Alan and Jean sharing our cruising news with friends, family.

20 July 2015 | Rabi Island Fiji
29 June 2015 | Suva Fiji
18 December 2013 | Auckland
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27 October 2013 | Vavau Tonga
12 September 2013 | Samoa
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13 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
06 May 2013 | Isla Isabella
08 April 2013 | Shelter Bay marina, Colon.
28 March 2013 | Belize
27 March 2013 | Belize
03 March 2013 | Panamarina, Panama

Aden to Khor Nawarat

02 April 2010 | Sudan

Photo at Massawa market, Eritrea.
4th April 2010 Aden to Khor Nawarat Doesn't time fly when you're busy!! I see it is about 3 weeks since I have written anything. We have come a long way since then although looking at the distance between here and Suez perhaps we haven't moved quickly enough. Sailing through the Red sea is a balancing act of enjoying anchorages and catching favourable winds or calm periods to move north.

We left Aden, Yemen, in a strong south easterly wind which carried Tuatara into the Red Sea through the small strait of Bab el Mandeb as far as Howakil bay in Eritrea where Hughie flipped the switch and the north westers have dominated our lives since then. That is until today when another south easterly period has caught us up at Khor Nawarat just over the border in Sudan. (18deg 14' N 38deg 19'E). We need to use these south winds as from here the northerly quarter winds rule the waves. Good motors and plenty of diesel will be needed from now on not to mention patience. Listening to boats ahead of us on our daily sked some have sat for several days in an anchorage waiting for the last set of strong NW winds to abate.

As we came through the Straits of Sorrow ( Bab el Mandeb) we caught our first fish since leaving Phuket, Thailand. Our fish drought was over, the Straits of Sorrow became the Straits of Celebration. The 30 knot wind pushed us quickly towards our first Red Sea Anchorage near Assab in Eritrea. The low sandy islands offered little protection from the wind but enough protection to create a smoothish sea. We decided to put 2 anchors out and we held firmly for the two nights we were there. Then it was on north two more wind swept bays, getting off the boat into a dinghy was a wet business so it was easier to stay aboard. We began to wonder where the nice anchorages were. At Mersa Dudo we anchored in the lee of two Volcanoes, spectacular scenery, nice to see landscape higher than 2 metres. The down side was that the wind accelerated down the hills bringing a hot dusty salty wind slamming across the bay. That was enough for us, forget the day sailing, we did an overnighter aiming for Shumma Island reportedly a lovely anchorage. This was the night Hughie flipped the switch within an hour of reaching speeds of 10.5 knots in a 30 knot southeasterly the wind stopped , swished around the compass a couple of times then settled into the NW, right where we wanted to go! We were near Howakil Bay a couple of good anchorages beckoned. We were about 35 miles short of Shumma Island. As the sun came up on our shoulder we nosed into Dergamman Kebir and had the anchor down just in time for Alan to do his turn on the IO net. Six of us had left Mersa Dudo together the wind change spread us out into different calm anchorages, depending where you were when the wind changed. 2 days later we met again at Shumma island for a beach party for Alans birthday. Shumma Is was as lovely as we had been led to believe. sandy beaches, clear water and good snorkeling. Shumma has some deserted houses and a light house which stopped working a while a go by the look of it. The ground also is covered in dried goat and camel manure. The ruins had inches of manure across the floors. What was puzzling was we could not see one animal, it is a big island but in 4 days we should have seen at least one goat or camel going on the layers of manure along the edge of the beach. After a bit of discussion the consensus was that perhaps the animals are grazed on the island during the wet season. Still puzzling about the animal situation we left for Massawa our first town experience of Eritrea, well first people experience of Eritrea. Up until now we had not met an Eritrean. We had seen two fishing boats only.

Eritrea and Ethiopia may be neighbours but they are not friendly , the bomb scarred town of Massawa is a constant reminder of their war. The Eritrean determination and guerilla warfare won out over a Russian backed Ethiopia, now Ethiopia has no sea coast, no port. The Port of Massawa is still battled scarred, there is little money for any extras in Eritrea certainly none to repair buildings from the Italian colonial period. The scarred columns and arches of the bombed town hall give a glimpse of an opulent colonial master. Not all colonial occupation is bad the Eritreans have taken ownership of the Italian coffee habit . In Massawa expresso machines steam away in cafes located in the poorest looking buildings . Strolling past the cafes on Harnett Ave in Asmara( the capital) watching locals enjoying coffee and pastries for breakfast you could think you were in small town Italy. Go back one street though and there is Eritrea, donkey carts, markets, women in colourful robes with gold nose rings, mosques, churches and more cafes, not as flash as the main street but still great coffee. Massawa and our trip into the mountains to Asmara was great, a few lines here doesn't do what we saw in Eritrea justice so I will write a separate piece. We over dosed on coffee and pastries while in Asmara but there is a whole lot more to Eritrea, so more later. Last Tuesday (Saturday today) we left Massawa heading for one anchorage 20 miles away then an over nighter to Khor Nawarat, where we are now, 155 miles. The wind of course had other ideas. The first anchorage at Shiekh el Abu was achieved. As expected a motor sail into a light NW, then expecting the same we left for Khor Nawarat. We got to Difnien island, 35 miles, the light NW had turned into 25 knots of hard work so we joined the other 6 boats already at Difnein Island. We wanted a morning arrival, with the sun behind us at Khor Nawarat, the increase in wind added too many hours to the trip. The weather forecast predicted the wind to change into the east and south so we stayed 2 nights. Yesterday morning we left with no wind. While we were busy landing 4 fish in quick succession the SE wind came up and we had such a good sail we had to slow down to reach here in daylight. The plan now is to stay long enough for Bryce (Silver Fern) to smoke all the fish we caught. He had a smoke up at Shumma Is and thinks its time for another. We will have a communal beach smoked fish dinner tomorrow night with the other 11 or so boat here then the next day head off towards Suakin hopefully there will still be some south in the wind.

We were a little unsure about anchoring at Difnien Is as two years ago a Yacht sailing past the island reported an unsettling incident. However having been there now and seen and talked to the 4 soldiers posted there I think it was not an attempt of piracy or anything dangerous. The soldiers are the only people on the island, they guard/run a very basic solar generated radar. Probably some of the radar units on boats in the bay would be more sophisticated. Eritrea is one of the 2 or 3 poorest countries in the world. The soldiers are posted there for a month at a time, the army supply fresh water, basic food (rice) which the guys supplement with fish, there is a solar panel for lights and a basic music radio, another solar panel for a VHF radio, their only communication with Masawa. Their living quarters and "kitchen" are shacks made of drift wood and old bits of iron. They do not wear their uniforms which are hung up by their very rudimentary beds. The island has no fresh water and is a coral sandy lump, no food growing there.

The Yacht 2 years ago was approached by a boat and the men (not in uniform) indicated they wanted the yacht to stop. The yacht carried on understandably a little wary. The men then went back to the island and came back with a gun and fired shots wanting them to stop. Once again understandably the yacht carried on as fast as they could. The men turned back to the island after a short pursuit. We did not ask the English speaking soldier about this incident but what I think is that there was an emergency that the soldiers needed help with. One of the men we spoke to had hurt his hand, a doctor in our group gave him some antibiotics to reduce the infection in his swollen hand. So there are many things they may have needed especially if their VHF connection with Massawa was down. They may have just needed to use the yachts VHF to contact Massawa . That's my theory any way. So for yachties passing Difnein Island and you want to stop, do so, maybe you might have something they could use. We are now minus one pair of sunglasses and some glass jars with lids. I hope the soldier is taking the antibiotics Neville gave him. They guided us yachties safely around the island so a little something in return is always a good idea.
Vessel Name: Tuatara
Vessel Make/Model: Alan Wright 51
Hailing Port: Opua NZ
Crew: Alan and Jean Ward

Sailing in the Pacific

Who: Alan and Jean Ward
Port: Opua NZ