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Recent Visit to Tunisia - Sidi Buo Sazid

By Sue Richards last modified Oct 07, 2010 08:23 AM

Published: 2010-10-07 08:23:46
Countries: Tunisia

I visited Sidi recently (Aug 10) and would like to provide some feedback info that may be worthy of wider readership via Noonsite.

Sidi Buo Said

The old town itself (narrow streets, blue and white artist's houses etc.) is excellent and a French Tunisian marvel, albeit you need to keep to the main thoroughfare or else you'll find it dirty, scruffy and slightly seedy. It is well worth the steep climb up to it from the marina though - keep to this path as "off-piste" it is a bit of a tip.

The Marina

The marina though .. AVOID! Within 30 mins of our arrival we'd already shelled out €100 in bribes ("gifts" is their term) for the police, immigration, customs and dock staff, who made a feeble attempt to take our stern lines. After paying out to the officials ashore in their offices they then came onboard and demanded more money and cigarettes, and not in a nice way. If we hadn't just completed a 3-day passage from Majorca we would have left straight away.

The pilotage info. in the cruising guide is more or less accurate but the lead-in hotel is derelict, there are 5+ yellow buoys marking the keep-clear area in front of the President's house, there are shallows more to the stbd side of the entrance approach rather than the port.

Before arrival the Captainierre insisted that I fax him in advance, in French, with all my details, timings etc. (emails not acceptable and all the email addresses I tried were returned as unknown) - didn't matter a jot! The marina is packed with local cruiser/power boats and we had to force a couple of them apart to get to our berth.

It is a dirty, unkept and faded marina; the toilet "facilities" are very smelly and most basic indeed - e.g. only 1 shower - which seemed to be shared with anyone in and around the marina. The marina "guard" keeps the key and he has to be sought out night and day for it any/every time you want to use these "facilities". There is no new block as mentioned in the cruising guide (even my latest 2010 version is a few years behind reality). Hence the marina water that your lovely boat floats in is filthy; we had locals in either side showering in the open/upper deck onboard their boats several times per day. Laundry was available locally, i.e. some lady would do it for you, but at €65 per load they really were having a laugh.

In the evenings the marina is on the walkabout route for all the locals, kids and dogs so we didn't get any real peace until well after 0100!! No real security at all.

The local yacht club is welcoming though and you can get wi-fi in their club-house if you take your computer to the signal; nothing marina-wide though.

Carrefour have a big supermarket within a 15 min taxi ride (cost anything up to €30 - the drivers will always try to rip you off) where most things are available, excluding booze. The locals recommended this supermarket over the local street market!!

The fuelling pontoon looks very likely to wreck your sides unless you have tyres as fenders and plenty of them - we didn't bother taking fuel (which has a high sulphur content + a bit of water for good measure!!).

In addition to the bribes I had to pay €79/per night for the boat + water + elec + taxes making this probably the most expensive marina in Tunisia. My boat is a Beneteau 473 Oceanis, LOA is 14.48m and 4.30m in the beam. We draw 2.10m.

Weather info was posted twice daily as a standard marina service until I wanted it then of course they refused to get it unless I gave a gift. I refused and was told to leave the marina which I duly and very gratefully did!!

Anchoring

If you must visit the town of Sidi Buo Said then I suggest anchoring off the marina where it is free, there is some nice clean sea water and sand for decent holding - somewhere around 3651.5N/01021E should do it.

Other Warnings

En-route to Tunisia and in international waters we were boarded by the Italian "Guardi de Finanza" boys using a helicopter and an armed gunboat. I apologised for being British and requested some ice as we had run out. This did the trick and they were on their way immediately (but no ice!!).

Also, within about 25 miles to the NNW, N and NE of 3745N/00900E we encountered some strange and unwelcome shallow depth readings, rapidly rising up to just 3m below the keel at one stage. Ourselves and a nearby cruise-liner both had to feel our way around some, possibly, shallow stuff not fully identified on the latest paper/electronic charts. I followed the liner after we'd discussed the problem on #16 - they weren't taking any chances either. All this was between midnight and 0400!!

Later on, at first light, we found a long tuna net lying NNW/SSE within the ITZ to the north of Iles Cani (approx 3727N/01013E). I managed to confirm that my rope-cutter works and is worth every penny!!

Conclusion

Of course we may have just been unlucky at SBS but on 3 separate occassions since leaving Tunisia other yachts have recounted similar experiences and in fact I may have got off lightly!! After SBS we went to anchor off Cap de Bon (east side as west side is full of nets, buoys, fishing floats etc.) and then on to Hammamet where we had a much nicer experience all round in a lovely, big marina with very good facilities and not a bribe in sight. Mooring fees at Hammamet were much cheaper than SBS too. I probably would go back there.

Paul Miller
SY Dignity

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