Tabarka 36:59.44N 08:43.57E
We reached Tabarka yesterday evening at about 1730. This is a couple of miles east of the border with Algeria. Having avoided Algerian waters for six days, we were intercepted by an Algerian gunboat an hour or so from the border. Since they had their deck piece manned we thought it better to heave to, as we were clearly out-gunned! As it turned out they circled us a few times and waived us on: a surly bunch of n’er-do-wells, though. Fifteen minutes later, a Tunisian customs cutter waived us down, so we hove to again and this fellow was determined to board us. After a lot of farting about they got a line on board and pulled up astern. Two deck hands and an officer, if you could call him that. The only difference was he had a uniform (wrong size) of sorts. Anyhow, after Andrea had told him he wasn’t coming on with his cigarette, he tossed that in the water and the arsehole jumped from his bow onto our transom and grabbed the ensign staff, which promply gave way. God knows how he stayed on. It would have been a great end to the crossing if he had fallen in. He was so aplogetic about the flag pole that he gave us two beers, invited us home for a cous cous dinner (which we politely but firmly declined), looked at the passports, but obviously had no idea of what he was looking at, and buggered off.
We got in and the local port manager was really helpful, getting us in a corner at the back of the port, rafted up against an old powerboat covered in bird shit. It is obviously the corner where all the muck collects, but better than nothing. The police had great difficulty with my passport full of visas from Iran and Libya, and it took three hours of fussing and calls to HQ in Tunis before we were cleared in.
The town is nicely delapidated with friendly locals. We had intended to set off today, but the wind is out of the East (still) so we’ll wait till early morning and make some way east before it kicks up again in the afternoon. Also, we need to fill the water tanks: the pressure is so low that it has taken 8 hours to fill one tank! Obvously nothing happens fast here. The engine is blowing black smoke and still not putting out normal power, so I suspect there is still something interfering with the prop blades. I have another shufti when we anchor next.
The internet conection is slow here (why should that be a surprise), so we’ll upload some pictures later when we get somewhere civilised. We are definitely in Africa!