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