I didn't quite make my planned 3am start, but thought 4.30am wasn't a bad effort. There's currently a little more moonlight later in the night which helped me very cautiously edge my way out of the reef-break leading into Suakin.
The anchorage in Suakin was busy with both Scandinavian and French boats who have opted to travel together. En masse the anchorage decided to make the most of the break in the prevailing northerly winds and head as far up the Red Sea as possible before normal conditions reassert themselves. With my earlier start I thought I'd get a head start on the other boats, but once clear of Suakin I noticed Blue Marlin following close behind, with the other boats emerging soon after at dawn. I soon left the other boats as I opted for a more direct route north outside the protective inshore reef. It seems my gamble paid off as there was little swell in the sea after a calm night.
Radio propagation in the Red Sea is surprising. Normally VHF radio range from yacht-to-yacht is 20-25 miles. However here it's possible to talk to other yachts on the VHF 100-200 miles distant. Great to hear familiar voices ahead, as sadly I seem to have left the pirate busting group behind. It was a relief to hear from "Helen Kate" yesterday who headed off along the Saudi shore from the Hanish Islands. They don't have a short-wave transmitter so it's been impossible for the rest of us to hear how they were getting along. It seems they sailed the east coast without being arrested and are now 90 miles ahead of me. Perhaps their gamble paid off..
Position @ 21:15 (GMT +3) 20/3/2009 N20deg17' E37deg32'