Take a look at Balmacara, a Corbin 39, running downwind in the Bab
Al Mandeb. There are forty-five knots of wind coming up the
stern, short steep seas, blowing desert sand, and freighters in
the haze welcoming us to the Red Sea. True Adventure.
The Bab Al Mandeb lies at the southern entrance of the Red Sea and
is seventeen miles wide. This patch of water won't
disappoint you if what you're looking for is adventure. The
mountains on both sides of the Bab al Mandeb create a wind
acceleration zone that frequently pumps the winds up to fifty
knots. And fifty knot winds in the desert would be
incomplete unless they picked up some dust and created an awesome
duststorm that reduces your visibility to less than a mile.
On top of that throw in a couple dozen freighters steaming by at
full speed through the haze. True Adventure.
Once you make it through the Bab, you can remain in the wind
acceleration zone for as long as thirty-six hours if you are
unlucky. That means a relatively sleepless night as you
bounce along in the darkness with steep seas coming up your stern,
or your other choice is to anchor behind a headland in Eritrea,
and immediately achieve the status of illegal alien. True
We chose to go the illegal alien route and anchor behind a
deserted headland, Ras Terma. The last three miles to
Ras Terma had 38 knots of wind on the nose, but with both Yanmars
at full throttle, we put our anchor down in ten feet of water
several hundred meters from the beach. True Adventure.
Then came the full force of the
sand storm. For two days, stinging sand polished our bows
and collected in our cockpit. We could either sit inside the
hot salon of our battened down cabin, or lounge in the cool and
comfortable cockpit wearing sand goggles. True Adventure.
When we were in Thailand planning the next leg of the
circumnavigation, we had misgiving about sailing up the Red Sea.
We debated whether we should sail south around the Cape of Good
Hope or face the rigors and rumors of Red Sea cruising. We
chose the Red Sea, we sailed through the Bab Al Mandeb, and we had
a True Adventure.
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