Late rise for me. Roger and Andy have been busy refuelling the boat and getting additional fuel in jerry cans. We’ll be leaving Hurghada probably around 1000 on Saturday. Take clothes to the laundry man. Maurice from Cobble comes around for sundowners. All head up to the local Sphinx Restaurant in the marina for dinner. Chat with some Brits for a while. Get an invite to join them for dinner uptown somewhere but don’t really feel like going out.
Friday 18 Dec 09
Roger and Andy continue with refuelling, filling and bringing jerry cans back to the boat. Also do some shopping. I spend most of the time bringing this journal up to date and starting to caption all available photographs. Hope to have them done so that I can burn off a CD and post it home from Port Ghalib. All the photographs and files at least will then be off the boat before we make our run to Aden in Yemen.
Have a chat with Ian of Rhumb Do to give him what detail I can about taking a tour to Luxor. Jamie of Esper interviews Andy for a podcast which he publishes on his website http://www.followtheboat.com. Andy pays the marina fees and obtains a valuable list of contacts for calling into Port Ghalib and other places to assist with getting clearances and so on. Colin and Tricia of Moody Time give Jenzminc a lovely Christmas card with a wish for fair winds. Nice gesture.
Early evening Maurice and all of Jenzminc arrive on Alice for dinner. We have soup followed by a Shepherd’s Pie except there are various vegetables in the mince and a dessert of strawberries and cream. While having dinner young Mohammed the Laundry Man arrives with the washing for Roger and me. Hard and honest worker that young man.
Saturday 19 Dec 09
0730hrs: Today we start out again on our long journey home via Port Ghalib to officially clear out of Egypt. Everything is done. Last minute charging of mobile phones and computers, sending of emails. Andy changes the gas bottle.
0830hrs: Canopy over the cockpit is taken down. Dinghy pulled up and secured on deck. Walk over to a corner of the marina where a yacht is tied up. It’s called Heart of Oak and is English registered. Was first seen in Port Said then in Ismailia, and last seen after it hit a reef somewhere north of Hurghada and Port Endeavour and had partially sunk. Anecdotally the skipper had no charts and had been relying just on a pilot guide book. Apparently he’d been arrested but that is unclear. The latest gossip is that he had gone back to England. Details of any crew not known.
Right: SV Heart of Oak had hit a reef and foundered north of Hurghada and was laying on her side with sails still set.
0945hrs: Crowd of yachties stand by to give us a hug, a handshake and good wishes. Lo Brust hands Andy the weather forecast for six-hourly periods over the next couple of days.
Colin’s mother of Moody Time tells us to take care of pirates. I tell her in all seriousness, “Never you mind about pirates, we’ve got a secret weapon”.
Power cable and gangway pulled in. Lines slipped and with final waves goodbye moved out of the marina toward the open sea.
1005hrs: All shipshape and secure. Wind light northerly. Motoring. The log isn’t working properly, only showing a speed of just over two knots. Andy tells me he’ll have to go for a swim underneath to fix the problem. Simply lifting it out from inside the boat won’t do the job.
1020hrs: Some dolphins playing around at the bow in the clear water. A motor cruiser tour boat has been feeding and calling them for the tourists onboard.
1045hrs: Seas rippled. Calm. Depth around 8-10 metres. Can see bottom but not in sharp detail. Dark patches of coral here and there. A glass-bottomed tourist boat glides along slowly nearby. Depth hits six metres. Roger goes up forward to keep a lookout.
1055hrs: Depth up to 90 metres. Dark blue sea. Several offshore small islands, some not much more than sandbanks with a few small salt tolerant plants along the shoreline.
1530hrs: Headsail up. No change in conditions. Wind less than five knots.
1600hrs: Safaga just behind us lying invisible in the front of a larger group of mountains that juts up all along this coast. Following the western side of the Red Sea about 10 miles off the coast. East coast is too far away to see. Flat blue sea. Trolling lines put out.
Dusk: Headsail and trolling lines pulled in.
1800hrs: Roger makes egg, salad and toasted pita bread sandwiches. Hits the spot.
1930hrs: Sliver of moon sets. Blackness deepens except for the odd town. Still about 10 miles from the coast. Milky Way turns splendorous forming a fairy light track across the sky running south-east to north-west. Andy points out Polaris – the North Star. Even though the stars shift as the sky turns at night, Polaris always points North and has been a Northern Hemisphere navigation mark for eons.
Have only seen one other boat since Hurghada and that one after dark. It turned into one of the little coastal towns.
Sunday 20 Dec 09
Port Ghalib is just a new settlement and is an official Port of Entry for Egypt. It lies on the coast near the township of Marsa Alam which is some kilometres further inland. There is a large airport and big jets are taking off and landing. Marsa Alam relies on tourism with wind buggies, trekking and camping in the desert. The port itself is probably one kilometre square. There are some small shops and a mini-mart not worthy of the name. No post office. Residential villas. Seems to be a playground for wealthy Arabs with a motor yacht, several of which are berthed around the port.
Sunday 20 Dec 09
0400hrs: Pull up and secure Jenzminc alongside the cement dock outside the Harbour Master’s building in Port Ghalib. Everybody gets to bed.
0500hrs: Local official in company with two Policemen stand outside calling, “Hello Captain”. Very polite. Tells us the Harbour Master’s Office will open at 1000. We ask about fuel. He tells us if we want fuel we’ll have to move away to another place nearby. He points it out to Andy.
0520hrs: Our man runs around the marina to the new location. A few minutes later we arrive to find a group of four security people ready to take our lines. We need to use three ropes to tie to the buoy and reach the dock. Grey Donkey is berthed here. She’s a Belgian boat and had been in Hurghada yesterday moored directly opposite us. As Jenzminc reverses into the dock the other skipper comes out with more fenders to make sure we don’t scratch his boat or something.
0540hrs: All tied up. Documents presented and our presence explained to the Port Official. He takes our passports and the ships papers away. Close to dawn and turning light outside. Sit down for a cup of coffee or tea.
0930hrs: A security guard tells Andy he cannot go swimming so he’s unable to fix the log transducer here. We’ll have to wait until we get back outside. This is a bit annoying at first because people are swimming about 20 metres away, but it soon becomes apparent they’re doing diving maintenance work on the berthing buoys. Andy contacts the Port Authority by radio. There are just two boats here and they tell us we’ll be second to attend the fuel dock for more fuel. They also tell us we’ll be second in getting our passports processed. After that we can go directly to the Harbour Master’s dock and officially clear out of Egypt.
1000hrs: Update this journal and burn a precautionary DVD disc with all journal entries and photographs taken so far. A man comes around asking for the marina fees. We consider this unusual since we aren’t visiting here and nothing we’ve read so far says anything about this requirement if a vessel is just transiting through clearing into or out of the country. The Egyptians never seem to let a chance go by.
Go for a walk around the port complex. Flies are thick and friendly. Very new buildings with lots of untenanted shops. No post office and unable to post off my DVD. Will just have to hide the DVD somewhere on the boat in the event of piracy although that situation we consider quite slim. There’s a lot of media hype about piracy but the level of danger given by the press to pleasure yachts although possible, is statistically unsupportable. Such reporting makes for better media sales I suppose.
Return to the boat as it starts to move around to the fuelling dock. During fuelling a man starts checking Andy’s papers and says there’s a problem with Customs. All the official papers are present except for some receipt, or document or something from Wadi Dome that says everything has been paid. I wonder if he thinks we got all our other official papers for free? Seems to me it’s just a minor clerk having a power surge. After all, we’d visited Hurghada since then. The chap came and went a couple of times.
1100hrs: Fuelling completed. Move over to the Harbour Master’s dock.
Approx Midday: Grey Donkey slips her lines and takes off. The skipper tells us he hadn’t had any problems with the paperwork. It was just the length of time it took for officials to process it. The crew appears to be a family of husband, wife and a son. The son looks strikingly like Harry Potter complete with glasses. Wave goodbyes.
Waiting, waiting. An older, different Customs man comes down to the boat. Quite distinguished looking. Has our papers in his hand and looks over the boat. Says, “It won’t be long”, gives us a big smile and heads back into the building.
1320hrs: Whatever the Customs problem was seems to have been resolved without our further assistance. Got our clearance and have permission to leave. Don’t need to be told twice. Lines in, fenders put away, head out to sea past the poor desolate looking yacht lying there. It lay apparently abandoned on a sandbar at the entrance to Port Ghalib with sails still set, torn and fluttering in the wind.
Moved out into the open water.
MORE TO FOLLOW