In Sidi Bou Said with the special testers of the Magellano 74, Vittorio Missoni, Harald Frentzen, Frank and Fiona Walker

The forecast storm is at its maximum with winds of force 8 or more here in Sidi Bin Said. Waves are breaking over the marina breakwater and there is a lot of movement inside the marina itself. We did not have the most comfortable night with water slamming under the chines and to add to the problems our one remaining generator is playing up. Alex has had his head inside it and now looks to have solved the fuel supply problems.

Now we have to move to another berth to refuel and that should be an interesting operation with the strong winds. We have not had a chance to test the thrusters in a strong beam wind so I am hoping that we will be able to hold Magellano off the berth as we come alongside. I probably should not have reservations but we will not know until we try it

Well it worked and we transfer to the fuel dock went exactly as planned even though we weree hit by a couple of strong gusts on wind. Then the fun started with fuel being delivered in small trucks with a tank fitted to the back.

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Each tank held 1000 litres and they had to return to the depot to fill up to give us our required 5000 litres. What I could not understand was why we could not get fuel out of the pumps on the quayside, something to do with the payments.

So fuelling was a long process but eventually we have enough to keep us going. Up till now refuelling has been quick and easy but 3 hours later we are topped up with much shouting and gesticulation. Then it was back to our berth to await the arrival of guests.

From Sidi Bou Said we went had the celebs join us, Heinz Harold Frezen the ex F1 driver and Vittorio Missoni the fashion guru.

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It was a pleasure to welcome such guests aboard and wee set off on a day trip round Cape Farina to the wonderful island rock that is Isla Pilau. This rock rises almost vertically from the sea to 114 metres and it provided a wonderful backdrop against which to photograph Magellano.

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We put the tender down and were busy with the photos when a Tunisian warship took a close interest in what we were doing. We managed to convince them that we were harmless and just going about our business but in the uncaring way of navies around the world they went past creating a considerable wash just when we were recovering the tender, which made things difficult.

After the photos we went back around the cape to anchor for lunch in the calm waters and brilliant sunshine. It was sublime and a picture of what cruising should be about. After all the bad weather we have been experiencing it was great to be able to relax and enjoy things. At dinner in the evening Heinz-Harold and I were swapping stories about disasters and crashes, his in a car and mine in boats and ships. The big difference we decided was that in cars everything happens extremely quickly, in a slip second in the case of a racing car whilst in ships and boats they are slow motion accidents. In both cases you think you have choices but in reality events seems to take charge. We decided that we are both survivors but how much can you put down to luck and how much to judgements and quick thinking. I try not to rely on luck when I go to sea so I guessed it must be quick thinking but you are never sure.


It was much the same the next day but this time we went out to the opposite shore where on the west side of Cape Bon. This is a wild and romantic coast with the only habitation we could see being a hermit’s cottage, or at least that is what we were told. It was blissful at sea but the charts were a bit vague about where the shallows are so I hade to navigate with considerabl4e caution. Out here Vittorio Missoni tried his hand at fishing, a sport that is a great passion for him. This time his luck was out so we returned empty handed.

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In the past Vittorio and I have raced against each other in offshore powerboat racing and we are both members of the most exclusive yacht club in the world, the South West Shingles Yacht Club. You do not join this club you get elected and the qualification is that you must have had a very high profile accident or incident that you would like to hide but which has been made very public. This is a very British Institution but we have a world wide membership. There were many stories to tell over dinner.

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The weather looks fair for our voyage to Malta tomorrow but once again we have quite a narrow weather window with the next storm brewing in the Western Mediterranean. I love this negotiating with the weather and it is ones of those skills that every yachtsman should embrace because it can open up opportunities to go to sea that might not otherwise be available.

Before we headed off to Malta we had a morning out with Frank and Fiona Walker who are passionate yachtsman and who have their own Azimut 62 in the Mediterranean. At the helm of Magellano Frank was like a kid with a new toy and revelled in the unexpected performance of Magellano.

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The yactht may have something of a staid image but she can certainly get up and go you open the throttles and she can turn on a sixpence. I must say I have fallen in love with her performance but this run to Malta is going to put her to the test.

The forecast is for force 5 from the WNW, so Magellano will have a following sea all the way to Malta except for the first 30 or so miles to Cap Bon. Here the sea was on the quarter so that Magellano running at 12 knots had a sort of corkscrew ride. Altering course just 10 degrees improved thilling in the beauty and the pleasure.nd the cape and have the seas behind us. Now Magellano picked up her skirts and flew. We were still maintaining the revs for 12 knots but the speed over the ground was up to 13 knots or more with the wind astern.

The ride was so comfortable on board with just a gentle roll that the stabilisers corrected quickly, that the Italians on board cooked up a wonderful pan of pasta and we could sit round the table with civilised eating. Eating pasta at a dining table in a force 5 is a new experience for me and clearly demonstrated the easy riding capabilities of Magellano.

At midnight the skies cleared and there was a wonderful display of stars. It is what seamen call a ‘big sky’ one where you can sea the stars right down to the horizon. This is another part of the magic of going to sea and we were revelling in the beauty and the pleasure.

Posted: dicembre 11th, venerdì, 2009 @ 11:24 AM
Categories: Testing the Magellano in Tunisia.
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