Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Storm bound in Dolphin Reef

The forecast indicated the wind was going to shift to the NW sometime between midnight and 6am. With my original cunning plan I would have arrived in Port Ghalib between 4 and 5am, which I naively assumed would be before the strong north-westerlies arrived. Last night I woke up at 2.30am to roaring winds and thanked my autopilot for scuppering my attempts to beat the weather - I would have been caught out in 30 gusting 35 knots of head-wind in nasty short breaking seas, probably unable to make headway towards my destination. Instead I let out more chain on my primary anchor and spent an hour readying my third anchor just in-case I started dragging; my second anchor was already set to the stern to stop me swinging as the wind shifted. Fortunately the anchors held and my third anchor remains on-deck unused. I guess this type of sudden change is the kind of weather that gives the Red Sea its fearsome reputation.

The wind is bombarding the boat with desert sand, plastering all leading surfaces with what looks like a layer of grime. It's a losing battle to try to clean it off, but it makes Kika looked very unloved - just hope there's freely available fresh water in Cyprus.

Amongst other signs I'm getting closer to a European spring is the decrease in the temperature of the water. Even in a wet-suit, it now takes me an hour or so to fully warm up after a session in the water. With the wind screaming across the reef today, I'm afraid I didn't make it into the sea and spent the day working down-below.

When I arrived last night there were four live-aboard dive boats moored outside the reef, dwarfing a solitary yacht. As I approached the reef I had a brief chat with Christian - the yacht - and concluded there weren't any available moorings and in any case if I was going to try to anchor in the reef's lagoon, I had no time to spare. This evening I made the effort to extract the dinghy from the forepeak, inflate it, and make my way over to meet the crew of Kristiane. A fun evening, but I'm glad I'm inside the reef, despite the sound of the wind, there's negligible swell making it across the reef, compared to the mooring outside. It looks like I'm going to be here for at least another day possibly longer waiting for a break in the weather, so plenty of time to explore my temporary home environment. From the sound of the various radio nets, the whole sailing community is temporarily halted in their progress north, waiting for a break in the weather.

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