Shab El Erg to Endeavour Harbour, Tawila Island
A few more hours of motoring and we reached Endeavour Harbour our night stop off Tawila Island. Syd had spent a lot of time picking protected anchorages for our night stops as we still were not confident about the weather forecasts being true and this area is renowned for the wind suddenly whipping up from nowhere and blasting 40+ knots from the North or Northwest.
The Red Sea Pilot guide has not been updated since it was written 20 years ago so whilst it is a thoroughly comprehensive book it has not kept up to date with changes that have happened over such a long period of time. In our case Tawila Island had become a building site for what looked like yet another huge sprawling tourist resort. But it looked as we entered into the bay as though work was possibly on hold as it was slumbering quietly in the afternoon sun. All good so we dropped anchor and swam in the clean, clear sea.
That evening the Island was lit up and we could see vehicles and people starting to move around as darkness came. During Ramadan Muslems go ‘nocturnal’ sleeping during the heat of the day and coming to life at night. Not good when you have been up since 5.00am and want to sleep! A tug workboat’s engine started and seemed to be approaching straight at us, Syd put up our 2 flashing lights bow and stern and we put on all Gaviota’s navigation lights. The tug steamed past and a guy shouted in English that we were in the middle of the highway – how were we supposed to know! He went towards the jetty and attached an enormous barge of building materials and started back towards us.
Syd was getting very twitchy at this point as not long ago we had met a French couple who had been rammed and nearly killed in the middle of the night by one of these barges off the coast of Malaysia. Should we move or should we stay and hope that as this tug had spoken to us they at least knew we were there and we were well lit up. It was going to be equally dangerous taking Gaviota out of this secure harbour and risking hitting an uncharted reef in the dark.
Syd decided to keep watch in the cockpit and be ready to move if necessary.
Thankfully it took most of the night for the barge to be emptied of its materials so we were safe where we were but it was a great relief at first light to up the anchor and escape!