Abu Tig Marina, El Gouna Egypt, S/V PEACE AND ALOHA, April 10, 2005
Salaam al haykum, Family and Friends
We are thankful to be securely roped to a buoy at our bow and the wharf at our stern at Abu Tig Marina (27 24.4N 33 40.6E) after arriving shortly before noon after an overnight passage of 130 miles. We are actually six days ahead of our scheduled arrival of April 15. Abu Tig Marina is located in El Gouna, Egypt on the Gulf of Suez, North Red Sea. We only have less than 170 miles to the Suez Canal, which is 100 miles long and then we are in the Med, heading to Israel, Cyprus and Turkey.
We anchored at Khor Shinab, Sudan (21 21.34N 37 01.40E) on March 29, after traveling 42 miles north from Jazirat Bayer, where we spent Easter Sunday and Monday and sent you our last update. Khor Shinab has been described by many cruisers as being THE best anchorage in the Red Sea and a "must-stop." It is the most protected of all the "marsas" or "khors" along the Red Sea with an entrance along a deep two mile channel (we were on land on CMap!)to the several bays tucked behind many high hills of dry rocky desert of all different shades of reds and browns. We were told that the walk to the top of Quoin Hill was definitely worth the effort, but unfortunately, we did not have the time nor the energy to make the climb. We heard that the snorkeling was excellent on the reef at the entrance; however, our three man crew were still sick with the "African Flu" and not venturing into the now cold 74 degree sea water. William and Fiona on *Brandomajo* brought us dinner for two nights with a coral trout and blue fin trevally. Very delicious and thanks to *Brandomajo* and the fishes! We were also delighted with all the camels on shore as we arrived. We took pictures of them; however, we have had a casualty with our Olympus XD picture card purchased in Langkawi before we left in January. It must be defective, since it wants to be re-formatted and now, unfortunately, we cannot download any of the 200 pictures, mostly of Suakin, on the card. If any one has had a similar problem, please let us know of your solution!
Of great concern was the weather since we were experiencing a period of light winds when we should be heading north but wanted time to enjoy snorkeling on the spectacular reefs of the Red Sea. We tried to compromise by stopping at Khor Shinab and Elba Reef before heading north to Port Ghalib. Several of our friends started north and were safely at Abu Tig Marina a week or so before. Hindsight is 20-20; however, we wanted to experience the land and the ocean along the Red Sea, stopping at the reefs and marsas but others simply sailed north and made no stops to snorkel at the reefs or to travel inland. We sailed 44 miles to Elba Reef, Sudan (21 59.70N 36 59.33E) and spent two days snorkeling on the reefs. What an amazing spot! Every reef seemed to be more spectacular than the one before with new and brightly colored fish and pristine hard and soft corals of vibrant colors easily seen in such crystal clear water. The crew continued to be sick but we went snorkeling anyway since we will only be in the Red Sea once in this life!
March 31, 2005 we departed Elba Reef, Sudan (The reefs north of Port Sudan are the best for diving and snorkeling) on a two night passage of 47 hours and 250 miles to arrive at Port Ghalib (25 32 03N 34 34.30E), Egypt at 0630 April 2. Port Ghalib is the first marina to have the ability to check in foreign yachts at a significant discount over checking in at Hurghada which for us, would have cost $150/l month/boat and $15US/visa/person/l month. Our cost was $17 since our boat is longer than 18 meters ($10US if under 18 meters) for 1 month, so we paid $34US for our boat to stay in Egyptian waters for two months. We purchased one month visas for each of us for $15 each which we understand can easily be extended for $10US at Hurghada while we are at Abu Tig. We were told there is a 15 day grace period, so we should be able to check out of Egypt at the Suez Canal within 45 days.
After checking in along with three other boats arriving at Port Ghalib that day, we proceeded to the fuel dock where we purchased 461 liters of fuel (yes, she is a motor-boat traveling up the Red Sea) at $.35US/liter. After we took on our fuel, filling all tanks and jerry cans, they helped us into the marina, where we were Med moored, bow in to the quay with two ropes (two men ashore to help) and 125 foot stern line to buoy, where two men in a dinghy assisted us with our lines. We had 14 boats along the quay. We were so thankful to be in out of the wind which was blowing 25 knots on the nose at sunrise while we were waiting outside the fairway buoy to enter at first light. We are having a debate about entering anchorages, marsas and marinas at night on The Red Sea Net which meets on 8173 every morning at 0500 UTC (0700 Egyptian time and 0800 Sudan/Eritrean time)the net. We have some boats who think it is a piece of cake and no problem. One boat missed the Fairway Buoy, were approaching the reefs and the marina breakwater, and would have lost their boat, IF they had continued in. Friends on another boat in the marina guided them in with their dinghy at 0230. We read a report of a French boat being lost on the reef while seeking shelter at Marsa Murbarak (Port Ghalib) at night. Now we are hearing talk on the radio about entering Abu Tig tonight by six boats who left last night.
After being in Port Ghalib Marina for almost a week, we would recommend that all cruisers limit their stay there for the absolute shortest possible time. Checking in and refueling went very smoothly with very efficient and courteous officials. We are now hearing that they are stalling, taking too long to process entry paperwork, so that boats cannot leave immediately and need to stay the night. All a money grab! One should also note the many security guards along the quays. The entire complex is a dusty dirty sandy building site of a mega billion dollar resort hotel complex - to be finished in two-three years. We paid top dollar for the completed resort price and yet we shared our electricity with four other yachts (which we have been told will not happen again, which means that only two-three boats will have electric while in the marina). Also, they have no water, no showers, no facilities what-so-ever but they do have flies, mozzies and DIRT and SAND which completely covered the boat all of which seeped in through tightly closed hatches and dorade vents. There was a "courtesy van" (usually translated into free) for which they charged $10 to go to the hotel, where you could eat at the restaurant, drink at the bar, and swim in the pool. Others went to the ATM machine at the airport, which was under incredibly tight security - one person entering at a time while the guard held their passport. There was also a small 7/11 type supermarket which sometimes had bread, can goods, packaged goods like pasta and cookies, a deli section with olives (one cruiser had food poisoning and thought it was the olives she had purchased and eaten), sliced smoked turkey and frozen chicken, but NO fruits and vegetables. The guys were still not feeling well, so we just stayed on the boat!
We did manage to accomplish a few things: haircut for Ellen, emails and updates (although I am still behind, since we have been working on taxes, a property tax appeal and other financial problems which we thought were on auto-pilot but continually need time, energy, and usually money too. We were able to wash the boat down with buckets of salt water and enjoyed four afternoon movies: "Harry Potter 2, The Chamber of Secrets" and "3 The Prisoner of Azkaban," both excellent and we are anxiously waiting the next two, maybe we should read them while we are waiting?, "Alexander", since we are in his part of the world, and "50 First Dates," which was filmed in Hawaii which made us homesick. Many cruisers traveled to Luxor from Port Ghalib to make use of the time waiting for the wind to calm down. We had planned to do all our traveling from Abu Tiq and did not feel comfortable leaving the boat at Port Ghalib. We were very excited about hearing of their wonderful experiences exploring in Luxor. Actually, our major objective was to get healthy so we can go touring! (Some of our breathing difficulties could be due to the environment of blowing dirt and sand with flies and mozzies. We are praying that they were not carrying malaria or dengue fever)
We have enjoyed a week of rest, relaxation, and recuperation, but the guys are STILL suffering with stuffy noses, coughing and sneezing, so we are not quite sure what the culprit is; however, we are leaving Monday April 18 at 0500 by minivan to Luxor where we will board a 5 star cruise ship for four nights on a Nile River Cruise from Luxor to Aswan, mini van (three hours each way leaving at 0330!) to Abu Simbel and back to Aswan to spend one night before boarding the overnight train to Cairo, where we will spend two days visiting the Museum and the Pyramids etc. etc, and mini van to the Abut Tig Marina with a stop at the Carrefour supermarket to reprovision. We will have much to write about in our next update!
We have spent a week cleaning the boat, planning our tours, visiting with other cruisers, walking around the resort, snorkeling on the reef outside the marina, enjoying delicious french bread and pastries for lunch and dinner from the Seventh Star Cafe, shuttle bus trips to Downtown El Gouna and then a large bus ride to Hurghada yesterday to experience the most incredible market yet with "touts" and hawkers, who put Bali to shame and to prepare us for Luxor and Cairo! We have spent several days roaming around all the shops and talking with the owners, looking at all the handicrafts. We want to purchase perfume and perfume bottles, papyrus paintings, carvings, etc. etc. and need to know prices in order to bargain, but we will still pay way too much! We will be off the boat and will be out of email contact until after we return to the boat late on April 26. We have been working on several more updates to send out to you, along with our new updates after we return from touring Egypt, and we hope to answer all your nice emails, so we appreciate your continued patience and prayers! As always, if you no longer wish to receive our periodic updates, please email and we will remove you from our list immediately. Please reply to this email, but remember NOT to hit your reply button and send our email back to us. Thank you!
Take care. Please keep in touch. Be well. God Bless.
With Love, Peace and Aloha,
Ellen, David, Jason and Eric
S/V PEACE AND ALOHA