Thursday, September 16, 2010

Between Sardinia and Tunisia

As I write this, we're in the Sardinian Channel about halfway between Sardinia and Tunisia with less than 390 nautical miles to go to Ibiza in the Balearic Islands. We have no wind at the moment and calm seas, and we're doing a little better than the 4.5 knots we average using the motor. It looks pretty certain that we'll reach Ibiza early on Monday if not Sunday night.

Our last morning in Mazara del Vallo was a bit of an adventure. We needed to get fuel and had already located the fuel dock and checked with the little yacht club that diesel was actually available there. You wouldn't think there would be a question about that, but we never saw anyone at the fuel dock, so we wondered. The pumps were posted with telephone numbers, so we guessed we would have to call to get an attendant to the dock, and we hoped that he would understand English.

I had the fenders and lines ready as we came into the harbor, and I was watching a little run-about that was sort of in our way when we stopped. I thought John was just waiting for the little boat to move, but, no, we had run aground. Hmmm. Not a good sign, but not a big problem at the moment because it was soft mud and easy enough to get free. John went around the little high spot and started working Solstice up to the fuel dock. We went aground again. One more try. No way.

Apparently there isn't much to do in Mazara on a Wednesday morning because we had an audience of about a dozen people at this point. Half of them were on a fishing boat tied to the wall. There was still room for us on the wall, so we tied off there. One of our audience members was issuing instructions to me in Italian, which I smilingly ignored, and graciously caught our lines and secured them until I could scramble ashore. Then John said the guys on the fishing boat wanted us to move forward. Oh, that's why that little tug was drifting around out there: the fishing boat needed a tow. We managed to make enough room between the fishing boat and Solstice that we didn't collide and then re-secured our lines.

Now to find fuel. I was relieved when the guy who answered the phone number from the pump finally understood that we wanted fuel and where we were. It was a real bonus that he spoke some English. He'd be there in 10 minutes he said. Our spot on the wall was close enough that a really long hose could have reached us, but since they didn't have a long hose we had to jerry-jug the fuel from the pump to the boat. It took seven trips, plus a walk to the ATM for cash because they don't take credit cards, to fill our tanks plus our reserve jerry jugs. The guy manning the pump told John that they might dredge out the approach to the fuel dock in a couple of weeks. Actually, we've been pretty lucky, and this was the first time we've had to jerry-jug fuel. We're still lucky that it was so close.

All of that was yesterday and 140 miles ago. We did have some nice wind yesterday and managed to sail for about four hours. According to the forecasts, we should get a little more favorable wind tomorrow. Don't look for another post before we get to Ibiza. I just wanted to share our little adventure.

All is well board Solstice. -Shirlee

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1 comment:

Crew of the Solstice said...

As it turns out, our fuel was contaminated, and we're relatively certain that we got the bad stuff at Mazara. Maybe there was a reason (other than depth) that no one was getting fuel at that dock. Anyway, we'll be polishing fuel in Ibiza.