Monday, July 06, 2009

Egypt and Cyprus

2nd April 2009

Pete....Dolphin Reef

I went to bed at 16:30 yesterday absolutely knackered. In the middle of the night, the wind had died away completely and so the ones who carried on yesterday would have had an easier time motoring directly to their destination rather than tacking back and forth.

Getting out of Dolphin Reef at 05:15 in first light was a bit daunting as we could not see any of the bommies that were so visible yesterday in good overhead light. I very slowly followed our GPS track of the previous afternoon whilst Fliss stood on the bows looking into the murk. The water beneath us was perfectly clear but everything beyond was invisible. Anyway, the stillness of the night was still with us and, so far, has stayed with us. We haven't even bothered to get any sail up since it would only slow us down.

Our intended destination was to Gezirat Wadi Gimal Island - a rather daunting 45 miles North. Given our previous experience of square shaped oncoming waves and wind, we were not really expecting to make it. However, with the calm seas, we made good progress. The knot or two of contrary current that plagued us yesterday and earlier on our passage eased and disappeared altogether and so we made good progress.

We therefore stopped at Gezirat Wadi Gimal Island and went ashore for a short walk (first landfall in well over a week) and did a bit of snorkelling although the water is now getting a little nippy.

3rd April 2009

We left at 05:00 to get some miles under our belt and to probably keep going the whole night. However, the wind started up again NNWesterly as usual and soon there was a nasty chop and swell directly at us. We decided to stop at Samadi Reef (just off Ras Samedi) and negotiated the outlying bommies to be met by a RIB from a dive boat who told us that the reef was now a National Park and we were not allowed to stay - a shame because it looked beautiful. He told us to pick up a mooring at a reef closer to shore but following an inspection, there appeared to be no real shelter there so we turned back into the waves and came into Marsa Tundaba (24 degrees 57.7'N 34 degrees 56.2E). There is surprising shelter here considering that this is just a dip in the coastline but there is a reef to the North of us that is keeping the worst of the swell out and it is quite comfortable. We were soon met by the local officials who wanted to know why we had stopped and wanted paperwork as usual. They were quite friendly and the local Dive School instructor acted as translator.

We listen to the Vasco De Gama Rally boats on the radio. They have just come across Foul Bay and are now entering Port Ghaillib having trouble finding the entrance in through the reefs in rough conditions. Glad we are not there.

We had Pizza again for dinner tonight and Fliss baked some bread for morning breakfast so she has been a busy bee since we arrived at the anchorage. We decided to get an early night and got ready for bed. The wind had been dying since we had arrived and, just after Fliss got snuggled in, I suggested that it might be a good time to go on the next leg. The basis being that the wind seems to ease at night.

So, up with the hook and out we went into the leftover seas. Fortunately, we were just able to get the sails set against the angle of the wind and that helped enormously but, as usual, we still have the engine running to get us along.

At about 22:30, we passed a yacht going quite slowly, they called us on the VHF to say hello and said that they were running low on fuel but were headed to Port Ghailib and were due there in the morning. As we went past, I looked at them through the binoculars and, in the moonlight, realised that they did not have their mainsail set. It was then that it struck me that they had also said that they had previously broken their boom. I called them back and offered to stay with them until they were sure that they could reach Port Ghailib on their remaining fuel supplies, they were very grateful for the moral support and we therefore chugged slowly along with them at about 3 knots for the next 3.5 hours. At 14:00, they called and said that they were that they would make it on the few remaining litres of fuel and we parted company.


Just as snuggled under the covers with my book, Pete stuck his head in the cabin & said “the winds have eased maybe we should go now?” great! I thought as I pulled on my thermals & Henry Lloyds.

I'm afraid to say that I wasn't thrilled at having to slow Naz down after all the early starts & long desperate runs to cover some miles. I know it was un-seamanship but it's been a slog so far.

4th April 2009

Well, the job of good Samaritan paid off. We had slowed down and therefore not passed Ras Toronbi by first light. It was then that the wind started picking up and the waves had got quite a bit steeper. I tacked slowly towards shore in the direction of Ras Toronbi and the winds eased but backed. Tacking out again, I could maintain a course that had us directly into the boat-length steep waves going 1-2 knots. The wind then increased and veered. You could see the shear line between less windy water and windy water. Knowing that the waves could only get worse, we tacked back to Ras Toronbi and by the time we got there, things were getting really fresh. We found the anchorage here quite easily and tucked inside the reefs in 6.5m on sand and payed out loads of chain.

Later on, we saw a dive boat (think 30-40m gin palace) fighting against the weather inshore. The whole boat was pitching and diving (no pun intended) and making very slow progress. We commiserate with the sick people on board.

The army lads wanted to see us and I brought one back to Naz and gave him the usual paperwork even though he did not want it. These guys are young and doing National Service and can't quite work out what to do with us. I took our raw recruit back to shore and sat with him for a while at his lookout (he spends each day on a seat looking out to sea) and another recruit came along with better English. He liked Bob Marley and so I went back to Naz and made a few of copies of CDs for them.

I am supposed to be joining them later but don't know when or why.

The wind has died and I have been out in the dinghy taking transits for our departure early tomorrow morning when the light is good enough to see land. Hopefully the sea will have abated by then and we will get a run at it for 24 hours. If it all turns to poo again then we can always come back or simply hove-to and wait it out??


I hang my head in shame.

5th April 2009

We got up again at 05:00 and were on our way by 05:30. A small set of waves was holding us back a little with no wind to push us forward. The weather forecast was for 15 knots South Easterly and it seems to have lived up to its prediction and even more! It was glassy calm so the Southerly winds must be strong enough to hold back the usual Northerlies.

We have just had home baked bread with cheese and tomato - really, really nice - Fliss has got her pressure cooker bread to perfection but we still crave Sainbury's wholemeal.


Hurghada is a real tourist town & we're really looking forward to it. Pete's promised me dinner our one night, which be nice. I've started my boat provisioning list and so far the list is up to 45 items. Last proper shop was Aden on the 24th Feb and that was really just fresh stuff. I reckon I could still cater for about 3 weeks but it would be all tinned food. Strange really but the stuff we are eating now I've bought in England, Caribbean, Panama, NZ, Australia, Indonesia, Malayasia, Thailand & Aden, all over the world just looking at the labels brings back memories.

We've heard about other yachts that haven't been able to make this journey and have been forced back. One yacht ran back 60 miles, that must have been painful to give up that distance, 60 miles is a good & lucky days' sailing in The Red Sea. We are keeping our fingers crossed for landfall in Hurghada.

6th April 2009

You might think that we are being a little cautious about our daily grind up the Red Sea but here are a few comments from those who have been before us................

This is a description from various boats - Foul Bay


Therefore, we set off across the infamous Foul Bay, 110 miles, and a certain overnight passage, in flat calm and good motoring conditions. It is generally agreed that Foul Bay is the worst stretch of water on the west side of the Red Sea, reef strewn, uncharted and wild. There is clear passage if you stay outside the line of the defining capes, but it is said that you venture inside this line at your peril.

Pariah was ahead of us about half way across, when the wall of wind hit. 30 knots makes for horrendous sea conditions. They were able to make Gez (island) Zabargad, a high volcanic conical island before nightfall, where they anchored hanging off the sheer drop off of the reef wall in the wind. We were still at sea, reefed down and punching into it ever so slowly.

"Outa Here"

As the wind gusted to 30 knots - as is common in the Red Sea at this time of year - we made cinnamon rolls, applesauce bread, rye bread, brownies, watched football games and movies, and even did a few 'fix it' jobs. Thirty knots of wind on the nose is not that bad, a lot of you are probably thinking. In addition, it is not. What gets you is the chop, which gets shorter and steeper with each additional knot, until the bow just slams into wave after wave. That gets you. Such conditions are not only hard on the boat and crew, they make progress very slow.

these are various descriptions of our next leg....


Turned out we were a little premature. The wind, which had behaved itself for the days we were gone, came back with a vengeance and blew in the 30's for two weeks. We tried to leave on one occasion, made it as far as two miles past the Ras on the north side of the bay, but were turned back by very steep and short seas. Since we were seven miles north of Safaga, and reluctant to give up even an inch, we hung out in the semi-shelter of the dunes on the Ras and got sand blasted for two days before finally giving up and going back to the Paradise where we learned an anchoring rule which goes, "If you arrive in a bay lined with hotels all sporting numerous flagpoles, it may behoove you to determine if the flags bear the logos of various and sundry windsurfing companies before surmising it is a tenable anchorage in a blow." This has now been added to our list: "Things we have learned along the way and now try to pay attention to."


The next day, after sail repair, we beat up a few miles until we could get in the lee of the reefs and made it to Marsa Zeitiya. This was not a nice place, screaming winds, and a Teflon bottom. By this time we were getting used to the frightful conditions so we stayed one night of anchor watches and took off again. Our perseverance was rewarded. After we struggled past the lower Gulf of Suez, which has high mountains on either side, creating a canyon for the wind to rush through, the winds diminished to proportions that are more manageable and the sea became less confused.


We did not know it yet, but we were well into the saga of the Gulf of Suez. While further south we had been reluctant to put to sea in twenty knots, here we routinely were up at dawn raising the anchor and heading out into twenty five and thirty. With no letup in sight, there was little choice. Many days we'd be underway at five, sail all day within a mile or so of shore, use any small headland or indentation to gain advantage and make anchorage eight or ten miles north by dusk, fifty or sixty tacks later. To say we were in shape by now is an understatement. Lean, lithe, and brown as nuts. The anchorages were largely in the lee of great sand spits, extending sometimes four or five miles into the sea, exposed to the wind but very secure in shallow, hard sand. The seaward tips would usually have a hook, behind which we could hide, watching the great racing swells sweep by in relative comfort and gird ourselves for the morrow. One afternoon we found ourselves trying to round the thousand meter high cape, Gezerat Hamam Farran. We could see our destination, Ras Mal'ab, three miles to windward, but in forty knots and gusting, unreachable. Nosing ten meters off the reef, we hove to and gradually slid back behind the cape to discover asmall area of comparative calm under the cliff where we shot the anchor in fifteen meters of good sand. Whether to stay the night was the question. We were loath to give up the hard won nine miles back to Ras Abu Zenima, and in any event, would arrive there in the dark. The cliff was white sparkling limestone shot through with bands of jet black on one diagonal and rust red on the other. Several fault lines, vertical gave the face the appearance of black and red lightning bolts against a shimmering white background. Suzzi kept insisting the place gave her the creeps. To me it was awe inspiring, especially after the full moon bathed it in light and shadow. The place exuded surreal power. It was a long night keeping watch as the bullets blasted down off the cliff side, laying Prism on her side, shivering the mast like a piece of rope, followed by minutes of calm where the only sound was the foaming breaking crests of the swells just outside and the soft moaning turned to a roar of the descending wind in the crags.

"Outa Here"

Everyone ahead had a less-than-pleasant experience on this stretch, and spent lots of time taking refuge from 50-knot winds and the choppiest seas you can imagine. The wind funnels through the narrow passage between the Egyptian and Sinai shores, so it is a challenge.

During the next 13 days, we stopped at five anchorages and had two overnight passages - one through shipping lanes and oil rigs that was no fun at all! It was quite miserable - especially when we realized we had drifted into the shipping lane at 0200 with no moon, 35 knots of wind, and two ships bearing down at us at 20 knots. However, it did not last that long, was not as bad as it might sound, and we would do it again. At least Dick says he would.

Extracts From The Red Sea Pilot Book....

"Dawn broke on the wildest scene I've ever known ... On either side were the great barren mountains, giving a sense of timelessness as if they had outlived their own souls, and in between lay "Sheila" tossed by a furiously angry sea...we were fleeing headlong towards a narrow exit"

W A Robinsons account of "Svaap"

Like a battering ram pounding at the gates of a medieval fortress we hammered away against our indefatigable enemy, the NW wind. . .There, only 25 miles from Tor, safety, and fresh supplies, we nearly encountered disaster. . ..We had entered the Strait of Jubal, Asia and the Sinai Mountains towered abruptly .. .. At 4pm, there was a sudden shift in the wind and a strange yellowish cloudbank bore rapidly down on us . . It was a sandstorm, the first of our experience, and I hope the last. For the next two hours we were buried in a yellow murk, while wind of hurricane violence tore at us.

So. We wait for a forecast of no wind at all, verify it at 05:00, stick the engine on and drive like a maniac until you suddenly get slapped by 20-30 knots headwinds and then find yourself the next anchorage where you can hide. We have been adopting that attitude all the way up here and it seems to work just fine.

7th April 2009

We got into Hurghada at about 00:30 yesterday morning and dropped the hook. Luckily the Cmap charts were accurate and we had no problems navigating ourselves in. At 07:30, we moved into the marina and moored Med style, bows first up to the concrete jetty. We were pleased that the wind had not piped up by then and the operation was very simple. Unfortunately, we are pointing South and therefore would like to be a little way off the dock now that the Northerlies are gusting again with a vengeance so we have to use the dinghy to get ashore and a short ladder tied to the dock to get out of the dinghy. I suppose that means that we are immune to petty theft.

We went to do immigration and got our visas and customs were supposed to visit us today but after a whole day sitting on Naz, they failed to materialise and we have promises that they might turn up tomorrow. Hopefully after 48 hours waiting we might get ourselves checked in???

Hurghada is a big tourist resort but no different to any other Red Sea town. Half built, half decayed, where the half-built places are already subsiding and decaying. We know why these people are poor. We had a walk around town and the candlelit dinner ended up in McDonalds without any candles. Fliss (God Bless), decided that the tourist prices here were too much to stomach but we are now enjoying fresh food on Naz and I have now decided that my favourite food is bread and cheese.

We will probably stay here until the weekend when the Northerlies are due to abate again (assuming we have managed to get checked into the country by then). Then it will be a mad rush to see how far we can get before they return - hopefully as far as Suez.

We went for a wander last night & got chatting to a young Egyptian lad, he was telling us that here is a major sex industry for women basically the female version of Thailand. Loads of women all ages come here and buy a boy for their stay. He was disgusted by it. They love the Brits here but hate the Russians & Polish. The Russians are everywhere they were starting to really take over parts of Thailand when we were there.

8th April 2006

We're still waiting for Customs clearance. They were due to come at 9am yesterday morning then it changed to 12 and then they never came at all, so a day spent hanging around the boat. They are meant to be coming today, we'll see. The problem is you can't get belligerent with them as they can make your life hell. 3 days so far & we're not cleared in Egypt.

Still windy but it looks like we can make a run for it on Saturday.. It's only 180 miles so not far but impossible if the conditions kick off.

Nice people here, the guy next door is going the opposite way to us so I've been picking his brains about the Suez Canal. He said Baksheesh is the way of life so we expect to hand over at least 20 bucks to the pilots. Also the Pilot Boat drivers expect cigarettes and if you don't hand them over they ram the boat.

9th & 10th April 2009

Spent the day getting fresh stuff for our next leg.

11th April 2009

After 3 and a half days, we eventually cleared customs. The agency kept promising that they would be there at 11:00, then 12:30 and then 16:30 and warned that we must not get off the boat in case we missed them. In effect, we were prisoners on the boat for most of the time. Never mind, there is not much to see in Hurghada except rotting buildings, and tourist areas - the marina is the best bit. We also had to wait for the weather window for the Straits of Gubal - a notoriously rough bit of sea.

We managed to get provisions from a Western style supermarket and so we now have bread and cheese and eggs etc. It is good to have a load of fresh provisions on board again.

We left this morning only to be told by Toboggan that it was blowing 30 knots in the Gubal Straits with steep waves. They have been holed up in a small anchorage about 20 miles up the straits for 5 days and had poked their nose out for a look - they managed 5 miles to the next anchorage. So we stopped at lunch time and left again this morning at 2am. So far so good but we're not counting our chickens yet. However, if we can carry on as we are we'll be at the top of the Red Sea as the sun comes up tomorrow morning. We're hoping to get a quick transfer to the 1st leg of the Suez Canal, then stop refuel, see the Pyramids and then carry on to Port Fouad to wait for the window across to Crete or Rhodes.

Five minutes after we left the marina we got beeped on the VHF. Graham & Judit on Nomad Life were just coming in. Last thing we heard they were a month or more behind us and have seriously hard-cored it up the Red Sea in one long run all the way to Dolphin Reef followed by a couple of hops to Hurghada. Balls of Steel award goes to them. They planned to re-provision and leave again this morning so we shall see them again in Suez.

After hearing that it wasn't a good idea to carry on we stopped at Endeavour Harbour to wait for the wind & seas to die down. We'll leave early morning tomorrow.

12th April 2009

We left at midnight and motored in calm seas. There are many uncharted oil platforms and well-heads in the area and a good watch had to be maintained in the dark. At around lunchtime the wind started coming from the SOUTH! We got the headsail poled out and romped along at over 8 knots all afternoon – unbelievable. At dusk, the winds turned gently against us but not sufficient to set up any real wave action and we continued making good progress.

Oil Rigs

13th April 2009

We arrived in Port Suez after a perfect weather window that the agent said only occurs 3 or 4 times a year. After all the fretting that everyone has been doing about the last run, it turned out one of the easiest legs of the Red Sea.

We docked stern-to against the new plastic pontoon that had been installed especially for the Blue Water Rally and have electricity and water on tap. The place soon filled up after us as the whole of the Red Sea fleet tried to bundle in behind us. They had all taken the same weather window but we had left earlier and beat them to it.

14th April 2009

Today the weather window surprised everyone with about 30 knots from the South again as a small depression came over. The locals at the dock were asking people to run lines to shore and to mooring bouys further out because they were worried that the dock might break up with all the boats attached to it. It does not look very strong and we were worried when the barometer started rising again and the wind turned 180 degrees and started blowing the other way at about 35 knots. Suddenly, everyone on the other side was asked to run long lines to lampposts ashore. The dock held-up ok and the wind eased again at 21:00.

It was a real concern if it would hold us all. I asked our marina manager how heavy the mooring blocks were and he said 6 tonnes. I said Nadezhda alone we was 16 and with other yachts tied to them is was worrying that it would give under the stress, he just shrugged his shoulders and said “We'll find out wont we”. The pontoon buckled and gave out horrible creaking sounds and one of the pontoon piles was bending over. When the wind died we all gave a sigh of relief.

You could see the wind shift and the sandstorm coming , something was driving all that sand. Very strange to watch.

Light Plastic Docking

15th April 2009

We waited and waited for fuel in Suez. Again, we had to stay on the boat just in case it was suddenly available. Eventually, at 10pm someone turned up and said "Captain, Captain, hurry, hurry, be quiet, bring your fuel jugs". We had borrowed a few jerry jugs and we walked past security and deposited them in a car that would go to the service station to fill them. The ferrying of fuel to boats is smuggling in Egypt and I assume that they had to wait for the right security guards on the gate who would accept the cheapest Baksheesh.

The fuel was returned and we sneaked the jugs back to the boat whereupon Captain Heebi (our agent) wanted to charge us for 250 litres rather than the 200 that we got (and even the 200 litres was short-changed in regard to the volume in each jug). I carefully explained "The DIESEL FUEL that you have just brought to me" in a loud voice and we agreed on the fee for 200 litres.

16th April 2009

We got up at 04:30 and we had the pilot aboard at 05:00 and were suddenly off. The transit is split into two parts that must be done in separate days although we could

have completed the whole passage in one. We were lucky that we had a pleasant pilot for the trip to Ismailia where we finished the first part of the transit. We had started out ahead of the shipping and watched as the convoy of larger ships slowly came up behind and passed us. The large ships travel at about 8 knots and therefore created no wake to trouble us. Into the Great Bitter Lake, the larger ships have to stop to await the influx of ships heading South before they can enter the next part of the canal. We carried on against 15 knots of headwind and were ahead of the fleet again as we entered the channel up towards Ismailia. The day was cold and I had to wear fleece and windproofs - we must be getting too far North.

Arriving at the marina and were unfortunate enough to get a space there (if there is space then you must use the marina). If we had slowed down and let the other yachts us overtake us then we would have had to anchor for free instead of paying $21 per night. The marina is part of the Suez Canal transit zone and Visas are not required for passage or waiting at the marina. To go into town we therefore have to get through the security guards with our passports so that they can check our visas. They are a surly bunch of badly dressed low-lifes whose only relief of boredom is is their authoritarian position.

17th April 2009

We joined up with four other boats and hired 3 taxis to take us to Cairo. Muhammed (the main driver) organises everything for the yachts here including Baksheesh runs for fuel, gas cylinder refills and also taxi services. He charged 200 Egyptian Pounds (35 GBP) per car for the day out and it seemed like a very good deal considering that we were sharing the car with another couple. We went to meet the taxi outside the gates at 06:00 and walked through security without being challenged. At the same time, another cruiser was furtively going the other way with two jerry jugs of diesel. There was a confusion with the number of taxis for a short period during which the security guard must have woken up - he was very irritated, took our passports and told us all to return to his guardhouse. We went with him and he sat there sneering at our passports, shaking them wildly at us and shouting in Arabic until the change of guard turned up 30 minutes later. I think that he was bluffing and blustering because he had been caught napping and after 45 minutes there was a group of 20 people all trying to get though the gates. With safety in numbers and passports in hand we eventually just walked out en-mass, got into the taxis and went.

We visited Gisa first to see the Pyramids. They are right on the outskirts of Cairo but that does not diminish their imposing and collosal size. The postcard touts, "photograph me and my camel" touts, donkey touts, horse-ride touts, turban touts et al are not too aggressive and we had a pleasant time wandering around the area and going inside one of the smaller pyramids as well as gawping at the Sphinx with the other hoards of tourists.

The Cairo Group

From there to a lunch stop and then on to the Cairo museum. Again, this was packed with tourists. Unfortunately, the exhibits were badly labelled and there was very little information about the various historical periods and the different Pharaohs and so we just wandered and looked at loads of similar looking statues and trinkets without really knowing what was what. The Tutankhamen exhibition was very good but again lacked very little visual commentary.

Crew of "Helen Kate"

We returned to the marina at 7:30pm and downloaded the latest weather. After procrastinating over it for 20 minutes, we decided that we could make it to Rhodes before the next set of strong NWesterlies arrives and so we booked our pilot, paid our marina dues and had a last swift sundowner with “Aju” before setting the alarm for 04:30 this morning. At 11:30 last night, Captain Heebi called and told us that the departure was to be set back to 09:00 and so we had a lie-in. There are 2 warships anchored off here and, since we cannot transit whilst they remain, we eventually got cancelled at about 10:30. We will try again tomorrow, and then the next day, and then...... Tomorrow or Monday look ok to get to Paphos in Cyprus and so our next destination will be there. Anywhere really to get ourselves out of Egypt since we have been held prisoner here for too many times - 3 and a half days for customs clearance, 2 days for fuel and now here in Ishmailia wanting to leave. The marina is full of people waiting for the next weather slot towards Rhodes and we do not want to join the lottery of who can get a pilot when the next perfect opportunity arrives to get as far as Rhodes.

18th April 2009

I got up at 04:40 and awaited our pilot with baited breath. The dockside was deathly quiet and at 05:15 I went back to bed. At about 09:00, a pilot came along and said "Stand By Your Engine" so I went over to him and told him that we were ready to leave. He decided that he then needed to go and change his clothes??! and disappeared. “Helen Kate” and ourselves wandered around and eventually they then turned their engine off having also been told to "Stand By Your Engine".

When we were eventually told that it would be 11:00 before we were leaving and having had the latest forecast of strongish headwinds, we cancelled them. I don't think they were coming back anyway and with the 20 knot headwinds and 45 miles of canal to get through, it would have been 8pm before we even reached the end of the canal. Another boat left a bit later and was followed by his mate who did not have a pilot. They were intercepted and turned back to the accompaniment of lots of shouting and swearing (usual practice in these parts).

We took a walk into town and got nabbed by the local TV station who filmed us walking down the flower gardens by a small canal tributary. They wanted our views about Ismailia and filmed us. We said a few nice words (the town is probably the cleanest and greenest we have seen) and were told that we would be on the evening news. If so, this is the second time we have been on Egyptian TV since we were interviewed about the tourist bombings when we were in Luxor many years ago.

19th April 2009

We did not even bother to try and leave today. "Barefeet" tried and waited from 05:00 until 11:00 when they had word that it would not happen. We are going to give it a go tomorrow but I don't think that there is much hope as it is a national holiday today and so no-one will be booking places for tomorrow.

Last night we helped “Nomad Life” with Jerry Jugs of diesel. The diesel delivery system in Port Suez has shut shop and so loads of boats here need to re-fuel. It is the usual Monty Python scene where word leaks out that fuel is now permitted to pass through the guards. People on their boats watch as the first brave sailors carry empty jugs to the gates and then wait 5 minutes to see if they return empty handed. If they don't return then there is a mad rush to the gate where utter mayhem ensues with the guards trying to hold people back and gather Baksheesh. Some people sidle silently through whilst others argue money. The guards are getting a bit worried about all the White Faces walking down the road with jerry jugs and last night forced everyone to take an overpriced taxi. However, conditions and regulations change hourly. Occasionally the limit per boat was 2 jerry jugs, then, due the the number of runs being made, that rule was lifted. Other times no fuel is allowed, other times, fuel is allowed without Baksheesh, other times baksheesh needs paying. We had an easy run today with no hassles - at 20 US cents per litre it is worth getting. A guy getting fuel walked with us to the guard gate today and the guard wanted to see our passports. The guy with jerry jugs had forgotten his but whilst the guard was examining ours, he simply walked through and kept going without looking back. We think that when the weather window presents itself for going NW, we are going to have 50 boats all wanting to take the opportunity - maybe we simply need to all slip our lines together and get out of here - what can the authorities do?

So, we are going to try and leave again tomorrow. I don't think it will happen but we shall try. In the meantime, "Barefeet" are having a NOT LEAVING barbecue this afternoon.

Oh. In the taxi with Nomad Life last night, the taxi driver offered for Judit to sit in the front. On that leg of the journey he repeatedly atempted to touch her up even though Graham was sitting in the back. Judit held her rucksack firmly on her lap and treated it as a joke but I sat in the front on the way back. Many of the Egyptian men are lecherous filthy perverts who don't have enough camels to go around. We now know why the women here wear burkhas

19th April 2009

After yesterday when there was a public holiday and a big party in Ismailia, we decided that there was no opportunity to leave today. Eventually, the marina officer turned up at 8pm and we put our names down again for departure tomorrow. The marina manager told us that, if there were any pilots available, then they would turn up at 8am.

21st April 2009

At 5am this morning, we heard a knocking on the hull and got up to find a huddle of pilots trying to wake people. We cast off our ropes at 05:30 and went past one of the anchored boats blowing our fog horn in order to wake them for their pilot.

The pilot was another very agreeable man who we got on with well. Normally a pilot boat takes them from us at Port Said but he arranged to be set down on a boat moored alongside the quay. He had said that the pilot boats can be nasty (if not enough baksheesh is paid) and can be very careless when picking up the pilots. The other word for it is "ramming". So, we set him down alongside and, just as we pulled away, a pilot boat came roaring up screaming "Where is your Pilot!!!!". We pointed backwards and smiled sweetly before turning and entering the Mediterranean.

Our friendly Pilot

Only 5 boats left today. Barefeet are going to Rhodes (daft considering the forecast) and two Dutch boats are going to Turkey. Another French boat left as well but we don't know who they are.

22nd April 2009

The winds were not initially as strong as forecast so we gently motored towards Pathos.

Just as the sun set the wind increased. We'd been studying the weather so we knew that as we approached Cyprus the winds would come from the North West eventually to head us, so we went North West early to get a better angle on the wind for Pathos. Good job we did as we would never made it in a single tack.

The forecast was for 15-20 knots but as we know what they really mean is 25-30 with nasty steep seas.

Unfortunately Fliss had been sick for the last couple of days (farewell gift from Egypt) with painful stomach pains and feeling very unwell so I had most of the night watch.

23rd April 2009

Arrival Pathos, Cyprus 05:30 this morning. Hello Europe!

Paphos Harbour and Marina

We anchored in the harbour and went to see the port police. Then we did customs and health and the paperwork was swiftly dealt with. The rest of the day was spent asleep until about 5pm when we went for a meander along the front and Fliss eventually got her candlelit dinner (with a real candle!). The food was not as good as her own home cooking but it was a nice change and very civilised.

24th April 2009

I went and paid the harbour master (36 Euros for 6 days) and then reversed Naz alongside another boat here with a couple of Scots aboard (Stewart and Margaret). We then walked around the seafront and found our way into the old Roman ruins and mosaics by the back gate and so saved ourselves 7 Euros in the process. Then, onto the flower display at the local old church which turned out to be Anglican and was full of ageing ex-pats selling bakewell tarts and chutneys as though they were at some rural English village fete.

We decided that the vast expense of the meal the night before had got us into spending mode and we both decided that the torn and tatty trousers that have suffered salt degradation needed upgrading and went on another spending binge with one pair for Fliss and one for me. We haven't needed trousers for a long time but they are necessary here in the evening. After a (much tastier) meal aboard Naz, we went aboard the boat next door for a glass of wine and then bed.

25th April 2009

Today, is a rest day. I am trying to use a bad internet connection to get an updated AVG and Fliss has got the bit between her teeth and has gone shopping again (Bras this time). I might work myself up to a little boat maintenance later if I can summon the energy.

26th April 2009

Today,we explored a little further but the outskirts of Paphos are little more than tourist resorts and the frenetic building of villas and chalets. All a little bit faceless but it certainly did our legs a bit of good being able to use them.

I think that we have therefore 'done' Paphos and will probably leave early on Tuesday morning and see how far we get Westwards. The plan now is to probably go as far as Kekova Roads in Turkey and coast-hop it too Greece. If we are lucky, we can do this without checking into Turkey and, once in Greece, that should be the end to our checking-in and out formalities.

Aldora arrived this morning and have rafted up next to us. They have brought our Turkish and Greek cruising guides (that we hastily left in Ismalia) and so we now know where we might like to go en-route to the Western Mediterranean. We will only have a brief time to visit the islands but at least we can now make some sensible choices of destination.

Fliss cooked a Shepherds pie last night with sprouts - it was delicious but the sprouts gave us some unwanted side-effects. Unfortunately we do not have bacon joints but we can get bacon here which is great after our journeys through Islamic territories.

27th April 2009

We set off again this morning at about 06:00 bashing into the waves with the motor on as usual. The wind was light but there was a sea running, holding us up. It is a short weather window with light winds before stronger Westerlies appear and we hope to make it to the Turkish coast before it arrives.