We arrived back on ITIKI on the 8th of March after a 26-hour journey from Sydney via Dubai and on to Tunis. We were only 3kg over our 72kg luggage allowance, and fortunately the 32 kg of “boat stuff” didn’t attract the attention of the customs folk at Tunis airport. That was fortunate as in my jet-lagged state I could not connect brain and mouth to produce anything resembling comprehensible French.
The drive back to Hammamet was interesting with our 5 suitcases and us crammed into a Peugeot 206, but the extra weight didn’t seem to slow us down, hitting a top speed of 80kts on the freeway! It’s great to be back home. We timed our arrival beautifully as the next day there was a “lunch party” of sorts organised by some of our French dock-mates we were yet to meet. Couscous Royal and BYO wine at a local beach restaurant. The “Anglophone” table of 8 tucked in the corner, we were out-numbered by about 40-odd Francophones but after 5 hours of eating and drinking we all seem to have all mastered multiple languages. We were missing our Kiwi buddies Shona and Gavin from White Arrow though – hope to see you in Greece! In our absence Hammamet has really woken up, with the marina and grounds so much cleaner and livelier than when we left.
Was it what you expected??
Pretty much everyone asked this question of us when we came back to Australia, but they were talking about our first season on ITIKI and we didn’t answer that very well. It wasn’t until we got back here that someone asked whether our return trip to Oz was what we expected. I can answer that easily with a big fat NO! I think I was somehow expecting to get back to some sort of routine with structure in my day, forgetting of course that it was my day job that framed that structure. I thought I might do more exercise and lose the extra couple of kilos I had put on over the northern summer, and that I wouldn’t be drinking as much… ALL WRONG! I thought I would have heaps of spare time, be able to take up a new hobby, do some craft or help out a friend or their small business – WRONG AGAIN! I didn’t expect to move 25+ times in 3 months – talk about sleeping around!! Living out of a suitcase is draining and if anyone wondered why I kept turning up in the same outfit, it’s because it was on top of the pile and I lost the will to dig. I didn’t expect to have such a fabulous time, thanks to everyone for making the effort to catch up for lunches, dinners, breakfasts, coffees, drinks, picnics, BBQs etc. We were so pleased and honoured to be back for the wedding of the decade and hope the happy couple can join us for a honeymoon later in the year. I didn’t expect to see an Escher exhibition in Melbourne, walk to South Cape Beach (Tasmania’s southern-most beach), watch Wild Oats XI take line honours again, take on some consulting work for an ambitious and fast-paced company, buy a GoPro drive over 4,000kms – the list goes on…. All in all a very busy and memorable time back in our other home.
So, what’s the plan, Stan?
Well first priority is getting the boat ready, in our absence Mike has been taking care of the boat and had completed a list of odd jobs and home improvements while we were away – more on that in a later post. Gilles, the FP agent in Hammamet had also sorted some of our warranty and FP specific work, most of which was minor.
We are working our way through our restart checklist, as still more odd jobs continue in parallel. There are just so many things to add to this boat that I did not know we needed. Our jetlagged state has meant that preparations have gotten off to a bumpy start. Firstly dragging “The Mainsail” all the way from the port aft cabin and up onto the top of the coach-house before realising it was the genoa as we had stuffed the real mainsail down the forward starboard hatch – D’oh! A moment of panic ensured when the first load of washing failed to go through the full cycle, bringing memories of our problems in Portugal flooding back. Initially blaming the dirty Tunisian shore power, we tried it with the genset on (once we remembered how to start it) but no, same problem. I am really not liking that whirring sound. Finally checked the water outlet which for some unkown reason “someone” had closed (it’s above the water line…) and with nowhere for the water to go the machine would not function. Easily fixed, marriage saved, washing done, and as a bonus the genset had a pre-season shake-down. All the cockpit clears are back up and the bimini tent reinstalled which is well needed as it is still a bit chilly here at night. As we had the genoa on deck anyway that has been hoisted and furled. The main halyard had been moused and refused to come down from the top of the mast so Keith had a trip skyward on the boom topper to retrieve it, it had twisted on itself and would not roll down. Good opportunity to clear the streamers of bird scare tape from the rigging too. Right now we have some quite strong winds which means no chance of raising the main to put the battens back in yet, sticking to indoor jobs today and starting the provisioning. Importantly we have purchased 2 bottles of Tunisian wine to be sampled at an opportune moment. Also he new charts are in place on the cockpit table - the Adriatic and Ionian.
Where to next?
Once we come back from our trip to Morocco we have some final preparations and provisioning to do. We also booked in for a 2 day tour of Tunisia which we could not do before leaving last year. Then we wait for the weather window. First stop is Malta for a week or so and then we head up the east coast of Sicily, across the boot of Italy and up the Adriatic coast to Ravenna and Venice. This should take about a month, we will move quickly up Adriatic Italy as there is not so much to see there. May and June will see us turning South again and heading across the entire 10nm coastline of Slovenia, assuming we can find a courtesy flag, then down the coast of Croatia, Montenegro and Albania. From there it gets a little sketchy but Greece and Turkey have lots of islands and coastline to explore. Winterising will either be in Leros in Greece or Marmaris in Turkey. The season will wrap up at the end of October so stay tuned!