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Port Said - worth staying!

By Sue Richards last modified Mar 25, 2010 09:07 PM

Published: 2010-03-25 21:07:05
Countries: Egypt

Port Said – June 2009

Two weeks in Port Said – lessons learnt: It seems most people just want to get up, or down the Suez Canal and not to dally in Port Said, Egypt. We are a little different! So here is a short guide to what to expect if you fancy just mooring in Mediterranean Egypt for a couple of weeks to explore this fascinating and friendly country.

We have been cruising the Med for nearly a year on board a 35' Jeanneau Sunrise sloop, starting from Split, Croatia on 1-Jul-08. Having wintered in Turkey (loved the country and the friendly, generous people), then continued cruising eastwards, somewhat inspired by the East Med Yacht Rally (which was closed to us this year, its 20th, as we had not been on a rally before - stupid policy), we decided to take a jaunt down to Egypt alone.

Golden rule number 1: Smile … a lot! And be patient.

Second thing, you really need an agent in Egypt to i) identify the hurdles you need to jump, ii) to get the paperwork done and iii) to get the right people "tipped". And Felix Maritime were great, eventually, but you have to be polite, keep smiling and persist. I say eventually, because they did not respond to my two emails I sent two weeks, then one week out from our planned arrival. So I phoned up. The correct people to contact are either Naguib Latif (felix@felix-eg.com, GSM:+20-122-119-365), or his younger brother Moxn (mohsenyacht@yahoo.com, GSM:+20-105-128-774 or +20-106-327-799) - both gentlemen are very helpful once you make contact. You need to make sure they are expecting you into the "Yacht Club" at Port Fouad, just east across the Suez canal from Port Said (free ferries 24/7).

Felix does not actually arrange the pilot (for entry into Port Said), so here comes the trickiest part, the approach. Call up Felix on VHF (Ch 62 or 67) to ensure they are really expecting you (I had also phoned them from Cyprus a couple of days previously). They will instruct you to then contact Port Said control on VHF Ch12. Eventually you will be put in touch with the pilot dispatcher, Ch13. You must have a pilot (you will have to pay for him anyway whether you think you need him or not), though Felix does not actually arrange this.

As a small yacht, in amongst potentially lots of huge ships plying the Suez, a good place to wait for the pilot is around the El Bahar tower, north of the entrance, safely in between the two diverging shipping entrance channels going southwards. The pilot will eventually come out on his orange boat – watch out they have NO fenders, so have plenty on the side he comes alongside to jump onto your boat– a hairy maneuver, depending on the swell and wind.

The pilot – for that is what he is – will almost certainly quite soon demand some "gift". He asked us for $100US! We got him down to $50, but this is still way too much: For a small sailing yacht pay around $10. We also chucked his driver 2 packs of Marlboro (we don’t smoke) and a bottle of Coke, after he demanded them. Welcome to Egypt!

But ... honestly, great people!

Andy Ridyard
SY Deep Blue

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