Suakin to Greek
It is so unbelievable how this fine sand is pressed in the smallest holes, chinks and into every piece of equipment. Even the front side of every rope is brown, front side of sails, front side of everything. The wind is blowing till one day the anchorage gets nervous, a sosolala good forecast appears and 4 of the 5 boats are leaving. None of us with the same target, none of us leaving at the same time, everybody has his own tactical plans how to trick the wind and when to do which maneuvers to come to north, a very interesting experience for me.
Forecasted is light north wind, followed by several hours of doldrums, then some hours of the beloved south wind, before finally after a short no wind period very strong north wind with 30-35kn will batter the boats. The most important – be on a safe spot when the strong north wind comes.
On this leg i made my first tactical mistake but in hindsight it is always easy. The south wind came around noon and the 30kn northerly was prognosed for the next morning 0800. I was afraid of the north wind and so i ducked already in the evening into the 3 miles deep Khor Shinab as i believed the north wind will come earlier but had no chance to make it to the next safe spot before 0700 so i missed the largest part of south wind, a big mistake in the Red Sea, but who would think that a weather forecast is right on time?
Anyway it was a good place, and finally 3 of us where together again sitting out the howling wind. There was absolute nothing besides sand and sand and sand, some camels and in the evening a control from 3 Navy guys. Very refreshing boys, specially the youngest who tried to climb a little to careful on board as he forgot that his feet also should come with him, the Navy boat moved away, his hands on my boat, his feet on the other, and he got longer and longer, finally kind of jumped so that he was not completely in the water and this way saved his beloved cell phone in his pocket from drowning.
The second guy i chased away as he did not want to leave his AK47 on the Navy boat. I told him no guns on my boat, looking angry and then nr.2 and nr.3 stayed on the small Navy boat. When their check was finished i gave each of them a packet of cigarettes and life was good again.
A week later i zigzagged my way north again as the wind settled down to a moderate 12-15knots, making it possible for me to make some miles north to Khor Abu Asal (Marsa Oseif) before the wind strengthens again. Another week passed before the hammering north wind settled and the conditions giving me hope to do the next 257nm to Port Ghalib, the southernmost port of entry in Egypt. That reads so easy here, only 257 miles, like a 2 days sail, but finally it took me a 468 nm to reach he destination, meaning 4 days of wind on the nose and spray in the face and still trying to have a good time. I did not sail as close to the wind as technical possible, i let the boat go a good 10 degrees away from course. This makes sailing so much more comfortable and the best – it does not slow me down. Instead of making 5 knots going very hard in the wind i could keep a speed around 6 knots, doing a longer way but faster and more comfortable. Didier, a french sailor with a fast RM1200 monohull whom i met first time in Djibouti, sailed during the same time and always going max wind angle, we left within an hour and arrived within an hour, met several times somewhere out in the Red Sea. Once during the night i see his navigation light, think to myself – ok looks like about 2 miles away – i can still have a short nap. When i awake i am only about 60 meters behind him, a very dangerous situation and very stupid from me.
Now i should write about Egypt – i refuse to do so!!!!!!!!!!!
I do not want to use so many negative words in my blog – my advise to every sailor - AVOID EGYPT if you have to sail on a small budget.
Finally the end of the Suez canal is near, the pilot leaves the boat during motoring through the canal near the city of Port Said. Shortly afterwards darkness sets in and i am spit out into the Mediterranean. And i don‘t like what i see – lights, lights, lights, navigation lights all over the place. What is easy to manage during day is a horror at night, it seems like 100‘s of red and green lights, and 1000‘s of white lights. I have to concentrate on what I am doing here, just following my line, very close to the green lights of the main shipping lane. Looking over my shoulder and suddenly staring into the front of a tanker does not help bringing my heartbeat down, 1 minute ago it were just 2 lights somewhere in the dark behind me. I have planed to raise the sail immediately after leaving the canal and sail northwest, but i am too afraid now, so i follow the shipping lane far out to its end where the orientation comes to a normal level and i can start sailing towards Greek.
Because of the delay in the canal caused by a French Navy ship and then again in Ismailiah by 3 American Navy ships I missed more than a day of good wind direction and will have to sail again against the wind on the second day. And on this day the Mediterranean shows me that it is one of the most dangerous and unpredictable seas on the planet. I change my course from going to Krete to going to Rhodes and then finally ending up at Kastelorizo, which is the most eastern end of Greek, 70nm miles east of Rhodes. I simply had enough of going into the wind, did not want to damage the boat as the wind sometimes reaches the 40 knot mark, and it was a good decision to do so.
The clearing process is fast and easy without any problems – i am in Paradise after 3 months and 5.765 miles (10.490km) sailing from Langkawi to Greek.
And I am proud, having sailed this enormous leg alone, and actually being more proud of having literally sailed the whole distance, using my engine only for going in and out of anchorages and the Suez Canal.