Monday 6 April
05:00 The night was so damp, water was dripping off the main but by dawn both boats were in the midst of a dust storm off the land. Temptress dropped the second reef in, furled more gennie and, as we were just five miles off Al Qusayr, we hove too to wait for the sun to come up. Silver Tern decided to sail slowly in toward the land under staysail. At present the land has disappeared in the dust, the light is weirdly magnified like in fog, eyes are scratchy, throats dry.
We drunk our coffee, responded to messages from Complexity and waited. I finished the Danielle Steele book I was reading, light frothy stuff that is a complete distraction, not my normal reading choice. Then an hour and a half later with the wind building Temptress headed in. At quarter to seven Silver Tern called to say they were fairly comfortable, tucked in behind the breakwater. As a team we have decided the forecasts are at least 10knots understated and often for much later than the actual timing. This morning’s wind was forecast for around noon! Three miles off shore and we still couldn’t see the coast.
By 08:00 we were anchored behind the remains of the harbour breakwater. It offers some protection but when the northerlies get going I think it will be even more rolly than it currently is. The whole seafront of the town seems to consist of ruins or building work in progress. A rib comes out to us. Kevin starts a conversation about obtaining diesel. He’s from a dive boat that has no work and will come back later when we have had some rest. We need to check the forecast but from yesterday’s it’s likely we are here until the weekend.
As we still haven’t cleared into Egypt we cannot go ashore even if we wanted to which we don’t; our risk of catching the virus ashore is far greater than the risk we pose the locals. It’s been 22 days since we last stood on land! The five of us aboard our two boats are going to keep the quarantine imposed on us for a while yet, as I expect other groups of yachts are doing worldwide.
Whilst the kettle was on for a mid morning cuppa after the crew had caught up on some sleep, the gas ran out. We always note in the ships log when the bottles are changed. The last change was two days short of six weeks ago. We now have two empty bottles, one on plus the larger bottle acquired in Suakin, so at least 12 weeks supply, may be a week or two more. It should last until early July, longer if we eke it out by using the thermal cooker and the pressure cooker more.
The dive boat guys, Mustafa and his mates are friendly and helpful. They went off to find the price of a Vodafone SIM plus a data package, came back and collected the moneylenders returned with a SIM complete with a month’s worth of data. They have nothing to do so happy to help us. Later they brought fuel and food for us. So now we have a full compliment of diesel, main tank and jerrycans all full, certainly enough to get to Suez, maybe beyond.
We also received another lettuce with the vegetables, cabbage obviously doesn’t translate too well here! Coleslaw with iceberg is going to be on the menu for the next few days! Green veg materialised as several bunches of dill and coriander, ginger root as a pack of powdered stuff and fruit as small melons and dates. A nice challenge for the galley slave though I expect Lori on Silver Tern will be happy to have some fresh herbs to add to their meals.
The Racor filter has developed a leak, so the engineers have decided to bypass it so we don’t waste precious fuel. Tomorrow’s task.
The radio is now picking up Suez VTS. We hear them calling tankers, containerships etc. As yet we don’t hear the responses only VTS’ polite “good morning captain” with instructions on which channel to switch to.
Having got online for the first time since Suakin it was lovely to read all your kind comments on the blog and Facebook page. Thank-you!
Distance from Ghalib: 57nm
Distance to Suez: 265nm approx