Our destination was Port Galib,
where we planned to check into Egypt. It was a long 300+ mile
sail but we wanted to take advantage of the 3 day weather window
to get through the notorious Foul Bay. Foul Bay is a difficult
area to navigate, riddled with reefs and poorly charted with no
anchorages for protection if the winds pick up.
Weather conditions were favourable
so we decided to do some fishing. However, all that seemed to
want to hit our lure were barracuda. These nasty fish have razor
sharp teeth and are very difficult to release.
All went according to plan for the
first 36 hours and we made it past Foul Bay without any drama.
However, the wind suddenly increased as the weather system
rolled in 12 hours early. We battled with the elements but the
winds were so strong and right on the nose and the seas were so
steep that with sail and full throttle, we were making 0 knots
of headway! Only 25 miles to go to Port Galib and we were
So we searched for alternatives,
where we could anchor and wait out the weather. None of the
nearby bays looked very protected but we detoured to port and
tried to make it to Marsa Tarafi. Suddenly the engine
started making a horrid racket, sounding like ball bearings
thundering around inside the motor and we were overheating at an
alarming rate. In desperation we shut it down. Half way up the
Red Sea in a remote, desolate area, with strong winds beating
against us, there could not be a worse place to lose our motor!
Stardust was behind us and taking
refuge in Marsa Tundaba where there wasn't as much
surrounding reef to deal with. So we backtracked 10 miles and
found our way to the shores of the fishing village where we
dropped anchor under sail amidst a group of dive boats.
|The dusty barren
shoreline of Marsa Tundaba didn't seem very inviting.
Ashore a few primitive buildings in front of the distance wrinkle
brown mountains. We hoped there might be a dive resort but when we
tried to go ashore we were stopped because we did not yet have an
Egyptian Visa and Marsa Tundaba is not a point of entry.
The Saga Begins
Further investigation showed
that the gear than runs our water pump had shattered, so no
cooling system for the motor! The part is only about 4"
across, a round plastic disk with lots of teeth, looks like
something from Chris' Technic set.
Since the coastguard
would not let us off the boat there was no way to try and fix
or replace the part.
On the radio net, Christata
agreed to try and source the part where they were in Hurghada
since they had the exact spare part and were familiar with what
Later they informed us that there
was a part available in Cairo but it would cost $250 US. We were
astounded but you have to realize that everyone in Egypt has to
have a piece of the pie (baksheesh). There were probably
numerous pockets to be filled in order to get the part so we
relented and agreed to the price. We knew the part only cost $14
But now we had to find a way to get
the part to us, a 4 hour drive away form Hurghada by car. We
could not go ashore but we luckily found a captain of a local
dive boat to agree to drive to Hurghada and pick up the part for
us. It was due to arrive on the bus from Cairo the following day
so he set off. However, when he got to Hurghada, there was no
part. It was due in on the next bus. After the next bus...still
no part. He stayed an extra day but returned to Marsa Tundaba
In the meanwhile, Gord had jury
rigged our spare galley pump, bypassing the water pump on the
engine, to provide an emergency cooling system that would get us
out of a bind (like heading for a reef!).
So we pulled anchor in the wee hours
of the morn and set sail for Port Galib. Luckily we had ideal
weather conditions to sail and only had to use our emergency
pump to get through the
channel into Port Galib.
We checked in at the main dock then were redirected to a
cement wall where we were assisted in being tied up, but
confusion and chaos prevailed. It seemed that the dock
helpers had no idea how to catch mooring lines and the end
result was everyone bumping and slamming into other boats
and the wall.
Stardust got a few "bruises" on her brand new
Port Galib actually does not
exist yet, it is still being built. Someday it will be a first
class resort community but now it is a big dusty, noisy
construction site. There is a hotel here catering to Diving but
we are not especially welcome. The charge to use the pool was
$18, laundry - $1/item, internet $20 and meals over the roof!!!
Water at the dock is not drinkable and if we want to use some to
wash our boat we have to pay for a minimum of 100 gallons so the
boat remains covered with filth because without an engine, we
cannot make water. The public shower for the men did not have
hot water but the women's did so I was sneaking my laundry into
the shower with me!
In 2008 Port Galib was only
a dusty construction site
Not a lot to offer cruising
yachts in Port Galib.
|It went from being really hot to
really COLD at night! We dug out all our woolies.
In search of some kind of store to buy groceries we walked 45
minutes and came to a little Egyptian restaurant called "Tweetys"
where we ordered the most delicious pizza! The owner's name was
"Honey" and he offered to organize a van to drive us to
Hurghada to pick up our water pump gear. ("White people" are
not allowed to ride the local buses because of safety issues.)
We trudged thru dirt piles and heavy
construction equipment, through partially built condos and
vacant finished buildings.
|Splitting the cost with 2 other couples, we made the 3 hour drive to
We all thought that the trip would be an interesting
adventure but the landscape the entire way there was bleak plains of
flat nothingness, course sand with absolutely no plantlife. The road
followed the coast and the only things to look at were manmade,
exclusive resorts being built everywhere. They must be expecting a
booming tourist industry, not my choice of a holiday destination but
the diving is supposed to be very good.
|The architecture of the resorts was really interesting though with
bulbous like turrets adorning the concrete structures.
The Replacement Part and the
beginning of our Nightmare
Hurghada was a bustling town
and the marina was our first port of Call. Turned out that our
part was not available in Cairo after all, so it was
engineered, a copy being made of the original nylon composite
part using Cristata's spare as a template, but out
of brass. We had reservations with the quality of the
brass (who knows what old piece of scrap they made it from) and
we had concerns with thermal expansion of the different
materials (steel Cam gear running on a Brass water-pump gear).
After visiting with a few fellow
cruisers, we went for a fantastic Egyptian lunch. "Honey"
ordered for us and so we got authentic cuisine and Egyptian
prices too! It is amazing the double standard here, a whole
separate pricing system for tourists and foreigners. You really
have to bargain hard.
Then we spent time at the internet
as we needed to get weather information. Then we went to a
supermarket and all replenished our stock of groceries. Our
driver took Bob to a place that would fill his jugs with
drinking water as he does not have a watermaker. By then it was
time to head back. The scenery was so boring that we all slept
on the trip back to Port Galib.
in Port Galib
The good news was that the part
worked. We tested it by making water and charging batteries and
all seemed fine. Now we just needed a weather window to leave.
It looks like we will be trapped here for at least 4 more days
before we can make the next jump to Hurghada, 24 hours
|We watched some dancing at the hotel
bar. We got away with not ordering anything to drink as the
service was so poor no one ever came around to our table to ask
for an order, which was fine because local beer cost $8/glass!!!
The show was great, belly dancers (both men & women) and
colorful Whirling Dervish. At the end, everyone got up and
joined in the dancing.
A twin to our Beneteau boat, wrecked
on a reef just off the entrance, was a dismal reminder that we
were in dangerous waters.
Sailing the Red Sea is frustrating.
It seems that you just jump from point to point, going like
crazy before the wind changes on to your nose. Then you wait out
the blow usually at anchor, which means that it is too rough to
launch your dinghy to snorkel or go ashore. When the weather is
conducive to exploring, up comes the anchor and you are motoring
like crazy again to make a few more miles.
Finally the GRIB (a very
unreliable but our only weather forecast) gave us an
indication of a break in the hostile weather. So we
checked out and paid our fees thinking we could leave
around noon. But noon came and the seas outside the
harbour were still a frothing white, huge waves and
strong winds. About 6 boats were waiting in
anticipation, antsy for the wind to subside. Finally at
4 pm the first brave soul ventured out and we were all
soon to follow.
As night fell the winds settled and
the seas flattened so we motored as hard as we could against the
current. We were doing fine until 7 am when all of a sudden
there was that horrible sound again....Rattle rattle bang
crunch crunch. A horrendous noise that sounded like an
explosion was imminent! In horror we quickly turned off the
engine. Further investigation revealed that our new $250 brass
gear for the water pump had given out. All the points on the
gear were shorn flat. We had been suspicious that making it out
of brass would not work but at the time there was no other
solution because the part did not exist in Egypt. The tack
sensor was also damaged so our panel quit working and we had no
Gord reinstalled his makeshift jury
rigged water pump in mid ocean, splicing the lines for a
temporary fix and we limped into Hurghada by mid