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My Experiences on Passage through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea

By Val Ellis last modified Feb 01, 2011 04:19 PM

Published: 2011-02-01 16:19:52
Countries: Egypt

A few lines to describe my passage to the Red Sea.

Suez Canal:
A pilot is now compulsory in order to sail to the Port Fuad Yacht Club, less than 3 nm from the entrance of the canal. A number of pilot boats "offered" their services; a couple of them trying to board me without being invited to. As I turned them down, they asked for cigarettes, money, etc.

The water at the Yacht Club is rather dirty, facilities are very basic. All paper work was done fairly well by Felix Maritime Agency.

Crossing to Ismailia was without a problem and the Yacht Club there is much nicer.

Ismailia to Suez
The second leg to Suez was more problematic. Approaching the Genifa control station, I was suddenly told to stop by my pilot (an elderly man who cannot speeak a word of English) and signalled to take the wheel. I did not like the look of the quay and said I would not stop there. I noticed an area which looked better further south and turned into it only to notice the strong northward setting current. I reversed but could not avoid bumping into the edge of the quay. My aluminium boat was badly dammaged at deck level on the starboard side.

I have not been able to find out why the pilot ordered me to stop. He nevertheless demanded his backshish when we arrived at Suez Yacht Club (nice also).

Hurghada
Hurghada marina (under management of Campers & Nicholson) is quiet, clean, safe and has a number of restaurants, cafés, a supermarket, a bank, etc. It is very nice. New and better facilities (showers, toilets)are planned. Staff is very helpful and courteous.

Customs clearance, visa processing and cruising permit were obtained with the help of Felix Maritime Agency's local office. I was told that 3 Custom officers had to inspect my boat. As they had to come from Safaga, 80 km to the south, I was invoiced 70 dollars for their transportation.

I refrained from saying that I found it strange that Hurghada, with an international airport, had no Custom officer in town. My agent asked me 100 egyptian lira (approx. 18 dollars) for each of the officers, saying at it would avoid lengthy questions and detailed searching of the boat. It had the predicted effect.

Sharm el Sheik
I decided to sail to Sharm-el-Sheik. As the only marina (Travco) is for Egyptian boats only. I asked the harbour master over the VHF where I could moor. I was directed to the commercial harbour. The jetty was very high and I felt uncomfortable all night. The following morning I was directed to another, easier, jetty.

Sharm-el Sheik is not quite part of Egypt, it seems. I had to again all sorts of paperwork, with the help of an agent. It took the authorities 24 hours to give me authorisation to go ashore.

Later I was told that the mooring fees were 150 (one hundred and fifty) dollars for the first day and 50 thereafter. I decided to sail back immediately to Hurghada but could do so only the following morning because of paperwork. The "invoice" I received did not mention mooring fees and bore neither date nor letterhead.

Our thanks to Gilbert Hutin for passing on his experiences.

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