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
05 December 2013 | Auckland
27 October 2013 | Vavau Tonga
12 September 2013 | Samoa
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02 June 2013 | Pacific Ocean
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24 May 2013 | Eastern Pacific Ocean
19 May 2013 | Western Pacific Ocean
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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

Will we ever leave Egypt?

22 May 2010 | Ismailia
Ismailia (still!)
22 May 2010
Photo; Lars, Alan and Mohammed at Giza. Unexpected meeting gives Mohammed a photo for his album.

We are still reluctantly tied to Egypt. 3 days ago, Thursday, we were all set to leave Ismailia. Everything packed away, ready for the pilot to take us through to Port Said. At 10am an hour later than expected, (Egyptian time) only one pilot arrived but there were three yachts ready to transit, Just Jane, Saraoni and ourselves. The pilot was for Just Jane, Saraoni and ourselves were told, "you can't go, you haven't paid '.

"Of course we've paid, they wouldn't let us leave Port Suez if we hadn't paid!!!"

We produced receipts and clearance certificates, but that still didn't satisfy the Suez Canal man. There was no agent stamp on either document and the agent name on the clearance paper was apparently not that of our agency, Felix Maritime Agency.

"See it says Green Island, who are they??" he says pointing to the Arabic writing.

"We don't know what it says, its in Arabic!"

"See it says Green Island, not Felix"

"Its in Arabic, but we believe you, can we still go today? '

"No, no you haven't paid! '

"Yes we have ...."
And so it went on for a few minutes, we rang our agent, Maghdi, he said he would sort it out.
"They are playing games with you"

We had slowly come to the realization that we were caught in the middle of some political strife between the agency and Suez Canal authority. Time was moving on and by the time our little man in his yellow striped shirt had disappeared with our paper work we were resigned to another day at Ismailia.
Patience when dealing with officials is an important asset to have while cruising, something I don't always have a lot of but Alan has enough for the two of us, that is until Egypt. Late afternoon the Suez Canal man returned.

"All ok now, you go tomorrow"

"No we go the next day, the weather is not good for tomorrow, we have missed our weather window."

When asked what the problem was he just shrugged and said, "they play a black game with you"

Words like "Egyptian bullshit 'were being muttered as he left.

What with paying baksheesh to the gate guards to get diesel in and having to show our passport everytime we go through the gate even if it is only 10 minutes apart, answering the same question every time, "Where you go?" And for the women the standard question is "have you any sisters? I give many camels.", this last incident was really the last straw. If it hadn't been for Mohammed the taxi driver who helps with getting diesel and smoothes the way, using our money, with the gate guards, our impression of all Egyptian men would be pretty low. Mohammed is a gentleman.

As it has turned out the weather window has shut until tomorrow, I guess Sunday is as good a day as any to free ourselves of Egypt and head to Cyprus. We wont count our chickens until we have our pilot onboard and lines untied.

There has been a silver lining to all this, the delay has meant that Alan could finish filling up the diesel, we were two fuel runs short of full tanks. Filling the tanks is not as straight forward as pulling up to a fuel dock. There is no fuel dock here at Ismailia or Port Suez, all fuel has to be jerry jugged. That's a lot of jerry jugs for the 700 litres we wanted. At Suez the official price for yachts is 90cents US per litre with no possibility of getting it from a service station at the local price of 27.5 NZ cents per litre. Here at Ismailia we can get fuel in through the gate at the local price on the whim of the guards and of course with much baksheesh smoothing the way. This is where Mohammed comes in, he seems to have a contact at the gate who tells him if it's safe, if the big boss is not visiting then it's safe to do a diesel run or two. There has been a Mohammed smoothing the way at every major port since Oman, except Eritrea. Mohammed of Salalah and Mohammed of Suakin even looked the same, tall men, jet black faces with a huge smiles full of white teeth, each wearing a sparkling white robe each day and each with a finger in many pies.

The first baksheesh payment is at the service station, even the locals tip the attendants. 5 LE, just over a NZ $, was the going rate for each visit. That was until one trip the attendants had changed and this lot didn't want to go through Mohammed they wanted to deal direct with the westerners, they thought they would get more that way. Mohammed stood his ground, a huge arm waving argument followed until the manager came and put the jugs into the car himself and settled the argument. Needless to say another service station was used for the remainder of the fuel.

The next lot of baksheesh goes to the guards on the Marina gate, 15LE per jerry can. Some days they let you take 2 jugs per trip and other days 4 jugs per trip is ok. Nothing is consistent, new yachties in who don't know the drill are asked for outrageous amounts of baksheesh which they then have to negotiate down to something acceptable. It all takes time and energy which could be used to get fuel.

Another lot of baksheesh goes to the marina worker who helps carry the jugs from the gate to the boat. Somewhere between 5 and 10LE a day for him. The last payment is for Mohammed he gets 25LE per trip which would usually cost 10LE for a return trip by taxi to the service station. I am sure he gets a cut of the guards baksheesh as Alan pays that to him and he discreetly passes it on to the guards. Without Mohammed this whole performance would be very difficult.

23NZ cents a litre baksheesh, the fuel is a lot cheaper than in the Med so we are grateful but we could do without the hassle. I read somewhere that Egyptian men would not exist if it wasn't for baksheesh.

The amount of times Alan has been in and out of the gate the guards should know his face very well, but no,
"Passport" every time in and out. Yesterday the guard heard us mutter .. "not again" so we were taken into the bosses office. He was on the phone and waved us away when he recognized our faces.
We are Egypted out, roll on tomorrow.

$ NZ 1 = 4 LE (Egypt pound)
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