Mt Etna (or Mongibello in Sicilian) is one of the best known and respected volcanos on our planet. It is the highest active volcano in Europe, outside the Caucasus, currently 3,326m high, though this varies with summit eruptions. Etna covers an area of 1,190 km2 with a basal circumference of 140 km. Mt Etna also is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and is in an almost constant state of activity. Volcanic activity first took place at Etna about 500,000 years ago, with eruptions occurring beneath the sea off the ancient coastline of Sicil
Here are a few highlights from our time in Tunisia. Apologies in advance for the earworm this soundtrack will undoubtably give you.
Well what a mixed bag our journey was, sometimes things don't quite go according to plan, but in the end it doesn't matter. We had planned to leave the dock at 8am and the country at 9am, however a last minute problem with the bilge pumps required a parting coffee with our trusty engineer, Mike Turner. Mike only has to look at something for a nano-second and it seems to start working again. All good, now we can get away about 9:30. Our exit from the dock was not quite as elegant as we had planned, but thank you Patrick from Tok Tok. The berth was meant for a 40' boat after all! First stop, the Capitanerie to pay our bills - TND150 for water and electricity. Next stop, the port police, lovely people and I managed the whole process in French, including the discussion about why I am already retired and such a young age (!) - maybe I should have put "housewife" or "boat-wife" on the formulaire but Google translate could not deal with that! So far so good, no request for baksheesh...
While we did not spend a lot of time on ITIKI over the northern winter, we did manage to tick off quite a few items from our wish list of boat jobs, but don’t worry we still have a few more things to keep Keith amused over summer. A big thanks to Mick Turner here in Hammamet who actually did most of the work and took great care of ITIKI while we were away. Mick and his lovely wife Jo, really helped us navigate our way around Tunisia and made our stay very special.
Here are some of the highlights. As you can see we have had some serious problems to solve and have come up with some tailor-made solutions. We have also made a good contribution to the Tunisian economy!
It was one of those plans that seemed like a good idea at the time - before we left Tunisia we booked an Intrepid 2-week tour of Morocco (Best of Morocco) to kick off season II in the Med. We may spend some time along the Moroccan coast next year on the way to the Canaries, so the plan was to see some of the interior of the country. We started off in Casablanca, which sounds sooo exotic (its not, but might be when they finish building it…). There were 16 of us in the group (7 Canadians (including another Keith!), 3 Aussies, 3 POMs and 3 yanks) and our fearless guide, the lovely Mustapha - who bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Cat Stevens.
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.
Well we have now been back in Australia over 6 weeks. It has been great to catch up with friends, family and former workmates as well. At the same time it has been pretty strange to be “home” but not having a home. Having rented out our Sydney pad to help fund our extravagant lifestyle of gallivanting around Europe on a luxury yacht (!) we have been staying with various friends, family and hotel proprietors (thank you all!) in Sydney, South West Rocks and Hobart and there is more touring to come. We are trying not to wear out our welcome in any one place...
Sunsets are something you tend to associate with holidays and looking back on the photos of our first season in the Med there was no shortage incredible sunsets over both water and land. Photos of sunsets maybe a bit of a cliche, but hey, who can resist looking out over the water each evening to find that Mother Nature has put on yet another incredible show. Not something you tend to see from the office window... I found myself taking a couple of photos, putting the camera down to do something else, only to look up a few minutes later, rush back and pick up the camera again to take more photos as the scene and colours changed dramatically. Needless to say that made it pretty hard to choose the "best" photos from the hundreds I ended up with! What I liked most was the light and reflections on the water, the range of colours, as well as the contrast with the cloud formations which made for some pretty amazing scenes. The the photos don't always do it justice, but I hope you can still sit back, relax (with a "sundowner" of course) and enjoy the show.
...see you next year to start all over again!
It was with some sadness that we stepped off ITIKI for the last time in the 2018 season. She had been our home for the last 4 months and taken us 2,900 nm from La Rochelle, through Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, the Balearics, Sardinia, Sicily and finally on to Tunisia. We spent 2 weeks in Port Yasmine, Hammamet, stripping her back to her birthday suit to prepare her for the winter.