Red Sea - day 2

St Barbara's Web Diary
Peter & Sue Goldsmith
Fri 21 Mar 2008 09:38
14:30N 41:29E

12.00 21st March

We enjoyed the sail until dusk last night when the wind faded away and we
have been motoring since then. The night passed without event or sight of
another vessel. The cabin boy stood his first watch and may be ready for
promotion earlier than anticipated. We shall see.

We have covered 260 miles since leaving Aden and expect to be in Massawa
tomorrow morning.


We've now been at sea for about 48 hours so time for a recap and a few
thoughts about this adventure. Aden was a fascinating place, clearly not a
tourist high spot but good to see. The Yemen is very traditionally Islamic
and Arab. Most women are in black burkas with only a few in the hijab. I
didn't see a single Yemeni woman in western clothes. Most men wore sarongs
and only those in uniform seemed to have trousers. Everyone I had contact
with was friendly and many wanted to talk, although my Arabic (non-existent)
limited this. During our wanderings I saw a man with an enormously swollen
cheek looking like a growth almost the size of a tennis ball, only when he
spoke was it apparent, from the bright green teeth, that this was a wad of
ghatt - a green narcotic leaf that looks like bay but isn't sucked for the
flavour alone. Once you've spotted it, its obvious many men suck this.

Each time we walked out of the port we were checked by a police officer and
details recorded in a log. After dinner on Tuesday when we returned to the
port, as usual a police officer was present. For those of you I haven't met,
my interest in this is that I am with Essex Police and work in Professional
Standards, so this guy was particularly intriguing as he sat there,
semi-automatic pistol tucked loose inside his waistband, and a cheek full of
ghatt and a spaced out look. Checking us in passed him in a blur!

I figured I wanted try every aspect of sailing - including the extremes -
well extremes of the yacht that is! Before we left Sam winched me to the top
of the mast to check for wear. A great view and just a little scary when
what seemed like a gentle rocking on the deck becomes quite a wide swaying
at 60 feet above the water. Once at sea I went over the stern to do a little
rudder maintenance, which again was fun. Next will be checking the keel
(only joking Mum).

Last night saw my first watch alone. Sam woke me at 23:00hrs and after a
quick final briefing it was nothing but me and two sleeping souls. The moon
was up but the sky hazy, I stood at the helm like a demented meerkat
imagining lights in every direction at first. Soon I settled down to a quiet
four hours without sighting a single thing. One thing I can say with
confidence and pride - no-where in the entire Red Sea was there a more
diligent watch-keeper than on St Barbara last night!