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Bizerte - Cruisers' comments

By Sue Richards last modified May 20, 2017 09:12 PM

Published: 2017-05-20 10:20:00
Countries: Tunisia

Port update on the new Marina in Bizerte, Tunisia, as of April 17-19, 2017.

Route to Bizerte: We made a direct run from National Park of Cabrera, just off the Southeast corner of Mallorca in the Balearics, to Bizerte, Tunisia.  Going on the more southerly route directly to Bizerte, Tunisia turned out to be a good choice as near gale or gale conditions blew on the northern route between the Balearics and Sardinia as well as along the north coast of Sicily.  We had a fast 25-30 knots on the stern with some 3-4m waves causing a bit of downwind rolling.  Our route east from Bizerte was Pantelleria (Italy); Mgarr, Gozo; Valletta (Msida Marina), Malta; and Argostoli, Kefalonia, Greece.

Approaches to Bizerte: Arriving into the bay where Bizerte is located in the Southwest corner, the waves dropped away, but we did have a few strong 35-40 gusts blow down the western hills.  There is a stand-alone breakwater in front of the entrance to the harbour allowing for entry from the east or west.  The big ships using the harbour enter through the eastern gap using a tug.  We entered from the western gap and encountered some shoaling, but not less than 3.5m.  There was a noticeable current flowing out of the entrance.  The shoaling and current are caused by the significant channel heading to the inland lake/harbour south of Bizerte.  The water is deeper in the western gap closer to the stand-alone breakwater, but we did not investigate in detail.  I recommend looking at the harbour on satellite view of Google Maps (see image).

Bizerte Marina: The marina channel to the west of the main channel is well marked.  As we entered the marina around 8:00am, a person met the boat and instructed us on where to tie up. There are significant and excellent docking facilities - which we moored alongside a pier inside the main marina (B5).  There is a brand new main clubhouse with excellent showers/washrooms, a comfortable boardroom and good wifi connection.  At night, there is a main gate with a guard and someone on foot patrol - we had no concern about security inside the marina.

We did not organize a tanker to bring fuel - but we understand that prices are very good in comparison to most EU countries.

Formalities

The Customs and Immigration process went smoothly.

Two immigration officials and a Customs official visited the boat shortly after we tied up.  Everyone on board completed a short entry form for immigration and we completed one customs form for the boat.  The Customs official took a brief tour of our boat.  The immigration officers took our passports to their office (to be run through their machine for entry) as well as the Customs form.  The passports and half of the entry form were returned within an hour.  We were required to keep the entry form with us during our visit and return it when we departed.  The Customs form was also returned stamped at the same time. There was no charge for any immigration or customs entry/exit.  We showed our appreciation for the excellent service by offering the returning officers some Canadian Maple Syrup and chocolate (I recommend finding your own culturally appropriate approach).  After tasting the maple syrup (which we recommended with ice cream or pancakes), they gratefully and enthusiastically accepted our gift from Canada.

For exiting Tunisia to Italy, the Immigration Officers returned and took our passports back to their office to be scanned out on their machines.  We called the evening before our early morning departure and they accommodated our schedule without any problems.

Bizerte Town: We felt safe and comfortable walking around the town of Bizerte, both for shopping during the day (Monoprix, croissanterie, banks, etc) and dining near the old port for two nights.  We had a very interesting if short visit and left with a positive impression of both Bizerte and Tunisia.

Departing Bizerte: We exited the harbour through the eastern gap shortly after dawn, raised our sails and bore away towards Pantelleria, Italy.  Halfway between the harbour exit and the eastern point of the bay, we encountered a long net floating on the surface with small black buoys - very difficult to see.  We were able to avoid the net by heading up and sailing alongside - it was at least 200m in length on the surface.  There was a fishing boat 1-2 nautical miles away which may or may not have been related to the net.  We did not see any other unmarked nets or fishing gear.

Contact Information:

Marina Bizerte - 216-71962122 (Tunis), www.marinabizerte.com
Mourad Chamari, Port Director - 216-98708819 mobile, mourad.chamari@bizertecap3000.com

Agent who was representing a superyacht in Bizerte that I met in marina office: 
Faycal Aidi, Operator/Manager, AVS+Logistics, 216-98222233 mobile, faycal-aidi@avi-plus.com

David Baird
SY Coral
Ottawa, Canada

 

July 2013 - Only for emergencies

I was at Bizerte the first week of July because the Sirocco prevented me to sail directly to Pantelleria, Malta from Cagliari and I had to stay there for some days. The new marina is still closed and under construction so the only place to berth is the fishing Port, at the East side of Bizerte. I knew about the gift and I set up a little one (only 5 dinari) for the policeman. However, when I left Tunisia some days later no one had asked me for a gift.

The taxi for the Medina and the market is about two dinari (1 dinaro = 0.5 Euros), but you can find everything also in the shops around the Port. I prefer the market near the old Medina because it is very characteristic. Near the Port you can find gas at the Agil shop: the bottle are the same as Camping gaz but their color is orange and one 3 Kg bottle costs only 18.70 dinari (about 9.5 Euros). For water you must pay seperately and fuel is very cheap, it cost only 1,05 dinari per liter, but for everything you have to spend a lot of time.

As soon as the wind changed I left the port and I sailed to Malta. I think that it is better to choose another port, but if you are forced to go to Bizerte, you can take advantage of the low cost of the fuel, the gas and some good foods that you can find in the market.

Agostino Curreli
SY Hejira

 

October 2010 - A not-so-simple Refuelling Stop in Bizerte, Tunisia

I sailed into Bizerte in Tunisia for fuel this year and was left very angry.

I declared Transit and said that all I wanted was fuel, but was told that I had to berth first. Next a policeman and customs official came on board and after a lot of paperwork declared that I was now entered into Tunisia but could not have fuel until tomorrow.

The policeman then put his hand on his gun and said, "you have money for me?". So I thought, let's get this over with, and pulled 20 euros from my wallet and was about to say that this was between you, when he grabbed it and said, "and some for my friend". Since I only had 20 Euro notes I had to give another 20 Euros to the customs man. The policeman then took his hand off his gun. At this point instead of leaving, they decided to look around my boat and found that I had 50 litres of wine in boxes in the forecabin and after much anguish and rubbing of hands I offered them a 5 litre box to get rid of them. They did not take me up on my offer and left.

The next day the policeman came back and said that he wanted some wine and demanded 5 litres plus another box for his boss which I gave in to.

I then went over to the fueling quay to get the diesel I had come for. The fuel man asked how I would pay, so I said Euros or credit card. He said they could not take credit cards and it was ilegal for any Tunisian to take Euros and that the only way to pay was in local currency. I asked where I could get this and was told at the bank in town 3 miles away. Since I had no local currency I could not catch a bus or a taxi so had to walk the 3 miles into town, where I had to estimate the amount of deisel I wanted and change Euros to that amount. I then had to walk the 3 miles back as I could not get a taxi for love nor money.

I exchanged all my dinars for diesel and was about to leave when another customs man came and demanded my passport which I had to give him. He then drove off with this and came back 2 hours later with it now stamped for exit, but before he gave it to me he asked for my port receipt for staying the night there. I had not wanted to spend the night there in a filthy port surounded by fishing boats as all I had wanted was diesel. Now I was expected to pay for this dubious privelige that I had not wanted in the first place. This of course had to be paid in local currency and since I had already used up all of that to get diesel this would entail staying another night and walking the 3 miles into town again.

At this point I lost my cool and shouted at him, but he would not back down. Thankfully a very nice French lady on another boat heard this and exchanged some Euros for the local currency needed to pay for the port. I was then given my passport back and he asked why I was not staying longer in his country.....

Ian Fowler

See report in similar vein about Baksheesh in Egypt here.

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