Arriving in Bizerte

Arriving in Bizerte

Arriving in Bizerte
‘Want to sail on a wooden ship, down the coast of Africa…’

It had been a bit of a stressful night. As we neared the north African coast the amount of heavy shipping increased, and frequent wind changes meant ongoing sail and course adjustments. It was with relief that I watched the sun rise, and terror an hour later when I glanced up to see a long line of floats across our path.

I switched off the auto pilot and wrenched on the helm, dragging the boat to port and bringing us parallel with the obstruction. Propellers and fishing nets are a disastrous combination, and taking a few deep breaths I putted the cat along the net line trying to find my way out back out. I woke the skipper for another set of eyes, and eventually we managed to get out of the maze. Bloody lucky I had managed to sail into the loop through the open end – I didn’t see it at all until I was inside with the trapped fish and a bunch of dolphins.

The last miles into Bizerte, Tunisia, seemed to take forever. Chugging into the wind on the engines, and against a current, was a patience exercise that I didn’t have the patience for. It was a great relief to finally motor into the marina, which was a huge facility and nearly deserted.

Arriving in Bizerte
The ship’s dog was pleased to finally arrive in Africa too

The Bizerte Marina officials met us and helped us to moor, and told us that we were not to leave the boat as we were under Covid-19 quarantine. Our passports were taken from us, and we were informed that a health worker would arrive shortly to test us for the virus.

Italian beer
I was as grateful as this bloke for a cold beer after our long trip

Sure enough, about an hour (and a couple of life preserving beers) later, a little van appeared on the jetty. A health worker dressed in disposable PPE, and armed with a couple of intimidating looking probing swabs, invited us to the boat’s back steps to be nasally violated.

Mobile Covid-19 test van Tunisia
At least someone’s making a buck out of Corona

The bloke was very enthusiastic about his work, and after poking the probe miles up my nose he twisted it with such vigour I feared he was going to bore a hole into my brain. He had the decency to apologise afterwards as we stood there snuffling and smarting. He promised to have the results to us by the following day.

Next morning a man arrived at the boat and started asking me a bunch of questions regarding our arrival, and telling us what would be happening next. I interrupted him and asked who he was, as we seemed to be getting a stream of people arriving who were all officials of some description but none of which were wearing uniforms. He told me he was a doctor, and came aboard and talked the Skipper and I through the next phase of our quarantine.

Thankfully he took into account the time we had spent in transit at sea, and thus away from public contact. He decided if our tests came back negative (which they did) – we only had to quarantine for a further five days.

Considering this was the first time that Covid-19 had really impacted our travels, and that I was tired from the trip, the thought of bailing up on the boat for a while wasn’t too hard to take. Mind you, after a couple of days I was getting a little antsy, and would sneak out during the evening to walk up and down the marina jetties for a while. I was back in Africa, and keen to get out an about. The date-palm lined waterfront promenade of Bizerte was beckoning from just across the water…

Arriving in Bizerte
Bizerte Marina

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