01 June 2008

Port of Suez

On Mooring Ball at Suez Yacht Club
Port of Suez
Suez Canal

0 Miles to the Suez Canal!!!
(Check out where we are on Google Earth)

WE MADE IT !!! After a 36 hour bash through 20-30 knot winds and waves breaking over Sandpiper's bow, we've made it to the Suez Canal where Sandpiper is now peacefully secured.

We had a false start the day before leaving el-Tur. We had planned on leaving early in the morning at 5am. But the winds were blowing over 20 knots in the direction that we needed to go. Before pulling up the anchor, we waited to watch one of the other boats in the anchorage leave ahead of us. As soon as they got out of the harbor, waves were smashing into them, slowing them down to less then 2 knots. They made a quick u-turn back into the anchorage and said that they were going back to bed. So we gave up and went back to bed as well, with our new plan of leaving at midnight when the winds were lighter.

There were 7 other boats anchored at el-Tur waiting for the winds to break. They must have heard of our plan because when we got up at midnight, 3 other boats were heading out as well. I have to say it is a very hard decision to leave when you know that the winds will go up to 30 knots and that you will have to power through them to keep your speed up. Not fun. Normally if the winds were predicted to be up to 30 knots, and we were sailing downwind, then we would be reluctant to leave the harbor. But to leave a harbor planning on motoring INTO 30 knots of wind and waves is a hard call to make.

We finally quit hoping for the wind to drop because every time we had a weather prediction, it was always wrong. We just decided that we would put ourselves 'out there' and bash through this stuff all the way to the Suez.

After we left the anchorage at midnight and got offshore the winds and seas started picking up, blowing over 25 knots. Soon we had waves coming over the bow slowing, us down to 1-2 knots for lengths of time. We kept at it and never stopped. All the other boats that left the same day we did only made it up the coast 30 miles before pulling into the next anchorage to wait yet again for a wind drop. Not Team Sandpiper! We were the only boat to go on overnight, and by morning the winds had dropped considerably giving us speeds up to 4 knots at times. Then before we knew it at sunrise we were only 20 miles from the Suez Canal and making 5 knots.

Also, at sunrise, we listened to the boats that had stopped to anchor overnight and heard them all complaining about how bad it was where they were anchored and that they already had winds over 25 knots. So the best that they could do is 10 miles north to the next anchorage.

What does this all mean? Well, we are the only boat moored here in front of the Suez Yacht Club, and all the other boats behind us are still stuck at anchor until who knows when. Our 36 hour bash paid off huge, and we are extremely pleased to be here. Sandpiper performed like a champ!! We had to keep the engine running at much higher RPM then normal. But she never gave in, even when the large waves tried to stop her.

We found leaks below we never knew about from all the water coming over the bow. But it is so hot here in Egypt that as soon as we opened up all the portholes after arriving, the boat dried out in minutes.

Also, on this last passage, we had to maneuver just outside the shipping lanes where many ships were transiting to and from the Suez Cancel, and through all kinds of oil rigs and their support vessels. I am rambling a bit about this passage, but this last 36 hours has been the hardest passage since leaving the States. We have never had to motor into winds/seas as intense as this last stretch of the Red Sea. When we got closer to the Suez Canal the amount of shipping traffic increased. There are many ships at anchor and others arriving from the south, and maneuvering around.

When we got outside the Suez Canal entrance, we called our agent Felix who is going to process us thru the canal. He told us to come on in and tie up in front of the Suez Yacht Club. We then proceeded right into the southern end of the Suez Canal where the Yacht Club is located and secured Sandpiper's bow and stern to mooring buoys. Felex was there in a dingy to help us when we arrived. He has taken our paperwork in to get us ready for our transit through the Suez Canal, possibly the day after tomorrow. He is also our contact for any fuel, beer, and other necessities before we move on.

As I type away we are awaiting the Canal's measuring man who is coming over to check out Sandpipers curves. Then he will work out some kind of crazy Egyptian formula (our guide book says it's from 1866) that will compute how much this will all cost us.

Once again, we are hugely excited to be here and our transit up the Red Sea is compete.

"If you ain't first, you're last"
- Ricky Bobby

Tom and Amy

Notes From Ron: Here is a link to the catamaran "Exit Only" blog where they describe their Suez Canal transit, with their humorous interpretation of the fee formula, and their experience with their assigned pilot who demanded a little extra "gift" on top of his fees.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been following your blog for a while now. Congratulations on making it to the Suez Canal!