Abu Sawmah 3

Day 28: Easter Sunday, 12 April

A quiet night followed by a lazy morning. Melon for breakfast, those teeny cantaloupes that came with our last veggie supplies are sweet as honey despite looking very green inside. Half a melon each! It is now four weeks since we departed Djibouti, last stood on land or visited a supermarket!

We examined the latest forecast again, Wednesday still looking good for a departure. I plotted various routes. Marsa Thilimit or Thelemet on the west shore of the Gulf of Suez would be a lovely goal to aim for but at 160 nm too far for the 24 hours we hope to have. Settled instead for At Tur or Tor Harbour on the east coast about 95 nm away. Kevin spoke to Silver Tern, they had a reasonable night in the bay they sheltered in but a rocky bottom meant the chain was noisy all night. They hope to reach one of the anchorages near Hugharda today. We feel a bit like we missed out not going with them yesterday but don’t want have another trip like the one here in the near future so happy we stayed put.

In the galley I’m attempting to cultivate another batch of yoghurt from the slightly dubious remains of the previous batch. In normal circumstances I’d have bought a new pot of yoghurt to restart it but for now we have to make do. Also cooking up a quantity of kidney beans to make the basis of a stuffing for some green peppers (capsicums) for supper, to be served with rice salad, lettuce and the last of the cucumber and tomatoes. After that there are three carrots, a small pumpkin and more peppers and jalapeños left. Think we have five or six onions and a few kilos of potatoes too. Then we are on to tins.

Really should do a bit of a provisions audit but feeling better being an ostrich hiding away from the fact that supplies are getting short. Staples like bread flour and lentils are definitely low, there are ten litres of milk plus an almost full bag of milk powder. The fridge has a couple of packs of salami, two chorizo and a few Chinese sausages plus two small pieces of cheese. The meat in the icebox will hopefully stretch to five or six meals which alternated by meat free will last until sometime next week. Then it’s tinned meat – corned beef, pulled pork, ham – and tinned vegetables, probably enough tins for a good two months worth of meals. Fortunately we still have a good few eggs thanks to both the last two suppliers being able to get us a couple of dozen each time. In summary I think if we can reach Suez in a couple of weeks we won’t starve!

Spent an hour or so before lunch trying to work out how to knit the V-neck on the tunic. That’s the trouble with not having a pattern! On the face of it, it should be a simple neck edge decrease every so many rows but with the lacy stitch pattern being over four rows, decreases need to fall on row one of the pattern and decreasing every row 1 would be too much. Eventually I had a brainwave. Graph paper is your friend. Mark how many stitches to start with at the bottom count up the number of rows then mark how many you need to end up with. A dot every fourth row down one space across then rub out the extra ones to give you evenly spaced decreases. Decided on every other row 1 to start for seven repeats then every row 1 for the remainder; like the shape it hopefully will give!

After lunch the filthy dust and salt encrusted ensign received some tlc; the fly (the other end to the hoist which is the hit by the flagpole) has been restitched several times but red domestic thread doesn’t survive the sun, salt and wind. As it is now beginning to fray, I hand stitched the hems and central seam using extra strong thread (white) and attached some ribbon from my sewing box as reinforcing to the fly. Not pretty, hopefully it will last a few months more but I’m not risking laundering it. This particular ensign is still almost intact and in much better condition than its predecessor. That one ended the UK to Singapore voyage in a seriously shortened state but is kept safe for posterity. We have a whole collection of tatty flags that I’d love to display somehow one day. No idea how though as they are far too ragged to be made into a quilt or to be hung up as bunting.

During the day we finally heard from a consular official at the Embassy in Cairo, once she understood that we don’t want to fly home as our home is with us and that we already have Captain Heebi, the Royal Navy’s agent for the canal as our agent, we were able to explain that we simply want them to be aware of the situation ourselves and other British boats are in. On our part we wanted a contact in case things worsen.

Then too we heard from the worried mother of young British crew on another boat somewhere behind us. She contacted us via our blog and some detective work. There is little we can do at present to assist but we will try to look out for them. And the final bit of news was of the closure of Hugharda to yachts, unsurprising given the situation and we weren’t planning on stopping there, but still a bit of a shock. Captain Heebi is still assuring us all will be well when we eventually reach Suez. We just hope he is right.