Thursday, June 14, 2012

Clearing Into Tunisia

Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia

2012 06 14

When I was finally permitted to sail out of Mahon (it no longer being Friday and all) enroute to Bizerte on the North West coast of Tunisia we started with a great forecast and indifferent weather.  But early on we got the sails up and it was bliss.

Over the course of the next three and a half days the sails were up and down, tacked and gybed, snugged and loosened two or three times an hour.  The wind when we had it was lovely but there was often little of it.  It required that we sail well and in our opinion we did.  The windvane was put to use, this being a long enough trip, and did itself proud.

The only bad bit of the trip fell on the second night when the winds were higher than forecast and from the wrong direction  and waves picked up beyond forecast.  We found ourselves unnerved even though the conditions were not too rough.  Discussing it we found we were both still apprehensive after the storm we endured crossing from the Azores to Portugal.  That night too the wind and waves began contrary to forecast.  Recovering our confidence at sea is a long slow process not yet complete.

Some slow bits in very light winds delayed our arrival in Tunisia by a full day.  Our planned 60 hour trip to cover 320 nautical miles took 86.   Enroute Bizerte was abandoned as a destination when we confirmed that the marina there was closed for renovations until the end of 2012.  No need to enter that harbour.

Instead we continued to Sidi Bou Said which is the oldest marina in Tunisia, located just north of Carthage and the city of Tunis.

On Meredith we have developed special clearing in procedures for third world countries and in Tunisia it lead to an efficient and enjoyable customs and immigration procedure.

In Tunisia on first entering the country you must report to the Port Captain with passports, Certificate of Registry for the Boat and insurance.  The Port Captain retains possession of your Certificate of Registry until you leave the marina.  Once preliminary forms are completed with the Port Captain you visit Customs and Port police.  You are not finished with the Port Captain and will return to his office once you are finished at Customs and with Port Police.  In Sidi Bou Said the Port Captain, the Customs office and Port Police offices are all within 50 metres of each other.  It is very simple.

At customs you complete a declaration asking for inventory of alcohol, firearms, electronics and other stores.

Once this is filed you are accompanied by two officials, one customs and one port police, to your boat for a search.  The search is efficient.

You then return to the customs office where a Triptique is prepared for you and placed in a file.  When we leave Sidi Bou Said for another destination in Tunisia we must attend at customs to obtain the triptique and take it with us to the next destination.  We also pick up our Certificate of Registry from the Port Captain which he gives us when we have paid our marina fees.

Sidi Bou Said was recommended to us by friends Benoit and Andree and we have not been disappointed.  We are minutes from Carthage, yeah yeah, I know it was totally destroyed, but there is a new one and little tiny bits of the old one can still be seen.

More on that later.

It was a pleasant clearing in and I will give you all the details later along with our approach to clearing in which has worked fairly well.  If you are new to it and wish details email me and I will provide some  specifics.  

 For now we will enjoy Tunisia which has been welcoming and helpful at every turn.

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