The Great Southern Route : 2013 - 2014
CAPTAIN'S LOG SUEZ CANAL 300 | GSR in Hurghada port. It is best to get in touch with one of the local dive shops. The confusion arises as there are strict laws regulating the local dive industry. We were told that we needed the same permits which can take several months to obtain. However what is needed is a permit issued by the navy. It is more of a security clearance rather than a dive permit. Not all dive shops and agents are aware of this arrangement. If you do not manage to obtain one, a small tip to the light house keepers at Daedalus Reef and on Brother Islands will usually fix the problem. Do keep in mind that they will try to maximize their tip. We were asked for 3500 USD, but gave a more realistic 120 USD for 6 divers and 3 non divers. The navy themselves who also came to inspect us were highly professional and polite and did finally offer the first decent explanation on the permit issue. We did not have a permit and as one would expect they did not give us any troubles whatsoever. Just the opposite they made us feel genuinely welcome to this spectacular water world. They would not accept any gift, bar a cup of coffee on the bridge, which they greatly did appreciate. ANCHORING Anchoring is strictly prohibited within national park limits in Egypt. The only exception is when there is clearly an all sandy bottom or in case of an emergency. If you need to anchor in coral areas anchor in depths well beyond recreational diving depth (60 meters plus). The danger is however that you might lose an anchor. We lost a reef anchor in 115 meters of water in December 2010 off the Brother Islands. What is an acceptable method to moor a boat is described below. I also just stood off, for hours on end, when the conditions did not seem right. Essentially anchoring on the reef is quite straight forward. You drop a reef anchor in shallow water amongst dead or at least degraded coral on the reef top from your tender and run a long line back to the boat. In settled but steady wind conditions one anchor will be enough. In case of stronger winds use two anchors for and aft and lie parallel to the reef. The big advantage is here the loads are split between the two anchors and the wind holds the boat steady reducing roll dramatically. You will also need to use two anchors if you have a number of other boats near by. Your biggest problem will be however settled conditions with flukey winds and no wind at all. You will need to secure yourself on all four points to avoid ending up on the reef. Instead of using reef anchors I bought an assortment of cargo webbing straps. These you can use to tie up to coral heads whenever this is possible. This is by far the preferred method as your impact on the reef is minimal. Wire strops will work but they are difficult to use on a yacht. EL GOUNA / ABU TIG MARINA Mary Ibrahim is the office administrator at Abu Tig Marina. Tel: +20 65 358 0073 Philip Jones is the manager at Abu Tig Marina. The marina has an entrance channel which has been dredged to 3.6m through the reef flat, the channel is approximately 400 m in length and 40 m wide at the most narrow point which is to the seaward end. There are four pairs of lateral buoys and beacons with lights marking the channel. From the seaward end of the channel, the first set are fixed beacons on metal structures placed on the reef edge (Lights: 1 flash every 5 seconds, flash length 0.5 seconds), then the next two pairs are floating buoys (Lights fixed) and the last two are are fixed beacons on structures each side of the marina entrance (Lights: 1 flash every 5 seconds, flash length 0.5 seconds). TABA HEIGHTS Taba Heights Marina is the preferred point of entry into Egypt in the northern Gulf of Aqaba. Nuweiba is another possiblity but is entirely run by Egyptian government officials. Checking in and out could turn out to be a long drawn out procedure. At Taba Heights the private investors of the development have a positive influence on the officials. Nikki Priestly is the public relations manager at the Marriot Taba Heights. She was the initial contact at Taba. She also has a mail contact at Sindbad the tour operator in Tala Bay Nikki at Sindbad Jordan. Osama El Hawary is the manager at Taba Heights Marina. He needs to be informed 48 hours before arriving at the marina to arrange for clearance. Emad El Sharouny is the operations manager of the Pro Tours office in Taba Heights. He can arrange for any travel for guests or crew, he can set up activites such as golf at Taba Heights, supply you with anything you need in terms of drinks or food, an address for packages, etc. Tarek Rihan is the general manager at Taba Heights +20 12 312 2473. PORT GHALIB Captain Sherif Fawzy is the marina manager at Port Ghalib Marina It is important to establish a good relationship with him as he has a lot of clout at the development with the hotels and the airport. He has opened up more than one door for us. We have had good luck with the staff at the Intercontinental Palace Port Ghalib. As the staff changes frequently I am not including any contact details. The Executive chef provided fresh vegetables and fruit through his contacts on the Nile River. The hotel gets supplied twice a week with fresh produce. It is a bit of a pot luck to get good stuff. The first time round they were at the end of the cycle and the selection was very sad. The second time round it was fresh supplies, and we got good quality produce at a reasonable price. The hotel can also arrange for airport transfers in nice cars. I tried to use the marina office for this and got a Bedouine Taxi which was not up to the standard. They charged an arm and a leg for a Mercedes they got down from Hurghada. The hotel has at least one 5 series BMW but of course it is not always available so book early. Waleed from ZAS Z Aviation Services is the ground handler for private jets arriving at Marsa Alam Airport. His cell phone contact is +20 106 577 589. There is no special VIP terminal at Marsa Alam Airport; private jet travlers exit through the normal arrival gate. SHARM EL-SHEIKH The commercial port at Sharm has a great dock. Security is good at the port. Clearing in was easy enough with the agent taking all the papers and returning a few hours later with everything processed. While the clearance is much easier than Taba Heights the price is about 5 times more. Charlie Parker is the manager at the Four Seasons Hotel. They have a large mooring buoy installed in front of the hotel. It is a private buoy and you need to ask for permission to use it. The cost is 500 USD for a 24 hour period. Ahmed Askary is the man in charge of the mooring. Mail him you arrival details once you have cleared it with Charlie Parker. Ahmad's cell is +20 10 388 7565 The hotel phone contact is +20 693 603 555. Charlie's cell is +20 10 004 5070 TIRAN ISLANDS The two lagoons in Tiran are perfect anchorages. The way the light conditions are the north lagoon is a best entered after 1200 and departed before 1200. The entry into the lagon is at 142°T. It is a tight entry and you have strong currents. I had about 1.5 knots setting north as I went in. There is enough room but it is tight. The south lagoon is straight forward. Set a parallel index of 027°T at 0.62nm port onto the FL(2) green marker in the Grafton Channel. It is set in concrete. I set another parallel index of 027°T on the cardinal mark at 0.35 nm but it is on a chain and moves. The green lateral mark is the one to choose. The shallow coral patches are easily spotted even from a distance. There are also a number of mooring buoys that make identifying the reef easier. The bommies just to port on your way in are difficult to spot - they do not even show up on the satellite picture. I am not sure of the depth over them but consider them a real hazard. NUWEIBA AND DAHAB Both Nuweiba and Dahab offer excellent anchorages with the possibility to tie up to large mooring buoys. Expect a visit from the local authorities, who are super polite. Nuweiba is a commercial port and a port of entry. Ferries connect to Aqaba, Jordan and to Saudi Arabia. I have never attempted to check in there as the only agent there was not interested in dealing with us. Both Nuweiba and Dahab would make an excellent staging point for a trip to St Catherine. SOMA BAY MARINA I have not been into Abu Soma Bay, however the Soma Bay Marina looks good. They have one dock of 45 meters and have confirmed that they can accommodate large yachts, shore power is not yet set up. Soma Bay Marina is an ideal staging point for the reefs and east of Safaga. Contact Jamil Saad for reservations.
2010 - 2011