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Cruising in Egypt - from the Med to Hurghada

By Sue Richards last modified Feb 17, 2012 09:49 PM

Published: 2012-02-17 21:49:20
Countries: Egypt

Egypt is 2-3 sail days from Marmaris.. in fact Port Said is 420nm from Marmaris.

Port Said

After Port Said, you have to get through the Suez Canal: between 3 and 5 days usually because you lose one day doing paperwork in Port Said.

Costs for a 54 footer in October 2011 were:
- Canal: US$ 437
- Visa/person: US$ 50
- Agent fee: US$ 150
- One night in Port Fouad (Port Said): US$ 23 (Water and electricity available if you have long cables/hoses)
- Port Clearance: US$ 40

You cannot leave the Port walking (Port Fouad) before you get your passport stamped.. your agent takes care of it.. but you might have to wait 24 hours on board before this is done.

NOTE: If you return through the canal within 6 months, you won't have to pay any canal fee and the agent's fee will be half (US$ 75). Of course, if you do not insist, you will be fully charged (or milked).

The next day, if you are lucky and if there is no warship transiting the canal (you never know about that in advance), your Suez Canal Pilot might show up in the morning. He takes you to Ismaelia (and takes a bus to go back home in Port Said). He doesn't ask about the draft, but about the maximum speed - in order to get home a.s.a.p.. when he leaves your boat. You can offer him 10 to 20 US$.

Ismaelia

In Ismaelia you will be charged around US$ 30/night for 54 feet. Water and electricity are available. You will be told that your second pilot is coming tomorrow morning - be patient, call your agent, ask the captain of Ismaelia Port... and you might get a pilot after 1, 2 or 3 days.

The second pilot takes you to Suez: when he leaves your boat, you can offer him 10 to 20 US$… a small boat can pick him up while you are sailing, so you do not need to stop.

Suez - Hurghada:

If you are sailing outside the shipping lanes, you might encounter some hazards like pipes 1m underwater. There's a story about a sailing boat sinking close to Zabarghad because of such a pipe, in Feb 2008. The skipper went to the island with his dinghy and was eventually picked up 3 weeks later by a Dutch boat. Try to sail along the shipping lanes - not in the middle, because of the big ships, but many yachts keep going along the very right of the lane for instance.

The wind and the current should take you very quickly (about 26hrs for a 54 footer) to Hurghada Marina where it is completely forbidden to enter at night. It is a good idea to get your pilot early in the morning in Ismaelia, so you are not too late in Suez and can arrive in Hurghada the day after before dark.

Before arriving in Hurghada, call on VHF Ch.74. You will get some help from the Marina dinghy to get the mooring lines tied. Tide: maximum 1m.

Marmaris - Port Said: 420nm - 2/3 days
Port Said - Suez & Suez Canal: 90nm - 3 to 5 days (once in June, I could pass in one day, but days are longer and you are not allowed to sail at night).
Suez - Hurghada: less than 200nm - a bit more than one day if you don't stop.

Hurghada:

The water is crystal clear.. warm.. you feel you are in West Indies or in the Pacific Ocean. We never had any trouble here (unlike in Cairo).

Once you are in Hurghada, your agent will get you a cruising permit (for the boat). If you asked in Port Said for a 6 months visa, you can get a cruising permit for 6 months. If you asked for one month then you get a cruising permit for one month. Alternatively, first get a visa extension for 6 months and then ask your agent for a cruising permit for 6 months.

Your agent should charge you US$ 30 x 6 (for a 6 month cruising permit) + US$ 70 for his fee. Again, if you let him charge you what he wants, he might ask US$ 400 or 500.

Felix Agency:
Said in Port Said: 00 20 10 04 38 75 10
Ahmed in Hurghada: 00 20 10 95 30 08 55
Do not hesitate to visit Mohsen in Port Said Office (Felix agency), and keep in touch with him (useful when you're being overcharged).

Hurghada Marina:
Book in advance, email Cherif the Marina Manager at info@hurghadamarinaredsea.com
Or call Said (number 2/French fluent): 00 20 12 27 51 58 87
Water/electricity and internet available (many bars/restaurants with free internet in the Marina). The internet from the Marina is not free.

In Hurghada, you need your agent:
- To get some diesel at the pump in the Marina. Call him 24h in advance. Do not pay more than US$1/litre. Do not try to jerry jug cheap diesel from downtown. The police are really watching and you might go to jail (might have been different before 2011).
- Everytime you go sailing: call your agent 24h in advance, give him all passports, 2 crew lists and tell him where you are going and when you will come back (do not leave/enter the Marina at night).

Taxi Hurghada Marina - Airport: 35 EGP (about 4 Euros in Feb 2012).

If you need to fill your gas bottle: go to Marina/door number 3, fifty meters behind the marina, there is like a small favela (ask) where a guy will fill up your 3kgs bottle for 25 EGP (3 Euros in Feb 2012).

If you need petrol for your dinghy: just diesel is available in the Marina, so you can get the petrol downtown. (It's forbidden to get cheap diesel downtown and take it back to the boat).

Cruising Area

Ask your agent before you choose to anchor somewhere, even if you are not in a forbidden place, your anchor may damage coral and the fine is huge. Even if you anchor is where it is allowed, and in the sand, do not forget, particularly in Southern Egypt, that you might just have 40cm of sand above a hard bottom - a second anchor might be useful.

Restrictions

Do not go to islands like Shedwan or Gubal: Gubal is now forbidden (I went many times before 2011).

The gulf of Aqaba is not open to sailors as it was before 2011. You can't sail to Dahab or Jordania anymore, although it might be possible if you get a special authorization through your agent.

Your friends arriving by plane can join you in Port Said, Suez, El Guna, Hurghada and Port Ghalib: but nowhere else: we had friends arriving in Marsa Alam. We had to sail back against the wind/waves/current to Port Galib and they had to get a taxi back to Port Ghalib to step on board!

Diving

If you dive you might be close to Safari dive boats: Egyptians are very friendly and helpful: they will invite you to join them for the dive with your equipment so you will be dropped at the very perfect point after listening to the briefing!

Hope this helps.

Jerome Arnaud

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