Suez Canal 2

Thursday 23 April

Karkar, the yacht club manager, came early this morning to inform that unless we are able to transit tomorrow and in light of the strong wind forecast for then, he will be back at mid day to assist in laying our anchor. By putting our anchor out somewhere off our bow to the south Temptress will be more secure in the winds that are predicted for Friday lunchtime and afternoon. This morning’s forecast has them at 25 knots from the south east gusting 30.

Meanwhile I updated the provisions list with yesterday’s supplies, wrote some emails and tidied away various superfluous papers into our 2020 scrap-folder. Others may have scrapbooks but we keep a plastic box folder with everything from each port or place visited, one per year since we landed in Bahrain in 2010! Full of memories, they sit alongside our blog and photos as a record of our expat life; maybe one day I might write that book if only because our grandchildren may wonder what our lives were like. I have only a few photos and mementos that recall the extraordinary life my maternal grandparents led in West Africa in the 1920s and 30s where Grandpa was a doctor and would love to have had the foresight to record their stories.

We heard from Pied a Mer that their young British crew may be able to disembark at Suez for a flight to Europe on April 29. We hope this works for them but if not we have volunteered to be their fallback option to get to Europe. Another British flagged yacht achieved this a couple of weeks ago via Hugharda and a private ambulance. It all has to be paid for of course but at least these stranded crews can get home to their families.

At 09:30 Captain Heebi brought us the ice cream he had promised! It was such a thoughtful treat, almost brought tears to my eyes. He then videoed us eating them with great delight! The canal measurer will be here today and he assures us we will start our transit tomorrow, Friday early. So hopefully no need to lay the precautionary anchor out.

Another lovely gift was half a cabbage from Silver Tern who seemed to have been more successful with their order than we were. Coleslaw will be on the supper menu! They also brought across some tuna they cooked on the BBQ a couple of days ago. So tuna risotto and salad.

12:15 The measurers arrived. One wearing gloves, neither with masks, let’s hope they are both healthy. Anyway their visit was short as being a British Part I registered vessel, Temptress has the same paperwork as commercial ships; the measurements on that certificate are accepted by the Canal Authority. The only extra bit of information needed was the depth of the hull as opposed to the draft of the vessel. The latter is measured waterline to bottom of keel and is 2.1m, the former is from the bottom of the hull to the toe rail which when you do the maths comes to much the same figure! They filled in their paperwork and went off to the next boat. I think Suez bases its charges on hull volume or displacement, equivalent to the gross registered tonnage on Temptress certificate and carved on the plaque mounted inside the boat.

Late afternoon the rest of the shopping materialised though two cabbages had become one cabbage and one iceberg lettuce. The grocery items missed previously, 12l UHT milk and a kilo of chickpeas were in the load much to our relief. Old Man Sayed also brought a block of cheese, not on the list but welcome, so we now have a good few weeks supply in the fridge. No beetroot or cauliflower available which is a shame but we can try again in Ismailia. Captain Heebi warned us not to mention our provisioning here as the canal authorities usually add their cut to it, shopping in Ismailia will cost more.

We are also in possession of a Port Permit and a Sanitation Certificate and our bills are paid. Captain Heebi will pay the pilot for tomorrow including a tip, we don’t have to tip him. The advice for leg two is put US$20 in an envelope and hand it over as the pilot disembarks in Port Said. Overall the canal fees, food, fuel and so forth have cost about what we expected, not cheap but at least we will be closer to home on the other side. The moorings here and at Ismailia cost US$21 a night. I was amused to see prices for things like a yacht club meal at US$5 in the tariffs on the paperwork we filled out. We decided on arrival it looked a nice place to spend a few hours but of course we can’t go ashore to find out!

Weather-wise today has been glorious, a light breeze at times, and pleasantly warm in the sun, clear blue skies. If only it had been like this for the rest of the past month or so. It’s hard to think tomorrow it will be very windy again. Currently it feels rather like a still summer evening back in the UK, except for the ever present, annoying flies.

Our trip tomorrow will start when the pilot comes on board around 6 am. We will follow the northbound convoy for 45nm as far as Ismailia. Ramadan starts tonight meaning we don’t have to feed the pilot tomorrow!