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Visiting Egypt - Twice

By Val Ellis last modified Feb 17, 2011 05:16 PM

Published: 2011-02-17 17:16:43
Countries: Egypt

September/October 2009 and March 2010

We had faxed our passport details, boat registration details and estimated time of arrival to Felix before departure, but on arrival they did not answer the vhf so we were eventually waved in by a passing pilot boat. In theory, one is not allowed to enter the port without a pilot. The co-ordinates of the Port Fouad Yacht Club are given in the Red Sea Pilot.

The finger jetties indicated in the Pilot have been removed and one has to Med-moor. This is the sort of place that leaves oil stains on your hull, dead cats float by and the swell from passing ships, ferries, pilot launches and work boats make you feel you are in a washing machine. Too dangerous to tie close enough to the dock to step off so one has to dinghy ashore. We tied the dinghy to a continuous line through blocks at both ends to haul the dinghy clear of the dock and prevent it being bashed to pieces. İts very hard to avoid 2 nights there. There were showers and toilets for men and women – but the women’s block was always locked.

There are 3 ports in the Suez Canal (Suez Canal Zone) run by the Suez Canal Authority.
Port Fouad, İshmailia, and Port Suez, and the mooring rates were the same in each, regardless of facilities (or absence thereof).

    Less than 10m is US$16 per night.
    Less than 10-15m is US$21 per night.
    15+ m is US$30 per night

We were able to get some drinking water in Ishmailia and Suez but took the precaution of adding chlorine. Each port had security guards and our passports were examined each time we left or entered the port area.

İn Port Fouad the measurer preferred to stay on the dock because of the swell and took our word for the boat’s specifications. We gave him a ‘gift’ of US$10 in an envelope.

September 2009 fees:-

    Canal fees (measurements) US$242
    Port Clearance US$40
    Felix agency fees US$150
    Two visas at $25 each US$50
    Port Fouad Yacht Club – 2 nights US$42

    A total of US$524 paid to Felix

Felix agency:
Port Fouad:
(Head Office) : General Manager Naguib Latif
Asst. Manager: Moxn Latif

Suez branch:
Magdy Salah El Deen

Hurghada branch:
El Sayed Farouk

We tipped the young men who worked for Felix in cigarettes and US$. They offered to help us get supplies if we needed them.

İsmailia

You can go alongside if there is room or go stern to the dock, but if you do the latter you need a long rope to tie off to the buoys. We wanted fuel and asked the manager what to do. He advised us to speak to the Port Captain, which we did and he gave us permission to take 6 jerrycans outside the marina and get them filled (approx. US $0.22 per litre). The taxi cost us E£10 for the trip. The bathroom facilities are dirty and ill maintained. There is a well stocked supermarket (Metro) within walking distance as well as 2 internet cafes.

In Ishmailia we ordered six new batteries from a supplier in Cairo. The police at the marina would not allow the delivery truck to pass until the driver paid a 100 Egyptian pounds bribe. When he left, the police asked for a further bribe. The money was reimbursed by the battery supplier in Cairo. We complained to the Marina Manager who complained to the Port Police Captain. The next day we were called into the Captain’s office, asked for details of which officer had demanded the bribe and told never to pay a bribe of more than ten pounds ! He was very angry with the policemen as he is trying to control bribes and told us to report any such problems to him .

When we were approached by Mohamed, a local taxi driver in Ishamilia with a very long beard, we instinctively shied away from him. He was offering to take us to Cairo for the day to see the Pyramids at Giza and the Archaeological museum in Cairo in a 1 day trip. His face was covered with a very long full beard and we were rather nervous but when he showed us photos of other cruisers, some of whom we had met , we decided his offer was a good one and had a great day.(Egypt£200 there and back)

Of the 4 pilots we had (2 down/2 back up the Suez Canal), two wanted to steer all the time, and two wanted to share the steering with us. They all wanted to go as fast as possible and complained all day about our slow speed. They were all given US$10 in an envelope when they got off the boat although my husband had to threaten one with the boat hook who kept arguing for more money. They variously asked for chocolate, cigarettes, beer, soft drinks, biscuits, t.shirts, and hats. We gave them lunch, tea, coffee, water, fruit and biscuits.

Port Suez

The boat boy ‘Karkar’ came out and helped tie us up to the buoys. Like the pilots, he does not stop asking for ‘gifts’. He did arrange for us to have our 6kg gas bottle refilled for US$15 ...and a present for him and his colleague.

When you are heading north The Suez Canal Authority decides what time you will leave and in what order if there are other yachts there.

There are 3 “marinas” along the Red Sea Coast of Egypt. Abu Tig, Hurghada and Port Ghalib, but in our opinion they are really only boat harbours where the rich keep their boats and do not qualify as “marinas” as we know them.

Abu Tig: is the only “marina” we have ever been in where the management tell you that you go in at your own risk. We found that out when their ‘boatboys’ moved and damaged our windvane when we were absent sightseeing. We finally received a replacement part at their cost after a 3 week arguement and a denial of any responsibility on their behalf. ( We stayed here on the way down the Red Sea.)

The marina did not supply diesel , drinking water or arrange for our gas bottles to be refilled. The shops, restaurants, and supermarket prices are similar to those found in Europe. We could not find a competent electrician.

Felix arranged for our gas bottle to be refilled(6kg) for US$20 and for diesel in our jerry jugs at US$.90 per litre. The commercial laundry in the marina was expensive. No WiFi in the marina but there was a small internet cafe and a small not very well stocked chandelry. The door to the showers was frequently left open as they were also being used by local staff , but they were clean.

We used local buses to travel from Abu Tig to Alexandria, the Oasis of Siwa, Oasis of Siwa to Alexandria, then to Cairo (you can get the bus direct to Cairo) and from Luxor to Hurghada, Hurghada to Abu Tig. They were cheap, not very comfortable or clean but were an interesting way to see more of Egypt.

İf foreigners want to travel by train from Cairo to Aswan they must travel on the Abela sleeping train. When purchasing the ticket (in US$) one has to make sure that the correct tickets are issued. A sleeper train sounds very romantic ( the bedding was clean) but we think the train dated from the time the English were in Egypt. Periodically the windows shattered but the glass did not fall out. The train ride along the Nile was absolutely fascinating.

The Lonely Planet guide was very useful.

Hurghada Marina
Marine Manager: Sherif N. Sami

As at Abu Tig, the shops, supermarket and restaurants inside the marina complex were expensive. However, you can find good alternatives just by walking out the gate and there is the fish market next door. At that time we found the fruit and vegetables to be less than half the price of the same produce in Turkey. (Late 2010 we have found that the same produce is about half the price in Turkey than it is in Greece).

The taxi to the excellent and clean supermarket Metro cost between E£5-10. Other cruisers told us we could get beer delivered free from ‘Cheers’ or ‘Drinkies’ and cheap laundry and gas bottle filling can be found just outside the marina. Drinking water was available from the supermarkets in 19litre plastic containers. Each container cost about E£18.

There were plans to upgrade the shower/toilets. When we were there the locals were also using the facilities and they were frequently filthy.

İt is apparently illegal to purchase fuel outside the marina, although many cruisers have managed it in the past.

İf you stay in Egypt for more than 30 days you need to renew your visa. The manager of the marina wrote the name of the visa office in Arabic on a piece of paper for us and we showed it to a bus driver. İt was quite easy to do ourselves

At that time we needed to take with us 4 things:-

    Passport photo
    Photocopy of details in passport with passport no.,date, place of issue etc.
    Photocopy of original visa
    Money (Egypt£)

We bought a Vodafone usb stick (known as a dongle in the UK) and managed to get weather via the internet most of the way when we were motoring back along the Suez Canal on our return trip to Port Fouad. The WiFi was not working when we were at the marina (February 2010)

Felix agency fees for us checking into Egypt( which we did at Abu Tig on the way down the Red Sea) per month in Egypt were US$50

We were told that if you stay in Egypt 1 month, then you have to stay out of Egypt 1 month, in 3 months then out of Egypt 3 months, etc.

Felix organised custom fees for the boat per month US$50( There is no cruising log as there is in Turkey. )

The exchange rate in 2009-2010 was 1 euro = E£7.5 - E£8 and US$1 = E£5.40

We had excellent service in Abu Tig and Hurghada, from the young Felix assistant, Michael, a Copt.

Port Ghalib

We bought fuel at US$0.88 per litre from the Caltex station. Daily fee was US$2 per metre and checking out was US$40. Tie well off the dock as there can be swell here. There are no dedicated shower/toilet facilities for people on yachts and we were told we could use the facilities of the dive club. There is a small basic supermarket and fruit and vegetable stall outside the marina, up the hill in the next settlement. İt is a walk of about 30-40 minutes. There was a wrecked yacht on the southern entrance to the marina which had been there for a year. We were told the owner had preferred to skip the country rather than pay the huge fine for damaging the coral.

Anchorages

Our papers were checked in most anchorages in Egypt.

On a few occasions we were asked for water, sugar and cigarettes by passing fishermen.

Abydos; We anchored off the beach in 7m.and shortly after two workmen came out from the marina and asked us for money for anchoring there, which we refused. İt was the only anchorage in our trip where we had that experience.

Marsa Tarafi: This is the first anchorage indicated by the Red Sea Pilot after Port Ghalib but if your departure is delayed by customs officials in Port Ghalib, it is very difficult to get there in daylight. We left at 13.00 and only just got there as the light was fading.

Much has changed. The 3 tall silver silos have gone and there is a conspicuous tower and hotel on the southern hill.

We anchored exactly where the water barge is drawn in the pilot with a line to the remnants of the jetty and with a stern anchor. No room to swing. We did not like the outer anchorage and the manager of the hotel did not like us being there.

Sharm Luli: We disagree with the scale and the depths as indicated in the Red Sea Pilot. One needs to watch the depth sounder very carefully especially in the SW corner where the reef comes up without warning.

Mahabis İsland: The anchorage in the lee of the island really only has room for 1 boat to swing. With a good lookout and careful navigation, it’s not as difficult as it looks in the Red Sea Pilot

Ras Baniyas: We don’t think it wise to go in as far as the pilot suggests as the bottom is very uneven. Unfortunately there does not seem to be a choice but to anchor in coral. İt’s a good idea to buoy the anchor.

The Return Trip

Port Ghalib

As we had not been out of Egypt the required amount of time we requested “safe harbour” on the grounds of engine trouble. Egypt is a signatory to an international agreement and we were granted a new visa.

On our return trip we stayed in the Hurghada marina.

Going north on the 30th March 2010 we checked out of Egypt in Suez and payed the Felix agent:-

    Canal fees US$150
    Agent fees US$70
    Port clearance US$40

    A total of US$260.

When checking out in Suez your customs papers and passport (visa)are stamped and cancelled. You can go to the marina in Ishmailia but you cannot go outside the marina gates. You cannot stop in Port Fouad and must go out to sea at night when you get there. The pilot boat comes very close to get the pilot off and you have to watch that your boat is not damaged. We were not allowed to drop the pilot off at the pilot station.

There was a second option of having our customs papers cancelled but not getting our visas cancelled which would have enabled us to go out of the marina in İshmailia to buy supplies.

On the evening of the first of April we motored out of Port Fouad and headed for Turkey. We had the usual mix of Med weather and as the sun rose on the 5th we headed into Gokkova Limani, Turkey to get some sleep. The Turkish warship which had been shadowing us all night turned away. Shortly after a Turkish Coast Guard helicopter flew over us and then a Coast Guard zodiac arrived and checked our papers. We were given permission to rest but had to report to Kaş the next day to check-in.

On arrival in Kaş we discovered that we had to get an agent to check-in. İt was very easy, once the agent had found out what to do and all the officials were very polite.

Pauline Carpenter
SV Currawong

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