Under the Port Said Stars: A Story of Survival and Strategy
Our journey to Port Said was a tale of anticipation and unexpected trials. As we neared the entrance, we faced our first hurdle: an overnight anchorage in an area more suited for colossal tankers than our modest vessel. With a depth of over 30 meters and just 50 meters of chain at our disposal, the anchoring guidelines of thrice the depth seemed a distant ideal.
That night, sleep eluded us as we vigilantly monitored to ensure we weren’t being carried away by the sea’s whims.
Dawn brought weariness but also movement. Contacting the Suez Canal authority via VHF, we finally received our instructions. Entering these waters, we quickly learned, meant adapting to local norms – here, dealing with authorities was exclusively through an appointed agent, a stark difference from European shores.
Arriving at a desolate yacht club, a relic of pre-pandemic vibrancy, our agent’s instructions were unequivocal: remain onboard, no land excursions.
The mandate for cash payments added to our predicament. Our supply needs were pressing, yet our cash was limited, and the prohibition from stepping ashore barred us from accessing more.
It was a moment that required unconventional thinking – a reminder that sometimes, the straight path is not always the viable one. While I keep the specifics of our solution to myself, it suffices to say we navigated this challenge with some creative problem-solving.
Yet, the diesel problem persisted. An offer to smuggle fuel mid-canal transit was tempting but fraught with risks, especially so soon after the Ever Given incident. We put our trust in the agent’s assurance of diesel and supplies in Sudan, a decision made partly in desperation, partly in hope.
Forced to stay another day for a nominal Covid test, our anticipation grew. Finally, the canal crossing commenced – a 13-hour passage that led us into the Gulf of Suez, exhausted yet victorious.
But our challenges were far from over. With our fuel running critically low, we were at nature’s mercy. Then, as if heeding our silent pleas, a rare rainfall in the Gulf brought winds that carried us towards the Red Sea and, hopefully, to Sudan.
In this leg of our journey, we were constantly reminded of the value of resourcefulness, adaptability, and the strength of collective problem-solving. It taught us that often in life, like in sailing, one must be prepared to find alternate routes, to negotiate through unfamiliar waters, and to trust in the camaraderie and wisdom of those around us.