30 April 2008

Still at Ras Baniyas

Still anchored at Ras Baniyas
397 Miles to the Suez Canal

Stuck! 4 days and counting...

We are still anchored here at Ras Baniyas awaiting a break in the northerly winds and now have been here 4 days with no break. We got very lucky on our last passage as we were in a perfect position along with S/V My Chance. Then the northerlies came off our bow and diverted to this anchorage. We were the first 2 boats to drop the hook here. Since then, 9 other boats have arrived here seeking protection. We were lucky because if we had to turned around, the closest anchorage behind us was 100 miles away, the one we had just come from.

Because S/V Shiraz was 6 miles north of us when the northerlies hit, they were able to beat into the winds and have been anchored at Dolphin Reef, the place we all were trying to get to.

S/V My Chance decided to take a chance our 2nd day here. They left at 7am in 20-25 knot north winds. They planned to motor sail while tacking back and forth to make forward progress. They finally made the 17 miles north, anchoring at Dolphin Reef alongside S/V Shiraz 11 hours later. After arriving, Alim (from S/V My Chance) suggested that it might not be a good idea for us to try what they just did since they took such a beating motor sailing to windward. The funniest part was they were the only boat to try this from our anchorage, yet they only have a 29-foot catamaran, leaving all of us on larger boats to consider leaving with them.

This is the hardest 17 miles I have ever heard of. They ended up covering 40 miles by tacking around and beating into the wind and waves. The trip should only take about 3 hours in good conditions. But it took 11 hours for S/V My Chance.

Since entering the Red Sea we have been wondering where the legendary northerly winds where. Now we know. Since anchoring here 4 days ago the wind has been relentless, not letting up or going below 20 knots. It mostly blows in the high 20's.

Several nights ago a line of squalls blew through, with intense lighting all over the sky. One bolt filled the whole sky off the starboard side, going off in hundreds of directions with many hitting the water a mile away. Then the wind picked up to 37 knots.

Not much to do here at anchor. It is so windy that we have not inflated the dingy because we are afraid it will blow away while we try to inflate it. So we have not been ashore. Another reason is that our guide book says "If you go ashore, ask if the beach is still mined."

Sandpiper is anchored just off a sand spit that comes out from the mainland and we are anchored just behind a reef. There is a small Egyptian military outpost farther up the beach. Every morning we wake up hoping that we can leave, only to see the winds still honking. Then it is a day full of movies and Scrabble.

There are several boats anchored behind us that we know from when we were in Mexico in 2006, the S/V Ohani Kai and the S/V Moorea. With all this wind they have been entertaining the anchorage every day with their kite-boards, shredding through all the anchored boats. Last night we were invited over for Sundowner's on S/V Gone With the Wind, a 50-foot Australian catamaran. We even got a ride over in S/V Balvenie's dinghy. Its funny when they tell us about their brand new catamaran and all its features. Then ask us about Sandpiper. I just have to shake my head laughing telling them Sandpiper was built in 1976.

Tonight boy Kelly and girl Kelly from S/V Moorea are coming over for a game of Scrabble that they have challenged us to. Then tomorrow we have been offered a ride ashore by S/V Ohani Kai's dinghy. As long as the winds are blowing like this, then we are all stuck here together.

Yesterday a mega yacht named m/y Sea Dream anchored behind us after taking a beating offshore while heading north. We called them on the radio after noticing that they have satellite dishes all over the place. They have been really cool by giving us the weather reports they are getting off their satellite internet connection. We are still working on them over the radio in hopes for an invite over for a cocktail, lots of ice, and hot showers. They are anchored just behind us.

Hmmmm... current plans are: As soon as the winds drop, or change direction, we leave and try to get to Port Ghalib where we need to officially get checked into Egypt. As of today (Wednesday) the north winds are predicted to hold to at least Saturday. At least we not out of beer yet!

More, if it ever happens.
Tom and Amy

Note From Ron: The m/y Sea Dream is a 141-foot luxury charter yacht based out of Monaco that cruises the Med, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean. Here is she is at the Monaco Yacht Show. Here is a profile of their private chef Scott Dickson.

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