16 March 2010

Red Sea

On March 7th in the early morning we sail through the Strait of Bab el Mandeb, the southern access to the Red Sea. There is a brisk SE wind of 20-25 knots (force 6 Beaufort) and soon we surf over the waves that get higher all the time. Our speed increases as the wind is tightening and we feel: this is spectacular sailing! Although we are disappointed that the colour of the Red Sea waters didn't change. Our first anchorage we find behind an island in the Bay of Assab, the former main port of Eritrea. The winds keep blowing and there are too many waves to go ashore and explore the new continent. Next days are with a same wind from same direction and we make good progress with anchorages in between, that are protected against the big swells but we hear the wind howl through the rigging all the time. We follow the interesting coastline of south Eritrea with dark (volcanic?) hills covered with thin layers of almost white sand.

On Friday morning around 11.00 o'clock we see a sort of brownish red curtain along the coast and the wind is getting more hot and more dry. Very slowly the brown-red cloud is approaching and passing, we feel a light tingle on our face, arms and legs. When the fog has disappeared, we find a reddish layer of dust and fine sand on the deck, on the sails and everywhere on Alexandra. All around us fine red dust has been descended on the waves as well and we are sailing in a red glow, in a Red Red Sea.

The port Massawa in Eritrea has suffered a lot from the war with neighbouring Ethiopia that the coastal areas with harbours to the Red Sea claims as part of Ethiopia and not as an independent state. Many (previous interesting) buildings are probably irreparable destroyed.

Slideshow RedSea