Wednesday, May 7, 2008

First stop in Egypt

May 1, 2008
Ras Banas, Egypt
Coordinates 23 53.557N, 035 46.883E
Before heading into any new area we always do our reading and research on the best paths to follow, the best weather windows and such. Any such research regarding the Red Sea always contains some horrible stories regarding the terrible head winds of 25 to 40 knots and steep seas that sailors have ended up beating against. Hoping to avoid such a trip ourselves, when our grib files said there would be 4 days of little to no wind against us we took our opportunity and made a run for it. The up side
obviously means we make great time heading north; the down side would be that we are passing up a lot of opportunities to visit some amazing locations on land and blazing right over some beautiful waters for diving in.

We quickly left Suakin and marveled at our good luck with the weather. With light winds out of various directions over the next few days we were even able to sail a majority of this leg. We did take one quick lunch break to anchor on Jazirat Bayer coordinates 20 52.187N, 037 23.598E for a nice snorkel to view some coral, large schools of trigger fish, trevali and the occasional reef shark. Back underway to our next destination, all the boats in our fleet were quietly beginning to question the
decision to push ahead and pass these treasures up when the answer quickly arrived. The grib files were telling of the winds picking back up on the 28th but they arrived a day early. Luckily we only had a taste of 25 knots on the nose not 40. We bashed only a few hours that morning with the escort of dozens and dozens of dolphins and came to find refuge with a few other boats in a bay sheltered by the Ras Banas sand spit peninsula. Though we were hoping to make it a bit further north to Dolphin
Bay we ended up here, maybe for the better. We have heard that there is no land to stand on up there so we've been hunkered down here ever since. In fact, we have become pod people. Due to lengthy passages, weather or shore conditions, in the last 40 days we have only touched land approximately 14 times. Amazing when you realize just how small the living space is. It is a good thing we love our boats and love to spend so much time together. Our little vessel keeps us safe, sound and cozy.

Welcome to Egypt! The flat low lying sand magically makes it way to us over the water with such ease it's amazing. You can see the giant sand clouds form over the land and we are covered in fine brown silt. Everyone is trying to adjust with stuffed sinuses and a slight hacking cough. The water, though a bit cooler than farther south, is very clear and provides some nice snorkeling. And of course, since we are captive until the winds die again and we can make our way further north, make the best
of what you've got. Out came the wind surf board and kite surf gear! Vincent, Bart and Bruce have had a great time skimming the waters around the boats on their boards. Bart brought out little Soleil's wind surf board and each kid had a quick lesson. They popped up like daisies on the boards and took off. They are hooked. Looks like we will be purchasing more toys soon.
The kids, with the help of some local young military men posted out here, have also created some great sand castles. They had the opportunity, as budding archeologist, to dig up a partially exposed camel skeleton and try to recreate him. Our young military friends, though they speak nearly no English, got quite a lesson in anatomy as well.

So that's it. Our weather info claims that it will blow even worse tomorrow but then we may see a break come Saturday where we will try to make a push up to Port Galib. We have seen some beautiful lightning storms which make propagation not so hot for sending emails but slowly we get through. There are certainly worse places to be stuck.

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