Monday, March 20, 2017

Khor Shinab's hold

Our early morning departure from Taila of Sudan on March 18th saw us safely away from the coral bommies which were easily seen in the clear water. As predicted, the north headwinds had abated so we were motoring to continue northwards up the Red Sea. It was about a 50-nautical-mile run to our next destination, Khor Shinab.

Fishing has been awesome in the Red Sea. Experience has it that shortly after putting out a line, fish is caught. Jordan caught another, this one a bit smaller, but for only two of us, that's preferable.

On our way, we passed Leoni reef anchorage, reputed to be the best snorkelling; we just had to stop and see (N20°54.920' E037°15.640'). Our consensus? The best in the Red Sea yet.

Coral garden

Varieties of coral

Along the way, a small panga with a couple of friendly fishermen approached, asking if we had any soft drinks. Unfortunately we only had one Cola which they gladly accepted. And it was cold too! We also accommodated and gave them an older snorkelling mask to their delight. Heading off, as their boat bounced on top of the waves, the mask was being tried on top of bright grins.

As the day progressed, the winds steadily built. This time it was in our favour and we were running down to our next anchorage, so by the time we made it there in the late afternoon, it was at least a lively Force 6 on the Beaufort scale.

The only suitable anchorage was at the end of a 2.5-nautical-mile long channel that led inland. Even after anchoring (N21°21.090' E037°00.881'), we could tell the wind's escalation hadn't finished. It was here that we experienced the notorious Red Sea's namesake. The skies darkened and the desert scene was obliterated with a howling atmosphere of sandy dust. Poor Sea Turtle was covered with the fine dust that forms the top layer of this African desert. All the saltiness of the boat was like a magnet for the stuff and Sea Turtle took on a dirty rouge tinge. There was even settlement inside.

It's dust, not fog

It's dust, not a lightsaber of Star Wars

The next morning, the wind was light and variable so Sea Turtle's anchor came up and she swam the mile out to see what it was like out in the big blue. By the time she got to the outside entrance, the winds had really picked up and from the north, the direction she wanted to head. So when she stuck her nose out, seeing the boisterous sea state, she turned tail and swam all the way back up the channel returning to the safe hangout to wait for another day (N21°21.061' E037°00.832').

So when we awoke early March 20th, the wind was quiet. We quickly brought up the anchor and hurried out to sea. Khor Shinab had given up her hold on us!

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