Gladlee of Guernsey
11th-14th June - Port Said, Egypt
The overnight passage from Ashkelon was quite a bumpy ride though not too much wind. The shallow waters caused quite a chop and the fleet had to negotiate hundreds of small fishing boats in the night, some with bright lights, others with none! Fortunately no problems though there were a few close calls. Most of the yachts arrived early morning and either anchored or stooged around until the whole group had assembled and we filed our way down the top of the Suez Canal, past the port authorities building and into the old arsenal Basin which had been cleared for us. It was a little shallow in places but OK for most of the boats, who chose to moor stern or bows-to depending on the depth available. Once all the boats were in, the formalities started and the usual confusion due to the authorities suddenly being swamped with loads of people.
After this was complete, we were picked up in the early evening by pony and trap to be taken on a small tour of the town and to a reception and party on the sea front. We were entertained by ‘whirling dervishes’ dancing and given refreshments. Very enjoyable though most people were a little tired after the overnight passage. We then went on to a small arena area and were entertained again by a band and the party continued.
Over the next couple of days everybody except us went on a Cairo tour, we stayed (having been to Cairo before) to keep an eye on the boats, look after a dog and have a rest. We explored Port Said which turned out to be very a pleasant town with lovely people, always stopping for a chat as everybody seemed to know who we were and couldn’t understand why we hadn’t gone to Cairo. Our peace was shattered when everybody returned. The rally dinner was held on our last night and we were all coached to a lovely 5-star hotel in the town and found ourselves in a large ballroom. We, with Jen, Geoff and Wes, found a table avoiding the head table with the dignitaries (who we were told didn’t consume alcohol!) but were floored when three of them chose to sit with us! They were very nice, of course, and didn’t object to us having a beer or two. The formalities were a bit stiff, but we did very well on our table because the Governor was not expected to queue for the normal buffet, so was served instead and of course the whole table had to be served, which included us. (Julie managed to sneak off to watch most of the England France football game to Ron’s displeasure). Good food and an enjoyable evening.
The following morning was checking out time and then everybody cast off and gathered for the run back down the canal out of Port Said.