Red Sea - day 27 Egypt - towards Suez

St Barbara's Web Diary
Peter & Sue Goldsmith
Mon 14 Apr 2008 10:35

28:24N 33:19E

12.00 14th April

The shipping lanes were a pussycat. We called the Vessel Traffic System
(VTS) and they advised us about a container ship coming north at 22 knots
and we passed easily astern of her and continued up the coast, reaching our
anchorage just as it was getting dark. We had the company of a large and
brightly lit jack up oil rig for company close by. A peaceful night and we
were away again at 07.00 motoring north in calm seas with some 100 miles to
go to Suez where we expect to be tomorrow morning.


Pussy cat eh! I distinctly remember Peter saying that a south-bound ship,
that had been out of sight when we committed to cross the lanes, was 'too
close for comfort'. I think the reference to pussy cats is an oblique
acknowledgment of needing nine lives. A ship coming straight towards your
beam is quite an impressive sight and moves across the sea at an equally
impressive pace. The shipping lanes are about three miles wide - one mile
south bound, a one mile separation zone and one mile north bound - three
miles of good fun sailing much akin to a cat crossing a motorway. Forgive
me, I have overstated it. For the faint hearted at home it was just a time
to be slightly more vigilant than normal, put down the book and watch the
progress of opposing shipping, rather than popping your head up at the end
of each chapter. Hey, good news is we get to cross it again tomorrow very
close to the Suez canal itself. Should be more feline fun in store - from
now on I wear a collar with my phone number on it!

Last night was spent pleasantly at anchor, bobbing away in a natural
harbour, as Peter said, in the shadow and hum of an enormous oil drilling
platform. I did shout across and ask them to keep it down but you know these
oil-men, self, self, self. This morning, soon after we set sail I noticed on
the shore some strange round green things and through the binos saw, for the
first time I think since leaving Aden, natural vegetation. Up until now all
of the coastline has been entirely arid, rock or sandy desert, but no sign
of life. Here was what looked like grass and bushes. This you might think
would be a good thing but the crew here unanimously agreed that this was
something to be met with foreboding. Already the nights are chilly enough
for long trousers, the sight of things growing without the assistance of a
boiler suited gardener with an endless hose, must surely mean that things
are set to get colder. Soon we'll be waking in the morning to a chill breeze
or, heaven forbid, a sharp hoare frost tracing out the rigging. Oh for the