Gulf passage 4 – THursday 5th March

Day 15 – Thursday 5 March

Two weeks since Temptress departed Cochin, life on shore seems like a distant dream. And the skipper has finally solved the mystery of the thumps when we motor at night – cuttlefish! Shine a torch on the water and the sight is spectacular; in amongst the dozens of brilliant diamonds jumping out of the water, actually squid eyes reflecting the torchlight, are much larger white shapes swimming below the surface, unmistakably large cuttlefish. Sadly it seems Temptress’ self pitching propellor has been chomping through quite a few each night as we pass through swarms of them. The skippers first thought – can we eat them! Please send recipes via SMS to the satphone and we will endeavour to catch some.

During the 22:00 – 04:00 watch Kevin also had another chat with the Japanese Naval aircraft who overflew us. Good to know marine protection continues round the clock. Still motoring with the watermaker topping up the tanks. 135 nm to the Western Transit waypoint, we should reach it in the early hours of tomorrow if we can maintain a speed of over 6 knots. The current is adding a 1 knot, sometimes more to our progress. From there it’s 108 nm to Djibouti Harbour entrance which must be approached in daylight as it is surrounded in reefs. If it’s late afternoon Friday we will try to anchor off somewhere until the sun is behind us on Saturday for safety. We won’t be able to check-in until Sunday anyway.

The galley slave was on this morning’s watch so has been busy making yoghurt and, with her naviguesser hat on, spent much of the watch refining a Red Sea Passage plan. More on that later but the basic plan is to divide the distance up into shorter three or four day hops via Massawa, Suakin, optionally Port Ghalib and then Suez.

Mid morning after 16 hours there was finally enough wind to sail again. On the plus side that was 16 hours of watermaking and at six knots a good deal of ground was covered. By noon we had a very good 24 hour mileage with just under two hundred miles to run to Djibouti. And as the sun came up relatively late this morning, we flogged the clocks an hour back to UTC+3, Djibouti time.

The wind didn’t hang around for long, a couple of hours later the engine was on again, as was the watermaker. It has been a hot and airless afternoon with below decks even hotter thanks to the engine being on. Real desert weather as the skipper commented. The sea is a couple of degrees warmer again so no longer cooling the hull very much. Sleeping and reading has been about as energetic as we’ve got.

Finally rather late in the day the breeze turned up, a fine F3 from slightly east of north east requiring the genoa to be poled out to starboard. In turn this meant shifting everything over. First the main was gybed gently then as Temptress was freed she began to build up speed. We gybed the pole and reset it on the starboard side; downhaul forward, extra guy aft as always to keep it rigid. Then, when all the lines had been re-reeved through the guardwires, the genoa was partially unfurled.

A couple of minutes later we were going along a degree below course but faster than under engine at 6 knots over the ground despite a pesky knot of current against us and so much quieter. Watermaker off, the tanks must be pretty close to full. And a litre of freshly made yoghurt in the fridge. All is well onboard.

Noonday Run: 137nm
Noon Distance to Suez: 1570 approx


  1. Your progress has been very good. Sounds like the conditions have been a bit light, but better than the alternative. while Suez is still a bit off, landfill is not. Enjoy the peace. Richard and Kay


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