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November 2017: Shamal is on the hard in Guatemala.Mum and Dad are home in New Zealand till Jan. 2018. *ATTENTION PLEASE* if you are still interested in receiving the posts, could you please subscribe to the Blog following the two step process in the right hand column, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox. As of next year the reminder emails that are being sent out will cease. Thanks to all of you for following our Adventures.

18 May 2011

Port Ghalib to Hurghada to Port Suez

Port Ghalib –Tues. 26th April


Hello Again

Well we have now been here for nine days. The plan was to leave today, but once again the northerly winds are still blowing strongly enough to churn up short sharp seas making the first part of the run to our next port, Hurghada some 110nm north of here, rather uncomfortable. The plan now is to leave in the morning. My ribs are still quite tender and we are in no great rush as we have heard that temperatures in the Mediterranean are still quite cool. Looking at the ANZAC Dawn Service at ANZCA Cove in Turkey yesterday morning on the net, we saw that everyone was dressed in hats, blankets and warm clothing. NO I do not want to swap shorts and T-shirts or swimsuits for winter clothing!!


The first couple of days here was spent cleaning and washing, then we were invited to join a group from the Vasco da Gama Rally who were doing a two day trip to Luxox taking a mini bus. The Vasco da Gama Rally is a group of yachts with a lead boat which is like a guide. It departed from Cochin and ends in Turkey. People join for the company of sailing with others, plus the organisation of port clearances etc., and this last year particularly because of the pirate issue having the safety of sailing in a convoy. We were fortunate to have cross the Indian Ocean last year and avoided the issues one now faces crossing that particular Ocean. Yes there was still that run down the Gulf of Aden to contend with but as we have explained we felt the Indian Ocean this year has had more problems.

Back to Egypt - so after that first couple days in Port Ghalib we all set off for Luxor. A four hour drive passing through a low stark shingled mountain range then across a gravel desert until you reach the Nile Valley. It is quite amazing as this river is literary the lifeblood of Egypt with 90% of the country’s population living and working within the vicinity of its banks. There is a distinct green line where the agriculture starts. Some modern equipment such as tractors are used, but on the whole it was if we had driven back in time to the civilisation of ancient Egypt. The donkey cart is still very much used. Refreshment stops for the locals are still clay water pots on stands in the shade of a tree where one can help yourself to a cool drink of water. No our stomachs were not put to the test with that!!! We saw grains that had just been harvested and were tied in bundles in the fields drying out. We noticed that every patch of land along the route we travelled in the Nile Valley, if it did not have a building on it a crop of some kind was planted. This was also true even when we were in Luxor itself.



Modern Luxor occupies part of the site of the ancient city of Thebes. It is quite amazing as you drive in to see a modern building beside the ruins of something that dates back to 2000 B.C. or more. Once in the city we were taken to the river and then crossed over in a small ferry and taken to lunch. Our bus then picked us up and we headed out the Valley of the Kings in the Western Desert. We were taken into three of the most beautifully decorated tombs and were quite blown away at how well the colours, hieroglyphs and other decorations have survived the passage of time. It was then on to visit Deir El-Bahari –the northern monastery – a temple two different kings and a female pharaoh constructed as their funerary temple. Then as in all tours it was on to see another famous ancient site after another. All most interesting and truly mindboggling at how they were built, discovered, excavated and are now visited by millions of tourists with a fascination for how such a sophisticated civilisation rose and fell. We did the Temple of Luxor, the Temple of Karnak and the museum, all worth visiting, but Alec was really getting a little ‘Templed’ out by the end of the two days. I could have gone on visiting more as the history here is just fascinating. The group were on a time schedule so we had to get back to Port Ghalib as they were due to leave a few days ago. But the good old winds here dictate when you leave so here we all sit and wait.

Port Suez - Thursday 5th May

Well here we are. We have finally reached the end of our Red Sea/Gulf of Suez run taking just over two wonderful months. After Port Ghalib it was on to Hurghada with its modern new marina, an uninhibited growth of ugly new hotels, dirty beaches all sitting in front of a scruffy town behind. Needless to say the once beautiful fringing reef and its ecosystem are fast being destroyed. Most of the tourists in this area come down from Russia. This was our last stop before Suez for fuel and supplies. It was an interesting stopover and supplies in the Metro supermarket were very good as were the fresh fruits and veges on the road side stalls.

Our run to Suez has taken five days, but we have been taking our time stopping off along the way. We did get held up in a place called El Tor on the Sinai side of the Gulf for a couple of nights, again due to strong head winds. We did this run again with the Vasco da Gama yachts. On arrival in the harbour in El Tor we all dropped anchor and out came the local military to check us out. Security here along the Sina is paramount and we knew we would not be able to go ashore. Alec ended up with one other guy, going with the military boys in their boat doing the rounds of the yachts collecting all our passports and crew lists, and not wanting them to disappear they accompanied them ashore where they spent an interesting couple of hours eating fish, drinking tea, chatting, and Alec joking with the military, hence we all got our passports back and were aloud ashore to a filthy beach with a small bar and hotel which we were anchored in front of. Funny no one took up the offer but a few of us did swim in the relatively clean waters as it was so hot. We also just visited each other on our boats for sun downers. Another interesting event.

The infectious euphoria of arriving in Suez, which is common after just completing the run up the Red Sea, which is one of, if not the hardest passages on the circumnavigation for a yacht to transvers, was partly squelched by the complete inefficacy of the marina staff who are meant to help you in and to berth. The mooring procedure is Med style where you have two lines attached either stern or bow depending on which way you want to face, to two separate buoys which are a short distance out from the pontoon. The other two lines are then attached to the pontoon. The marina is a couple of miles just inside the Suez Canal and with the wash from the ships traversing it – the smaller ships seem to create more of a wash than the larger ones - a good strong cross wind, and with 12 yachts all arriving at the same time, this was just a bit much for the Egyptian marina staff to handle. Particularly as one of the tenders to take your lines was a row boat!! After much yelling and instructions flying from all over the place, hands waving in all directions we all somehow manages to get all our lines secure and settle down. Next the local boys scamper up and down the pontoon telling you what you will needed, of course asking for a ‘gift’- baksheesh – for any services rendered!! Talk about ‘sweet talk’ – they really have this perfected!!


Sunday 8th May



Yesterday our group did a day trip to Cairo – just under two hours away. That was interesting with a very strong military presents everywhere. One Egyptian told Alec that because they have no proper Government at the moment the Military is out in force including tanks, armed personal carries and trucks. There are check points everywhere across the country. Of course the Police and Tourist Police are still on duty everywhere as well.



We visited the pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, then went on to the Cairo Museum, all really interesting. Today Giza is the western extension of the city Cairo, and that really threatens to rob the area where the pyramids and the Great Sphinx are, of the peaceful solitude in the Western desert they once presided over. The Museum was something else. Crammed into a building which is now bulging with the most amazing collection of antiquities in the world, one is truly overwhelmed at what you are looking at. Of course the Tutankhamun Galleries really blew us away. Just beautiful beautiful exhibits. That guy Howard Carter who discovered his tomb back in 1922 must also have been blown away when he first set eyes on the magnificent treasures.

There is only one word to describe Cairo – SHAMBLES –Nearly twenty million people live on top of each other and their rubbish. High rise apartments are crammed in beside each other. Does not look like any sort of building code is in place. How you tell someone where you live or how to get to your apartment is quite beyond me for there are hundreds of blocks that all look identical!! On the trip back to Port Suez we stopped off at the supermarket ‘Carrefour’. Quite a highlight for those who are not so keen on the local cuisine – something Alec and I find quite strange as that is all part and parcel of travelling to all these wonderful different places. But we did go in and stock up on a few products as we have been told once we hit the Med we will find everything much more expensive.

All going well it looks like we will start our transit of the Suez Canal tomorrow. It is a two day trip for yachts as our average speeds are around 5kts. We are to spend a night in the middle at Ismailia. Looking forward to this trip.

OK will sign out for this one
Love to you all

From


The Admiral and the Commander



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