24th February 2009
We decided to make an early start with Aldora at 06:00 and go to Ras al Arah (20 miles short of Bab el Mandeb). We had a stonking sail at over 7 knots average and Aldora did not lose us too much. When we arrived at the anchorage, the army went over to Aldora and told them to leave, Aldora pleaded tiredness via sign language and we were allowed to stay overnight.
We had to leave Aden as our free 72 hours was up. One of the soldiers climbed on the yacht with his AK47 swinging wildly about, the gun was pointing straight at Johns head. John gestured that he was unhappy about the gun & the guy gestured back that he meant no harm. We haven't got visa's so that's why they told us to leave. Another boat stopped at another anchorage & they were told to leave straight away so we were lucky really. I think they army took pity on John as he had 3 children onboard.
25th February 2009
Today, we set off at 03:00 for a run to somewhere.
It appears that we are now headed to Ras Termah where 3 other boats are also headed after being told to move on by the Yemenis. We hope to get a better reception here in Eritrea where we will plead that we are headed to Massawa to check in formally and need some rest.
The natter on the radio is all about weather. It seems that the convergence zone between the Northerlies and the Southerlies is unusually low at this time of year and we therefore expect headwinds earlier than we wanted (actually, we don't want headwinds at all). Tomorrow and the next day look good for moving on again with a 03:00 start for 180 miles to the next anchorage that will give shelter regardless of the wind direction (N or S). We hope to arrive before 14:00 the next day to make sure that we can con our way in.
Well, I got it wrong, it was about 95 miles to Ras Terma and we arrived shortly after 16:00 after a stonking good sail with up to 2 knots behind us and gusting 40 knots winds only the third time downwind when we have had to resort to the third mainsail reef. With the current behind, the sea was relatively flat and we did some good speeds almost catching "Purr", "Cormarant" and "Kirsten Jane" who passed our anchorage earlier in the morning and had a 20 mile head start.
2 Knots up the Chuff
"Purr" at Ras Termah
Sunset at Ras Termah
26th February 2009
No peace for the wicked though. This morning we left as a group at 03:30 to do the 180 mile trip to our current anchorage. Again, we had a real blast with the wind behind touching 8 knots through the water and having up to 1.5 knots current at best times. Our plan was to get in sometime today on the basis of calms overnight but we had only about half an hour becalmed and had to reef right down to reduce boats peed overnight. The fast cat "Aldora" had shot ahead in the strong winds and by 23:00 had gone to bare poles still running at 5 knots - they eventually resorted to towing a milk crate to slow down for the daylight arrival.
Then of course, 20 miles out and the wind died completely followed by about 8 knots bang on the nose. We stopped sailing at 10 miles out and therefore did not run the engine too much. "Purr", "Cormarant" and "Kirsten Jane" took the inshore route and had little wind all night and motored most of the night. We and Aldora stayed outside the 20m line and fared better.
Northerlies are forecast and all 5 boats intend to sit it out here. First impressions are favourable and we might even find a reef to go snorkelling on.
27th February 2009
We arrived at 10:30 today and we have simply chilled out and done nothing all day apart from have a cool off in the sea and checked the prop for missing pieces and cutlass bearing wobble - no problems. The sea temperature here is perfect for swimming but the water is a very murky greeny colour with bits floating in it - all probably due to the minuscule plankton and such-like that glows at night.
It's Pizza again tonight. Since Fliss has learned the art of making them from scratch, we have had them regularly (only to use up the 300 peppers, chillies, tomatoes and onions that she bought in Aden of course). Ready in about half an hour, yummy.
Windy from the East, Northerlies forecast for tomorrow so Sunshine, wind and lots of power means "Movie Night" tonight. It will be almost a matinee because bedtime will be before eight o'clock
Local Fishermen wanting fuel etc
28th February - 4th March 2009
We're fine and just hiding out in a beautiful bay, the forecast is for strong North wind. Sheldon our mate who's delivering a 65 foot Cat to the Med emailed us to say that he's had a right hammering trying to get to Egypt, the waves tore the trampolines of the front of the boat and he said it was a terrible experience. Sheldon comes from South Africa & sailed the Southern Oceans loads of times (it's where they have the freak waves & horrendous winds) he's got 250,000 sea miles under his belt (we'll have about 35,000 by the time we get home) for him to say it was terrible means you don't go out. The winds are due in sometime later on today so it's boat jobs, movie watching & just chilling for the next four days... Suits me as I'm tired of all this sailing. Someone said we could be hear a week, we'll have to see.
Pete from Purr came over and suggested that I throw away the manual and try something different. He got a stiff, thick piece of wire and a jubilee clip and told me to attach the wire to the prop flange and line it up against the gearbox flange. Having also stopped the shaft moving backwards and forwards using another jubilee clip against the stern gland, I could use the wire as a reference point against the centre of the shaft. We found that the engine was out of alignment both horizontally and vertically by this method so I spent all day tweaking here and adjusting there with every movement putting something else out of alignment. When all was well, I tightened everything up and having done that, then had to re-align again because I had taken up some slack.
I eventually finished the job and placed the two flange faces together. I had none of the flange face misalignment that I originally thought was due to the flang being not exactly 90 degrees to the shaft and I could not get a 2 thou feeler gauge in anywhere around the flange faces.
After letting the nutlock dry on the flange bolts, I started the engine and gave it a try. The results are inconclusive at the moment since I had the engine cover off and everything was noisy anyway. Funnily, the engine seemed to have more vibration than usual at minimum revs and this was felt also in gear (even though tickover revs are still the same). However, we have not yet done any sea triails and will leave that until tomorrow. Also strange is the fact that the engine still nods back and forth under power - I thought that the proper alignment would have fixed it.
Well, after finally aligning the enine in all directions and letting the loctite dry, I started the engine and, even not moving and in neutral, it was vibrating the cockpit floor at tickover. I did a couple of forward and reverses and decided that the sea-trial would wait until today because it was damp, windy and not enticing to get the hook up.
Pete from Purr came over and had his "stethoscope" to the engine as we shimmied around. I had don the same yesterday and could not find any obvious problems and nor could he. The noise and vibration still occurred when in neutral with the prop turning and Pete got a wooden pole and loaded it onto the engine which stopped the noise. He eventually pinned it down to the aft starboard engine mount that he told me was soft and wonky. To prove the point, he wound the holding nuts up 2 and a half turns and the pre-loading immediately solved the problem. Obviously what has happened is that my better alignment has taken load off that mount and allowed the engine to rattle disturbingly and rather oddly in time with the prop turning leading us to think that it was the gearbox chattering.
So, all my efforts at alignment are now useless with a cock-eyed mount that we have pre-stressed. I will try and get another mounting somewhere between here and the Med but I am not holding out much hope. Pete said that any old mount will suffice as long as the dimensions look ok.
We eventually got off the boat today and took a walk across an island nearby. We found a camel skull and extracted a few teeth for souvenirs as well as some lovely shells. Pink flamingos were wading in the shallows and three very tall grey waders were wandering ashore, we have no idea what they were but they were huge.
The Desert Scene
4th March 2009
we decided to join Aldora today for the 37 mile run to Shumma Island so we left Purr, Kirsten Jane, Cormarant and Aju at about 06:30 this morning and it looks like motoring all the way against a light headwind.
The Blue Water Rally are back in the vicinity. We heard one of them on the radio yesterday and there are three sailing boats off our starboard side as I write. They are headed for Suakin in Sudan (about 50 miles South of Port Sudan) as their next congregational meeting. We are also headed there but will wait for some decent weather to get us there. The Grib Files promised Southerlies on Saturday or Sunday but as we get there they are starting to change their minds. A southerly (or at least, not a N'Westerly) would be very useful since there are no anchorages for 120 miles as you cross the Eritrean and Sudanese borders. Let's hope. The Pilot book says that the Red Sea passage is a waiting game. Generally, at this time of year you can get to Port Sudan with Southerlies if you are lucky. From there it is headwinds all the way unless a freak weather pattern emerges - in which case be very careful!
The engine is sounding ok at the moment but is now out of alignment again due to loading the poorly engine mount. I have thought about drilling through the engine bearing bulkhead and strapping string through it and over the mount to hold it down firmly. Then, I could probably re-align the engine and hope that the temporary fix lasts until I can get a replacement.
5th March 2009
we motor-sailed again today the 30ish miles to Dohul Island (although the log read 37 miles). Headwinds and current against us but we arrived at about 14:15 and, although the anchorage looks exposed, there is little wind and it is supposed to stay that way through tomorrow.
The anchorage last night was pleasant although the run through the reef was a bit unnerving since we have had low grey cloud for the past few days and the visibility through the water as a result is very poor. However, CMap matched up with hand bearing fixes and also with the GPS Co-ordinates in our guide book so we were ok even though the >1knot current was pushing us sideways until into the pass. The leading lines were impossible to make out - the rear one was an easily seen stone cairn on the hill but the near one was a small pile of rubble that was the same colour as the surrounding sand and stones. I eventually managed to find it after anchoring by scanning with the binoculars. Four rally boats were there and two have just motored past us to go the extra 10 miles to Harat Island.
If the weather remains calm, we will stay here tomorrow with Aldora and do a bit of swimming and engine checking (are the bolts tight? Does the stern glad leak, etc etc). Hopefully then the wind will turn Easterly then S'Easterly and we will do a big hop to Suakin just South of Port Sudan. A bit of planning is required to make sure that we come through the approaches in good light since there are a plethora of reefs thereabouts.
6th March 2009
We had a lay in today until about 08:00. Just after we woke and turned the VHF on, Aldora called up and suggested that we get going immediately for Suakin with the view that we could do an overnighter and then be far enough (at or past Khor Narawhat) so that we could anchor before dark tomorrow and then do the last leg in daylight. It sounded good but we had to shift it and get going immediately. The first part of the morning was a bit dead and we motor sailed. Later we managed the cruising chute and took it down when we started surging at 8 knots. The breeze has filled in now (15:00) and we are getting along at 7 knots with smooth seas and winds from the East.
The wind should stay with us until Monday Morning and we hope that we will be snugged into Suakin by that time. Then, it is rest time for however long and a load more boat maintenance. Engine to try to firm-up, rigging to check and turning blocks to wash (the fine dust collects everywhere).
It was a bit of a pain leaving in a hury this morning but the plan sounds good and cruising with Aldora has its benefits - they have a water maker and have given us 80 litres over the past week.
7th March 2009
Well, the wind abated as the land cooled in the evening and by 21:00 we were poled out and doing abouy 5 knots. Not long after, we turned the engine off and then gybed as we motor sailed. Later in the evening, we gybed again as the wind came a full 360 and had the engine off for about 2 hours between 05:00 and 07:00. From there on, it was motoring without sail-assistance as we must have had about 1 knot of appararent breeze or less from the front ( 4.5 knots from the rear).
We arrived at Khor Narawhat at about 14:30 where Aldora had just arrived having entered the North Channel where we entered the Eastern Channel. Soon after we arrived, the wind picked up and there is now a good breeze blowing. We have 84 miles to go to Suakin and must therefore leave here at about midnight to ensure a daylight arrival. The first of the coral dodges starts in 46 miles and so we should have good daylight to spot surf and darker patches by the time we get there. There are many ways to jiggle through the reefs; The inside passage that is tortuous, the middle passage that our CMap chart shows bearings for, the outer-middle passage that has a few extra miles. We are going for the middle passage that eventually runs very close to the coast for the last leg. Aldora wanted to do the inner passage - don't know whether they have changed their minds but I personally do not want to be cairn-counting through reefs with only a few hundred yards or less either side and dodgy charts.
It looks as though we will be motoring all the way, the Southerlies that were predicted actually arrived but at 5 knots rather than the predicted 15 - better than Northerlies! More engine alignment, securing and maintenance ahead.
Great snorkelling. We saw huge brightly coloured fish that we haven't seen before, the coral was healthy too. I am a bit nervous in these waters as there's meant to be Hammerhead Sharks which are aggressive and real predators. We all snorkel together so safety in numbers. We did see as the sun set the other day a group of sharks by Naz, unusual really as their not meant to be pack animals. Pete reckoned one was the size of me. The rule is no swimming at dusk & dawn as that's when they come out to feed. We don't want to miss the snorkelling here but we do keep looking behind.
8th March 2009
We bashed to windward luffing the headsail a bit but still doing 6.5 knots at 40 degrees to the wind. We were astonished at how well Naz behaved but the seas were flat as we were in the lee of a reef. As we turned up the inner channel, the wind was dead ahead and we took the sails down and motored against it. The pilot book has good instructions for the entrance keeping a minaret on the old ruins at 215 degrees until a conspicuous chimney appears at 181 degrees and then follow that track. Luckily, we read some cruising notes that said
"The Pilot suggest passing within 20 feet or so of the ruins on the right (going in). Good idea. Three boats, including Pilgrim ran aground on the way out and had to be pulled off by the helpful harbour master and his tug."otherwise we would not have believed that the bearings took us so close to the shoreline. We stayed about 30 feet off the shore which was about 10 feet from the fringing reef and, being only the third boat in the anchorage, there was plenty of space to choose a spot to anchor. No less than 4m depth at any time. The Blue Water Rally and the Vasco De Gama rally are due soon - Ha, Ha - we were here first!
Apparently Suakin was the main port here in Sudan and was a slave trading centre at one time. What happened was that the merchants moved to Port Sudan for economic reasons in the '20s - and took with them the actual cornerstones and coral bricks from their buildings! This began the initial collapse of the city that time and wind have now pretty much completed apart from the remaining minarets that were left untouched and still stand above the rubble.
9th March - 17th March
Walking into the centre of the town is like walking back in time 1000 years. The rubble of the original city gives way to the shanty town of today with market traders selling on the streets or from their small shacks. We were woken by the braying of donkeys this morning and these provide the main source of transport here towing makeshift carts with wobbly wheels sporting bulging misshapen tyres. The place is brown and dusty but the fruit and vegetables and the clothing "stores" add splashes of vivid colour to the scene. Someone likened the place to be right out of an Indiana Jones movie and I could not describe it better. A few brightly dressed camels roam around, we bought flour that had just been ground using an old petrol driven milling machine and we wondered at how the old diesel single-pot engine that was pumping the well was still going after the years of service it must have already contributed. There is no electricity in the town centre so everything must either be done by hand or combustion engine (of which we saw only three).
The place is so different to anything we have seen before and the people are very friendly. We were met by Muhammed to do the officialdom which was painless and we have swapped our passports for shore passes so we do not actually have a visa here. Apparently this is not an official port of entry but cruisers are welcomed. I am not sure what happens when we leave and whether we will have to buy a cruising permit for the rest of the run to Egypt.
Can you spot the toilet?
I will get on with some boat jobs whilst we are here (the winds are pumping hard out of the North so we will let them abate) and we will also catch the local bus into Port Sudan for a look at what is there. Taking the boat into Port Sudan is supposed to be very expensive and we shall try to avoid that.
The people here don't look desolate & seem quite happy. We haven't seen any beggars, which is surprising. I would imagine further inland would tell a different story though. They are a stunning race, very dark and have gorgeous ebony features. The women who are Muslim wear these stunning coloured robes which look amazing against the background.
We've had a great time in Suakin but it did end on a negative note. Pete & I decided to meander the back streets (ruins) to Naz and we came across a load of camels laying down scratching themselves in the mud. Anyway we walked closer only for a 10 year boy to start throwing rocks at us. The boys father (I think) came running over shouting at the young boy to stop. He then came over shook our hands and gestured for us to walk away. The sad thing was we would have liked to know what his problem was. We hate negative endings.
Port Sudan Goods Transport System
17th March 2009
We arrived at Port Sudan after about 35 miles of headwinds. We left at 05:45 with 7 other boats and there are 4 of us who opted to stop here. 4 of us decided to long-tack up inside the reef but, as the wind headed us, two gave up and put the engine on. We eventually decided that the tacks were getting shorter into steeper seas and did the same in the narrows of Towartit Reef before bearing away to Port Sudan and getting the engine off again. The hard labourer who kept on tacking was Spanish and kept going under sail at a surprising angle to the wind, we are not sure where their final destination is since afternoon sun and Marsa (reefed inlets) entrances are not good in the afternoon sun.
We will do the same tomorrow and do either 28 miles to Marsa Fijab or 38 miles to Marsa Arakiyai. The weather looks as though it will be OK for the next few days and we plan to get 35 miles per day until we run out of half-charted navigable water at the Egyptian border. There we will wait until the weather looks good for the run across Foul Bay.
We shall not be going ashore here since they apparently charge huge fees, hopefully no-one will come to us and we shall creep out tomorrow morning at first light. Theoretically, this is allowed.
18th March 2009
We left Port Sudan for Marsa Arakiyia at about 05:15 this morning and had a decent hour of sailing before the wind died and then headed us. From there it was motoring all the way again. I think that this will be a recurring theme for a while since we want to eat up some miles and do not want to short tack between reefs.
We have just been visited by two suspicious looking men in a rotting glass fibre boat who claimed to be army officials and wanted to look at out passports. Having given them a cursory glance, they then wanted to know where we were from. "Port Sudan" I said. "No, No - wear u fram?" they replied. "Oh. British". "Ok. Ingleterrer". "Yes, England". After that, they were on the cadge for some cigarettes and so I told them they could have some tobbaco and rolling papers - they were not interested so we got away without payment.
We caught up with the boats that left Suakin yesterday and so there are an amazing 8 boats in the anchorage. I think that most of these are coast hopping as far North as prudent navigation allows before jumping across Foul Bay. However, the weather window looks perfect to have a shot at it right now and we might be tempted but haven't yet got into the mindset of an overnight passage into headwinds. We will wait until the next window of opportunity.
There is not much here apart from the usual small smattering of small wooden huts and brown sand although it is very peaceful. If we were energetic, we would launch the dinghy and go for a wander but that seems like hard work right now especially if we are off again tomorrow at the crack of dawn for the next leg.
19th March 2009
We left Arakiyai with the other boats at about 05:30 yesterday morning and managed to sail for about an hour before the wind headed us and, again, we did not want to short-tack between reefs when the charts are so inaccurate. We went past a post marking one reef and the Admiralty had it positioned over 2 miles South of where it really was. Luckily, we had the sketch chart from the Pilot book plus some waypoints that worked out accurate and we led the fleet through the narrows bashing into the wind and waves and digging our bows into the waves at about 3 knots. Outside the reef, we bore away and got half the headsail out and bashed and crashed our way out to sea a while. People say that the waves have a peculiar square shape here, I would enliken it to being in the middle of a set of overfalls. Anyway, by getting a load of distance out to sea, we were able to tack and make the course to the Taila Islands and the inside channel. As we got behind the reefs, the seas calmed and we then beat our way to Marsa Inkeifal to anchor for the night (20 deg 47' N, 37 deg 10.34' E). Toboggan was there and had been holed up there for a week waiting for better weather, yesterday it was only blowing Northerly 25 knots where the previous days had apparently been 30 knots plus. We went over for a couple of drinkies with them and then called an early night and went to bed at 19:30 for a 05:00 start this morning.
20th March 2009
Today was much better, calm seas behind the reefs and Islands as we started out and then a gentle swell once out and more exposed. Again, it was motor sailing but we managed to make best use of the sails and had a pleasant journey to Khor Shinab. The entrance is supposed to be difficult to spot but we had no trouble with the waypoint given in the Pilot Book and the winding route to the anchorage was easily followed. We are now safely anchored in a barren but beautiful inlet.
"Aju" a Dutch couple seem to have adopted us and appear to, informally, want to buddy-up with us. They want to make headway North tomorrow to Khor El Marob and we are wondering whether we stay here for a couple of days or move on. We will have to stop somewhere for a few days since we decided not to catch this last weather window for the big push North and now we will have to wait for the next. Aldora have suddenly decided to catch us up (we passed them yesterday at the Taila Islands) and so we will have another set of opinions to listen to later. It is slightly comforting to have company in this desolate place but cruising in groups causes differences of opinion. Sometimes in the past we have simply said "we are doing this" and generally the company then submits and does the same. At the end of the day, the weather (and how you interpret it) dictates movements.
21st March 2009
We left at a reasonable 06:00 this morning and made good progress motoring with about 5 knots southerly blowing. W arrived at 11:45 at Khor El Marob. Toboggan were already here having aborted their plans to get across Foul Bay because the later weather files indicated that the window of opportunity was about to close on them. Aju and Aldora left with us and we are now anchored in a rather beautiful anchorage although it is a bit deep here at 20 metres. Toboggan got the 7 metre patch but it is coral that they are sitting on - we hope that we are on sand because we don't want to foul the anchor at this depth.
We are resting here today and tomorrow and then making a dash for the next anchorage on Monday before stronger winds appear from the North. There is apparently good snorkelling and reasonable walking here and the rest will be good. It also gives me time to check that all the nuts and bolts on the engine are still secure and to do some overall checks on Naz.
Well, after the light winds this morning, the wind did a 180 shift and within half an hour had picked up quite strong. Everyone started playing with more anchor chain and Aju moved to anchor just behind us. The next day, the winds were blowing 30+ knots from the North and Naz was hunting back and forth with our full 80m of chain out. As it increased in the afternoon, I decided to put out our second anchor on 15m chain and 100m of 22mm Nylon rode so that we could rest in peace. The maintenance took a back seat since we wanted Naz prepared for action.
Khor El Marob
You can guess what happened after we put the 2nd anchor out, yep, within 10 minutes the wind died.
The water is so cold that we could only snorkle for 15 minutes but the coral was beautiful and loads of brightly coloured fish.
23nd March - 31st March 2009
At 05:00am everything was flat calm so we raised the dinghy, got the anchors up and all 4 boats left for the 30 mile jump to Marsa Halaib. The wind picked up to about 15-20 knots soon after we set off and we motor sailed North out between the reefs and then tacked off for a good close-hauled sail to our destination. It was good to actually get some sailing in at last rather than trying to dash from one place to the next before the winds picked up and the angle of the sun obscured the reef passes.
As we approached the Marsa, we heard the local Navy talking to a yacht already in the anchorage. They were enquiring about our approach and the people on the yacht said that they would talk to us and ask our intentions - I think that the Navy were unsure about their use of English. Anyway, we anchored near the local Navy Patrol vessel who visited us immediately and checked our papers. They were very cordial but no snorkelling and no going ashore is allowed here due to the sensitivity of the area. The land used to belong to Sudan but is now firmly in Egyptian hands as shown by the naval presence, the watch tower and the 5 large shore-based military cannons.
This is the last stop before Foul Bay and we are now waiting for a weather window that does not look like appearing in the next seven days. We know of a couple of yachts that made it across in the last window but, even then, I felt for them if they have had weather like we have. Many other boats have 'gone for it' only to scurry back into an anchorage as soon as daylight allowed. Toboggan did the same and went into Khor Marob at night following a GPS trail that they had from another yacht that they are able to show on their chartplotter - damned foolish if you ask me since the charts are of little use at best and are very misguiding if you actually believe them.
After yesterday's respite and a quiet evening, the wind started blowing again at about 04:00. I went out to add a bit more scope and others were playing with anchors as well. It has died off a bit but has kicked up a load of dust so visibility is poor and Naz is again plastered. The rigging and lines never have recovered from the dust that has blown over the last month and are a dirty chocolate brown. The decks and lower areas get washed as we gather spray and waves over the bow but the high salinity of the Red Sea means that these areas become frosted with salt deposits. What we need is a serious downpour.
29th March 2009
The Egyptian Navy said that we could come to their boat an obtain some fuel. At a dollar per litre it is quite expensive but it is worth topping up the tanks. I only took 40 litres since that is all we have the capacity to carry in our jerry cans and I am hoping that they will let me have another 40 litres today so that we can leave here with full tanks and full jerries as well. I got to the Navy boat with my empty jugs, I heard a hissing coming from the dinghy and found that the inflatable floor was quickly getting soft under me. It had chafed on a bolt that holds the retractable wheels on and worn through so I had a small job of removing it and patching it.
Also, I found that the bilge pump that empties the grey water tank had got a leak. It appears that this has been a problem for some time since the bilge had collected quite a quantity of water. I spent about 2 hours trying to get the bilge pump extricated from its location and decided that removal was utterly impossible without taking apart the steps from kitchen to the lounge. After fighting with the pump, I decided that the leak was only coming from the bottom inspection hatch and so removed it, replaced the rubber seal and re secured everything. Once we have some more grey-water to pump I will know whether my efforts have worked. The alternative is to take the pump apart in-situ.
The weather forecast is looking good from tomorrow until the foreseeable future and so it looks as if we will be moving on tomorrow morning. If all goes well then we will take the window and go straight to Port Suez rather than stop anywhere and get holed-up again for days. With any luck then we will be there by Saturday although a glitch in the forecast for about 12 hours on Friday or early Saturday may cause us to interrupt our passage for a short time.
Aldora have just passed by in the dinghy. They had been talking to the Navy about supplies and it has paid off. They have just dropped off tomatoes, potatoes and onions to us. We offered to pay but they said that the cost was so small that it was not worth bothering about. The three kids on Aldora love Fliss' pizza and I think that the veg was a bribe for Fliss to make a couple and take them over tonight.
Dinner with "Aldora", "Toboggan", "Aju" and "Tulamain"
Red Sea Dust
31st March 2009
We are over on our ear in what I must again refer to as the Red Sea overfalls. We sailed out and met 20+ knots on the nose with waves from 2 directions. Yesterday calmed down a bit in the afternoon and we turned the engine on to make way through the waves. This evening it picked up again and was truly wet and miserable.
We are thinking of calling it a day and stopping at fury shoals where there is supposed to be a good reef anchorage.
The other boats that sailed with us are still nearby and two are thinking of carrying on whilst ourselves and Aju are thinking of stopping and waiting for the weather to listen to the forecast.
1st April 2009
The wind died a bit this morning and the seas flattened out a bit but the current, wind and waves were against us and we were tacking with motor across a 90 degree angle (pushing it a bit) doing twice the distance of the rhumb line. Fliss and I decided to make for Dolphin Reef (Fury Shoals) and anchor for the night rather than beat ourselves into it.
The other three boats (Aldora, Toboggan & Aju) decided to carry on to Port Ghaliab which is another 112 miles. With the angle of the wind, that makes it 200 miles tacking through the water and strong winds are forecast for late Thursday (tomorrow). I hope that they either make it in or find one of the few anchorages along the way. Either way, we are tired of doing double the distance that we need to, running the engine to stave off the "Red Sea Overfalls" and getting sodden with salty spray. We made it across FOUL BAY ahead of the pack and have decided that a good rest before a short dash tomorrow is a darned sight preferable to continuing. The short dash is either 45 miles or 90 miles tacking into wind - we are not even sure that we will make our expected landfall tomorrow so will need a bolt-hole for when the hit kicks the fan later on.
A little word about weather forecasts........6 knots means about 15 knots. 60 degrees means 345 degrees. We will not go out in in anything predicted over 10 knots - and never have here!
The anchorage here is beautiful with crystal clear water such that the bommies were easy to see and we weaved our way to the northern arm of the reef for great protection and smooth azure water. It has been nice to stop. The reef is called Dolphin Reef and, soon after anchoring, a group of small dolphins came cruising past Nadezhda to admire her. If the forecast tomorrow is more than 4 knots directly in the face (read 13 knots) then the sea (read overfalls) will stop us from moving and we shall stop in this lovely place. It is abit like Minerva Reef in the Pacific where we are surrounded by waves but nothing enters the anchorage.
So that's where we are - we wimped out but are looking to a different window of opportunity on Sat/Sun. Don't want to go to Port Ghalaib since the charges are beyond our means.