Riding waves between three to four metres high, passing under the boat from right to left, watching them roll on down hill as the next wave erupts before you, with the wind blowing loud enough that we have to shout to each other, whilst watching an approaching cargo ship appear on Esper’s beam, is one of the most exhilarating experiences either of us have ever experienced.
After a great sail we found ourselves in a little natural harbour and, as a reward for conning us in to the tricky entrance, we invited ourselves on board Roam II to finish off the tuna. I diced it and Terry and Liz knocked up a real treat using a secret, magic ingredient of ginger and…well, I can’t tell you otherwise it wouldn’t be a secret, magic ingredient. Believe me though, it was the best tuna dinner and satisfied six very hungry tums. Millie still had a head and a tail to work her way through too.
This is a quickie, just a new photograph we received of Esper under sail with cruising chute, running downwind along the Sinai, Red Sea. Just look at those deep, rich red mountains! A stunning photograph, even if I say so myself!
Well, bloody well! Our best sail yet. In the world. Ever.
A cursory glance at the log book gives it away:
On this trip we learned a very important lesson: that the best bit of equipment on the boat is ones eyes. Twice we were passed by local fishing vessels that did not appear on the AIS system, something that we had almost started taking for granted. Whilst they passed we were also navigating our way past coral on our starboard side (we were sailing in just 10m of water) and oil platforms on our port. The scary thing is that this was just a taster of what is to come. I’ve just planned our passage for tomorrow and it takes us into an oilfield. This oilfield…
Once off the boat one then had to contend with the comedy pontoon, something taken straight out of the Fun House! Remember the moving staircase right by the Hall of Mirrors? That was our pontoon! As one walked down the pontoon so it tipped and dipped from side to side, and then there were the warps (lines) tied to the large motor boats that one had to climb over, further complicating the trip ashore.
A little of the hocus pocus rubbed off and we struck it lucky by being taken up by a local, who showed us the best place to view the whole monastery and then wangled us an entry. It was too late to see inside the church and the museum (most annoying) so Jamie and I bought lots of postcards of all the beautiful objects we missed and had a cup of tea. We did manage a walk round the impressive grounds and buildings, which was an experience.
The is the second podcast recorded whilst transiting the Suez Canal aboard Esper. In this episode we leave Ismalia with a new, quieter pilot and make our way towards Port Suez. We encounter some fishermen in the Bitter Lakes, which enrages our normally subdued pilot, and Ian of ‘Rhumb Do’ suggests lamb chops for dinner. It’s not what it seems…
This is the first of two podcasts recorded as we transited the Suez Canal from north to south. We set off from Port Said around midday, took in the afternoon sun and watched as a huge convoy passed, and spent a bit of time chatting to our pilot. Learn a bit about Egyptian families, the types of ships that pass and what goes on on the canal.
Only this morning I was hopping about on the empty promenade of Ismalia marina, having been left behind by the rally. We’d been woken up at 5am only to be told that our pilot wouldn’t be turning up till ten. After our last experience of that ungrateful arse of a pilot Liz and I had said that whoever came on-board as our pilot for the second day would not get any more than $10 baksheesh. A kick in the bollocks would also be offered if any objection was raised over the sum of our present.
In my email round-up yesterday I joked about our pilot not turning up. Well guess what? It is now 07:30, two and a half hours after we were supposed to have departed, and he’s still not here. Oh, everyone else has gone, it’s just ‘Rhumb Do’ and ‘Esper’ left on the bloody dock because they couldn’t get enough pilots. Our departure date has been set to 10:00 instead. Hmmmm…
So, you’ve just paid a small fortune to enter the the Royal Mummy room at the Egyptian Museum, where you are asked to be quiet and not take photos. Your camera has been left outside the museum in a secure place because you are not allowed to bring it in. What do you do? You take out your phone and flash away at these ancient mummified people, who are kept at carefully regulated moisture, temperature and lighting levels to stop them decomposing. You are an idiot.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: the Pyramids do not disappoint. Far from it. Even through jaded eyes and lifelong over-worked symbolism they are magnificent, other-worldly, splendidly breath-taking. Jamie photographed them from every angle, while I tried to imagine what the area would have looked like during its prime, with the white limestone glistening interiors of the Pyramids intact.
The rest of my commentary of this fine town will be done by picture. I have to say I was bowled over by the local people’s willingness to be photographed! Only three people declined their portrait being taken and a couple of people tapped me on the shoulder and told me off (one for photographing his cycle shop!), but the rest of Ismalia were queuing up! Young lads jumped in front of each other, young parents grabbed their children and market traders picked up fruit and offered it to the camera.
He ripped open the parcel, threw aside the t-shirt, scattered the other goods across the deck and tore open the envelope containing the money. The next half an hour was spent listening to this whinging, ungrateful shit complain about his present.
A very angry Arabic marina manager started shouting in a way that only an angry Arabic-speaking official person can do. The pilot boat had to catch us up in order to drop off our pilot, Moussa, which is Egyptian for Moses. Biblical this man was not…
Liz and I then wandered around town taking snaps and racing the ATM machines to get money. Having failed to withdraw cash from these machines in the last couple of days we were told that we had not been using the machines correctly. The trick is to be as quick as possible in pressing the buttons. Procrastinate for a split second and the machine will display a random message like “main server offline”, “unable to process your request” or “no spare cash left in Egypt”. Weird.
The internet cafe was nothing special but the guy in charge was. He was as camp as a lace doily and so it was with complete disbelief that I found myself in a conversation about finding him an English girl to marry! I am serious, this guy genuinely believed that I could call up an English girl who would be willing to fly over and marry him!
Today is arrival day. Our predicted landfall is 1600 and I’m writing this as we motor across flat calm water towards Port Said, so we’ll see if my ETA is correct. Although we can’t see land the depth is only 20 metres, and we’ve passed a couple of oil rigs and been overtaken by a huge cargo ship. With the hazy sun the entire experience reminds me of the east coast of the UK. On a good day. Instead of familiar Turkish banter the VHF is now choca with angry-sounding Arabic fishermen.
This is the second 20 minute instalment of our 400nm crossing from Turkey to Egypt. In this episode Liz catches our first official trolled fish, Jamie proves he can’t navigate by the stars, we ride 3m waves and eventually land in Port Said.
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