Latest position:
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44° 50.5' N
13° 50.5' O
Veruda Marina, Pula, Kroatien
12:15 UTC+2
Weather report:
13.08.2019 11:45 UTC+2
88 °F
Gentle breeze from Northwest

The ship's log is available in german only. Try Google translator and enjoy the pictures.

Ship's log for the tag Sudan

26.04.2019 - Red Sea, 22°23' N / 37°30 E'

On the road again


Yesterday morning, when we woke up something was missing. Only when I climbed up in the cockpit I figured what it was: the howling of the wind. Moya was sitting in the motionless water, smooth as silk. Nine days long, her bow pointed to the north, now she was swinging loose around her chain. The lacking wind catalyzed our activities on board. Within minutes, we have been ready with breakfast, with our morning routine and with launching the dingy. We dingied ashore. Finally! We have been still on the water, when the wind was switched on again. We could clearly see the frontier of wind in the water. Here it was again, but this time at human force. After tying up Tilly, our dingy, we went for the dessert. The boys found gras hoppers, camel traces, little bushes and zillions of conches, which somehow appeared displaced. The hills around the Marsa attracted us. We have been looking for a path up in between the sharp rocks. From atop we had amazing views far into the dessert. I was wondering how terrible it must be to walk all the way through the dessert to find the water of the Marsa, salt water.

Dictator wind

Without the force of the wind, we would have loved to explore the Marsa further. For the first time, we were seeing the reefs from close up. The aquamarine water, the colourful coral were inviting for a dive, the sandy cliffs for playing. Despite all of that, we had to leave. The winds dictates. After all this time in the bay, we wouldn’t risk staying here any longer. Just two days northerlies were forecasted to strongly decrease. But after visiting the dessert, winds were fresh again. Significantly decreased as to the last days, but far from perfect. We lifted the hook and left the protection of the Marsa. Waves were breaking on both sides of the pass and on the offshore reefs, which are clearly to point out in these conditions. Swell was still considerable. Beating against it up north under engine would be a possibility, but neither a comfortable nor a fast one. We began tacking instead, going threefold way. Our plans of anchoring at dolphin reef tomorrow morning are obsolete already. Let’s see how long it is going to take or whether we have to find a secure spot underway before the next wind wave strikes.

This post has 2 comments.
Comment from Birgit
Für die Einreise nach Ägypten braucht man ab dem 1.4. eine Gelbfieberimpfung wenn man aus dem Sudan kommt. Kein Witz!
Comment from Gerhard
Ihr seit ja schon in Ägypten und nach Marsa Alam ist es auch nicht mehr weit. Ein sicherer Hafen.
22.04.2019 - Khor Shinab, Sudan

Storm at anchor

Easter Bunny has been visiting

Yesterday in the morning the boys have been waking us up as they stumbled over coloured easter eggs and even found easter baskets. Apparently, the Sudanese bunny somehow made it on board. But the basket didn’t contain chocolate eggs or chocolate bunnies. They must have melted on the way through the dessert. The boys still had a blast. The day before, we had jointly been baking easter nests, easter bunnies and chicken. They were supposed to be presents for the easter bunny, but must have been overlooked. This way, we had some variety, when having breakfast, as our supplies are slowly running low.

Trapped on board

It’s time to leave this place. For one week, since we arrived in the marsa, we are sitting on board and haven’t been ashore. Everyone is well now, but the wind still is blowing full force. I just read 38 knots on our meter, which is not even measuring the gusts. It really is stormy. Even without hoisted sails Moya is slightly tilted. Our wind generator usually is barely hearable, but now is making noises like Moya soon is going to take off. We are therefore switching it off most of the time. But when we are making water, it is switch on to refill our batteries. Our dingy is lying at the foredeck. It’s impossible to launch it currently. Winds even were forcing a plate out of Christians‘ hands, when he wanted to dump potatoes peel into the water.

Our hook was holding well, until winds strengthened further. We noobies had missed to drop our full anchor chain. It’s quite embarrassing. Moya first moved sideways to the wind, then slowly began to drag towards the reef. Before the anchor alarm started peeping, I was in the cockpit and Christian at the ignition key. We lifted the hook by show of hands. Outside, communication by talking and even shouting hasn’t been possible for days. The howling of the wind drowns out everything else. Two years practicing at the anchor payed out. After 30 minutes Moya safely lies at anchor again, full chain out, in some distance to the reef. As tomorrows’ forecasts is similar to today, we are planning to tie our second anchor to our main chain for increasing the weight and reducing the force pulling at our main anchor. Usually, winds are slightly decreasing before sunset. That’s gonna be the time. Equally strong winds over such a long period of time, we just experienced in Columbia, over one year ago. Considering the constant flow of air, one might wonder whether in the mediterranean has some air left, at all. We are crossing our fingers, that we are out of here in three days from now.

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19.04.2019 - Khor Shinab, Sudan

Preparing for Eastern in the dessert


Winds arrived as scheduled and are blowing at full force ever since. With these winds we haven’t been leaving Moya. Despite sitting in a lake like Marsa, waves are building in the short distance from shore. The dingy ride would have been wet for sure. Our current situation is more like a passage with getting some sleep.

Raiding our medicinal cabinet

Not only the weather held us on board. It was Joshua, too. Since we arrived he dragged himself from his berth to the salon and back again. First he was complaining about a headache, later also about a sore throat. Indeed his tonsils were covered with white pus spots and he was boiling. I put him instantly on antibiotics. Yesterday in the morning, his condition was more or less unchanged and we decided getting a consultation from Medico in Germany and started working on emergency plans - again. Tacking between the reefs into the strong wind towards egypt we consider difficult or maybe even dangerous, going back to Port Sudan would be a safe alternative, however we would loose several days and still remain in Sudan, depending on its health system. Calling a car to the street behind the Marsa for getting to Port Sudan would have the same downside. Probably, we would have crossed the Red Sea to Jeddah. Saudia Arabia usually is out of limits for yachts, however in an emergency situation we would have been allowed to enter the country, which probably has an improved health system as compared to the Sudan. But it didn’t come to that.

Calling the physician from Medico was a big relief. He confirmed my layman diagnosis, as well as the medication for Joshua. Moreover, he promised us professional help in case the antibiotics would continue failing to work and Joshi would need a doctor. Medicos main task is to medically consultant commercial ships, therefore they are well connected with similar institutions around the world. In the end the call worked fine, Joshi felt better within a few hours and today behaves naturally already.

Good Friday on the water

Winds are covering Moya in sand and we continue remaining below deck. Whether the easter bunny will find his way into the dessert and is able to come on board, is far from sure, but if he does, he would be glad. The boys were drawing pictures, crafted cups to hold the easter eggs and coloured some eggs to decorate our saloon. Let’s see what we are coming up with next.

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16.04.2019 - Khor Shinab, Sudan

Hiding in a Marsa

Marsas are large, river like clefts of the sea into land. On both sides they are lined with fringing reef. Khor Shinab is a large Marsa leading several miles into land and even beyond hilly chains. Late afternoon, after several hours of poking around, we dropped anchor here.

Already at Sanganeb reef, yesterday at a little stop over at the Talia island and now today we had serious difficulties finding a suitable spot for dropping our hook. Apparently, the bottom of the Red Sea is covered with coral, which are building canyons below the water surface. Grounds are uneven and mostly are far too shallow or far too deep for anchoring. For biological reasons, we don’t want to anchor on coral, but even if we took aside our ecological concerns, the anchor wouldn’t hold well and there would be significant risk that we would loose it, as it easily tangles and is getting stuck around the coral. The Red Sea has the most terrible anchor grounds of our voyage. If you were here, you could see the relief in my face, each time the hook eventually is holding.

Currently, the anchor is holding well, and it needs to, as tonight strong northerly winds are forecasted to rise and will be blowing for 10 days in a row. At the moment, Moya lies in a calm and the weather change is hard to imagine. But recent experience told us that winds can change as quickly as by a switch. Also tonight winds are supposed changing direction 180° within an hour. We had hoped to meet Windchase here again, but we are all alone. There is also no village, just water, dessert and Moya. I guess the 10 days until our departure might be getting long, but there is barely an alternative. 30 knots of winds on the nose are better being sit out.

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14.04.2019 - Sanganeb reef, Sudan

A lighthouse, 6 men and a breathtaking under water scenery: Sanganeb

Taking the good weather window, we were heading to Sanganeb reef. The reef with it’s 50 meter lighthouse lies just around the corner of Port Sudan and is something of a divers Mecca. Apart from the lighthouse there is no land, just a huge area with coral reef and a central lagoon.

Slowly, we have been sailing the just 40 miles from Suakin through the night to avoid arriving early before sunrise. It was freezing, aerial greetings from the mediterranean, finally the time came for sorting out our blankets. In the dark entering to the lagoon is not possible and also tying up at the pier in front of the lighthouse would definitely be a bold move. We arrived at the lighthouse at dawn with each minute of the rising sun, the reefs were better to make out. Initially, we planned to attach ourselves with a long line on the jetty, but experiencing the winds and waves against us and seeing the sheer height of the peer, we changed plans entering the lagoon. Finding a suitable anchorage was taking time. The bottom of the lagoon is uneven and mostly covered by coral. Just before giving up, we found a large enough sand patch free of bommies (19°44.0' N, 37°26.9' E) and the hook instantly was holding well.

Straight after breakfast we took the dingy motoring to the lighthouse to meet it’s watchkeepers. What in Europe and most parts of the world is done fully automatically, is here still being monitored by humans. Six men at a time are living out for two weeks at the lighthouse before returning to Port Sudan and working for one month at the port. Osman, their charismatic boss, was spreading his wings over us and invited us to have breakfast together with his team. They served some kind of thick pancakes with a brown, slimy paste in a big bowl. Everybody was eating with the right hand from that bowl. The men have just been smiling when Joni ripped his first piece with his left. We were having breakfast in the forecourt of the lighthouse sitting in the shade, surrounded by the beautiful colours of the sea. It has been an amazing experience not at last because of the once again great hospitality the people. Osmans is fluent speaking English and practicing almost every day, when one of the diving boats with their international guests are visiting. He explained us the technical installations of the lighthouse while the boys have been playing with a transport lore on rails, which the men are are using for transporting their supplies from the biweekly supply ship over the jetty to the lighthouse. A little later we stood at the top of the tower, next to the huge bulb, inhaling the breathtaking scenery. The captain took pleasure in investigating the original african technical installations and was utterly surprised that they are indeed working.

At the front end of the jetty, the reef dropped more than 30 meters into the sea. Standing aloft it being like looking into an aquarium. Colourful reef fish were abundantly living at the coral wall. Apparently, it’s known as a divers paradise, but also for snorkelling it has been awesome. We have been watching not only the little reef fish such as clownfish, doctorfish, butterfly fish and many more, but also their predators looking for lunch. I found it remarkable, that the fish not seemed to be shy, I was able approaching them surprisingly close. On the wall also giant clams are living and many kind of coral. According to Murphy, I must have forgotten the camera on board - and I did.

Osman wasn’t letting us leave without having coffee and a Fanta, thus we returned to Moya in the late afternoon after an absolutely intriguing day at the reef. Great people, great hospitality, great nature.

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13.04.2019 - Suakin, Sudan

Communicating diversely

We had planned to quickly go ashore handing over the rest of our toys and clothes to Mr. Mohamed, before going to the farmers market, lifting the hook and going sailing. Northerly winds have been forecasted to clam down a little and we wanted to use the weather window for going north. That’s what we did, with some extra loops.

Before breakfast I noticed that I had missed to contact an Egyptian agent. As the next spot with internet coverage actually might be egypt, I was stuck with my computer for quite some time. Eventually, we made it ashore carrying three full bags and Jonis‘ bike. But today we couldn’t find Mr. Mohamed. Finally, we left the toys with a man, who promised passing them along. It doesn’t matter, who will actually circulate the things. Heading finding a tuktuk taxi we crossed the path of a few boys and I immediately regretted not having anything left to give away. One of the boys was pulling a home made car, build from a cut jug, with wheels made out of lids and nail axels.

We couldn’t find a tuktuk and decided to have some Jelaba and Coffee instead. In the shade around 20 men were sitting seeking protection from the heat of the day. In front of them stood tiny roundish bottles containing coffee. At this time of the day many of the men have been wearing turbans out of white cloth. They were waving us over to chat with us. Without speaking Arabic, communication is working with hand and feet mainly. Barely anyone is speaking English. We couldn’t even find the bakery, despite asking multiple time people carrying bags containing bread. And the reason was not that people haven’t been trying to help. It really is a pity, the language barrier is limiting what we learn from people and the local culture.

Anyhow, it was quite special sitting between the men in the shade just watching the happenings on the street. A man just arrived carrying water in open jerry cans from his donkey wagon to the hut selling tea and coffee. Sometimes a woman quickly passed by vanishing in one of the shops. Two boys were riding on a donkey and on the edge a man was milking a goat. Across the street a tuktuk was getting a gas bottle. As we were running out of coffee, we asked him to bring us to the market municipal. We had been recording Mr. Mohamed saying the word in Arabic. Our driver smiled and took us but stubbornly rejected to take our money for the ride.

At the market not only vegis and fruits were sold, but meats too, hanging from the roof. Bread however we still couldn’t find. Also not in the many surprisingly well stocked shops around. Finally, we bought flour instead of bread for baking ourselves as well as frozen ground meats.

Imitating waves with the hands we let the tuktuk driver know we wanted to the port. He dropped us a little later. A new sail boat had arrived - Miss Cat. On board we met the French captain and a german couple he was about to drop in Suakin. „Poor you, how are you gonna fly out with the borders closed“ I wanted to know, but they just smiled shaking their heads. „We are living here“. On our voyage we have been meeting many German, virtually everywhere. I think only the number of Swiss and Australians on our route was about in the same range. It‘s always great to talk to expats, everyone has a different story. Today we learned a little more about the UN mandate in Darfur and the work for the german embassy. All to soon, Mike and Janine had to leave catching their domestic flight to Khartoum, where they are living and where they have been looking forward to partying with the locals tonight.

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12.04.2019 - Suakin, Sudan

Old Suakin in dispair

Every time we passed the gate to old suakin, a man has been waving and approached us with a smile. Every time we have been putting him off - later! In the afternoon we were passing through the gate and entered the small island of old Suakin. Nothing but debris is left from the old coral buildings. Strangely enough, Turkey now is starting to rebuild some of the houses. There must been a great collaboration between Turkey and Sudan. Between the coral debris big stone blocks are lying, material for construction and indeed at the coast construction is ongoing. It’s a huge project to work through the ruins of the last century, tidy up, like no one does, and start something new. After strolling through the miserable streets, Mr. Mohamed took us for a ride in his historic Mercedes and drove us to new Suakin, which lies a couple of kilometres away. There are real streets, shops and normal buildings. Not all of Sudan is rubble. I’m glad I have been there seeing the new light shed on this country. The best part however was that we have been taken to a real restaurant. There was only one menu, grilled chicken with bread and dips of lentils and beans. Served with no silverware, as everywhere. It has been our first meal with meat since weeks and it was not just because of it, wonderful. We left the place gaining at least two pounds. Today we spent the day maintaining and socialising. The winches started moving difficultly over time, desperately waiting for maintenance. It has been a day filling task. We gladly accepted the invitation and visited Windchase. A little side track was more than welcomed. In any case, the kids were totally excited to be on another boat. The boat dog was just a plus.

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11.04.2019 - Suakin, Sudan

Military takes over: It’s getting hot - but not here

Late afternoon we eventually made it ashore. We took Tilly and dingied to the small island. There was no pontoon or anything really where we could fix her. At some spot there were tyres lying over the rumble and a line was fixed in the bottom, where we tied up the dingy. We landed in the midst of ruins. Debris is everywhere, not only at the little island of old Suakin, but also on the street enclosing the harbour. There is barely any construction which can be recognised as a building. Every single one is damaged, even the mosques. On board I have been wondering that I couldn’t here the muezzins call for prayer. Now I saw that he is calling without a mic, just like that. The people are living in, shacks would be an exaggeration, between the debris. On the street we have been meeting mostly men and kids, but barely any women. Everybody was very nice and welcoming, smiling and shouting welcome or assalamu alaykum in our direction. We were walking through the dusty streets, not so sure any more, whether we indeed wanted to eat ashore. Even if there was meat we wouldn’t order it, the chance to catch something appeared high. Eventually, we had the courage to enter a hut and I was relieved when the guy served fried fish, bread and unopened bottles of Sprite. It was delicious.

In the morning we went to the farmers market and purchased tomatoes, carrots, some kind of cucumbers, potatoes, onions, bananas and melons. It was quite an experience to see how the people work. Weighing one kilo tomatoes with the same stone as 2 kilo potatoes. Education indeed seem to be neglected, we couldn’t convince a shop owner, that we gave us too much change. Also Moyas fuel tank has been filled already, the captain has been working hard with multiple jerry cans.

The events of Khartoum are leaving us widely untouched. The only thing we noticed of the presidents step down and the military take over was that social media are blocked and some internet pages censored. If I haven’t been reading the news I would have no clue about the current proceedings. All is well. No worries.

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10.04.2019 - Suakin, Sudan

Still on Bord

How annoying! It’s 4 pm now and we are still stuck on board. Since 9 am this morning Moya is lying at anchor in front of the circular little island of old Suakin. We have a great view on the ruins of the once mighty port. Unfortunately, views are still from Moya. My legs are itching, they want to walk.

The coral buildings of old Suakin are completely collapsed. The historic city looks like it has been destroyed by a major earthquake, or as I’m imagining a city after bombing attacks. The city is damaged since ages and keeps dilapidating ever since. Today one barely recognises any kind of building. Since the foundation of Port Sudan in the beginning of the last century, the city lost its importance as sole and major port of Sudan and became a ghost city. Despite all of that, the farmers market as well as shops are supposed to still being around this area, which currently is hard to believe from our perspective. But we will see.

Mr. Mohamed has been visiting us two hours ago, we were filling in the papers, now he is with the officials for our inbound clearance. In the meantime we are still stuck, but luckily he left a SIM card (internet works surprisingly well) and sudanese pound, thus we are ready to go once he returns with our passports and the shore passes.

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09.04.2019 - Red Sea, 18°28' N / 38°11' E

Day 26: Suakin we are coming

Eventually, the desired winds started blowing. First we were going downwind, but all too soon winds shifted to the east and then northeast, which makes it impossible to approach Suakin directly. We are tacking. Nevertheless, we will reach Suakin tomorrow, only 70 miles to go.

Currently, we are sailing between the Sudanese coast and the reefs offshore and preparing ourselves for our landfall. The boys have been preparing a huge bag inserting a good part of their toys as presents for the poor Sudanese children. It hasn’t been easy for them to separate from their Lego Duplo and other things, but they wouldn’t allow that kids don’t have anything to play with at all. I sorted out worn out and too small kids clothes, for which we probably also find a recipient. In 2013 (more current data not available on board), the Sudan were rated on position 166 of the human development index list and therefore is among the 25 least rated countries. The index is not only considering the brutto national income per person of a given country, but also life expectancy, standard of living and education of its people. The likelihood for Sudanese people to develop, is therefore even decreased as compared to people of Papua New Guinea (position 157) and Vanuatu (position 131), the so far poorest countries we have been visiting on our voyage. Unbelievably, just 49% of women and 71% of men are capable of reading and writing. Luckily, we still have a few books, pens and pencils as give aways, leftovers from trading in the Louisades.

Mr. Mohamed, our agent, is informed about our upcoming arrival and is already starting to organise our inbound clearance and fuel for Moya. We are already very much exited about visiting Suakin and the African continent.

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