The Red Sea:12 - 26 August

david and margaret ritchie
Thu 24 Aug 2006 13:11
The last day in the Suez Canal was very interesting because of the number and size of the ships passing through and also because we had to anchor in the Bitter Lakes till the northbound convoy passed and we then tagged on at the end of the southbound convoy.Arriving at Port Suez at dusk, we decided to head straight out into the Gulf of Suez, following the buoyed channel out through the multitude of anchored boats before proceeding down the southbound shipping lane. The chart plotter made this exercise very simple.
Despite dire warnings in the cruising manuals, we found the Gulf of Suez no worse than any other busy shipping area. After the second night, we entered the Red Sea and for a day or so encountered the strong winds written about in books. Things then settled down, and for the northern and central sections of the Red Sea, it was very pleasant sailing. The southern section lived up to its reputation, however, and was blisteringly hot, regularly reaching 43degrees centigrade in the saloon. We both took to sleeping in the cockpit when off watch to benefit from any breeze. Through the final straits of the Red Sea at Bab el Mandeb, the traffic was again "nose to tail"and, as we passed through this at night, the skipper had some much needed practice in his navigation. We finished this first long passage with an easy sail to Aden, entering on Friday morning.We were disappointed, though, that the yachts in whose company we had hoped to travel through the Gulf of Aden had already left.
Distance travelled approximately 1300 miles.