|My good friend Henry Holt on S/Y Chyka made the Red Sea in 2006, that is a year after me, and he has been so kind to add the following fresh information to our Red Sea Cruising Guide.|
Only if one has serious mechanical problems especially requiring a haulout crossing from Thailand should one go to Male. But there is a large boatyard called Gulfcraft nearby with a huge travellift and mechanics available. The yard is hot and dirty on a small island one half hour ferry ride from Male, which itself is crowded and busy, complicated and boring, and except for the off island resorts there is no alcohol at all.
(Jack, A major compensation for the negatives about the boat yard is Shuwaida, the Assistant Manager. She is a 30 year old divorcee, a Westernized trim graceful, intelligent beauty with eyes and a smile to melt an iceberg. Any man who would not soon fall in love with her would have to be sick.)
But normally it is a good idea to stop at the most northern island of the Maldives, Uligam for a short pleasant rest.
This must have been at one time a good place to stop. But now the yacht club has been taken over by the military. Clearing in and out is complicated, not much for boating supplies or repairs, but there are excellent restaurants and groceries. Shops close at an inconvenient 1230 hrs to 1630 hrs. This obviously once lovely French city is falling apart. Beggars are everywhere. Go to Aden instead.
An excellent anchorage, but a long dinghy ride and then a long walk way around the port security walls to get into town. Again, at one time a beautiful Italian port, it was destroyed during the 15 year Eritrea/Ethiopia war and not much has happened since. Looks like Berlin 1945. Fuel, water, and good exhange rates are arranged by Mike, the cruisers' helper. One can safely eat out in the nearby hotels, but not in town. Basic provisions including beer, wine and liquor.
A must do is the trip to Asmara, the Italian clean, charming capitol of Eritrea at an elevation of 2,300 meters, untouched by the war. You get there either by train once a week, or several times a day, any day, a 4 1/2 hour bus trip up through the mountain deserts. Spectacular views both ways.
A quiet lovely anchorage, but be careful entering. The Red Sea Pilot says to not worry when the water turns light blue. So I didn't, and therefore ran agrount on a coral head. My fault not theirs.
South of the island it's a solid anchor spot in sand at 12 meters.
A huge prettty quiet Bahamas like bay. A friendly Sudanese Navy patrol boat (old open long boat with outboard and a rusty Boer War vintage machine gun) to ask questions. Good swimmiing and a walk on the beach. The next day we, Trompeta and Chyka, were ordered to board a just arrived warship with our papers. But then the officers were cordial, gave us tea and orange sections, and an interesing conversation for an hour or so.
A good overnite anchorage. But be careful entering. This time it was Trometa that ran aground.
MARSA SHEICH IBRAHIM
Coming north out of the Shubuk Channel we ran into North - 25 and a serious chop. Without GPS we could never have found the gap through the reef into this open reef anchorage. But we found good holding and protection there from the waves. The shore here is desolate with cheerless dark coral.
For centuries a rich island port city trading between caravans from the west to India, Malacca, and Indonesia. The old deserted decayiing city is a haunting, beautiful historical monument. Read its history in a large notebook the gatekeeper will let you borrow, then stroll through it. You will be probably the only ones there.
Cruisers anchor safely in the harbor just south of the island. The town on the shore is primitive with stall shops offering fresh produce and canned goods.
The agent, Mohammed, is honest, intelligent, and he arranges clearances,fuel, and water. Very friendly people. Be careful entering and leaving. Trompeta ran aground again just next to the old island and in front of what was a grand hotel.
A pretty coral lagoon. The S-shaped Channel entrance through reefs requires good light.
A small busy commercial harbor with a wide easy entrance. Good for a rest stop. No clearance required if you do not go ashore. But one must ask Port Control for permission on VHF when entering.
A pretty anchorage with desert shore to the west, otherwise barrier reefs, so no protection from the wind, and it blows. But the holding is good. Beautiful view of the sharp peaked mountains past the desert. A narrow channel separates the outer anchorage from the inner, which is better and worth the effort orf extra vigilance getting there.
The entrance requires care. Anchor deep 15 meters and enough upwind of the fringe reef to allow enough scope falling back before getting too close.
A beautiful safe anchorage surrounded by low cliffs. The entrance is easy in good light. The young peaked mountains are huge to the west. Mangroves give some rare green to the view. Good swimming. Fair snorcheling.
Just north of the Sudan/Egypt border. The Red Sea PIlot says one can anchor and get fuel. But now it is a Navy outpost and off-limits. I told them that there was too much wind for me and I was tired. They called Cairo to get permission for me to stay at their pier and then were friendly and hellpful.
Another pretty place, this one surrounded by low hills. And again here, one must guage depth and scope, because after dropping the anchor in 12 meters there is limited distance to drop back before the reef is astern. Friendly local fishermen. Invite them aboard for some hot tea and they will bring you later fresh fish.
A developing marina. Easy clearing into Egypt and fueliing. Then tie up alongside the Coral Beach Diving Hotel with internet and an excellent restaurant and bar. Take the marina van to the airport for tax free beer and a fairly good market onthe way back for food supplies.
ABU TIG MARINA
(It has the wonderful advantages you know already, Jack, But) When the wind blows the sand covers and enters all boats. So the ports and hatches must be closed and then the heat builds. Even with fans going it gets hot. This problem will mostly cease when the construction of the new marina addition to the north is complete.
With little wind the flies are bad.
I waıted for weather two extra weeks ın Abu Tıg usıng Wındguru and Weatheronlıne.
ABU TIG TO TURKEY
It was 18 mıles to South Queısam Island. A solıd sand bottom well protected from waves, not from the wınd, but stıll a great place to sleep well and leave early to cross the Gubal Straıt.
30 mıles agaınst N-20-25 takıng on spray but no green water. But so slow progress that I could not safely make ıt to El Tor, elected ınstead to play ıt safe and anchor fıve mıles south of ıt ın Sheık Rıyah Harbor. A good anchorage wıth protectıon from wınd North to Northwest of course, and waves.
38 mıles to anchor ın the lee of the reef Shab el Hasa. It had been strong wınd on the nose, motortackıng the bumpy road and so slow that I just barely made ıt there before dark.
90 mıles to Suez overnıght wıth dımınıshııng wınds down to zero and glıded along ınto port. Chyka was the only saılboat, beıng so late ın the year, and the advantage to thıs ıs that they let me tıe up at the dock. I took on fuel there even knowıng ıt was more expensıve than ın Issmalıa, but I dıdnit want to take any chance that fuel would not be avaılable there.
Also, I dıd clear out of Egypt there ın Suez and had no trouble goıng ınto town later ın Ismalıa. Felıx assured me ıt would be OK and he ın general was very effıcıent.
Due to the Brıtısh Navy comıng through I had to stay ın Ismalıa an extra nıght. Shoppııng at Metro was great. Twıce enjoyed the Nefertıtı restaurant. But the ıncessant blarıng of prayers and musıc from loudspeakers from all dırectıons at the same tıme was unpleasant. Glad to leaveç
I could see why most cruısers just glıde rıght through Port Saıd. So dıd I ın early afternoon. I was surprısed to fınd so many trawlers to dodge ın the nıght and then oıl and gas rıgs all north of Port Saıd . Fınally gave up and hove to to sleep. It was then 370 mıles on close hauled port tack wıth a lucky WEST wınd of 15 to 20, just fetchıng Fınıke in Turkey.