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  december 2009


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01/12/09  Happy Birthday Ann!   Weighed anchor just after 8am and made out into the Shadwan Channel.  Not such a hot day today with approx. 80% cloud cover during the morning.  I made my way through the reefs, altering course every half hour or so but generally heading due south.  Roger chose another route through the reefs which put him about a mile behind me as we approached Hurghada Marina four hours later.  I entered the marina and tied up next to Graham on Eeyore (last seen in Marmaris), shortly followed by Storm Dodger and Moody Time.  First impressions of the marina ......it's very clean and modern looking with shops and restaurants around the edges and it was only an hour or so before we tried out one of them!  There is supposed to be internet here but I'm as yet unable to connect to it.

02/12/09  OK, second impressions.......last night wasn't very pleasant, I was continually harassed by mosquitoes onboard, there is a constant swell within the marina which causes the bow ropes to squeal all the time (now fitted springs) and a couple of hundred metres behind me is a nightclub which pounded out head-banging music (?) until 3am.....only to be replaced by the wailey-wailey man just after four o'clock!  I have this morning managed to log on to the advertised wi-fi but despite 3 hours of trying to download my 43 e-mails, I am unable to do so.  PLEASE, (I have asked before through e-mail), do not send me any big mail - that means no powerpoint shows, no photographs etc., just text mail ONLY - and please delete all the headers and footers before sending.  I cannot afford the time to sit waiting hours for downloads, and large files just crash the server.  I think I've just managed to update the site.....though it took a long while with the very slow connection!  Jamie and Liz aboard Esper have an excellent website (there is a link on my Links page) and they publish podcasts during their voyages.  One such podcast includes my voice - which is a bit disconcerting because I don't usually listen to myself!  It's their second part podcast of the Suez Canal and you can listen to it on their site.

07/12/09  I guess I've seen all that Hurghada has to offer now and that isn't much.  The town basically consists of one main street which is completely taken up by tourist junk shops, quirky eating houses and cars whose drivers cannot find the light switch but most certainly know where the horn button is.  The rest of town is just like any other Egyptian town - rubble and litter strewn. 

09/12/09  Poor Jordan on Storm Dodger, who has been having problems with his toes, had to go into hospital today for an operation.  As both feet were involved, he is now unable to walk for the next week or so, and is confined to bed!  I spent the day cleaning water intake filters and removing the speed log impeller for cleaning and storage - I'll replace that immediately before sailing again.  There has been no internet connection again for the last few days.

10/12/09  Did some of my dhobying this morning, then transferred four jerry cans of fuel into the main tank.  The galley taps have been leaking for a while, so I dismantled the mixer unit, cleaned everything and reassembled it, which seems to have cured the problem for the time being.  Relaxed for the rest of the day as it was too hot to do much on deck, then went for a beer and a meal with Roger, Astrid, Nigel, Debs, Graham and Colin.

11/12/09  Too hot to sit in the cockpit......and it's only 9.30am!  Strolled into town with Roger and managed to buy some of the future courtesy flags that will be needed and new batteries for my hand-bearing compass.  I also relented and bought a wi-fi dongle which connects to the Egyptian phone network (Roger got his yesterday) and which should allow me to access the internet whilst in Egyptian waters.  A big crowd of us went into town again in the evening, to the Starfish Restaurant for a meal, meeting new boat crews who are joining the rally here.

12/12/09  Back to the 'dongle shop' because despite my efforts to get the shopkeeper to register and activate the thing yesterday, and his assurances that he had.......it still was not!  For ease, I went to the main Mobinil phone shop and spoke with an English speaking rep. who, within a few seconds had registered the sim card on his computer and I was on my way.  Why couldn't the first shop have done that?

17/12/09  Not a great deal happening at the moment - Jordan had his stitches removed and is now mobile again, Yollie (Roger's Mum) arrived for a holiday on Tuesday evening, my dongle now works but I only use it for e-mails and wait for the wi-fi to work before going on 'the net'.  Most of the rally boats have now assembled in the marina and the list now reads:    Staying here in Egypt - Medea, Adelante.  Leaving the rally for India - Jenzminc VI.  Joined the rally here - Eeyore, Shelter, Anthea, Easy'n'Free.   Rally non-starters - Black Swan, China Girl, Forever Freedom, Chronos Ganesch.  Also arrived in the marina is Heart of Gold, the ketch we saw aground off Marsa Thelemet on the 24th of last month - she doesn't look too badly damaged and has obviously been 'salvaged' by Egyptians.

18/12/09  So.....heavy snowfalls in the UK, including London and my 'home' county of Kent, people trapped overnight at the Kent County Showground in Detling, sub-zero temperatures etc., etc.  Here's a 'Spot the difference' for you......  

Hurghada Marina on the left, Maidstone High Street on the right - both taken yesterday.  Of course, the difference is obvious.....in the photo on the right, the trees are a different shape!

19/12/09  A couple of days ago, a group of us booked a trip to Luxor to see the sights there.  We are due to go tomorrow, leaving at 3am - but late this evening, after a meal in the Cafe del Mar, Dan (Still Dreaming) and I had to go up to the Travel Agents Association on the opposite side of town in order to purchase a travel permit - despite having visa's for the whole of Egypt, in order that our group could make the journey.  Still haven't figured out why....something about mafia control and illegal operations by the aforementioned office.  Anyway, at least the start time has been delayed until 5am!

20/12/09  The ten of us gathered at 5am and boarded our mini-bus for the long journey south and west, travelling inland through the desert.  After a breakfast stop at I don't know where, we eventually reached the fertile plains along the River Nile.  A complete change of scenery here -  everything is green and lush, and from Qena and Qeft City areas the land is covered with mile after mile of sugar cane plantations, the sides of the road edged with small-holdings growing an abundance of vegetables. (photo right)  This has all been aided by funds from the World Food Programme and although the farmers are now largely self sufficient, they still have problems with irrigation, flooding and water seepage into their housing.  Arriving just outside Thebes, which is now modern day Luxor, we collected Irenia (spelling may be wrong!), our female Egyptian guide who would stay with us for two days, and then hit the sites!  I am neither historian nor Egyptologist, so this will be brief and you can look the rest up on the internet should you so wish.

We first visited Karnak Temple which is actually several temples in one.  The three main temples being those of the gods Mut, Montu and Amun.  Only the latter, the Temple of Amun, is open to the public and is the "main" temple, which forms by far the largest part of the site.  After the pyramids of Giza, this is the most visited site in Egypt and that was very obvious by the number of tourists there! 

Then it was on to Luxor Temple built largely by Amenhotep III and Ramesses II.  It appears that the temple's purpose was for a suitable setting for the festival of Opet, which was to reconcile the human aspect of the ruler with that of divine office.  The festival began at Karnak, murals and hieroglyphics showing the procession along the Nile to Luxor.

By now, we were all hungry and Irenia took us to a restaurant overlooking the Nile where we were able to help ourselves from a hot and cold buffet, though I have to say that their idea of 'hot' food and my idea of 'hot' food are two different things altogether!  It wasn't too bad though and at least we could get a cold beer!

After lunch, we went to a Papyrus display which gave an insight into the making of this traditional paper and the option to buy pictures if you so desired.  As we all live on boats, we don't have room for such things and only Roger's Mum Yollie made a purchase.  From here we went to our hotel, 'The Morris', which is a 4 star establishment (more like a 3 in England) and settled into our rooms for an hour or so before all meeting up again at 5pm to go to the Luxor Museum.

This museum is relatively new, being inaugurated in 1975, and in my opinion is a superb example of what a museum should be like.  It prides itself on the quality of it's pieces and because of this, the artefacts on display are deliberately more restricted than those of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.  Each exhibit is appropriately lit and has clear multilingual labelling making it all very easy to follow.  Pride of place has to be the striking display of goods taken from the tomb of King Tutankhamen, and the mummies of Ahmose I and Rameses I.  As no photography is allowed inside, I have copied some photo's from the public domain to show the museum interior.

Then it was back to the hotel for dinner - which they wanted to charge us for, but for which we had already paid when booking our trip.  Afterward, Roger, Colin and myself found a little English Bar for a pint.....only having the one as it had been a long tiring day with lots of walking and we were all ready for our beds.

21/12/09  The shortest day - though it didn't seem that way to us!  I was up at 5.30am and..........no hot water!!  I had already (twice) notified the front desk about this yesterday, but obviously nothing had been done - so I had to make do with a bracing cold wash down before going out for a walk around the local area prior to breakfast.  Boarding the mini-bus, we crossed over the Nile to the west bank and down to the Valley of the Kings  Again no photography allowed during our visit to the tombs of Ramesses I, Ramesses III and the unfinished tomb.  We also went into perhaps the most well known of all - the tomb of the boy king - King Tutankhamen, where his mummy lies in the controlled environment of a glass case.  His death at the early age of nineteen is still a subject of mystery and speculation by historians.  From here, it's just a short bus ride  to the Temple of Hatshepsut.

After this, a brief stop at an alabaster workshop to see how it's carved, then on to the Colossi of Memnon, before returning to Luxor for lunch and the drive back to Hurghada.  We arrived back at the marina around 9pm - all tired but having enjoyed the trip a great deal.

22/12/09  Just settling down for the evening and starting a film when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a shadowy movement on the companionway steps..........it was a rat....... A BLOODY RAT!!   I HATE rats!  I mean big time,  desert ones, sewer ones, big ones, small ones,  white ones with pink eyes, grey ones, black ones......it doesn't matter - I hate them all!   After my initial recoil in horror - which made the damn thing run and hide - I thought about how to kill it.  OK, spear gun from the aft cabin, remove spear and skewer it.......except I missed and stabbed my seaboots (rendering them useless) and the rat legged it behind the VHF and into all the wiring.  Great, just great!  So, set the rat-trap which I bought in Marmaris, and load it with blue cheese, then sit back and wait for it to re-appear - which it did (TWICE) - and took the cheese without setting off the trap.  Get a file and file down the trip lever so that it goes off at the slightest touch, trap own finger in process, get plaster then sit and wait again.  Rat emerges, skirts round the trap (he's full now) and wanders around the cabin.  I slowly get spear and lunge at it.  This time I score a direct hit.....on two full cans of Coca-Cola which now spray their contents everywhere....rat runs back into hole behind radio, I mop up sticky coke from self and all surfaces.  This went on all night....... how could I go to sleep with a bloody rat onboard?

23/12/09  Daylight and not one second of sleep during the night  -  several failed attempts to spear Roland and now all is quiet 'cos he's gone to sleep somewhere.  Angry that he's sleeping and I'm not, I turn out the nav berth, empty the lockers and find nothing - BUT I know it's still there somewhere.  Set the trap again and shut all doors so it doesn't escape, before going over to Storm Dodger for tea and sympathy.  Had a couple of hours sleep there whilst Astrid made frequent checks of the trap.  Eventually, she saw the enemy in a locker under the chart table seat, but it escaped once again.  Nightfall, new cheese on trap, all but the last washboard in place and me standing guard in the cockpit.  Roland makes his appearance - surprisingly at the top of the washboards - and decides he wants a look around outside.  I slam the last washboard closed to prevent re-entry into the saloon and proceed to stab around the cockpit sole with the spear but to no avail.  The damn thing is just too fast, and now it's disappeared again but at least it's not inside.  A torchlight search of the deck and ropes revealed nothing, so hopefully, it went back ashore along the bow lines - the way it must have boarded.  Nonetheless, the washboards are staying in, and the trap is staying loaded by the chart table and I'm staying nervous and jumpy!

24/12/09  No re-appearance of the new crew member, but all on the pontoon were asking of his welfare and giving tongue in cheek comments!  The whole rally attended a Christmas meal held within the marina complex at The Dunes Restaurant - yotties suitably adorned with Santa hats.

25/12/09  Good grief, is it Christmas again so soon?  Seems like only yesterday we had one of those in Marmaris!   Anyway......


We had all decided to have a Christmas lunch on the pontoon, each boat cooking something to share with the others.  I was charged with potatoes (mashed) and vegetables for seven people.  So I had three large pans of potatoes, three equally large pans of broccoli and two of carrots, plus a tray of roast potatoes.   Now, the galley work surface area on Rhumb Do is around 18 inches by 18 inches, the cooker has a small oven and the hob just two gas rings - go figure!  Christmas Dinner in the sun wearing t-shirt and shorts is not what you folks in England are doing right now!  Everyone seemed to have a good time throughout the afternoon with Jamie of Esper, ably assisted by Leah of Storm Dodger, handing out the 'secret Santa' presents to around 37 yotties in attendance.  Naturally, there are some festive photo's!

26/12/09  Visited the Nile Hospital today!  I went up there to try and get the elusive typhoid injection plus the last of my Hep. B jabs.  As in Turkey, I had no luck with the typhoid - the vaccine is unavailable.   But Hep. B was no problem, except like other rally members before me, I discovered that the Egyptians don't jab your arm.  Of course, no-one had told me this until after the event so it was a bit of a surprise - and fairly painful to sit down for the rest of the day!!

27/12/09  After last week's cultural education, today was a time for a bit of fun!  Roger, Astrid, Yollie, Jordan, Leah and I went off on a 'Marina Safari; which started with a bus ride to the safari centre.  Here, we all donned our shemaghs, listened to a short briefing and then headed off into the desert in a spider car (a bit like a dune buggy).  On returning to the centre, we changed over to quad bikes and went out again for about 45 minutes, Leah riding with me, Yollie with Roger and Astrid with Jordan.  Then it was into landcruisers and off on a long, high speed, bone jarring ride far out into the desert to visit a Bedouin camp (which was probably built purely as a tourist attraction), where we had camel rides and a light lunch.  The camp had a display of desert reptiles, foxes and other small animals as well as a an informative talk on 'alternative' medicines - the Bedouin wisely don't go to hospitals.  On return to the centre, we had dinner and a show.....belly dancing and a variant of the Turkish Whirling Dervishes.  All in all, an enjoyable fun day out, returning to the boats about 8.30pm.   Some piccies!

29/12/09  Today would have been my Mum's Birthday, so it's a sad time for our family now that she is no longer with us.

30/12/09  Thoughts are now firmly directed at leaving Hurghada on the next leg.  Astrid came over and gave me a hand to virtually dismantle the lockers and cupboards, listing what I have, and have not got.  There will be no supplies available after here, so I need to stock up on enough food to keep going for several weeks.  The whole rally got together and ordered flour for bread making, which this morning, we weighed out and distributed to the various boats.  Here I am in the cockpit, packing mine into 1kg bags for storage.  I still have so much to do before leaving!!

31/12/09  Still trying to re-locate gear within the boat for most of the day. as well as going into town to price up some fishing gear, namely another reel and rod - you never know, I could get to like fishing....but I doubt it!  Nonetheless, it would help with the food situation over the next months.  Had my hair cut, took my wi-fi dongle to a computer shop for their 'expert' to decode it and allow it to be used in any country with the appropriate SIM card inserted.  There is a party in the Sphinx Bar, with karaoke etc., but I didn't really fancy that, so stayed onboard and watched a film before bed.


For previous logs, click Here

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