We now enter Pirate Alley. What does it hold in store for us?
Here starts the convoy. This is a formation devised by Lo Brust, the rally organiser, to safeguard the boats as we began our journey through ‘Pirate Alley’ Although still in ‘safe’ waters Lo wanted us to get used to the formation as it was difficult to sustain, as we were to find out. This is where the arguments start…
The moment we stepped ashore on Sadla Island our senses were on fire. Like something out of a Jules Verne novel this volcanic island was teeming with wildlife. These pictures are some of my favourite nature shots, especially the sunset ones. Make the most of these pics because from here on it the rally starts getting tough. The smiles will be replaced by grimaces as the fleet prepares itself for 700 miles of hell!
The fact we were kicked off Mersa Dudo was a blessing in disguise for Sadla Island is an absolute gem. In fact those who had managed to get ashore on the first night waxed lyrical about its wonders on the evening net. Tony of ‘Full Flight’ and I arranged to go ashore early next morning as he had discovered nesting turtles on the eastern shore.
Rested and eager to move on, Liz and I fell into the trap of believing that the next bit of the journey would be fairly straightforward, despite the headwinds. How wrong could we have been? I’ll give you a clue: very.
In my last post on Massawa I made the bold statement that Eritrea was my fave country I have ever visited. This was due to a number of factors, not least the people. It’s anchorages like Freedom Bay, however, that make Eritrea a top spot for nature lovers and yotties. Freedom Bay was a large expanse of shallow water surrounded by incredible volcanic mountains. I suspect very few humans have ever gone ashore here. Even we only made it to one of the little islands and a spit of sand where I got some great shots of pelicans and ospreys. Another top anchorage and, finally, all the rally participants meet up together for the first time since Egypt!
Time to say goodbye to the people of Eritrea. Unbeknown to us as we continued down the coast of this beautiful country we would no longer meet Eritrean people, save for a few fishermen. Some of us did meet a few more locals, who were in need of some medication.
Massawa has some stunning architecture left over from the Italians who ruled for many years. Thirty years ago it was the first town to be liberated from Ethiopia and so many of these beautiful buildings were shot to pieces. Eritrea is, according to the UN, the second poorest country in the world. The buildings may be fine examples of architecture from long ago but the local people do not have the money to renovate their homes. Once these buildings fall down, that’s it, they’ll be gone forever.
We return to Massawa and Liz, bless her, went down with the nasty fever that was spreading amongst the yotties. It was a shame because she missed ‘Fenkil’, which was the 20th anniversary of Eritrea’s independence. We had originally been told that all foreign yachts were to have left Massawa before the president came to do his speech but we later learned that actually the town would like us to stay and celebrate with them. What an honour.
We finally leave Egypt, at least officially. Having done the paper work to exit Egypt we made our way southwards, only to run into some nasty southerlies. With a lack of protective anchorages from southerlies we opt for Luli, which is a good 13 hours away. Unfortunately this meant we made the anchorage at the end of the day. It caught us out and three boats hit coral, one with some serious consequences.
Part Two of the Asmara pictures, these ones of the city itself. Hopefully you saw Part One this morning of the road trip. The pics of the city itself are better than the ones of the bus journey to Asmara because we passed through the cloud cover and were back in the sun, giving me better light to take some snaps. Enjoy!
A trip to Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, is essential. Do it if you have the chance because it is a wonderful city perched in the mountains above the clouds. For us, coming from Massawa, we took a four hour bus journey up through the mountains, stopping off half way for sweet tea. The journey was more impressive than the capital itself, as these photographs will testify. Yes, more snaps for your viewing pleasure folks, the first page of which starts with the journey from Massawa to Asmara. The Asmara pics will follow shortly…
You’ve met the Kids of Massawa, which was our last blog entry, now see the rest of it. In this series of images I’ve attempted to capture the diversity of this wonderful town. Some great shots here…
Welcome to the second poorest country in the world: Eritrea. Could have fooled me though. It is as rich in culture, nature and people as any country I have visited and I’d go as far to say that it is quite possibly the most beautiful country I have ever visited. My first afternoon was spent meeting the local children who had no problems striking a pose for the camera! Check out these cheekie chappies…
Wandering the dusty market in Massawa, Eritrea, I turned a corner and bumped into this group of kids. Their parents all worked in the market and were more than happy to allow their kids to pose for me. Judging by these shots I don’t think I was the first to photograph them because they knew how to work the camera!
We spent three days in Luxor with Terry and Fiona of Roam II, taking in as many sights as possible before we left Hurghada. We’ll post up some pictures and related podcasts at a later date. To give you a little taster, however, we thought we’d post up this little podcast, recorded on our third day in Luxor aboard a traditional felucca. A felucca is a traditional sailing boat used on the Nile. We’re unsure exactly how old these modes of transport are but they are still used to get up and down Egypt’s great river. We get to chat to the skipper, a young Nubian, and also get Terry and Fiona’s take on life on the Nile.
This huge, shallow marsa looked a bit like the Dutch waterways. Another bird sanctuary-cum-BBQ spot. I could attempt to impress you with a description of this fantastic sailing destination but you’ll just get jealous, so instead I’ll impress you with a picture of a blue-tipped reef shark we caught. Tasted bloody lovely when shallow fried in batter!
This is the first of three sets from this country of contrasts. What is there to say about Eritrea that my photographs don’t already tell you? I can tell you that everyone I know who has visited Eritrea puts it up there as one of their favourite countries visited and I think it is perhaps my fave country of all time. It is the second poorest country in the world. Just remember that when you clock the amount of smiles captured here.