Leaving Massawa in Eritrea at 10:00 on Monday the 19th March, there was a perfect 10-12 knot wind from the east to take us up the coast on a broad reach. We decided to use the wind for as long as it lasted and sailed through the night and the following day, to anchor at Talla Talla Kebir island after 215 nm. This left us with a short 53nm sail to Suakin in the Sudan the following morning. We phoned Mr Mohamed the agent, on the sat phone to advise him of our arrival. He was waiting for us at 4pm when we anchored in Suakin.
Mr Mohamed was fluent in English and within 30 minutes he had completed the paperwork for shore passes etc. and organised two 10GB SIM cards with enough data for our emails and for Karen to complete her UM Uni assignments. He also organised and delivered 400 litres of diesel at 70c/l to fill our tank and have 300l spare in jerry cans. The government derives a good income from yachties (Sudan desperately needs it), so we parted with USD210, including Mr Mohamed’s fee. We had a quiet evening with all of us catching up with our emails and admin – our minute Huawei modem linking all four laptops via Wi-Fi.
The following day, the ladies on our boat set out for the markets, suitably attired for this strict Muslim country. The patriarchy is alive and well here, with very few women seen on the street or at the market – it’s a man’s world. If you do see a woman, she is covered from head to toe in fabrics. Annie and the girls were stared at by the men and felt uncomfortable. We thought Massawa in Eritrea was a sad sight, but this place is a dump – a country where the economy has been crippled by years of civil war between north and south (read Muslims and Christians). I stayed on the boat, filling the water tanks and defrosting the fridge.
Two big yachts, “Cannonball”, 77ft and “King’s Legend”, 65ft arrived, full of young people of Karen and Michelle’s age. We were invited to Cannonball for drinks and left later for more drinks on Soul. The girls went out with the young people to dinner and an all-night party on King’s Legend. They arrived back the next morning with hangovers, after which Annie and I lifted the anchor to motor to Sanganeb Reef, 43 nm north east of Port Sudan.
This turned out to be a good spot to relax with lots of reefs for snorkeling and a lighthouse to visit. The lighthouse keeper was happy to see visitors and allowed us to climb to the top.
We had just finished lunch after snorkelling, when Cannonball and King’s Legend dropped anchor. Our girls were a bit more cautious for a change and we enjoyed a quiet evening.
After coffee with Mike and Sarah from “Soul” the next morning, we set sail in a 10-12knot N-E to reach north west for an overnight sail to Khor Shinab, 120nm from Sanganeb reef. The sea was steep and lumpy after a strong north easter, so by sunset we started the motor and headed straight into wind. The boat was slamming hard into waves, almost dislodging the fillings in my teeth. We arrived at Khor Shinab the next morning at 8am and dropped anchor in the deepest bay of the marsa (lagoon).
The day was spent exploring this lunar landscape, walking up a wadi and climbing some of the hillocks.
Afterwards the girls did their washing.
Some fishermen arrived late afternoon and asked for water and we asked if they had fish to sell. We bought two red snappers with the currency of a kilogram of sugar and rice each, a packet of cigarettes and two bonus caps. Although I detest smoking, we were advised on numerous blog sites to carry cigarettes as these were as valuable as dollars. Hence, a carton of cheap lung cancer bought in Langkawi. We invited Mike and Sarah from Soul over for a fish barbeque and enjoyed a pleasant evening in their company.
The next morning at 5am we lifted anchor at Khor Shinab (across the narrow Red Sea from Jeddah and Mecca in Saudi Arabia) and started motoring north to Port Ghalib in Egypt, passing the disputed border between Sudan and Egypt by midnight. Does this sound familiar? – most borders in this region are disputed. This then is a short account on the Sudan – we will report again from Egypt. Cheers for now.