Red Sea to Hurghada

Standard

Mon 23 Nov 09

0730hrs: Most of the people on the yachts seem to all be up and moving around. Cuppa’s brewed. The Egyptians seem to have developed the intricate art of Horn Beeping. Not for them a boring barp on the horn, it has to be mixed with bips as well. To an ear once trained in Morse Code the various combinations have so far produced dee, c, f, at, and even aaa – a full stop. Decide to cast off and have brekkie on the way

0830hrs: Leave the marina heading ESE around a headland and push out into the Gulf of Suez. Motoring with mainsail up. French yacht O Khayam has already left and is maybe half a mile ahead.

map 15 Gulf of Suez
map 15 – Gulf of Suez

188 wadidome marina Left: Leaving Wadi Dome marina

0930hrs: Motor sailing with both the headsail and mainsail up. Wind light and still heading ESE with slight seas. Just need a bit more wind from the north. Distance covered 5.7 miles at 7.2 kts. Nice day just not cool enough to need a jumper offshore.

1000hrs: All along this coast are resort developments. The Egyptians must expect to draw massive numbers of tourists. Roger thinks that maybe the Europeans will probably buy up these buildings on a time-share basis, and he may be right. Dust is being raised everywhere by earth moving gear. All along the coast the horizon is masked by a khaki coloured dust haze. An extensive wind farm appears right across the area of the headlands stretching for several miles. Perhaps they’ll be used to power all these new buildings.

Caught up to O Khayam which is off to starboard about a mile away but closer inshore under headsail only. Seems to like following the coast this bloke. Turn SE to 150 deg True bringing the wind onto the port stern quarter. Turn the motor off about 10 minutes later and start sailing. Wind variable at 10 kts with variable boat speed around 6 kts. Slight seas. Lots of whitecaps – great sailing conditions.

1110hrs: Beautiful sailing. Cool but not cold breeze. Wind coming around more astern. Headsail starts flapping as it gets blanketed by the mainsail. Drop the spinnaker pole from its vertical position stored against the mast and use it to pole out the headsail. Wind from astern and sails goosewinged – one out each side of boat. Immediately start picking up speed.

Right: Oil rig with attendant ship189 oil rig

First oil rig appears ahead slightly off the starboard bow. Getting up to 7 kts speed in variable winds to 13 kts. Couple of ships in the distance. The sea is more of a deep blue than green with a depth of 58 metres.

1230hrs: Our first fish is caught once past the oil rig, a fine tuna worth two big slabs of red meat fillets for dinner. It had been eating squid and taken our red skirted lure. Bleed it in the cockpit by cutting the gills.

190 tunaLeft: fresh tuna for dinner

1430hrs: Wind drops down to around 4 kts. Motoring again.

1700hrs: Brilliant red dusk sunset to starboard. Black mountains stand out against a progressively red and orange band of coloured sky. Oil fields coming up on the port bow with lights of several of the rigs starting to appear.

1830hrs: Half moon. No wind and calm seas so no sails are up and motoring. Towns glide by ever so slowly as we follow the western coast of the Gulf of Suez. The lights of the towns don’t twinkle probably because there aren’t any trees. Three big glowing bonfires along the coast light up the sky, probably excess oil burns from the rigs or refineries.

1900hrs: Pass the biggest oil rig yet seen which is lit up like a small city. Another of those big bonfire like burns behind it onshore. The wind coming from wafts down on us bringing a pervasive stink like rotten egg gas that lasts several miles. Roger keeps trying to shift the blame for farting, but I’m clean.

An even bigger rig appears ahead off the starboard bow. From a distance it appears to sit like a small hill of white lights in a sea of orange fairy lights drifting across the sea, which are actually the lights of a coastal town called Ras Ghareb.

1950hrs:  The big oil rig slides on by past our starboard beam and a second one appears further inshore, which we also keep to starboard. Decide to anchor for the night near Ras Ghareb so make our way slowly inshore keeping a check on the depth.

2030hrs: Anchor down. All feeling pretty tired. Too tired to cook up the tuna patties so just have some soup. Music on.

2120hrs: The anchorage is too uncomfortably rolly so pull up the anchor and motor back out to sea.

2300hrs: The four quick flashes from Ras Ghareb lighthouse sink slowly under the horizon behind. The lights of the town of Ras Shukheir spread out like an uneven wave of white fairly lights ahead off to starboard. Shipping has been quiet for a while but there are now three of them coming up from astern.

Tues 24 Nov 09

0400hrs: A large catamaran of about 120ft with two masts overtakes Jenzminc heading south. It has forward looking lights on both masts and a mainsail up on the back mast. Both masts are lit up. An impressive sight.

0600hrs: Uneventful night. Wind disappears so motor for the night, but pleasant even so. Several ships further out in the channel come out of the horizon haze and steam in a line north towards Suez.

Kind of strange to see all the islands completely bare of any vegetation or at least anything that can readily be seen. There might be occasional tufts of a tough kind of grass here and there but that’s about all. Roger comments that we’ve had mobile phone communications the whole time both through the Suez Canal and since Port Suez. We’re now entering the Red Sea proper with the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula due east off the port side.

The flashing light of Point Bluff is located on an offshore island and is coming up on the starboard side. It marks about 30 miles or so to our next destination at Hurghada as the crow flies, and is a major navigation mark for numerous islands and reefs on this part of the coast.

Andy amends our course to cut through inside the many islands now that it’s daylight. Our original course had been set to go around the outside by night, but we’ll be saving about 30 miles by sea. Heading roughly SW.

0820hrs: Anchor to the SE of Tawila Island in three metres depth. Can see the bottom on the way in at 12 metres. This place is named Port Endeavour on the chart. There’s nothing here except for two old stone house ruins ashore and the remains of an old jetty made of oil drums. Believe the ruins are old fishermen’s houses and there may have been some military activity in this area some time in the past. Hurghada is about 20 miles as the crow flies to the SSE. Distance covered from Wadi Dome to Port Endeavour is 123 miles.

Andy sights fish swimming nearby – big ones. Dinghy goes over the side and he goes ashore to have a wash. Water is a bit cold.

1300hrs: Lots of sleeping onboard. Wind sits at around 10 kts from the north. Brilliant day. Quiet. We’re in six metres of water and can see some black rocks on the seabed off the port side.

1400hrs: Yacht passing  by out in the channel now drops its sails and starts motoring in.

1445hrs: It turns out to be Alice. Big hellos and grins all round. Another sail appears over the top of sand spit to the NE.

1500hrs: Full Flight motors in and anchors up. Report they’d had a great day’s sail.

 191 alice  192 full flight
SV Alice – Alan on bow SV Full Flight

1530hrs: Alan of Alice capsizes his dinghy while climbing into it and takes a dive into the water. Standing applause given when he comes up looking a bit bedraggled.

1630hrs: Alan rows over for a chat. Hailá (pron is actually Harley) is suffering from a back problem. Some discussion on the merits of visiting Sudan and Eritrea. Alan does not intend to spend the entry fees to go there. Says he’s seen most of Africa and that the countries are pretty much all basket cases and filthy. In his view they will undoubtedly be even filthier and poorer than Egypt and their markets usually don’t have much. Given Alan’s experience it’s worth listening to his advice so we’ll have to think about it.

1800hrs: Alan departs. An open fishing boat with four men onboard motors up between the anchored yachts. Comes over the Jenzminc requesting water and produces a 40 litre plastic bottle. We haven’t any containers to siphon some water off so give them 3 x litre bottles of water. One of the men thanks us very politely using quite good English, takes a puff on his cigarette and pushes away not having allowed his boat to touch Jenzminc at any time. Good man.

They move off some distance and anchor up without showing any lights of any kind. Must have had a cold supper, if any. Later on the wind picks up to probably 15 kts with maybe some higher gusts. Starts to get pretty cool and I think about those guys sitting over there in that open boat. Certainly doing it tough.

Right: Dusk – local fisherman in little dinghy at centre right193 dusk

Jenzminc begins swinging around to her anchor but we’re well sheltered behind Tawila Island and the water is flat. Make up eight big tuna patties from one of the tuna fillets. Delma texts the recipe to me. Have no flour or breadcrumbs but some vegetable soup mix and a couple of eggs helps to hold each pattie together while cooking.

Half moon lights up our little bay. Early to bed. Spend a long night tossing and turning. Too much sleep during the day.

Weds 25 Nov 09

0800hrs: Wind still gusting and Jenzminc swings around but sits  flat on the water. The fishermen from last night haven’t stirred. Can’t see any of them so they’re probably asleep. Must be cramped in that little boat though.

1020hrs: Anchor up and motor east out of the anchorage. Wind 17 kts from NW with whitecaps everywhere. Get out to sea a bit then turn SW towards Hurghada.

1230hrs: Andy lands a beautiful dolphin fish of around 70 cm or so, yellow body with speckled black spots and black topsides. Andy calls it the Rolls Royce of eating fish. If nothing else it is a very pretty fish.

194 dolphin fishLeft: Andy with a freshly caught dolphin fish

1300hrs: Hurghada a few miles off our starboard bow. Several motor yachts are anchored or moving about off an island a couple of miles away off the port bow. No diving flags can be seen but I don’t think that means too much here. A really big ocean going trimaran and catamaran are making their way into Hurghada Marina. Quite a lot of smoke is coming out the front of the catamaran. No flames but it does look like there might be a fire inside. As we continue to watch, the smoke clears without any apparent hustle or bustle onboard.

1415hrs: All secured to our finger berth in the marina with our power leads run. Hurghada looks a nice spot at first glance. Boats everywhere with plenty of big expensive motor launches and yachts. Andy and Roger take off to find the marina office and to buy a few things at the local grocery store if they can find one.

195 boat at hurghada 196 view hurghada marina
large pleasure vessels at Hurghada marina view from berth at Hurghada marina

Afternoon: Get the Wi-Fi marina secure internet connection working. Extremely slow even using our new antenna, which picks up several other secured networks with better signals. May have to look into it a bit more later. Check out the marina toilet facilities. There are about four public facilities. The one I look at has one toilet, one shower and two urinals. Looks like we’ll be taking showers onboard and just hope we don’t have to stand in line for the toilet.

Andy and Roger meet up with an Irish couple Liam and Tracy off a big catamaran named Happy Daze that’s been here for a while. They have to leave the boat for three months because their sailing permit has expired so they’re going home for Christmas.

Evening: I’m not really up for socialising tonight so Andy and Roger head off with Liam and Tracy to a restaurant for dinner. I eventually walk across to a restaurant in the marina and order a mixed grill and come back to the boat. Early to bed.

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