Wednesday 25 March
By 04:00 Four Seasons popped up on the AIS fifteen miles ahead and inshore of us. Kevin reckons we overtook Magnolia during his first watch.Then in one of those odd radio bounces the catamaran Hummingbird Wings, last seen in Djibouti also pops up briefly some forty miles further north!
Half an hour later Temptress is sailing! Wind from the south east gives us just over three knots over the ground, slow but better than using up precious fuel. There is a heavy dew too, the side decks are almost running with water. So peaceful, just the gurgling of water off the rudder. The sky is already becoming light with the new day.
The wind veered round to just west of south and by 07:00 we were bowling along at five knots twenty five degrees high on course. Time to pole out the genoa or hoist a spinnaker. We opted for the former as Kevin expects the wind to build for a bit longer. Like a well oiled machine set the pole up on the starboard side with uphaul, downhaul and foreguy to hold it all in place, rethreaded the sheet through rather than over the guardwire and put Big Red on the boom as a preventer. Then we bore away ten degrees, eased the main and hauled the genoa over to starboard so Temptress is goose-winged.
Having moved away from the coast, the south going current has vanished and we are making five or six knots over the ground due north. By breakfast we have only 30 nm to Abington Reef, having covered 85 nm since departing 16 hours or so ago. Complexity texted the sat phone to say they had finally escaped the clutches of Djibouti and in company of several other boats are heading for Bab al Mandeb. We wish them all well, the friendly southerlies up here are going to be quite strong down there for a 36 footer.
10:45- having tracked out more into the Red Sea, Abington was no longer on our course. We gybed and put the pole away. On a broad reach we’re almost perfectly pointing at the next waypoint off Zabargad Rock 190 miles away. The wind continues to build, Temptress is doing around 7 knots over the ground and out this far from the coast the bonus is no current against us. At this rate we could reach Zabargad which is off the Egyptian coast south east of Berenice, a little after lunch tomorrow and Ghalib on Friday morning, except that the wind is rarely as constant as that! The forecast Kevin downloaded just as we motored out yesterday has intervals of calm sandwiched between 25-30knots from the north so we will enjoy this while we may.
At lunchtime we caught and released a smallish barracuda. With no idea of the ciguettera risk in the Red Sea it is a fish we wouldn’t be eating. During the afternoon we heard various faint hails from yachts to others and picked up Hummingbird Wings on the AIS some 36 miles north of us. As the hours passed we slowly were catching her then we noticed she veered off north eastward into the centre of the Red Sea. We soon discovered why ourselves.
Late afternoon there was a dramatic wind shift from behind to north easterly and lighter too in the space of a few minutes. We put the pole away, shook out the 2nd reef which we’d put in earlier when the southerly was very strong and then carried on close hauled. Almost the same course! Wonder what is going to happen later? From seven and eight knots to four at a stroke.
At nightfall we tacked heading out north eastwards away from the coast. Out here the current helped a bit even if it wasn’t quite the making tack. Four Seasons appeared to be a few miles north of us going very slowly according to the AIS and we spotted for a while their nav lights. Alkyone and Hummingbird Wings can’t be far away either as we hear them on the radio.
The night proved hard on us both, shifty moderate winds, lumpy sea meant poor progress. At some point we reduced the genoa then we reefed the main and reduced genoa more. All the while heading north or north east rather than north west towards Ghalib. At least though we were sailing and not using fuel.
Noonday Run: 112nm since departing at 15:30 yesterday
Distance to Suez: 600nm approx