Port Said to Malta
After having scoped out a few of the stores in town and spent an hour or so online we returned to the boat to await the beer delivery. Noel had very kindly arranged for everyone to take a trip to Cairo the next day as it would be the only chance before we went through the canal the day after. With this in mind we rationed ourselves to only a couple of beers to toast our landfall with. The next day we set off to Cairo with our guide. It was an hour and a half drive to the centre of Cairo where we were first dropped off at the Museum. It was a fair sized museum that was absolutely cram packed with artefacts, and we also got to see the Royal Mummies. We unfortunately could not get any pictures of the museum as camera's were banned. On the way to the Pyramids we requested a lunch stop at one of the local cafes instead of the far more expensive tourist restaurant by the pyramids. After an interesting lunch we spotted a smoothie shop across the road. Being unable to resist we popped over for a smoothie for dessert.
Once we had finished what we had concluded to be the best smoothie that we had bought (Gareth's smoothies still remaining the number one.), we clambered back into the van with the next stop being the Pyramids. On arrival we decided to hire some camels for the trek up to the Sphinx and the Pyramids.
The first stop was at the Sphinx.
Once we had alighted from our camels we went off to explore the temple next to the Sphinx before climbing up the walls to get a picture or two.
The next stop was by the largest pyramid where we were allowed to climb up the first few levels for another picture of the Lista Light crew.
We then took the camels up one of the nearby dunes where could see all of the pyramids below us. It was truly a magnificent sight and we were all held spell bound by this wonder of the world.
After we had returned we had a few hours to spare before the sound and light show started in front of the pyramids, so we decided to explore Cairo a bit before the show. After touring some of the local shops and generally making friends with the locals we headed off for the show. The show consisted of the pyramids and the sphinx being lit up with multi-coloured lights and a talk about its history.
Once the show had finished we headed back to the boat all heartily exhausted. This however did not stop us enjoying a few cold beers on arrival at the boat. The next morning we were all up early to await the arrival of the pilot. While we were waiting there was a steady stream of container boats coming past us on their way up the canal. Never one to pass up on a photo opportunity Gareth jumped over the side with Jack's marine camera case and swam to another boat to capture the moment.
About ten minutes later we had the pilot come aboard and we motored into the canal. It was fairly straight forward run with not much to see part from plenty of container ships overtaking us and there was a lot of military presence all along the shore.
On arrival at the lake in the middle of the canal our pilot jumped off we then cast off the lines again and picked up a mooring. As we had already cleared out of Egypt we were not allowed to go and explore the town, but we were free to go and explore the yacht club and have dinner there. So after a very satisfying dinner ashore we retired to the boat and our bunks in anticipation of an early start the next day. We were all up early doors the next day but much to our annoyance the pilot turned up five hours late. As soon as we had him on board we headed straight back into the canal and on our way.
The second leg was pretty similar to the first apart from this time we had lots of local fishing boats for company. The locals would row their way against the wind up the canal fishing as they went and at the end of the day they would put up a jury rigged mast and square sail to sail back down the canal.
Noel and Gareth did give themselves a quick workout when they hauled Jack up the mast to get a birds eye picture of the canal.
It was dark by the time we arrived in Port Said and after discharging our pilot we motored out through the channel and into the long awaited Mediterranean Sea. The next day at lunch we opened the bottle of Champagne that we had been given by Mark and Quintin S.V. Skardu in New Zealand and used it to toast our latest milestone - many thanks Skardu!
As the Champagne was so nice we drank the lot on our own completely forgetting about Neptune. To make up for it we gave him a generous measure of the whisky that we had picked up in Suez.
It seems that Neptune was duly pleased with the alternative as we landed a large big eye tuna the next day. Our first, and hopefully not the last.
On the twenty second, Jay's Birthday, we baked a cake specially for the occasion, unfortunately we had nothing to toast her health with so settled for a cup of tea and a second piece of cake to make up for it. Happy Birthday Jay and all the best from the Lista Light crew.
The next day Noel made the decision to head for Crete as our diesel situation was not good after five days of constant motoring. This change of course gave us a slightly better wind angle to work with so we put up the number one jib, staysail, single reefed main and a single reefed mizzen. We still had to motor sail it as we were to close hauled to make our course without help. The next morning as we got closer we raised our Crete courtesy flag that Amiria had made and strained our eyes for our first glimpse of Crete.
Most of the way there Crete was covered in clouds but once we got closer it cleared up and we had our first glimpse of the harbour that we were heading for.
By two thirty that afternoon we had entered the harbour and tied up alongside the breakwater. On arrival a fellow yachts men had come over and very kindly said he would phone the diesel man for us. A brief phone call later and we had our diesel delivery scheduled for early the next morning.
With our biggest job out of the way we decided to head into the village for an exploration mission. After a walk around the village we found a Jazz and Blues bar run by a very friendly British guy, after ordering a round of drinks we settled back to take in the relaxed and friendly community atmosphere of the village.
After a couple more of the local beers, we decided to sample some of the local Ouzo. Unfortunately in Crete there is no such thing as a measure, so the large glasses that we were presented with we assumed were single measures topped up with water. A few hours later and several more rounds of beer and Ouzo we found out the hard way that they were in fact triple measures. Being more than slightly the worse for wear we decided that it would be a good idea to head back to the boat where we all collapsed to sleep it off. Despite our heavy evening we were all up to greet the diesel man who arrived at eight, after we had filled up our tanks we all dispersed to go and do our own thing. Noel donned his dive gear and went over the side to scrape the barnacles, while everyone else busied themselves either with the provisioning or other maintenance jobs. It was late afternoon before we had finished everything and were ready for sea, so with more than one reluctant look over our shoulder we headed back out into the open sea.
It was our second day out of Crete and we were motor sailing along nicely with the number three jib, staysail, triple reefed main and a double reefed mizzen, when the weather changed and we had plenty of big squally clouds come over the horizon. We dodged most of the clouds but there was one at about mid afternoon that was on a collision course for us. So in preparation for it we brought the main down and kept on going. As it got closer it just looked like there would be a load of rain but nothing much else. All of a sudden we were hammered by winds of up to forty knots and slashing rain. We all rushed to claw down the sails as Lizzie roared on beneath us. Once we had the sails down and the running backstays in position we all took a breath and Jack grabbed the opportunity to get his camera and take some pictures.
We motored the rest of the day as the wind was variable and there were still plenty of ugly looking clouds around. By midday the next day we caught our first glimpse of Malta and as we had no pilot books to help us out we called up the harbour master, who finally recommended that we head for the Grand Harbour Marina. As we closed in on the entrance to the harbour we were met by a zodiac and they very kindly led us through the meandering channel towards the marina. As we came into the harbour we were greeted by the beautiful architecture that Malta has.
Once we had passed through the channel and dodged the tanker that was manoeuvring out of it, we came to the Marina and tied up to the pontoon.
We were all extremely relieved to reach Malta at last and we had a cup of tea to celebrate as it was still early in the afternoon. After it was finished we all headed off to complete the formalities, once it was done we all headed off to explore the town and admire the beautiful architecture that we got a glimpse of as we entered the harbour.
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