Trip Reports

Forward Progress (12-May-2002-21-00):
9:00 PM local time, Sunday, May 12 (1800 May 12 UTC [We've gone to daylight savings in Egypt]) 29 25 N 032 42 E. Temp. 84, Humidity 35%, Cloud Cover 0%. At anchor at Ras Sudr, about twenty miles south of Suez.

Warm greetings from the crew of Maverick.

We got our predicted low, left at dawn on Friday, and had an easy sail through the reefs and out to the Gulf of Suez. We used the engine, which seems to be running fine, in light air for half a day since we needed to make as many miles as possible before the weather turned on us. By midnight, however, the low had passed, the barometer had been rising steeply, and as a high had followed the low through, we found ourselves in a squash zone. Winds built to the thirties, on the nose, and by dawn Saturday we were trying to make it to Marsa Thelemet, an anchorage in a horseshoe bay surrounded by coral. As we approached the entrance, we compared our computerized chart with the waypoints given in the Red Sea Pilot and also the aids to navigation on shore, and found that no two agreed. Our paper chart was up to date, but was a small-scale chart of little use in entering the pass, and because of the rough conditions we couldn't see the reef itself. All the boats that have been lost in the Red Sea of late, and also our experience back in Borneo, weighed heavily on our minds as we contemplated the discrepancies in the information at hand. After some fidgeting and circling, we determined to follow the range marks on the land, though they were very hard to see, and we found our way safely into the anchorage. The computer would have put us on the reef. Later in the day the wind rose to forty and they closed the Suez Canal for a period, so we had made the right choice in seeking shelter. Just a mile away, under the jagged peaks of raw limestone, we could see the highway from Suez to Hurghada, along which our bus had brought us from Cairo a few weeks back. Aboard that bus, people were sitting in air-conditioned comfort watching bad movies (we saw an Arabic remake of "Some Like It Hot"), completely oblivious to the chaos and violence just beyond the beach.

We sat around all day Saturday at anchor. As it turned out I slept most of the day and night since it had been too rough to sleep while we were underway, so I wasn't too jealous of the fact that Adverse Conditions, a boat that followed us in, had a VCD player and tons of VCDs from southeast Asia, the land of bootlegs. Hollywood movies are, like, 75 cents, and Tom Cruise gets, like, nothing.

I observed that the gulls in the vicinity were completely unfazed by the wind velocity, carrying on as usual, and it bothered me, or impressed me, just as much as it did sailors of old. But what amazed me was the flies that found their way to the boat. If they came with a purpose they would have to have flown upwind in order to have picked up the scent and certainly, on Maverick, there are things to smell. In that case they must have flown about two miles against forty knots of wind. Is that possible?

On Sunday morning we headed out and had a pleasant sail up to our present location, talking along the way with Alan, the skipper of Karma. He had lost forward gear in his transmission and as the wind had died he was contemplating driving to Suez backwards. A veteran of the British infantry, he just considered it all a good challenge, and when we last spoke the wind had come back up and he was trying to make Suez tonight. As I write this there's no wind, though, and Alan is out there somewhere, amongst the big ships. They may find it confusing when he backs up to dodge them.

Had we continued we would have reached Suez tonight as well, and although this is possible it didn't seem like a good idea, so we'll leave at dawn tomorrow, with Adverse Conditions and Balloo, a third boat here at Ras Sudr. In Suez we will meet an agent who will try to swindle us, and through him we'll make arrangements and pay fees for checking out of Egypt, and the transit of the Suez Canal.

PS to Paul: The high-strung Nashville tuning is achieved by leaving the top two strings as they are but replacing the bottom four, E, A, D, and G, with lighter gauge strings and tuning them one octave higher. I don't remember the gauges but a good guess is .018, .014, .011, and .009. GV would most likely know.

PS to Chris and Kelley: Congratulations on the Islander 36. You'll be very happy you have a boat that sails well, and I'm afraid that may put you in the minority of cruisers.

PS to Hank: Because of the delays with the engine, we may not be able to make it to Antalya, or however it's spelled. What do you think, is it worth missing a few Greek Islands for? And, dude, have you been everywhere, or what.

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