit, the mosaics & artefacts were amazing. We were too late to join an English speaking guided tour, a local chap offered to be our guide, his English & his knowledge was good (price not bad, 15Td).

Take lunch in the city, Ediths favourite restaurant was closed (Ramadan). Lunch in a big café below a hotel, nobody sitting outside (plenty of Tunisians eating & drinking inside). We ate crepes and fancied a beer, no such luck, no alcohol being served during Ramadan.

Chatting on the train back with a very nice Tunisian young man (spoke excellent English). He's studying law at university, 6yr course (or 4 + diploma). Tells us that drugs not a big problem in Tunisia. Strict controls, smoking dope (1 year jail), buying/selling strong drugs (20 years).

24th Tony buys a scooter 50cc, it's blue & looks good by the boat

26th Supper with Dima, on his yacht Esperanza. Goulash, potato salads, melon, Tunisian sweets & lots of champagne and vodka. His guests aboard from Ukraine were friendly. A good evening.

27th Supper with Richard & Elizabeth (yacht Joybringer, recently arrived). Oriental style cooking (all very tasty). Tony & Richard both like to cook, it's a friendly competition between them.

The wine was flowing & it was good to have their company again.


02nd Tony & I on the scooter to Hergla, on route we see flamingoes. Hoping for some lunch we look out for café's, none open it seems (Ramadan), we suspect people are inside some of them.

03rd Tony & I visit Sousse on the scooter (Tony driving), Ramadan finished & the café's open (hooray). Shops are shut though (we think it's a special day after Ramadan, like our bank holidays).

Stop at a lay-by on the way back & I practice riding the scooter. Tony drives us back to the marina.

I take the scooter out for more practice. Every thing was fine until turning a steep corner, sand on the road (combined with my inexperience) made ideal conditions for a skid. Of course, I came off (not a serious fall), got up & rode back to the marina. Result, a scratch on the bike, a small cut & some bruising to me (plus damaged pride). Tony sympathetic & Henrike (SY Felicita 11) rushed out to give me first aid (Henrico & Maggie have been very good to us this year).

04th Supper on yacht Felicita. The meal was Italian style (Maggie a very good cook).

Henrike surprised us by playing the harmonica & telling us he is the one who taught Maggie how to crochet, he learnt during long periods of boredom when captain of commercial vessel's (he's good with a needle if any sails etc. need stitching). We liked the tasteful interior of their yacht.

06th A scooter ride to buy bread turns into a trip to Kairowan for Tony. He felt like a ride & got carried away (problem was, he forgot the bread.)

12th A water tanker in the marina & the whole harbour is hosed down.

14 International IT Summit. Bill Gates has his yacht moored in Sousse for a while. Lots of big wigs in Tunis for this event. Tunisia is not really up to speed though (slow Internet connections in café's, we are told there is only one server system in this country?). The computer engineers Tony has tried to work with on SF struggled to buy up to date parts. Tony found the engineers incompetent (no problems actually resolved properly).

16th A celebration day, dancing displays in the harbour (modern & traditional)

17th Weather still hot mostly (22-25c), occasionally cold winds bring the temperatures down.

18th November.


Edith & I on a tourist coach. 48Td (£20 each, including lunch).

Short stop Hammamet, look at the views & take a coffee. Visit pottery shop & market in Nebuel.

Get to see a view of fortress island in Kelibia and 200BC ruins in Kerkoune.

Onto El Haouaria for a very good lunch (beer extra), then a short walk to visit the Roman quarries (& cave dwellings of slaves, they dug the stones for the building of Carthage).

From Cap Bon we head back home, enjoying the views of fertile areas (vines, fruits & general agriculture), & of course the mountains ( it was all very picturesque).

A lot to do in one day but we thoroughly enjoyed it. Edith is good company & a clever lady, she speaks excellent French (plus other languages) so we get to talk to locals & other tourists.

20th I fly to UK, enjoy having some prime time with the grandchildren & family.


04th Tony to the UK, pleased to be with the family again. Our time taken up with shopping for Christmas presents & buying for the yacht. We hire a car & get to visit other family & old friends.

Friday 09th – Tuesday 13th

Friday, Drive to Manchester & visit friends Chris & Pauline (a pleasant evening in local restaurant) Stayed overnight.

Saturday Travel to the north east (Sunderland) & stay 2 nights with friends George & Margaret Lawson. It's the first time we've met since 1980 something??? (we all had dark hair in those days!).

What a treat it was, we were made very welcome & enjoyed a reminisce.

Sunday, I thought we were all going to a social club before lunch, it turns out to be men only (George thought is was very funny that I got dressed to go). After preparing the lunch, Margaret drove us all to their friend Gordon's house, then dropped the men off at the club.

She took me on a tour of the coast & to see a little of the River Tyne. It's a popular coast line with lots of summer visitors, very clean & more up beat than I imagined (good beaches). I was surprised at the size of the ferries on the river. The area is smarter than it used to be, the property market is doing well. We would have enjoyed seeing more but Margaret needed to go home, finish the lunch & pick up the men from the club (yes it's still the north east!).

Monday, Travel to Norfolk & visit my brother John & his wife Linda. I'm feeling pleased that we had no problems finding the place (Tony driving, my map reading better than it used to be!).

John recovering from an operation, Linda doing her best to keep him cheerful. We asked about the area & local restaurants. Johns comment was “they rarely eat out, nobody cooks for him as well as Linda can”. Quite right too, her evening meal was a treat.

Tuesday, Back to Sheffield & spend more time with the family. Before returning to Tunisia, we treated ourselves to a laptop computer for the boat.

18th Return to Tunisia, temperatures:- Doncaster (UK) 3c / Monastir (Tunisia) 12 c.

Back on the boat we prepare for Christmas. As usual, we give & receive invitations for entertaining friends. No shortage of places to eat if we want to dine out.

25th Christmas lunch at the Mediterranean restaurant, A good menu (including wild boar), one option listed was Turkey Stuffed to Chestnuts.

6 others at the table, Edith & Gunta (SY Felicity), Vivian & Werna (SY Julia), Renata & Igor (Motor/Sailor Prince Arco). Renata says “Igor is a good mechanic & gets taken advantage of sometimes by other yachtsmen with engine/mechanical problems (a familiar story).

Some small difficulty with language meant a lot of German spoken at times (no problems & we all enjoyed ourselves). Werna & Vivian invite us back to their yacht for drinks, they are excellent hosts & it turns out to be a late night.

26th The 8 of us again on Werna & Vivian's yacht. They arrived in the marina recently by plane & brought with them a very large turkey with all the trimmings (even the vegetables). Plus mince pies, plum pudding and Christmas cake (all very tasty & home made by Vivian). They didn't want to waste it, so of course we were all willing to help them out (so kind of us). What lovely, crazy people those two are. The turkey only just squeezed into the oven, it was cooked to perfection.

30th Supper on SF with the usual 8. It was Vivian's birthday. We ordered a surprise cake from the Med Restaurant, Werna asked us to stow away some flowers & champagne. When she came aboard the champagne was ready on deck, Werna presented the flowers & we all sang happy birthday.

Tony cooked an excellent meal. Sushi, Thai fish soup, baked fish in parcels (with rice).

Tony & Vivian had a heated discussion at one point about what went wrong with the British car industry, soon forgotten though. A very good night & we like to think Vivian enjoyed her birthday.

31st December.

Vivian & Werna have gone home, others booked elsewhere so Tony & I at a table for two in the Mediterranean Restaurant. What a good night it was, we know the owners & staff well now. Good food as usual & party decorations created a fun atmosphere. Crawl home around 2.30.

miscellaneous notes.


Car hire 18th Nov–28 February 750E, (George). Proton rent a car 8-30 March 250E (say £178)


Average pay labourer/shop assistant 200 – 250 Td month, hotel (decent job) 300, teacher 500 – 600.

Pierre & Daniel (French SY), Tony lends them an electric connector which they use for a couple of months in 2005 (same in 2006). Good company as neighbours until they had a personal fall (it made Pierre sullen). When winds strong, Tony helped him with extra lazy lines, was also going to take a line from Pierre's bow to ours. Pierre insisted he wanted it from his midship (which would rub our paint), of course Tony said no. When they disconnected their electric (flying home for a while), Pierre was most upset because we wanted our connection back (to store on our yacht, not his). Never spoke to Tony after that. Such is the cruising life!

Welcome to 2006