Pause at Bizerte
Such a different night crossing to Africa than the one to Sardinia! As before, the forecasts were optimistic by 10mph or so, but after a fast start, things settled down nicely. In order to arrive fresh in the morning, we got away in the early afternoon and had a good sail in somewhat rolly seas until the wind died just before midnight. Then it was motor-sailing for the rest of the way to our first entry into another continent.
The real highlight was our visitors. During the evening we had noticed a swallow swooping around the boat, getting closer and closer to us and flying through the cockpit area. It eventually dived into the cabin and tried roosting on our fruit hammock – visualizing its white deposits we weren’t too keen and encouraged it out. It then sat as close as it could to the companionway, clearly waiting for another chance to go below, past the towel barrier we’d cruelly put up to stop it. It was very happy if that closest point was on a human knee!
Eventually it gave up trying to sneak below and settled for me (D) as a roost. It snuggled down behind my neck and wasn’t a bit bothered when I moved my head around. After a few quiet tweets, one of his mates (siblings?) joined him in this snug spot. I encouraged them on to my finger as I could not leave them there all night and they then decided to try my head instead. Having got comfortable, they called for another fellow traveller to join the fun:-
Flattering though this was, it was quite uncomfortable for mine host, so we eventually got them settled on Lindsay’s hat under the sprayhood, where 2 of them spent the night (one flew off when we weren’t looking). We only have the photos (and a large white “present” they left behind) to prove that this wasn’t some fantasy. Can someone who knows birds explain a) why they were so happy to be this close to people and even be handled (when some of the regions they cross regularly shoot and eat small birds!), and b) why they hitched a lift south, to Africa, when presumably their fellows were headed north to Europe?
Anyhow, we reached Cap Blanc, the northernmost tip of Africa in good time after passing a really busy shipping channel and having to dodge one biggie. Our destination, Bizerte, turned out to be “closed”, being completely rebuilt into a modern marina for 900 boats. So we paused only long enough to go through the formalities of entering a new country (passports stamped), before heading off for a 7 hour fast motor-sail to Sidi Bou Said, adjacent to Carthage (see next entry). This is the oldest “marina” in Tunisia and quite tiny – one of the more challenging berths to squeeze into.