Freebirdie's Sailin' Blog

22 November 2011 | Seattle
01 August 2011 | Santa Maria di Leuca
03 July 2011 | Greece
15 June 2011 | Gulf of Corinth
05 June 2011 | Athens
28 May 2011 | Poros Greece
25 April 2011 | Symi Island
13 April 2011 | Naxos, Greece
20 February 2011 | Istanbul, Turkey
30 January 2011 | Ephesus
28 January 2011 | Marmaris
16 January 2011 | Selcuk, Turkey
31 December 2010 | Marmaris
24 October 2010 | Cappadocia, Turkey
16 September 2010 | Marmaris Turkey
26 August 2010 | Fethiye, Turkey
19 August 2010 | Marmaris
03 August 2010 | Larnaca Cyprus
01 August 2010 | Mediterranean Sea
30 July 2010 | Ashkelon Marina

Sangraneb Reef.

12 April 2010 | Sudan, Africa
Dave n Judy

Hey there, yesterday was a pretty exciting day for us. After waiting out the winds in Suakin... for too long... we headed out early North while the light South winds were blowing. We took a chance & went to the east to a lighthouse/reef out in the middle of nowhere. We were a bit concerned as the weather window just kept getting smaller at every check of the GRIBS (Weather). We heard from the VHF radio all of the other boats were just hopping 10 miles up the coast to the next safe bay on the mainland. Our sail was for 8&1/2 hrs for 35 miles. When we arrived through the first set of channel markers into the outer lagoon we decided to anchor out there instead of going inside the narrow channel so that we could make a faster escape in case the wind switched directions in the night! Just as we were getting ready to drop our anchor in amongst the coral & rocks Dave spotted a mooring. Hooray. It was a big fatty & i had to take a couple of grabs at it to haul it up. We almost jumped into the dinghy & raced off to the lighthouse & snorkel around there as they wrote in the Red Sea Pilot it was an excellent location. But..... i said.... lets snorkel around here first & then race off. Well low and behold we were tied to an old sunken ship. At first it looked pretty enticing & then Dave figured if we swung, those pipes would take off our keel. GREAT. So into the dinghy we roared to the inside of the lagoon to check out anchoring. After we came in another cat had come in also & was anchored over there. We saw that they got into the inner lagoon without any trouble. It was very very narrow & only 7 ft deep. TIGHT but sandy so anchoring wouldn't be any trouble. So, back to Miss FB, up anchor & threw the "hourglass" to the inner lagoon. By now, it was after 4 & the light was falling but we got in there. Again, lowered the dinghy & tore over to the lighthouse. What a site! It was a 50 meter tower made out of blocks of stone. We counted 270 steps up the spiral "staircase" up to the top. What a view!!!! Who forgot the camera????? That night we watched a beam of light from the majestic tower rotate across the lagoon. Like out of a movie.....

The next weather GRIB showed the wind switching directions to the North (back on the nose) at 3AM tonight so we thought we'd better not stay there today after all. We dived first thing this morning on the outer wall of the reef. It was a pretty deep drop. We only went down as far as 60 ft but saw lots & lots of soft corals, tropical fish & 2 big moray eels. We were hoping for Hammerhead sharks. They live around here. Jacques Cousteau's research center that he lived in for months underwater is the next reef North of here. We did see 3 black tipped sharks though.

While i was chatting with the 4 lighthouse keepers Dave ran the stairs & got a picture of Freebird from up there.

We left Sangraneb at 11 & are tucked in here at Marsa Fijab by 3. They are predicting 3 days of North winds starting tonight. After we got here 7 other boats joined the 3 of us here waiting out weather. Ciao for now, cheers, j&D

For info/pics of Sangraneb & Suakin:

Around Suakin

10 April 2010 | Sudan, Africa
Dave n Judy

We've topped up on fuel, propane, gasoline and dive air. We're ready to head out with the next weather window. (tomorrow hopefully). It's been a fun experience. We're the only tourists here. The people are genuinely interested and happy to see us. Our days have been spent trekking around the dusty streets. I carry small toys and pencils in my back pack and give them out to the kids. It's the most fun! For them it's so exciting to get a little toy car... Their eyes light up and their beautiful bright white teeth flash with a most happy smile.

Today I'm staying on the boat and Judy headed on the bus to Port Sudan about an hour away. She's looking for provisions. There's not much hope for that though. The selection is pretty meager in the tiny shops. Still..... it's fun wandering and experiencing such a different culture. Most of this town is falling down around it's dwellers. Folks make homes in the ruins of the old building that have long been abandoned. Some are over 600 years old. ...not the people....the buildings. The building material was coral rock cut into building blocks that have disintegrated over the years

It's difficult to take photos because many of the people don't want you to take their picture. They are shy and I think they feel somehow abused by the camera. I have tried just handing them the camera and letting them take pictures. Unfortunately, most of the photos are of us.... that's not what we are looking for... oh well. Yesterday when I was taking a picture of a street scene for a future watercolor, a uniformed man waved me over where he was sitting in the shade of a shop awning. In rough English, he asked me why I was taking photos . I told him that I was an artist and would be making paintings from the photos. He said that this was a military area and that photos weren't allowed. I looked around.. .the only military thing was his shabby uniform.... He was friendly enough in a sorta "don't mess with me" way....tough looking character. I complimented his English and were on our merry way. I think he was just trying to be a big shot in front of his "men" who were actually "boys".

On the flip side, earlier, we were walking by a "tea house" and a booming voice beckoned us to come inside. It was dark and cavernous but we ventured in. As our eyes adjusted to the smoky room we were confronted with a huge smile. "Welcome! Sit and have tea with us". We took our seats. All the occupants were men dressed in turbans and long white robes and they were all watching us.. There was a moment of awkward stillness but soon we were talking and laughing and drinking coffee and tea. The one word that seems to break the ice where ever we go is: "OBAMA" Everybody seems to love our president. We shout "OBAMA!" and they shout "OBAMA!" back with great enthusasm. Speaking of politics, there is supposed to be an election here next week. All the predictions seem to be that the country might have some kind of civil disturbance around election day. So we think it's time to head toward Egypt.


05 April 2010 | Sudan, Africa
Dave n Judy
Late yesterday afternoon we anchored for the night in between some reefs. There was only a small sand islet about 100 feet long to call land. We raced to get the dinghy ashore there before the tide came all the way up. It sounded like a rookery with all the screeching birds. Quite a bit of plastic bottle litter & even some large syringes????? Then we hustled back to Freebird to give her another salt water rinse as she is just covered with running mud. Being Easter Sunday we invited SunDance (our only neighbor) over for quesadilla's. Festive, right???Even though the reefs were fully submerged they gave us protection from the waves. The wind came in from the north about 20 knots. The moon was late coming up. Our anchor was set in 40 feet of water. We laid out 250 feet of chain and felt secure enough.

We pulled anchor at 0630 and headed out into 20 knots of wind..... Beating. We fought our way through the menagerie of reefs to open water. The waves built and Freebird began to hop from wave top to wave top. Not fun. By 2:00 PM we were anchored in the inner harbor of the city of Suakin, Sudan. We picked up our agent to check us in. (Mohammed again) He was a personable chap and arranged for our check in and to have fuel delivered tomorrow morning. So far, no internet! There were only 2 other yachts in the harbor. One is the yacht "Integerit;y" They have been here for 4 weeks. Their engine blew up and they have been waiting for their friends Dave and Betty on the yacht "Sundance" to come to their rescue. David is a mechanic and has also agreed to help them with towing if necessary... to Egypt.... No small feat.. It's hard enough just getting your own boat up this merciless Red Sea. Tomorrow we are going to take another look at their engine to see if there is any hope. Judy is headed off to the market with the girls for some veggie shopping....

Brown Bird

04 April 2010 | Eritrea, Africa
Dave n Judy
Easter Sunday Greetings! We arrived yesterday AM on our overnighter from Eritrea at first light . We had the wind and current with us so we had to put the flaps down, slowing to make a daylight arrival. Just as we landed and got the anchor down and the wind came up! With the wind came the dessert dust. We sat helpless as the fine red sand collected on every surface of our girl. The wind continued into the wee hours and finally died completely just before dawn. With the calm came the dew.... we awoke to... "Mudbird" Yuk! Welcome to Sudan! We crashed for a couple of hours after we arrived and then our friends on "Sundance" picked us up in their super dingy for a lively jog across the reef to a couple of other islets.

Walking the beach we found an abundance of local conch shells that are a mainstay in the fisherman's diet. The water was clear and warm... nice afternoon... After only 1 day at Satira Islet in Khor Nawarat, we decided to take advantage of these light winds so we were up a dawn to get an early start. As we were pulling up the anchor this morning Dave pointed out two camels silhouetted in front of the orange ball of the rising sun. Wow! Can't even begin to describe that scene of the remote desert island at!

---------- radio email processed by SailMail for information see:
Vessel Name: Freebird
Vessel Make/Model: Grainger MC420 Catamaran
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Dave and Judy Howell
Dave started building Freebird in 1995 in a plastic shed on Camano Island, NW USA and launched her in April of 2001. He retired from the Fire Department in 1999 after 28 years of service. Judy Retired from dentistry in 1995 after 27 years. [...]
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