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Day 2. Lampedusa to El Kantaoui

Saturday, July 28, 2007 permalink [Permalink]

Today we set off from Lampedusa and head for El Kantaoui. An early morning start saw to it that we were quite happy to see the shores of Tunisia.

The midnight start wasn’t all that great as nobody likes to be dragged out of bed.  The temporary fuse worked like a charm and the anchor got raised.  We slowly made our way out of port and set sail.

The wind was blowing 15kt and at the perfect angle – we were cruising at 7.5kt using sail only.  In order to make El Kantaoui before dark we need to maintain an average speed of 7kt.

Mario took the first 2 hour shift.  One of the obstacles to look out for was a tiny little island directly in our path called Lampione (Italian: Lantern).  And indeed it had a little lighthouse one it.  We stayed well clear of it.  From here on in it was going to be another 9 hours directly to Port El Kantaoui.

The wind started to pickup and the waters became choppy.  We put on our wet weather gear and tied ourselves to the safety rails.  Every now and then the waves would crash into the boat and soaking us.  I went below to get 2 hours sleep while Mario braved the weather.  It was hard going down below – with all the rolling and banging I finally managed to fall asleep.

When I woke up it was 4:45 and Mario was still up there – he didn’t wake me up to take control during the night after 2 hours.  I should have set my alarm clock and told him to get down below.  When I saw him that morning he was curled up into a little ball trying to stay warm.  It’s amazing to see such a temperature change between day and night.

I told him to get down below and get some rest. 

The next 4 hours were blissful – 18kt winds not quite enough to get us keeping at the 7kt average so some engine power was required.  I was constantly trimming the sails trying to get every last bit of speed out of her.  I could feel the sun rising behind me as the warmth hugged my back.

Mario slept for a good 6 hours and woke to the first sightings of Tunisian coastline.  It was his first time to Africa and he was excited – I remembered the first time I saw Africa and felt like a childhood dream was coming true.  A flag in yet another continent :)

We were both at the helm when the big 52 foot Dufour took the lead, slowly she edged past our port side.  I felt like the bastard could have given us the win – it wasn’t meant to be.

A pilot boat was there to greet us at Port El Kantaoui, they called in our name and assigned a pen, we followed the boat into the marina.

Mario, as the captain, took all the documents to customs and immigrations.  After 40 mins he came back saying that I need a visa on my Polish and Australian passports to be in Tunisia.  I remember thinking to myself that I should have checked it out before leaving – but had hoped that the information from the organizers was correct and that I didn’t need one.

Yes I broke all immigration rules and that evening I went into town with Mario anyhow, as an illegal immigrant :)

We got back just in time for the welcoming drinks and some speeches by the officials of the race.

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