Sunday 5 April
What a beautiful morning. The sun is up by 05:30, the seas calm. It’s six and a half weeks since we departed Cochin. Yesterday we heard that Europe may be locked down through May into June. Without internet access our sources of information are limited; firstly Kevin’s Mum calls us on the satphone once a week or so and secondly one of the admins of the Red Sea Facebook group we belong to sends out an email with info about ports closures and so on. He himself is quarantined in Port Ghalib, having arrived just before the crisis broke in Egypt, now unable to leave.
Hugharda is definitely out as a bolt hole. Despite being open, the marina clearance fees (agent, Customs, immigration etc) are now apparently around US$1000, money we simply can’t afford. We will in company with Silver Tern work our way to Suez.
Our wardrobes were swapped over for warmer clothing, putting away piles of light tropical shorts, t-shirts, sarongs and swimwear in favour of tracksuit bottoms, fleeces, long sleeves, hats and mid-layers. It was quite fun looking through a whole pile of old and faithful friends, garments that haven’t been worn for several years and have been vacuum packed in a large box tucked away in the storage cabin.
Aside from the dust, the wind and crazy quarantine world we live in, our abiding memory of the Red Sea will be of flies. From sunrise to sunset they fill the boat and the cockpit, if you sit still they crawl over bare flesh without compunction. The fly swat works but more replace the deceased. In the morning dead ones litter surfaces, presumably they can’t stand the overnight cold. At sea there are fewer but as soon as you stop they come onboard, unwelcome guests.
The morning passed with emailing Silver Terns provisions list to the agent, calls back and forth with port control and a minor victory when the latter agreed to give Silver Tern 50l more for us. We’d asked for more but would settle for the little extra. Jules and Kevin sorted a minor leak in the new fuel setup that had filled the boat with the stink of diesel overnight. Kevin then tried to sort out the autopilot head but proved that the problem is with the head not its cable. Not something that can be sorted until the world becomes open again so we will have to live with running up and down stairs to alter course.
Then we waited until Silver Tern had the call to head into Ghalib. The galley slave starts on meal preparation, defrosting some chicken breast and pressure cooking a few handfuls of blackeyed beans. There should be enough for two or maybe three suppers. Yesterday’s aubergine and lentil pate tasted even better today as the flavours blended and it’s really chilled.
Our passage goals are getting smaller, tonight’s plan is just over forty miles north to a small port that gets a very uncomplimentary write up in our pilot guide for its bureaucratic officialdom back in the 1990s. We’ll see what sort of welcome we polite Brits get when we drop the hook tomorrow morning.
We departed just before 17:00, Jules had dropped off our 50l and the cabbage we ordered, something was lost in translation as the latter is a football sized iceberg lettuce! He also sealed up the black oil cans the fuel had been delivered in, and tied them to a dive boat mooring for the next boat. I messaged Complexity asking them to pass their whereabouts on via the Red Sea SSB net. Hopefully other yachts behind us will find them useful, Aldivi had been forced to pay $35 for them.
There was no wind. Temptress settled down to a slow motor northwards at 4.5 knots. The barometer has already fallen three points, a sure indicator in these parts of strong winds to come. Eventually we were under sail only. Later in the night dropped in the second reef to allow us to slow down to arrive in daylight. We’ll need see where we are anchoring in the morning.