03 April 2008

Red Sea Transit

Ron here. Just wanted to publish some info about the Red Sea transit that Sandpiper is about to embark on. Tom and Amy haven't really provided many details of their plans for this. So I reckoned that I'd fill you readers in.

They are going to skirt up the west side of the Red Sea to the southern end of the Suez Canal. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, they can't get permission to go up the east side. Saudi Arabia doesn't give cruisers permission to cruise their Red Sea coast. Secondly, the weather patterns make going up the east side easier.

The Red Sea has a reputation for hard sailing. Sudden wind storms with steep waves can come up in minutes. Enormous sand storms blow across from the deserts of Saudi Arabia, reducing visibility. The currents can be wicked. In 2006 over 1000 people died when a ferry sank in high winds while crossing between Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

When I was talking to Tom, he mentioned that he expects that they will have to day sail up the coast, leaving early in the mornings and dropping anchor in the afternoons when the strong north winds start blowing. In addition to strong head winds, they will also be dealing with the many reefs and islands that dot the Red Sea coasts. So it will be far safer to day sail in this area.

I think it is going to take about a month to get to the Suez Canal from Aden.

I think their next stop is going to be the port of Assab in the African nation of Eritrea. From there they can day sail up to Eritrea's northern port, Massawa, which is also the Red Sea's deepest natural harbor.

After that, they hit Sudan, with its large Port Sudan harbor. This is the latitude where the prevailing winds in the Red Sea switch to northerly, meaning from here north it is going to be tough going. The entire coast line of Sudan is protected by a reef, much like Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Most yachts go up the channel between the African mainland and the reef.

Then they hit Egypt, where they will be until they exit the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea. Major ports in Egypt are Port Safaga and Hurghda. Both of those ports have services where they can safely leave Sandpiper for a few days for an inland trip to the Nile River. I hope that they can get the time to make a trip over to Luxor. Also, there are numerous small beach resorts along the Red Sea coast of Egypt, mostly in the northern part, to service tourist from Cairo and Europe.

Just north of Hurghda, they enter the Gulf of Suez, the western part of the sea that is split by the Sinai Peninsula. Then into the Suez Canal.

After they enter the Med, Tom mentioned that they are headed over to Turkey. Where in Turkey? I don't know. I do know that Turkey has a large cruising and charter industry around its SW coast. So there are plenty of facilities for boaters that want to sail the islands of Turkey and Greece. Tom and Amy want to get there by late May so that they can fly over to Italy to hook up with mom.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I wish them great time.
Tell them not to be put off by Massawa or Assab. They should visit the spectacular Asmara, Eritrea a bit inland. It is not what you expect to find in Africa. The Italians built it to resemble Rome. Some of the coffee and food culture still exists, and highly recommended.

Here is a good website
http://home.planet.nl/~hans.mebrat/index.html#Eritrea