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Date: 30 Apr 2008 10:30:21
Title: Suez Canal Day 5

30:50N 32:19E

12.00 30th April

So last night, after finishing the shopping, washing and drying all the
sheets and paying all our dues, we were ready for an early night and a
0600hrs start to our canal passage. And then the news came - we couldn't
sail because of a warship! The captain and crew gathered cross legged on the
deck and whilst Peter let out a low, doleful and continuous note - Oommm -
Sam and I lit joss sticks and began a relentless chorus of 'all we are
saying, is give peace a chance'. Soon candles and lighters were swaying on
all the other yachts and the crowd that gathered beat out a constitutional
agreement for the newly formed Stop the War Coalition (Ismailia Branch).
News of our protest quickly spread and we are told that deep into the night
top level meetings were held and plans revisited. By first light things were
afoot and soon after 0900hrs we were told the pilots would be here in 15
minutes and we were sailing today after all. Hey, the power of ordinary
people (or just my imagination)!

About 7 yachts hastily gathered together their crews and heartily cheered
when a group of Egyptians, looking sufficiently pilotish arrived. Whilst
reassured that we would be on our way there was some minor consternation
amongst them about who was to do what. The reason for this was that
yesterday a very attractive - 75 foot -catamaran called Wonderful had
arrived and it was clear that this was the boat they all wanted to pilot.
Once this was decided, with much moaning by the losers it seemed, the warm
welcome we offered our pilot was met with the question 'what speed?' and a
shake of the head in resignation at the reply. The cheery little soul we had
last time will be sorely missed, but a new adventure is about to unfold. As
I write we are motoring smoothly up the canal. There has been no shipping
yet but we expect some later on. Our arrival at the end of the canal will be
the next challenge, we have to drop the pilot and if the demands for more
baksheesh and presents from him isn't going to give us enough grief, we
understand that if a pilot boat picks him up everyone on board expects to be
given baksheesh - its a different world and becoming a little tiresome,
after all these people have already been paid for the service.

After the canal we leave Egypt, set out across the Med and hope to arrive in
Turkey, or if the wind is not so good, in Cyprus in about 4 days time. I
think we're all looking forward to some sailing and a new country.
Peter2


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