Port Ghalib to Ras Abu Soma Egypt

Sat 16 May 2020 13:56

26:51.086N 33:58.711E

We finally escaped from lockdown in the desert at Port Ghalib, Egypt on Tuesday, 12th May after 2 long months!

The Marina staff arrived about 10.00am to help in getting Gaviota free of the mooring ball. Of course the wind was blowing a hoolie just to add to the fun and Syd decided the safest manoeuvre to avoid writing off us and the boats either side of us was to get Gaviota side on to the quay then exit backwards. This principle was quite hard to explain to the half dozen helpers who had appeared and as Syd’s Arabic is not yet fluent there was a lot of hand waving and shouting happening. The Water Taxi was also involved and the crowd on the jetty increased (social distancing of course being evident!). Like all good crowds in a situation like this they were hoping for a total cock up and a fair bit of boat damage but the manoeuvre went like clockwork and Gaviota was side on to the jetty, The next bit involved backing out into the strong Northerly wind and at the same time avoiding a Catamaran that had 3 long ropes attached to the seabed. This was a bit tricky as the space between those and the other side of the channel was narrow but Syd had it all under control and we slid out. First hurdle accomplished! Next stop was the fuel dock, easy as very little wind the other side of the Marina. 146 litres deisel into the tanks and then it was time to pay.

Next stop was the Customs Dock for Clearance, this we knew could take a while and as Syd had noticed the Engine Blower was not working when he had turned the engine on in the morning, he disappeared below in the hope of fixing that before we headed out into the wind and sea. Various officials came and went and Syd worked on down below, suddenly ‘eureka’ he had found the problem – when he had taken the non working generator out to be taken to Hurghada to hopefully get it repaired (which it hadnt been!) he had disconnected the earth wire from the Blower. Solution, he temporarily connected the earth wire to the Bilge Pump and like magic it worked. All this was just in time as our paperwork was returned and we were given permission to go – in fact the police were quite insistent we did go as they wanted to get home for the Ramadan feeding frenzy at sunset!

About 3.00pm lines were cast off and we were free, fenders and ropes stored and we headed out between the reefs into the open sea. There was a strong wind blowing slightly West of North so sails went up and we motor sailed out then managed to turn the engine off and sailed. Did a few tacks in and out for a couple of hours until the wind started to die then the engine went on and we motor sailed in the direction we were meant to - North. Wind died and we motored on, Syd had a sleep and I took first watch. About midnight the waves started picking up. By dawn the wind had really picked up and it was bang on the nose so in went 2 reefs in the mainsail, the sea was big now with horrible steep waves and constant waves crashing over the boat as she buried her nose into them. It was pretty uncomfortable and as we were only making progress at 2-3 knots it was going to take a long time to cover the remaining distance. ETA at Ras Abu Soma – our first stop – had been early morning but this was revised to late afternoon. We bashed on and eventually saw the marker posts indicating the reef outside Safaga.

We turned in behind the reef at about 1.00pm and got the mainsail down before threading through the reef network to take us safely into the protected anchorage at Ras Abu Soma. We dropped the anchor at about 2.30pm relieved to be out of the battering wind and salt water showers.

Ras Abu Soma or Soma Bay appears to be another purpose built holiday place with massive resorts (empty at the moment!). It is apparently a Kite Surfers paradise as the wind blows at varying strengths the whole time. The anchorage is well protected from most directions as there is reef surrounding much of it.

Thursday, 14thMay and clouds started building in the afternoon. There was no indication of anything untoward on the weather forecasts but by late afternoon the clouds were increasing and lightening was flashing. All the electronic stuff and computers went into the Oven – must remember that when I cook!!!!! Lightening and thunder increased as the evening went on and the wind was howling and coming from any and every direction. By 9.00pm we were under a massive nasty weather system with wind gusts of up to 40 knots. Gaviota was rolling and the sea had built up. Would the anchor hold us? Everything got put away in case we needed to make a hasty retreat in the night and Syd sat up in the cockpit until the early hours to ensure the anchor wasn’t going to let us down. The trusty Rocna anchor came up trumps again and held us through the night and eventually the wind started to drop. All very scary and made worse by the fact that this localized storm had not shown up on one single weather forecast!

The wind began to drop on Friday and by Saturday it was back to calm and beautiful again with a gentle breeze from the North and temperatures in the early thirties.  Weather forecast for the week is looking good (should we believe it!!!!!), well we are going to risk it as it is the only chance we will get to enjoy the islands and reefs off Hurghada.  So early start tomorrow to get a bit further North.

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