Sunday, 20 July 2008

Skippers Malaysia-Med Cruising Notes


Advice (for what its worth) and things I would do different if we did the Indian Ocean again.

1) Make sure your engine is in the best shape of its life !!
2) Make sure you are seriously spared up big time !!. Assume there is nothing between Thailand and Turkey. Get as much as you can in Langkawi. I waited until Phuket to get my Volvo and Yanmar spares/filters etc and paid up to 4 times more than I would in NZ or Oz. All the ports you visit support commercial and fishing fleets so there is always a local guy to help as long as you have the bits on board.
3) Have a very very close look at the booze situation. If you miss Sri Lanka and India you can’t buy any booze until Eygpt . Most boats ran out this year. Just think 3 cans a day (ha ha) for 5 months equals 450 cans equals 19 cases!!. etc etc. Tonic was not easily available (even in Phuket they had run out!!)
4) Have plenty photocopies of ships papers, passports and crew lists. Our boat stamp was well received. Need plenty passport photos too.
5) We have steps up to our first spreaders. These were invaluable on several occasions, we would not have been able to access some anchorages without them. So if you haven’t got them maybe consider fixing ratlines to get that extra height for visibility coming into the reef anchorages.
6) Handy to have a few jerry jugs. You don’t want to tie up to the wharfs - ugly ugly.
7) Don’t get too hung up on food supplies. There are first world supermarkets in Sri Lanka, Oman, Aden, Hurghada and Ismailia. Top up big time in Egypt its much cheaper than Cyprus, Israel or Turkey.
8) Unless you check- in at Malle, Maldives and pay a ton of money for a cruising permit (No time for cruising anyway you’re on a mission !!!) use Uligamu in northern Maldives as a pit stop only for a few days. Checking-in and out, getting fuel and water is a breeze, but you are not allowed to visit any other islands. Rest and move on. The best stuff is ahead of you.
9) Make sure you have a fishing line out closing on Salalah, plenty plenty Mahi Mahi!!!. Couldn’t haul them in fast enough. Good fishing right through till Egypt
10) Stay close to Yemen coast 15 miles or so, don’t miss Al Mukalla or Sana’a. Don’t leave until you’ve smoked a hubble bubble pipe in a Bedouin tent!!
12) No need to get involved in some military style formation synchronized motor sailing exercise. Just hang out with a couple of other boats and keep in sight during the day and maybe close up at night. Honestly we were as apprehensive as anybody about pirate alley but we ended up stopping along the Yemen coast and felt reasonably comfortable moving along the coast line with a few very friendly Yemeni patrols zooming by from time to time lobbing fish on to the boat!!
13) It is true. If it’s blowing 20knots in Aden its blowing 40knots in the Bab al Mandeb Strait. Gets very lumpy but its down hill and things flatten out after a few hours going north.
14) We more or less day sailed to Eygpt and worked our way north up the west coast in side many reefs and islands often sailing close hauled in lightish winds and flat water. Easy peasy!! This takes more time but be patent don’t push it. Just keep nibbling away. Reefs are very obvious.
15) North of Massawa – BEWARE!! An unexpected solid southerly is followed by a few hours of no wind is followed by a howler from the north. 3 times we were enjoying wing on wing sailing thinking the Red Sea is a breeze then the wind died and we motored for a few hours only to be stopped in our tracks by big northerly. Take the southerly but don’t be greedy and head for safe haven during the lull.
16) Don’t miss Massawa and Suakin
17) We only got adverse conditions a couple of times, both further north at night when you are forced to do a couple of overnighters so have a plan B.
18) I don’t mean to be a negative Nigel but the Red Sea isn’t done until its done. The toughest part for us was the last 180 miles from Hurghada up the Gulf of Suez. We were a tad late in the season by then (early June).
19) Fill up with diesel in Egypt USD0.18c a litre. Turkey is well over USD2.00 a litre, Greece currently 1.15Euro a litre.
20) Lastly have some "pirate packs" onboard. We put together water (or fizzy drinks), cigarettes, biscuits/cookies and basically anything else surplus we wanted to get rid of (old liferaft supplies!!) and threw them to the boats that came for a look. They were so grateful, and if you give them something they will then leave you alone (especially in Sri Lankan waters). Baseball caps were a winner too.

The journey from Thailand to Turkey was the most amazing season of our adventure so far. There is no doubt it’s a long haul and you are always aware of the clock ticking. The urge to get the whole journey behind you is strong when you leave Asia but try to fight it and spend time in these places. We left Nai Harn Bay on Phuket 21 December 2007 and ended up stopping in the Surins 1 week, Andamans 3 weeks , Sri Lanka 12 days, Maldives 1 week, Oman 10 days, 3 weeks in Yemen, 12 days in Eritrea, 13 days in Sudan , 5 weeks in Eygpt and a week in Cyprus and arrived in Turkey 25 June 2008. Wouldn’t have missed any of it!! Posted by Picasa

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