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2005 report on Djibouti

By doina — last modified Feb 10, 2005 10:44 PM

Published: 2005-02-10 22:44:44
Countries: Djibouti

This reports on the passage from Salalah to Djibouti, and on Djibouti itself.

We recommend a distance of 45M off the Yemeni coast. This seems to give good currents, minimal contact with local boats, and seems to leave most commercial shipping to the north. We found that for almost all of the time, winds were 5kts less than grib files suggested, until we came within 100M of Djibouti, when they were more or less as forecast.

The anchorage in Djibouti is good. Check in first with the port captain, who will helpfully check you in and out at the same time, and then with immigration. The total cost for us was US$81, including the visas. Since we needed our passports to get Egyptian visas, we did not need shore passes, but left our passports with immigration for an hour while they dealt with the Djiboutian visas, and then took them back. Immigration want to see you on departure, to stamp you out.

The yacht club building is now a military base, and so there are no clubhouse facilities. However, the two pontoons are still used by expats for their runabouts, and we were able to leave our dinghy there. Water is available. You are expected to make a donation to cover your use.

The town centre is 15 mins (post lunch speed) walk from the dinghy dock. Keep going straight east, and you will come to the main square. Bureaux de change are on the right hand side of the square, just past the middle. The main market can be found by turning right from the middle of the main square. Semiramis supermarket is easily accessed from the town centre, and is good. Turn left as you enter the main square and ask for directions after a block. It had a better food selection than supermarket Tati, which is a taxi ride away; however, Tati had tinned ham and some non-food items. There is a medical centre on the left just before you reach the main square.

As the cruising guide says, prices are European level, but at least you can get things like real cheese, pate, cassoulet, pork products etc. A lovely 1988 Gros Plant US$7.70. Beer in the brasserie US$4.60. 1/4 litre house wine US$4. Steak US$ 10-14, depending on cut. Phone calls to Europe US$3 per minute. Taxis US$2.85 per trip or US$11.40 per hour. Diesel at service stations US$0.65 per litre (about twice the reported price in Eritrea). Exchange rate 175francs=US$1.

A yacht that passed here in October 2004 used as agent and general facilitator Mohamed Souleiman, who is available 0800-1800 on VHF 12 or 16; mobile 00253 840802 or 00253 850139; email [email protected]

We were slightly dragooned into using as facilitator the head of security in the port. He can arrange for diesel to be delivered to the boat in jugs, at full price; he can also arrange for duty-free deliveries somewhere in the port, but we do not know what is the minimum quantity. He arranged for laundry (ok, but he tried to charge us US$30; we paid $11). He was in the habit of arriving around sunset on some pretext and scrounging beers. He is Said Hussein, contactable on Ch13 “alpha romeo”, or by telephone on 852617. However, he will contact you at an early stage.

Is it worth stopping here? An open question. You can get here, albeit at a high price, foodstuffs not available elsewhere in the region, and no-one would quarrel with the quality of the food shopping. It is an interesting place, and a relative safe one. Despite the cost, it would be a shame to miss out on a safe country which is en route.

Anne & Ian

Fidelio of London, Djibouti