Aden to Safaga (Via Suakin)
Despite the fairly late arrival in Aden we were all up early the next morning and we got our first look at the town. After we had all eaten and made ourselves presentable we headed for the town to clear customs and immigration.
After we had been to see all of the officials we were issued with shore passes and allowed to go and explore the town. Aden is a sprawled out, dusty town which has an incredible amount of history in it. Contrary to what we were told in Mukalla we found everyone in Aden to be very friendly and welcoming without expecting anything in return. We were also pleased to see that there were plenty of shops and street stalls selling a wide variety of fresh food and other basics.
Just after we had left Mukalla we found that the alternator had died which meant that we had to run the Lista instead of relying on the Perkins. So the first priority for Noel was to investigate the possibility of getting it repaired or getting a replacement.
It was fairly late in the evening by the time we had all met back at the boat and as everyone was tired we decided to head into town for a feed. After picking a restaurant we sat down and moments later we had a plate of Spanish omelette each and a plate of mixed bean stew each and as many chapattis as we could eat. After we had devoured all of this and were feeling exceedingly full we got the bill which was the equivalent of two US dollars for all of us. After settling up Noel concluded that this was his type of restaurant. On the way back we chanced upon some kids playing with a table football game. Not being able to resist the temptation Gareth and Martin challenged them to a game.
After an exceedingly embarrassing defeat of one goal to four we decided to leave them to their game and retire to the boat. The next morning we all took the opportunity to catch up on the long job list that we had. Noel and Amiria resumed the alternator mission, Gareth toured the local shops to try and buy some of the harder to find items on the ''to get'' list, Martin stayed on the boat servicing the engine, and Jack started on the website update mission. Dusk had fallen again by the time the last crew member had arrived back on Lista and the vote was unanimous for dinner ashore again. The next day we amassed our mountain of washing and ferried it ashore to where our local agent come taxi driver, Omah, was waiting for us. After we had dropped off the washing we headed for the supermarket in Omah's car where we got the majority of our provisioning done.
The next couple of days we spent running around trying to get everything done on our lists. Noel and Martin spent a lot of time on the boat catching up with maintenance jobs and servicing the faithful Perkins. One of these jobs included refitting and resealing the saloon windows which had burst open when an exceedingly large wave hit us on the way here.
Whilst Noel and Martin were on the boat Gareth, Jack and Amiria did the fresh fruit and vegetable provisioning at the local market.
We had decided that we wanted to leave on the fourth day fairly late in the evening as we still had stuff that we wanted to do through the day. As the evening drew in we decided that we would go ashore for dinner before leaving as the local food was so good and the price made it taste all the better.
After another beautiful dinner we popped past the immigration and picked up our passports before returning to the boat to make ready for sea. Annoyingly as we brought the anchor in it snagged on something pretty solid and despite our best attempts it wouldn't budge. So Noel and Jack donned their masks and snorkels before jumping in to see what they could do about it.
After a number of duck dives they found the anchor and saw that it was wrapped around a big mooring chain. After about twenty minutes of struggle they finally freed the anchor and we set off on our way out of the harbour. Once we had got clear of the channel we started on our course for Bab El Mandeb and the beginning of the Red Sea with the intention of stopping at Safaga in Egypt to refuel and provision for the final run up the Gulf of Suez. The next day bought a hazy morning with plenty of other ships for company. We were still making good progress with an almost flat calm sea. At seven o'clock on the second day we came through Bab El Mandeb and into the Red Sea. To celebrate Noel decided that a hair cut was the order of the day with Amiria very kindly offering to do the job.
Our entrance to the Red Sea was made even better when we had a hit on the rod which resulted in a fair sized barracuda being landed. Everyone was delighted with the capture as it was our first fish of the passage.
Later that day we were motoring along on a calm sea when we spotted a whole load of yellow jerry cans in front of us. We soon realized that they were fishing floats from the local fishing boats that were scattered around the place. So we took evasive action and avoided the first set of floats only to notice another set a little further on. This carried on for the whole afternoon with the odd fishing boat coming over to check us out as we went past.
The next day brought pretty much the same hot sweaty conditions with temperatures reaching thirty seven degrees below decks with the sea temperature being the same. It was mid-morning and everyone was trying their best to keep cool under the sun shades when Gareth spotted some very large fins in the water in front of us. Everyone rushed to the bow and as they drew closer we recognized them to be whale sharks.
After staring at them mesmerized for a few seconds there was a mad rush for the masks and snorkels and Noel, Jack and Martin threw themselves over the side to go and make friends with these gentle giants.
After twenty minutes Noel went back to the boat, the minute he was back aboard Gareth and Amiria had jumped in to join the fun. In total we had a full forty minutes with six of these beautiful creatures circling us. They did not seem to mind us at all and we would regularly get within arms reach of them. Eventually of course we did drag ourselves away to resume our course and leave the sharks to their relaxed feeding. Even our swim in the sea brought little respite from the heat as the temperature of the water was thirty seven degrees. After getting heartily sick of the heat Gareth decided to try a new approach and got people to repeatedly throw buckets of water over him whenever they were wetting the decks.
Over the past few days we had seen quite a lot of different birds landing on deck. This included a trio of swifts who showed absolutely no fear of us and enjoyed a free run of the boat. One was even seen to have a particular liking for Gareth, much to the amusement of everyone else.
Over the next few days dolphins were a regular sight with pods of up to fifty of them swimming around the boat at one time. No matter how many times we saw them we could not get over the sheer beauty and grace that they portrayed.
As Murphy's law dictates when we were one day away from Suakin off the coast of Sudan the wind picked and the sea state came up with it causing regular waves to come over the bow. This upset everyone's attempts to sleep on their usual patch on deck and the near thirty five degree heat down below had to be endured. Mid-morning the next day saw our first sight of the Sudanese coast and by mid afternoon we were motoring into the entrance of the harbour. As we entered the harbour we left a small island in the channel to our port side which was covered in beautiful old ruined buildings and mosques.
Once we had anchored we got onto the harbour control who phoned an agent who came out to us on a boat and ran through the formalities with us. After we had arranged with him to deliver six hundred litres of diesel to us the next morning. Unfortunately as none of us had any money and Noel had spent the last of his money on the diesel we had nothing left with which to buy a shore pass, but after a quick chat with our friend he said it was alright for us to visit the island with the ruin on it as long as we didn't go across the bridge to the mainland. Gareth and Amiria swam over to the Island followed by Martin and Jack a few minutes later in the dinghy and they set off to explore the Island which was meant to be the last city to stop trading in slaves.
Unfortunately before we had finished exploring the island we chanced upon a group of men who beckoned us over and explained that you had to buy a ticket to be allowed on the island. Not needing to be told twice we apologized and headed for the dinghy. The next day we were expecting the diesel at eight o'clock but not holding our breath we started on the job list now that we were not moving. Noel, Gareth and Martin did some recaulking work around some of the stanchions where the pitch was looking a bit tired and Jack and Amiria busied themselves with other jobs that needed doing.
At about eleven thirty our diesel finally turned up so we started the job of siphoning it into our jerry cans and tanks. Annoyingly when we were decanting the first container into our jerry cans we noticed there was water in it. After pouring the rest of a container into a bucket to see the amount of water in the diesel and to prove to our agent that there was water in it we put it to one side to await the painstaking task of skimming the diesel off of the top.
Fortunately the rest of the diesel was good and clean. It was late afternoon by the time we had finished the caulking and cleaning up after the diesel. Instead of staying here for another night and not being able to go ashore we decided to head back to sea, so with more that one backward glance we motored out of the channel and back onto our old course that would get us clear of the land. With the wind just off of our port side we decided to raise the staysail accompanied by the tri-sail and with this configuration we sailed into the evening. By midnight we had cleared the land and brought our sails down so we could come onto our course for Safaga again with the wind on our nose just for a change. The next morning the sweltering heat returned again with the sun rise and we raised the most used canvas on our Red Sea passage.
So after our brief interlude at Suakin we resumed our daily trudge on towards Safaga. On the second of August we crossed the Tropic of Cancer and officially said good bye to the Tropics and we are looking forward to some slightly more temperate climates.
As we got closer to Safaga the sea state began to pick up along with the wind and our speed began to drop off with it. The next day just to add insult to injury the current turned against us and our speed dropped off till we were doing less than one knot..
So after some consideration Noel decided to try doing a couple of tacks with the plan that the last tack would take us into Safaga itself. So after hoisting the storm jib, staysail, tri-sail and the mizzen we sailed off in a Northerly direction helped out as ever by the trusty Perkins. Just as we started to lose the light that evening we tacked again and came onto our course for Safaga. We had recently noticed a small weak point on the staysail where some of the stitching has come undone but thought that it would last until we got to Safaga. Unfortunately that night when Amiria and Jack where on watch it ripped with the sound of a gun going off. As soon as they realized what had happened they rushed up the deck and hauled it down before it flogged itself to death.
Once we got the staysail down and took it off of the stay we replaced it with the storm staysail and with our speed slightly reduced we sailed onwards. It was three o'clock that morning when we reached our waypoint and brought the sails down and motored through the many reefs present around Safaga. We got through the channel with no problems and anchored in a bay where all of the dive boats stay on moorings. It was now five in the morning so we all collapsed into our bunks. The next morning when we emerged from our bunks we were greeted by Egypt's beautiful landscape.
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