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17 March 2011

Massawa Eritrea to Suakin Sudan

Hello again.


Last night – Thursday 17th March - we motored into Suakin, the last slave-trading post in the world, and our check in Port for the Sudan. It lies just south of Port Sudan. The old town looks more like a movie set from a WW2 movie which has had the heart bombed out of it. In fact what has really happened is since Port Sudan was established as the main trading Port, much of Suakin has been abandoned and the buildings which were made of coral are now crumbling and deserted. They are now considered a tourist attraction and one is asked to pay to see them. We are anchored just off them so I have been able to take photos from the boat.

It has taken us ten days as we have been stopping off along the way. We found six other yachts here and another two others arrived on dusk. It has been great to catch up with those we have not seen since Salalah and Al Mukalla. We heard that ‘Selinaris’ had left in the morning so we only just missed them.

Since leaving Massawa we have hit the Northerly and NW winds which turn the run up the Red Sea into a slog!! But we were well aware of this as it is mentioned in all the cruising books and we just can’t hurry so are enjoying the ride. Our first night out from Massawa took us to Harat Island in the north Dahlak Bank group of Islands. We spent two nights here and were able to give the hulls a good clean. We also went ashore for a bit of an explore. Then it was on up to Difnein Island for one night. The water here was beautiful and we could see the bottom so clearly in 12mts we were sitting in. We both went swimming the next morning before setting out again. One is warned not to go ashore here as there are still unexploded land mines, but we were happy to just swim. That was our last night in Eritrean waters. That was also the time the winds turned against us. We motored sailed for the next thirty six and a half hours in short sharp seas having to tack our way up the Red Sea till we reached the shelter of Khor Nawarat just inside the Sudanese boarder. We sat inside the huge lagoon sheltering behind a sand Island for 4 days waiting for the winds to drop enough to continue on. A Canadian catamaran was also holding out there so we had the company of others which was nice. Then it was on to Long Island for the next night. This was a very pretty spot with flamingos in the lagoons along with other waders. The bird life was quite prolific. That evening just on sunset we had the most incredible thunder storm. The lightening made the sky as bright as day and the thunder crashed around for a three or more hours. The big plus for us was that we had really heavy rain for three hours so SHAMAL had her first wash since we left Muscat, and I can tell you that the build-up of salt and dust was quite incredible. Our rigging and ropes are all nice and clean again.

From Long Island we work our way through the reefs and marked channels on the inshore route to Suakin. Here the seas were not so big until the last 15nm when we were once again exposed to the northerly winds as there is no reef to break the seas just outside Suakin.

So here we will stay for a few days to explore the area and we will do the bus trip to Port Sudan as I understand that is where I will be able to send off these last three emails from.

Lots of love from

The Admiral and The Commander



PS

We have just heard from a group of yachts that have come through from Salalah after us that a Memorial Service was arranged and held in Salalah for the American crew who were taken by the pirates and subsequently killed. Some had met them as they had been on the ‘Blue Water Round the World’ rally with them. That was so sad. The Omani American Ambassador came down from Muscat for the service. There was also some representative from the coalition forces who attended and gave a speech after, advising yachts not to sail the Gulf of Aden and that a ship could be arranged – at around US$30,000 per vessel!!!! -to take their boats through to Turkey. Well he put the fear of God into some of them and they arranged to do that, but, in the last couple of days apparently the shipping company has gone under!! Oh help what to do. I am so glad we came through when we did. Also we feel if you made it to Salalah you were past the worst of it. The pirates seem to have moved out into the Indian Ocean more. There has become a real fear among some yachties especially as a Danish family and crew have also been taken by the pirates. We spoke to the captain of a yacht who was only 70nm away from the Danish yacht when it was taken and he was then escorted into Salalah by a coalition warship.

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