| 9:00 AM local time, Sunday, May 5 (0600 May 5 UTC) 27 24 N 033 40 E. Temp.
77, Humidity 41%, Cloud Cover 0%. Abu Tig Marina, El-Gouna Resort, near
Not us. Just wanted to pique your interest.
The mechanical problems we've been faced with have kept us pinned in Egypt,
and this has had a dampening effect on the skipper's morale of late, as he
sits in the marina crankily growing his beard. We still aren't confident of a
departure in the near term. The reader may have been lulled into complacency,
or, say, boredom, because Maverick seems to be routinely and inexorably
heading along its planned route. But there are no assurances we'll even make
it the tough 180 miles to the Suez Canal from here, much less the rest of the
planet we have to cover to get home. Although the majority of boats have made
it through the Canal by now with only modest difficulty, what follows gives
some examples of what has happened to other boats in the Red Sea in the last
couple of months, putting things in perspective.
The Kiwi boat Achates was struck by lightening in a hail and thunderstorm
early in March as they headed up the Red Sea. Their VHF and autopilot were
Oceans Free, a British-flagged 71-footer some of you will remember as having
lost half its rudder and keel as a result of a grounding across from
Singapore in Batam, Indonesia, is finally through the Suez Canal, but at a
price. The boat had to be hauled a second time in Malaysia after the stern
gland failed at sea causing a serious condition of flooding requiring the
tearing out of some furniture to get at the source of the influx. The boat
made it to the harbor after some scary hours, but Captain Peter and his wife,
Lynn, decided they'd had enough and hired a delivery crew to await repairs
and take the boat to the Med. Once through the Suez Canal, however, the boat
suffered another problem when the engine failed during a gale on the way to
Malta. When last heard, they were becalmed and without power.
The engine of Grace, flag unknown by your correspondent, has malfunctioned
and cannot be repaired. They have considered putting the boat in a container
at Safaga, Egypt and having it shipped to the Med for repairs, and another
possibility is sailing to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to install a new engine.
Saudi Arabia can only be visited in an emergency and this may be stretching
The vessel Northstar has found diesel entering the oil in the engine at the
rate of about a liter an hour, indicating broken rings perhaps, and is
attempting to sail to Safaga for major engine repairs.
Chamois, a French or French-Canadian boat, hit the reef attempting to enter
an anchorage after dark with two other boats that made it. She couldn't be
kedged off, and had to be abandoned by her owner and crew. At last report she
is still on the reef and salvage attempts have not been successful.
A steel French boat of indeterminate name has gone on the reef between here
and Suez, presumably as a result of its anchor dragging, and cannot be
The owner of the large catamaran Bohay was killed in an accident that
occurred when he was attempting to remove the rig from his boat in Phuket,
Thailand. He was detaching the rigging wires at the masthead when the
pivoting spar, which had not been adequately supported, fell to the ground.
He died a few hours later at the hospital. The boat was sold by his widow to
a German couple who made it to the Bab Al Mandeb at the bottom of the Red
Sea, where they suffered a dismasting in fifty knots and rough seas. Although
there were no serious injuries, they decided to issue a mayday, abandoned the
boat, and were rescued by German navy helicopter. The boat was taken in tow
by a Chinese freighter and a rendezvous was scheduled with a tug that would
take it into a Yemenese port. When the freighter arrived at the rendezvous
the tug was not there, and the owners of the shipping company instructed the
captain to cut the boat loose to maintain his schedule. About a week later
the boat was found, but all gear had been stripped.
No pirates or political activists, though.
Once again thanks to all who've sent their worries, best wishes, and
questions to email@example.com. They continue to speed us on our way, or,
when we're stuck like we are now, keep our morale up.
I find it curious, don't you, that at the pyramids, which have to be among
the top ten tourist attractions in the world, the entrance fee is collected
by someone in a tatty booth who makes change out of random bills loose in a
drawer. It's less that $5 to get in, when, after flying in from, e.g.,
Germany, nobody would bat an eye at $20, and let's at least use a cash
register if a computer seems too high-tech. Does the reader have any idea
what it costs to get into Disneyland? (I bet at least one does; you know who
you are.) The visitor is not given any brochure or map of the site and
nothing of the sort can be found near on the grounds. There is no visitor
center, there are no food vendors and in the heat one must rely on some
hobbledehoy selling soft drinks from a cooler to quench one's thirst. There's
not even a coke machine, which by itself would increase profits from
concessions tenfold. There is no actual souvenir shop on the grounds, rather
a raggedy bunch of hawkers selling a limited selection of items. The US gives
Egypt $2.3 billion a year outright plus whatever else they get in guaranteed
loans, etc. I don't see why with that amount of money they couldn't budget
enough for some first-year Harvard Business School student on a summer
internship, or hey, any dude off the street, to tell them how to make some
serious cash, American-style. If you're thinking that the Captain is intent
on corrupting this quaint land with the ideas of western capitalism, dream
on. The Egyptians have, since the rediscovery of the antiquities a couple of
centuries ago, pursued the tourist dollar with a passion. But this society,
which in ancient times perfected not only monumental stonework and sailing
but also the dovetail joint, a work of genius still used in the drawers of
fine furniture, could use an update or two with their marketing.
According to locals, there is no public education, as we would understand it,
in Egypt. No bookstores were found in Hurghada, a reasonably large city.
For those who are concerned that the situation in Israel may affect our
safety, I would like to reassure you on that score if not on the wider
picture. First, no one in Egypt wants to do anything to upset the tourist
industry, the major source of income here. Second, the average Egyptian,
whatever his politics, is a decent fellow. When we're asked where we're from,
we say "America" and 90% of the time we get a "welcome" and a smile. On the
other hand, it would be hard to find ten people in this country who
sympathize with Israel or with the US policies in the Mideast. However
strident you may feel President Mubarak is, he represents a very moderate
view compared to his constituency. I don't want to wade into this any
further, and as the Captain's shortcomings in the field of world affairs are
well known to our readers, I'll leave it at that, except to say, please, no
letters on this issue.
They might not like our politics, but we heard an Arabic language cover
version of "Shaft" on the radio, complete with the background singers' husky
voices. We have the capacity to receive local AM and FM broadcasts, and had
looked forward to hearing indigenous music on our way around. The vast
majority of stations of any strength in all lands so far, which includes most
of the undeveloped portions of the world we'll be visiting, play much the
same type music you'll hear in America or Europe. To hear local music there
would have to be the equivalent of public radio in the US, but this doesn't
seem to be in the budget of most countries.
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