It is hard to imagine all the history that has taken place on the soil that you are now standing upon, pharaohs and kings, slaves and prophets. Empires and kingdoms built up, races and religions born, exile and conquests. Even harder still to wrap your brain around the fact that so many of the items of the times are still standing.

The kids enjoy the beach

Ras Banyas

Our inner forestay and storm sail were going to earn their keep on our boat during the entire visit in the Red Sea. The only stories you ever hear from travels up the Red Sea are the bad ones, 40 knots of wind on the nose sort of stories. So we were ready for our share of beating into the weather. With a little bit of planning, i.e. hiding from the wind, and a lot of blessings we were able to time our dashes between anchorages with little troubles.

The first stop was Ras Banyas. A military post out on the end of a sand spit peninsula. Perfect for us to hide behind for a full week. To much wind to sail against but perfect windsurfing and kite boarding. Thanks to the Luna crew, the boys got their first taste of windsurfing on Soleil's gear. They are hooked! Looks like we need more toys for Ohana Kai.

The young men posted here don't have much to guard and keep them occupied, so we were always a great source of entertainment. They even helped our young budding archeologists dig up a camel skeleton. Though they spoke no english and we no Arabic, the anatomy lesson went quite well.

Dolphin Reef

On our next leg up to Hurghada we made a quick stop in a reef aptly named, Dolphin Reef. We had heard that there was a potential to see and maybe swim with dolphins. People anchored there had not seen any for 4 days so we believed it to be a long shot.

A few pods of dolphin were swimming in the northern corner of the reef so we dinghied over and snorkeled around them for a while. Playful and curious they would pass by in pairs or dozens. Over, under and all around but always slightly out of reach. It felt like such an honor to just be in their presence and watch them play and even mate.

We easily lost track of time and each other as we all began to snorkel wherever the waters took us. As we broke apart, the dolphins became more comfortable and it happened. The Ohana Kai crew had the experience of being encircled by 2 or 3 dolphins that would continually swim tighter and tighter around us, begging to be touched. All you had to do was hold out your hand and they would rub up against you like a kitten on your leg. It took our breath away. Trying to remember to breath, being so thankful for an opportunity like this, you never wanted it to end.

When it did, you finally realized just how cold we were and how long we had been out there. Still pinching ourselves, trying to remember if it was true, we have a million thanks to give to Bart and the Luna crew for bringing along an underwater camera to capture it all. We are indebted to them forever.

One of many pods of curious creatures.

Moorea stuck at the Port Ghalib customs dock

Port Ghalib

A quick stop in a marina for the first time in about 8 months we were excited for the chance at the comforts of being tied to terra firma. As you enter the channel you know they see you coming in Port Ghalib evident by the enormous air traffic control tower built into the side of their marina office. No sneaking in here. As soon as we tied up to the dock, the kids whipped out scooters and skate boards and had the officials trying to ride them in no time!

The marina is relatively new and the local stores, restaurants, and hotels are still popping up around them. There is a map of the master plan for an entire community that is to come in the future and it looks lovely. Aside from that it is sand as far as you can see. Though the right and left hands of marina and hotels are not communicating to each other quite yet, when they get their stories straight we are sure it will be a spectacular place to stay. We were happy for our showers and fresh water. The kids enjoyed a lovely pool to swim in until we were informed that there was a charge of $10 per kid despite the fact that there were no other guests even checked into the adjoining hotel at the time.

A couple of nights stay here was enough, then we were on our way to a marina in Hurghada where we would stay only long enough to make an overnight inland trip to see Luxor.


We shared a road trip into Luxor with the Luna crew and had a grand adventure. Your trip begins with a military escorted convoy. Hundreds of buses, big and small, carrying tourists of all shapes, sizes and nationalities arrive at a designated spot where there are random car bomb searches. All this is for our protection since the bombing in 2005 that took the lives of 56 tourists at the Hetchsepsup Temple.

The drive itself is an adventure, as the kind men who escort us have their own rules of the road when it comes to passing and speeds. Their driving techniques come complete with a secret code tapped out by a series of flashes and blinkers from the cars head lights. Try as we may we could not crack it. We figure they must be bored having to drive it each and every day. It's not like they can beat any one else there. We are blocked at both ends.

A quick stop half way and you are faced with a bathroom you have to pay to use. Posed camels and goats with sweet children of Bedouins are hoping you'll pay to take their picture with their creature. One must beware for this scam gets tricky. If you are taking a photo and a police officer steps into your photo, he will ask for a donation as well.

Enter the art of baksheesh. They may consider it a tip but in our would it is a bribe, and a spendy one at that. Nearly everyone in Egypt wants their baksheesh and they will ask for it straight out by name. They will not hesitate to tell you if it is not enough as well and be assured it is never enough!

The road to Luxor winds through sheer desert for hours and then eventually begins to follow along the more fertile Nile River Valley. Fields of cotton, and food for all the livestock lay out like giant quilted squares. The road itself is lined with the mud and brick homes of the locals. The children line the streets and wave as the convoy goes by. In Luxor, the buildings look as though their are only half completed or half falling down.

Hieroglyphics from Temple of Karnac

Typical home along the Nile Valley on the road to Luxor.

Tools for making papyrus

Temple of Hetchsepsup

Bedouin women walking along in the desert.

Valley of the Kings was fascinating. They put a lot of thought into who was buried where and why. Prepared there originally as their burial place, they hoped to help send themselves to the next world with all the possessions one might need. A display at the entrance showed a 3D model of how the tunnels meandered under ground like a maze. Each dynasty had their own ideas, such as having the opening be near waterfalls so the runoff would send more dirt to cover the openings making it harder for thieves to find later. The high light of the trip would truly be seeing King Tut's tomb. The pictures displayed how it was found with all the treasures of his world but we expected to simply see the hole in the ground and the Hieroglyphics on the walls, knowing that all his treasures are safe within a museum now. We were shocked and amazed to find his actual mummy lying there in a simple plexiglass case. No special air/temperature controlled room with bells and whistles, lasers and armed men to stand guard. A simple man to whisper us the details and the mummy wrapped in a layer of his original gauze. AMAZING!

The Temple of Hetchsepsup and Temple of Karnac were stunning for how intact they still were. The richness of the carvings, original colors from paints and the details of the hieroglyphics was fun to read. The boys did their best translating. With the help of our guide we were beginning to get our heads around all the history and hundreds of deities. And there is a lot of history and deities. Main theme for Hetchsepsup, strong minded gal decides she want to be a king, dresses like guy, rules until caught by her half brother/husband, he erases her name form everything. There's lots more stories where that one came from.

We took a quick tour of papyrus factory and an alabaster shop where they were demonstrating all the different steps in creating a treasure out of plants or stone. Be wary of the salesman when he lets you in on the secret that his nick name is Ali Baba (as in the leader of the 40 thieves!)

Our last dash up the Red Sea before we entered the Gulf of Suez brought us to an anchorage tucked up inside Mersa Thelemet. We were using our charts and guides to find these little hiding spots but time often changes the arrangements. We managed one night of sleep there and when the wind was blowing too strong to head out decided to wait it out for one more. We took the kite to shore for a little recreation and the military there quickly found us. Long story, for a mere $100 they would allow us to stay another night. As they said, "You wouldn't want to take your babies out in this wind, dangerous". The kind military officer who spoke perfect english we found out had been trained in Texas with our navy seals. He felt terrible as he was only the messenger of this proposed arrangement from his boss. We thanked him kindly, and took our chances at leaving the anchorage finding an even better hook on the other side of the sand spit.

The following day we entered the Gulf of Suez and began a few overnights to reach the south basin of the Suez Canal. You had to be on careful watch up this stretch of water to negotiate around the flaming oil derricks and giant ships.

Sun rise over Sinai Peninsula, Gulf of Suez

Keeping big company as we enter the canal.

The Suez Canal

In order to reach the south basin of the Suez Canal you have to dodge and weave your way through a dozen or so of the largest container ships around. They anchor just before the entrance awaiting their turn to transit the canal. Smaller vessels such as us have to anchor in the basin to pay their fees, refuel and such. The canal had recently been closed for days at a time due to war ships transiting. We had the luck of arriving at 1pm and departing by 10 am the next morning. Our fuel may have been delivered at 11:30 pm but we fit it all in.

The next bit of excitement occurred only minutes after we tied up between the buoys. Only twice a year they say a ship runs aground and we looked up just in time to see it happen. A large tug boat was able to pull them off before the line up of container ships stacked up on it.

Tiny s/v Luna (on the left ) passing a ship in the Suez Canal

In order to transit the canal you have to have an appointed pilot on board. For the official record, and we have yet to hear a story that differs, they are always very kind, relatively professional, give them the maximum RPM's the boat can go, and be prepared to pay more than you should in baksheesh. No matter what you give them, they will abruptly let you know it's not enough and they still need money for the bus ride home.

The canal does not have not much detail aside from a couple of bridges. It is 118 miles long. Only 26 feet deep when it was first built, it now stands 64 feet deep. 302 feet wide at the bottom and 712 feet wide at the top, it can often only accommodate one ship at a time. Being passed by one of the big boys was always exciting.



The sandy sides of the Suez Canal are dotted with young, military men posted every 1/2 mile with binoculars, tents and tanks. We were told that we weren't allowed to take photos but more often then not they were amusing and eager for the photo shoot. Occasionally they were performing drills and their navy jets could be seen practicing in the skies above the Sinai Peninsula.

The flies on the other hand, not so amusing and were so bad that we stopped counting the killing at 40. Our record was 15 in a row, first hit.

There is one stop half way up canal in the town of Ismailia. Ismailia was a lovely little town by comparison. It is was a great spot for the kids to all get some fantastic shore time with 3 full crew soccer games each evening,a final hurrah party for the fleet before we went separate ways, a small park and the perfect jump of spot for our inland trip to Cairo.

It was also here that we believe we filled our tanks with less than pristine water that caused us to come down with a fierce intestinal issue that kicked in the minute we departed the canal. Egypt's parting gift. The second trouble spot in Egypt would be the military presence. Men dressed in white uniforms with black berets and totting weapons. Submission and patience will get you a long way here. Your passports will be checked an rechecked every time you pass through a gate, even if it was 5 minutes ago. Though we had relatively no problems with them, we do know of others who possess less patience and had their fare share of scuffles. Reap what you sow.

Life inside the Suez Canal

The Funny Five in Ismailia

The pyramids of Giza


For our excursion to Cairo we arranged a guided tour. Early morning departure and a driver who spoke very little English, had us all a bit worried at first. He took us straight to his "friend" who sells camel rides to see the pyramids. We were very skeptical. Somehow those "friend" deals never work out so well. We took our chances and it only got more interesting. Our camel herd leader led us atop these beasts to the entrance where loud yelling, and the waiving of arms ensued. Fearing we were never going to make it into the pyramids but not wanting to interfere we sat perched and helpless. A bit more yelling, this kissing of some money and throwing it on the ground we passed.

Our 4 camels tied to together, we made our procession over the sand dunes to see the great pyramids of Giza rise up out of the sands. We marveled at the sights and then realized our guide was reluctant to take us all the way. We dismounted and finished the trek on foot allowing us the chance to walk right up and hug a pyramid. You can see the housing and subsequent graves, of sorts, that was provided for the slaves that built the pyramids and then killed so as not to pass on the secret of how they were made.

Right next to the pyramids stood the Sphinx which was surprisingly small in comparison when standing next to the pyramids. Even more strange though was to see just how close the town of Cairo stands to these ancient wonders. Literally, the KFC and Pizza Hut are directly across the street from the entrance.

After the ride our guide appeared. There was a shining light in Egypt and his name was Peter. With the most pleasant disposition he guided us through the down town streets of Cairo. He filled us with his impressive egyptology insights in the Cairo museum, the oldest synagogue in Egypt, St. George Cathedral. A quick stop at an essence shop left us smelling sweet.

We visited Coptic relics such as the church of Abu Serga, where the infant Jesus along with Mary and Joseph hid under the church when fleeing from Herod.

He even took us back to his quaint hostel he had recently started and treated us to some tea. Very proud of his establishment he can set up any tour or accommodations your heart desires.

Cairo again had the feel of old meets new. The traditional style of transportation, carts pulled by donkey's are found side by side with the bus on the freeway. The bus stops on the other hand can be dozens of people standing on the side of the freeway. Need to stop on the bridge, no problem.

Traditional style homes with thatched roofs stand next to contemporary buildings. The land around the Nile is fertile and green, still it is surrounded by litter and debris. It is difficult to picture Moses floating along in a basket of bull rushes.

When our adventures were through, we made the final one day stretch up the last half of the canal with pilot in tow. On the north end of the Suez Canal is the bustling Port of Said. We slowed the boat down only long enough that our pilot could step off onto a pick up boat and we were on our way to the Mediterranean Sea.

We did however spot "The World" in port there. The World is a cruise ship that unlike others has the special option of renting or purchasing your own room or apartment. You keep it as your own, untouched by others with your own spices in the kitchen, your own photos on the wall, your own shampoo on in the shower and your book on the nightstand. You just fly in and catch up to it wherever it may happen to rest in port at the moment and travel on your way. Imagine that. When we are too old and feeble to sail our own boat around this world, maybe someday we will travel around in that world. One can dream!