Sunday, April 12, 2009

300 miles to Kyrenia, northern Cyprus

Aboda my pilot eventually arrived and after a brief tangle with a mooring buoy and some remedial help from the French fleet we were off on the second leg of the trip up the canal and into the Mediterranean. As we headed north, the weather reminded me of a northern European spring - cold, overcast with occasional rain. Such weather seemed at odds with the desert scenery on either side of the canal, but I guess it was useful acclimatisation for my trip back to the UK.

Aboda tried my tea, then asked for coffee and then politely refused all offers of refreshments. It seems I need to raise my beverage preparation game if I'm to meet with approval from discerning Egyptian pilots. I was worried he was planning to remain unhydrated for the remaining three hours, but eventually he succumbed to another tea. Food was a different matter. I couldn't tempt him with one of my feta cheese and tapenade sandwiches or the various fruit I offered but when I bought out some Egpytian sweet cakes I bought from one of Ismailia's fabulous patisseries, his eyes lit up. Finally I'd cracked his resolve. You may ask, why the obsession with feeding and watering the pilot? Well imagine being branded as the boat where pilots expire, rumours spread quickly and I might struggle to find a pilot in the future, never-mind scaring away my anticipated Mediterranean visitors.

Finally at 5.30 we arrived in Port Said, a pilot boat came alongside and whisked Aboda away and left me once again in charge of Kika. As I headed towards the entrance and my first glimpse of the Mediterranean, it seemed the fishing fleet was heading back in for the night. A couple of fishermen ominously mimed big waves and pointed in the direction I was heading. It was either big waves or large sea-serpents I suppose it could be either as I'm heading for Greek mythology territory. I decided to head out and see how bad the waves or serpents were, thinking I could always return if they proved too nasty. The entrance wasn't great with large breaking seas caused by wind against tide - almost as bad as Ramsgate in a gale. However I pressed on and eventually the water calmed down and left me to worry about the shipping, oil rigs and fishing boats. At 12.30 I escaped the fishing fleet, cleared the shipping lanes and set a course off the west of Cyprus.

Position @ 12.30 12/4/2009: N31deg56' E32deg14'

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