Through the Gate of Sorrow 1 – Sunday 15th March

Sunday 15 March

Sunday morning Elis and Lukas, keen for an excuse to be in the water and itching for something to do kindly came over and scrubbed Temptress waterline. Lukas free dived on the prop too and rid it of barnacles. We were very grateful for their efforts as Temptress had grown quite a skirt since leaving India. When they had done we headed over to the port to check out. Mr Aden the harbour master was more than a little upset by orders he had received that morning. The port inline with the airport was to close its border. Worse, those of us anchored in the harbour and that already had visas were not to venture ashore. We met the crew of SY Cyrillic who had just landed, immigration would not issue them visas. Mr Aden sorted out our bill for harbour fees and wrote out a port clearance for Temptress, then across the filthy coal dock, immigration quickly cancelled our visas and we could depart.

First though we needed to scrub down Sheila who was full of coal dust and ants from our trips to the harbour. Kevin emptied her of kit then in his swimming trunks used buckets of seawater to rinse out her insides. We hoisted the tender on deck, turned her over and the bottom was cleaned of a weeks worth of algae growth before strapping her securely in place. Our Djibouti SIM was donated to the Swedish yacht Randavig who having arrived yesterday were completely thrown by not even being able to get a quarantine clearance. We suspect that more than a few boats will be heading out shortly and feel for those we know who are still at sea and planned to call into Djibouti for supplies. We made our farewells to Silver Tern, Randavig, Bare Bones and Complexity. Hopefully we will see them again somewhere.

After lunch we completed our final stowing away, took the sail cover off and motored out. The light breeze was from the north east, precisely where we are headed. Once past the island and reefs we hauled up the mainsail with the second reef in to give us a little more drive through the swell. Everything on deck is dusty. The constant wind in the harbour has coated the windward side of the halyards, even the anchor light cable with a fine red brown dust. The cockpit is filthy with desert dust and coal dust trampled in from dinghies. Even our hair and skin feel dusty. I’d guess though it’s going to be this way until we exit Suez and encounter the first rains.

Through the haze to port we can just make out the mountains of Djibouti the country. Even the sun has a weird glow, filtered as it is by the dust. It’s about fifty miles to Bab al Mandeb, the Gate of Sorrows. The entrance to the Red Sea is just fifteen miles wide, though an island on the Yemeni side narrows the navigable gap to around eleven. That’s not a lot of space for all the current flowing into the Gulf of Aden from the ocean to squeeze through. Nor for the remnants of the north east monsoon to blow through either. Hopefully Temptress will be spat through quickly and without incident.


  1. No need to rush to get to the med all the countries are going into lockdown. We are in uncharted waters now, harbours closed, people told to stay in there homes except for emergencies, shopping, or work.


  2. Wow i am so glad you made it out. We in Brunei are in lock down and if you are comming from the EU you are requied to go into self isolation for 14 days also you have permission if you are a p r to leave the country
    So glad you out of somewhat basic place to be stranded so bid hoorah and no more leaks


  3. So glad you are able to progress and move on. Your timing was relatively fortunate. Hope the challenges of making port become less difficult. Appreciate your posts and wish you well. Richard and Kay


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