Tuesday, March 31, 2009

North towards Suez

After being storm bound for three days, an almost too good to be true, benign weather-window has appeared, hopefully allowing me to make the 300 miles to Suez in light variable winds - fatigue and self steering permitting.

Port Ghalib was a strange place to be stuck. A massive new tourist development situated in the middle of otherwise "undeveloped" desert. The architects have placed the yacht moorings in front of a large hotel and I think we added more "colour" than perhaps intended. Shaggy sailors working on engines and carting cans of diesel, juxtaposed with northern Europe tourists on a winter-sun package.
On arrival it took us all morning to clear the customs berth so that by the time we headed over to the quay, a strong northerly had picked-up. The moorings were arranged Mediterranean style - stern to the quay. This was my first experience in Kika of a Mediterranean mooring in which berthing involves a precise reverse into the quay, between two other boats, with concerned owners looking-on, and the added challenge of a strong cross-wind.

Going astern has never been mine or Kika's strongest suit and adding precision and cross-wind into the mix didn't make things any easier. Fortunately the marina must have observed similar manoeuvring problems before and had a boat on-hand to aid, but still it wasn't one of my better efforts, though the only damage was to my ego.

I joined a fleet of six French boats, my New Zealand Whangarei neighbour, "Eric the Viking" on Vagabond Virgin, great to catch-up, and a couple of other boats, including my companions for the last few days Paddy and Caroline on Kristiane. It was a good sociable time between engine filter changes, numerous electronic pilot fixes, and diesel and water refills.

This morning I cleared my quay slot before the wind picked up and headed out to sea. As forecast there's a moderate north-westerly has picked-up and for a change I'm making good headway under sail. I'm very happy to postpone the trial of my fixes to the electronic pilot in favour of the wind steering and it's great to give the engine a rest - it didn't seem too happy to be leaving this morning - I've added "cold-start glow-plugs" to my ever expanding list of repairs - or perhaps it's just complaining about the excessive work it's had to endure over the last couple of weeks.

It looks like the hotel will be deprived of its colourful adornment as the whole quay is leaving today while the going is good - but I guess it won't be too long before a new batch of weather-worn sailors arrive to dismantle their boats besides the sun-bathers.

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