Sunday March 29
So officially the UK is in summertime, here in the desert the wind is howling through the rigging again after subsiding to almost nothing overnight. When the sun was still low this morning we could see the mountains beyond the narrow coastal plain. Incredibly steep, they tower like a series of cliffs, pinkish grey in the morning light, quite stunning to see.
We were woken by the VHF before dawn (stupidly we hadn’t turned the volume down before going to bed), the Egyptian Navy were calling Silver Tern. Jules and his two crew were slowly sailing into Berenice to seek some shelter after a long hard battle up from Djibouti. The naval watchkeeper instructed them to anchor at the same lat and long as we all are located. Once they were anchored and had eaten we had a brief chat then they retired to bed.
We couldn’t get back to sleep again. Then the sat phone beeped so we exchanged messages with Complexity whose young crew got a taste of the realities of cruising life when the wind in their anchorage changed late last night and they had to move. Jim suggested it was a crew training exercise but I’m sure Elis and Lukas didn’t see it that way.
The weather still looks good for a Monday departure though it’s going to be a slog north in light northerlies most of next week. Tuesday evening we may need to seek shelter. Becoming more pessimistic in our passage planning this might find us just north of Ghalib. The forecast indicates about six days of lighter northerlies before the winds pick up again.
One email we and much of the Red Sea ‘fleet’ have received brought brighter news. Sheena and Albert of Miyagi Moon, though currently in the UK, have reached out to some of their Egyptian contacts. A dive company may be able to help with refuelling if boats can meet with them. As yet no idea where they are located but we have sent an email. Also a couple of yachts have been given fuel by warships on patrol in the Red Sea. Nothing back from the agent for Hugharda as yet though.
The skipper had a haircut, the first since leaving Cochin so much needed. Apart from that there is little to do except wait. We read, I knit, we play computer games, do crosswords, we snooze, we plan meals. All the while the wind blows – much stronger this morning than yesterday. Despite the short distance to the shore it’s managing to kick up waves of half a metre or, enough to make Temptress bob around. The air is so full of dust that even a short time above deck makes you sneeze and the mouth feel dry. The forehatch is just cracked open as otherwise there’s a gale through the boat which is too chilly; yes its close to a gale blowing outside! Flies are everywhere too annoyingly.
The afternoon was more of the same though the wind abruptly swung to the north and eased down to 18 or 20 knots just after lunch but remained higher than the forecast. Temptress reacted to the change with a big heel to starboard before slowly coming round to point into the wind again. Kevin wasn’t the only person on deck checking the anchor. Unsurprisingly the forecast has changed, these winds look likely to continue tomorrow so we will stay put.
The sea with the sun across it is a beautiful shade of rich blue decorated with frills of white whipped up by the winds. The colours seem deeper in the mid afternoon light, even the cream of the sand bar and the palest blue of the shallow water over the reef. The sky is clear without even a speck of cloud. The wind keeps the rigging howling mournfully, the note gently changing up and down with the gusts.
After sunset the wind kept blowing unlike previous evenings. The moon was out, the last of the daylight putting the mountains to the west in sharp relief against the pale sky. Amazing scenery reminding us both of our trips to Oman.
Supper a brown lentil and vegetable curry with turmeric rice. The curry sauce was made with coconut cream and thickened with almond flour I remembered lurking in the dry store, it was a rich gravy with no stock cube required. Half the last surviving cucumber added to homemade yoghurt and some salt made a pleasant raita to accompany the curry. Afterwards we played Canasta as a change from Cribbage that we had played a few games of over our sundowners.
The BBC World Service evening news has little of relevance to us whilst the preceding programme is on the state of Europeans football with the season cut short in every country except it seems Belarus. Later more doom and gloom with a programme on the Apollo 13 rescue. Perhaps we are better off staying isolated in our little Red Sea bubble. Not that we can socialise beyond short chats on the VHF anyway, limited as we are to our own boats. For now each of us here in the anchorage has been at sea beyond any quarantine period and all are fit and well.