26 April 2010

Islands, reefs and marsa's in Sudan

Sailing along the coast of Sudan is easily done in day trips with every time another island, reef or marsa to drop the anchor for a quiet night. But every now and then we have force 6 winds from the north and then you have to stay a bit longer on the anchorage before going on. In Sanganeb reef it is good to snorkel and we find a wreck with beautiful corals and heaps of small fish around. The brick lighthouse on the south tip of the reef is a conspicuous structure and a beacon for the cargo ships to Port Sudan.

A marsa (or sharm or khor) is an inlet from the sea into the land, a sort of lagoon of inner lake with a rather small entrance between two reefs. These are beautiful anchorages sheltered from sea and swell, but not protected from the wind because the land around, mostly desert, is usually low. They are special as we can see in marsa Fijab, marsa Arakiya, khor El Marob (deep and impressive to enter, you are anchored in the middle of the desert with just one camel on the shore) and marsa Umbeila, close to the (unofficial) border with Egypt. Marsa Umbeila is not that big and we can easy land the dinghy to make a walk on the beach, we discover a nomad graveyard, or see a bit more of the hills in the desert. There is a birthday party of one of the yachties in an abandoned cave on the beach. In the evening a dugong (sea cow) is grazing on the grass in the bay and we also spot a turtle.

On top of that there is excellent snorkeling and diving on the reefs in the entrance of the marsa: nicely coloured coral, big fans and a lot of smaller and bigger fish, an underwater paradise, even a bit better than the nearby Elba reef. After a few days we have to go on and we sail and motor sail another night to Dolphin reef where we can swim almost daily with a pot of dolphins (very special). Behind Abu Galawa reef we find another protected anchorage against the northerlies and there is again very fine diving.

Slideshow CoastSudan

2 April 2010

Suakin in Sudan

Within a few days we are in Khor Nawarat in south Sudan, a beautiful reef with good anchorages, and from there it is a pleasant sail along the coast and through Shubuk channel to reach the (small) port of Suakin. The anchorage for the yachts is next to the 'old city' and in passing by 'old Suakin' we get the impression that an earthquake has taken place: a few battered minarets tower above the rubble of ruins and damaged buildings. A great photo opportunity!

In the 'new' city of Suakin the houses don't look so much better, although quite some people seem to live here. We imagine ourselves in the decor of an Arabic film: men walk in long white robes with brown or black sleeveless vests, most of them wear a turban. Also some women on the streets, well wrapped up, but not only in black, there are red and pink garments and one or two ladies with a printed shawl. The men sit on the verandas of their neglected houses or walk in pairs. Most transport of sacks and iron water tanks is done by donkey and donkey carts. Only at the end of the main street, past the small and busy market, there is the parking place with workshops, small restaurants, busses, taxi's and tuk-tuk's. It s really a shame the people don't allow us to take pictures of them: they start screaming and walk away as soon as we take our camera in our hand, because also they have a sharp eye on us, of course!

By taxi we visit the bigger town of Port Sudan, a ride of about an hour on a good bitumen road through the desert. Near Suakin still some neighbourhoods with wooden and corrugated iron hovels, often near a little bit more 'luxury' small mosque, but further on areas with only sand and every now and then some shrub, some camels and one or two people with donkeys. Sudan is an African country with quite dark people and a lot of Arabic influences because of immigration from other Red Sea area's. In the market in Port Sudan the salesmen do their best on the presentation of the fruits and veggies.

Slideshow Suakin