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This is the route taken by Long Passages through the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.  Overall we had a good passage with mostly southerly winds or light northerly winds. 

Long Passages'  Route and Stops through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea

For detailed information about the passage visit our Mar - May 2003 Journal or Ship's Log 
Destination Country Position*
See note below
# Overnights from previous stop Comments
Salalah Harbor Oman 16°56.27N
54°00.28E
12 Arrived from Uligan, Maldives after a mostly light air passage.  Secure ,but small anchorage in a commercial port.
Aden Harbor Yemen 12°47.49N
44°58.79E
2-3 We traveled very slowly to time our arrival on the edge of the dangerous piracy zone at dusk so that we could go thru that area at night.  Secure  anchorage in commercial port.
Small Strait - Bab El Mandeb Yemen   1 Small strait between Perim Island and Yemen coast no problems this year.  We did confirm that it was OK to transit this strait with the Aden Harbour master before departing Aden.
Assab Harbor Eritrea 13°00.17N
42°44.68E
  Deserted small port.  Reasonable shelter behind a breakwater.
Ras Terma Eritrea 13°11.65N
42°29.26E
  OK shelter but very gusty next to a small rock island with a large and noisy gannet colony.
Mersa Dudo Eritrea 13°51.89N
41°54.34E
  Secure anchorage and very good holding in 35-40+ kts. of wind. Anchor as close to the beach as you are comfortable with.   Small huts on shore.  Not very picturesque.
Shumma Island (Port Smythe) Eritrea   2 This is truly a desert island with no trees and virtually no inhabitants. Small reef anchorage.  We did not stop here, but included this because most other boats did stop.
Massawa Harbor Eritrea 15°36.00N
39°27.70E
  Very good shelter in an anchorage at the back of the commerical port.  People and officials very friendly.
Eagle Island Sudan 18°43.93N
37°40.99E
2 Reasonable shelter from either Northerlies or Southerlies.  Very small island - protected by reefs and Sudan mainland.
Long Island Sudan 18°46.51N
37°39.44E
  Beautiful island with flamingos - protected by reefs.
Shubuk Channel Sudan     Shortcut channel, mainly behind reefs, to Suakin. Can be challenging if strong northerly winds.  We had 20-25 northerlies, but motor-sailed through it OK.  Must be very careful with waypoints, using eyeball navigation.
Marsa Esh Sheikh Ibraham Sudan 18°52.81N
37°.24.83E
  Lovely protected anchorage behind a large reef.  We anchored close to the mangroves.
Suakin Harbor Sudan 19°06.48N
37°20.24E
  Very sheltered picturesque, if somewhat small,  anchorage at the back of the small commerical port.  Wonderful ruins and "bibical" village.
Port Sudan Sudan 19°36.50N
37°13.35E
  Large, dirty commerical port.  Small anchorage for yachts at the back next to the container ship dock.
Marsa Fijab Sudan 20°01.99N
37°11.56E
  Beautiful,  reef-protected anchorage with nesting ospreys, flamingos and other birds. 
Khor Shinab Sudan 21°20.97N
37°00.62E
2 Fabulous anchorage approximately 2 nm at the end of the khor.  Do climb the hill in late afternoon to view the changing colors of the desert landscape.
Sharm Luli Egypt 24°34.3N
35°17.1E
2 Nice marsa anchorage with good protection and holding.  You will be visited by the Egyptian military, but they said we could stay as long as we wanted.  No facilities, but there are people you can get fuel and provisions for you.  They will usually visit you boat and are very nice.
Safaga (Ras Abu Soma) Egypt 26°49.82N
33°57.16E
  We by- passed Safaga in favor of anchoring at Ras Abu Soma because we were planning to check in at Hurghada.  Lots of coral but good protection and holding.
Hurghada Egypt 27°13.7N
33°50.7E
  Horrible anchorage with bad holding near the fishing and ferry docks.  But you must anchor here to check in.  Try to get there early so that you have time to travel up to Abu Tig Marina or onto one of the anchorages in the Gulf of Suez.  We arrived late in the day, so had to spend the night here.  Luckily the wind was light and we had no problems.  Fantasia agents of minimal use, but difficult to check in on your own.  After contacting them, you must go in and pick up the agent to bring out to your boat.
El Gouna - Abu Tig Marina Egypt 27°24.44N
33°40.54E
  First class marina and a welcome stop after the sandstorms and rough passage up the Red Sea.  Go stern or bow-to seawall and tail to moorings.  The marina staff will come in dingys to help you get tied up.
Port Suez Egypt 29°56.8N
32°34.4E
1 You must tie up between 2 moorings, so have bow and stern lines ready. Interesting anchorage as you watch the convoys of ships move north and south in the Suez Canal.
Ismailia Egypt 30°35.1N
32°16.3E
  Lovely place with good water, fuel available and good provisioning within walking distance of the marina in "western" like supermarket. Also internet places around town. Tie stern to the quay with line to mooring float. There can be some violent motion at the quay due to tugs and pilot boats moving in the area. Also it may be best to drop an anchor since the mooring floats are not anchored very securely.
Port Said Egypt 31°15.4N
32°18.9E
  Horrible "marina" at exorbitant price, but may be unavoidable if you decide to do your checkout of Egypt here. It is possible to checkout of Egypt in Port Suez but you will not be allowed to leave the yacht club grounds in Ismailia. Even if you just tie up to checkout, you will be charged for a night’s berthage. If you do decide to tie up, you tie stern to between the 2 rusted, concrete finger piers, dropping an anchor. The trick is to stay far enough away from the piers, but still allow access ashore. The holding for the anchor is good. Lots of motion due to pilot boats, tugs and fishing boats.

*CAUTION:  These positions are where we ANCHORED or MOORED - NOT the position of the entrance to the area.  Please consult the Red Sea Pilot for those waypoint positions.  This information is NOT to be used for navigation.

Guidebooks:

  • Be sure you have the latest edition of the Red Sea Pilot from Imray. Also pick up the Turkey Pilot and Greek Pilot before leaving Thailand as it is nearly impossible to find them in Turkey.
  • f would also be a good idea to pick up Lonely Planet or similar guides for the Middle East, Egypt and Turkey as, again, it is impossible to find them in English after Thailand if you find them at all.

Radio Nets:
We were part of an informal radio net called "The Red Sea Net" on USB 8173. It was started initially by a boat called Skive and at it's peak had approximately 20 yachts heading north in the Red Sea participating. The most important part of the net was the weather information reported by boats ahead of us.  So it is very important to start a radio net and then try to keep it going up through the Suez Canal so that information can be shared by all boats, especially those ahead and behind you.

Motoring:
There is a lot of motoring involved in the trip up the Red Sea. You will be lucky if you get any southerly winds north of Massawa, Eritrea. So you must be prepared to motor into light northerly winds or sail in any strong southerly winds that make their way up from Bab el Mandeb. Several boats had engine and transmission problems so be sure that both of these items are in good working order. It is very difficult to get competent mechanical work done or the appropriate parts once you leave Thailand.

Weather Info:
The Buoyweather service supplied weather forecast emails "free of charge" to one boat in this net who volunteered to receive them and broadcast this info to the other boats participating in the net. We subscribed to Buoyweather before leaving Thailand and received fairly accurate email forecasts from this service. The direction of the wind was not always 100% accurate, but the strength was usually correct. Email us if you want to know how to do this because the commands for receiving Red Sea weather are not stated on their webpage.  

Buoyweather was not as accurate in the Gulf of Suez.  The winds were usually 15-20 knots higher than predicted and were always from the northerly quantrant.  We continually checked weatheronline (www.weatheronline.co.uk)  and Mediterranean weather (www.mediterraneanweather.com) at an internet cafe  in order to find a weather window for travelling up the Gulf.  We looked for a low pressure in the Med over the entrance to the Suez Canal.  This usually meant very light winds, but you must be prepared to move quickly as the "window" usually closed after 1 to 3 days.  If these conditions are predicted to last a few days, we usually waited 1 day to see if the prediction was correct and to give us time to check out.  Then we made an overnight sprint up the Gulf to Port Suez and made it there in about 30 hours. We had light winds for most of the way until the last 5 hours when we had 25 knots of headwinds - uncomfortable, but we were able to slowly motor-tack into these winds.  In many cases the winds were higher in Hurghada then they were once you were in the Gulf.

The major milestones on this passage were:

  • 22 March 2003 - left Salalah, Oman

  • 12 May 2003 - Reached Abu Tig Marina - El Gouna Resort Hurghada, Egypt
  • 4 April 2003 -  entered Red Sea via small strait of Bab El Mandeb 

  • 10 July 2003 - exited the Suez Canal 

 

Giving a Helping Hand - Click here to see our suggestions on how to help those you will meet along the way.

 

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