PSCC Cruise Report from Complexity - Now in the Red Sea

Congratulations to Barbara, Jim, Lukas and Elis on s/v Complexity, who are now out of the Red Sea, and about a quarter of the way through the Suez Canal, at Timsah Lake, Ismailia Governorate, Egypt. Whew! Hang in there!

Complexiy in Suez Canal

Date: April 27, 2020 Local Time: 2205
Time in UTC: 2005
Position: 25 55.4 N 34 32.7 E
Course: 336 T COG
Speed: 5.7 K SOG
Wind: S 8.4 K

All is well aboard. We hope it is with all of you too. We are on passage from Marsa Imbarak to Soma Bay which is just north of Safaga, Egypt. We will anchor there for at least 2-3 days if the forecast strong northerly winds materialise. We are taking advantage of a period of light and southerly winds to move north. We are traveling in company with Polar Wind, Xamala and Randivag. I can see their lights to port and starboard less than a nautical mile from us. ReVision II needed to remain at Port Ghalib to receive a package which was delayed. She will join us further north. Tara, a Swedish boat, anchored with us in Marsa Imbarak. Tara departed Marsa Imbarak at the same time we did, but travels more slowly. Tara plans to catch up with us.

Traveling to save fuel means sheltering at anchor along the way when the dominant northerly winds are strong. No need wasting fuel and our energy bashing into headwinds and a foul current. We are not in a big hurry to reach Port Suez. We won’t transit the Suez Canal until we have a place to go in the Med. Currently all countries there have closed their borders due to the pandemic. We have heard reports of sailboats being driven back out to sea by gunboats in Malta and other places in the Med, even if they don’t have sufficient fuel and food to safely carry on. Some places are allowing brief stops to take on fuel and food.

Most countries worldwide have closed their borders except to their own citizens to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Citizens arriving almost everywhere by air have to undergo a two-week quarantine. The USA is so far away that arriving there any time by boat soon is out of the question. The border closures world wide are no longer logical since most countries now have cases, often many cases, of COVID-19 infections. It makes life very difficult for people traveling on small boats who were underway when borders closed. We have friends stranded on their boats in many places. It is very difficult for cruising boats the world over to even stop briefly anywhere to receive essential provisions like fuel and food. The up side is that we are all very well sheltered from exposure to COVID 19.

As of right now, the only official place for vessels not cleared into Egypt to obtain fuel and food is at Port Ghalib and Port Suez. We have heard of fishermen and dive boat crew supplying international boats but that is a hit or miss proposition. We chose to resupply at Port Ghalib. We had to send a shopping list to our agent, Mohamed of NASCO Tours, at least three days ahead of our arrival. We were required while waiting to pick up a mooring in Marsa Imbarak about 1.5 nautical miles south of Port Ghalib. I wrote about the mooring in my last passage notes. It was in 7.5 feet of water and was exposed to swell and winds up to 25 k from the open ocean. Lukas swam down and found that the line wrapped around a coral head was chafed. The next day, instead of picking up one of the two moorings, we anchored when we returned from picking up our supplies. We had been radioed when the supplies were ready and made our way to the quarantine dock in Port Ghalib. We were only allowed there long enough for the agent and port staff to hand fuel jugs and boxes of food to us. The stop cost a bit over US$1000, but we now have adequate fuel and food to reach Port Suez. After we left the quarantine dock the authorities sprayed the dock with a bleach solution even though we were not allowed to go ashore.

Friends on Liberte and Joana who entered Port Ghalib before the border closed have been allowed to stay though they are confined to the resort. They plan to remain at Port Ghalib until a border opens to them in the Med. We would have loved to catch up over a cold drink and food, but they were not allowed to come close to our boat during our stop. They waved at us from the roof of an adjacent building and took photos of us at the dock. Liz kindly sent some yummy treats in our food provisions that Mohamed brought to our boat. We really appreciate her generosity! We also appreciate the marina staff, NASCO agent and local officials for making reprovisioning possible at Port Ghalib.

Yesterday, thankfully during the day when we were all awake, our anchor drug and we started moving quickly towards the reefs. It took four tries to get it to set. Even then when Lukas and Elis swam to the anchor it was not dug in. The turned it over and Jim pulled on it again. The holding in Marsa Imbarak is poor at best. We were all so rattled by the episode that we were up off and on all night checking our position even though the anchor alarm was set.

On a positive note we loved seeing big sea turtles near the boat in Maras Imbarak. It is also one of the few places in the Red Sea where dugong live. We were very excited to see one even though we have seen them before in Australia, the Solomons, Papua New Guinea and Palua. It is getting cooler as we travel north. My fleece jacket feels nice while I am on watch tonight. For now we have SIM cards and data for Internet access. We are not sure how long our data will last or how good reception will be as we travel north. I was overwhelmed by the large number of inquiries about our whereabouts and well being. I’ll try to send personal replies to all of them.

Our transmission seems to be functioning properly. We have not had any further problems with it since Lukas and Jim removed the trousers that were tightly wound around our propeller and wedged under the blades of the prop. All other boat systems are also working.

Please take very good care of yourselves and stay well. Please keep in touch. We love hearing from you any time, but especially while we are so isolated.

Love, Barbara and Jim, Lukas and Elis

Complexity Refueling