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NOMADS Trip to MOON BEACH (Phase 1) May 2004

Friday 21st May 2004 – travelling day

Left Bristol airport around 10:35 and reached Amsterdam without incident 12:30 ish. We had most of the day to wait at Schiphol so we decided to try to get into Amsterdam itself. The trains are really easy, 1 every 10 minutes, leaving from the airport and arriving at Amsterdam central 15-20mins later. Double-decker trains too, most odd. We ambled around the centre of the city, sun was out and lots of bicycles, literally hundreds. You have to dodge them as they get a bit shirty when you get in the way! Lunch in a small café with nice strong coffee then wandered around some of the shops.

Amsterdam photo montageBack to the train station and then to the airport. The return tickets were 11.50 Euro’s, about £9, total for both of us. Well worth doing if you have more than a couple of hours to kill.

Ian, Neroli and Keith appear at the bar and beers are consumed. We toasted the holiday with a bottle of bubbly (need to find away to cool it down next time), which was opened in a toilet to keep the bang from wrecking the holiday. Picture taken, booze bought, and the plane to Egypt was Photo of the group drinking champagne!waiting….a very good trip so far (thoughts of 3 hours in a minibus and trepidation).

The flight from Holland to Egypt was a breeze…while I think about it, an advantage of catching a very early morning flight to Amsterdam is that the booking for the main event is done very early in the day so we had seats next to the emergency exits and lots of leg room which on a reasonably long flight (4 hours) was excellent. I,N & K managed to get seats across a row together. Must explore checking in over the net next time.

Disaster…..the duty free shop at Cairo airport has no beer!!!!

We were met by a guy looking for us (our names on a board) and shepherded (sorry Keith), us through the queues and out to the minibus. Contrary to a web report the minibus has not changed. We all found the road trip better than in the past. We stopped for petrol and had a rest stop. This could have made all the difference. Ian’s back is not good.

Stars. Every time I come here the first thing I see getting out of the minibus is stars in a clear sky. Fantastic.
Signed in at the hotel and handed over the passports (this always worries) then a short walk to the room, bed and sleep just as the sun creeps up over the mountain.

A long day, taxi from home at 07:30 to bed the next morning at about 03:30 allowing for the time difference. The major change this trip was the Amsterdam visit.

Saturday 22nd – day 1

Morning windy then ballistic
Afternoon windy but comfortable

photo of rescue boat - plan B!

Dozed till breakfast had almost finished (9:30) then met everyone as they were coming back after eating…ah well. Seems like there is some wind about. We are in chill mode and nothing will make us rush. The hotel hasn’t changed but there is some new Egyptian scaffolding on one side (probably supporting something though its difficult to see what). Food here is variable. Neroli puts this down to being in Egypt where everything can be variable. Omelettes, strange brown stuff, lots of different types of bread and salad are for breakfast. Coffee is ugh, much better to take your own and ask for hot water.

The day is so hot already. Why am I surprised, this is Egypt!

Back to the room and on to the centre down on the beach. Quick tour, boards, sails, etc… Signing forms, checking on coaching. I&N doing top tips, Viv, me and Keith want some tuition this time, progression sessions. These start tomorrow, today is a chill and have fun day. The aim is 5 carve gybes by the end of the holiday.

The amount of kit is great, roughly 50 boards and 40 sails, and it looks like there will only be 5 of us using it for the first week. The boards are mainly Starboard and the sails Tushingham. The Carves range from 145 to 99 litres and the yellow Freesex boards, (what a name), 107 to 86 litres. For the more experienced the smaller boards include an Acid 77litre, Neroli’s choice and a Trance 84 litre for Ian. The board/sail quality is very good. There are some old Flows, a 144 Bee, a Hypersonic and some solid looking Magnums for beginners.

We are all on small sails, 4m to 4.5m for the girls and 5m to 4.7m for the boys.

The afternoon was less frantic and more controlled. This was a lot more comfortable with larger sails and less wind on a calmer sea.

The end of the afternoon came with beers at the spreader bar followed at about 6pm by G&T’s on the terrace attached to our villa. Viv has left us to do yoga between 6 and 7:15 and came back to 4 fairly happy people as the sun went down.

The centre gave us dips and bits before tea at 7:45 and then tea was fish and salad at the beach barbeque. Having lasted all day without sleep we all crashed about 10pm…hooray. A great first day

Sunday 23rd May – day 2

We struggled to get up for breakfast at 8:30, white horses building outside the bay. The window by the table shows the whole bay and beyond.
Omelettes were ordered and delivered, the chef stands near the food and cooks individually - cool. Coffee gets organised today – we brought our own, Ian is impressive with coffee and massive marmite jar you could swim in.

The morning was definitely quick, the afternoon didn’t calm down as much as yesterday. Holes were evident later on – Ian was spotted on his short board standing in water up to his shorty. Lunch was a bit of a problem – that is two days now we’ve waited over 40mins for food.photo of apartment


Chris is our instructor. K, V & me were doing stance & sailing up wind – except I wasn’t.
Walking back from downwind is not fun but I had to eventually. I changed the sail from a 5m to a 5.5m and managed to join in – great. Beers, showers, G & T on the terrace then tea.

photo of someone trying to separate a mast into its 2 halvesOne of the other guests had a small problem trying to take a mast apart. It took 5 guys, 2 booms and a piece of hose pipe to finally sort it.

After tea (7-8 pm) we went stargazing down the beach with choc dips for bananas and choc chip cookies! Loads of stars.

Dead tired after 2 days, what is 14 days going to do to us ?

Monday 24th May – Day 3

Up for breakfast at 8:45. Windy already. Bought a box of water, 12 bottles, carrying it back to the room was a bit of a trial. It should be turns today with instructor Chris. Anthony’s day off so we might see him out on the water. Chris, Claire, Matt, Jason, Anthony, Dan (that’s kite Dan from our visit in 2001 who’s hurt his neck) Andy (infected ear) Les (runs the centre) and Helen (doesn’t sail much but does do admin), We have never seen so many staff people here.

10:30 the fun starts.

Foot steering and carve entrance. There is lots of wind again. Ian is out on a 5m, K & me take out a 4.7, girls on 4m and less. I can’t stop going over the front!

Lunch is ordered with the guys from the centre and arrives with no problems.

The afternoon is calmer and a great sail. I change up to a 5.2 and follow Chris out on a run which ends in a mast - Steve’s head collision. Ouch. Keith’s head also tries to reshape his boom.

We are accumulating injuries. I have a broken blister, Ian’s hands have multiple open things, Neroli the same, Keith’s legs are looking dire and Viv has a cut ankle. Lots of tape and plasters out now. All arms hurt, the guys at the centre call this windsurfers arm (you can’t stretch the arm straight without pain, try bending back the wrist on a straight arm for maximum masochistic effect). This after 3 days…will we survive? On a positive note Ian’s shoulder and back are much better.

The evening, after beers and G&T was a trip to Ras Sudr for a meal at the fish restaurant. About 40 sunset photominutes away by minibus, Ras Sudr is the local town. 9 of us go including Dan, Claire and Dorri (yoga teacher), Viv and me and 4 other guests who are here for the yoga and sightseeing, Ann & Amanda, David & Derville. The food is great and after the restaurant we move to a coffee shop after visiting a chemist and supermarkets. We have several european women in the group and they cause a lot of staring. The smoking apple thingy is brought out and cakes with coffee. This is on a table in the middle of the road in the dark. There is a television mounted on the wall outside the coffee shop and apart from us seems to be the only other attraction. Lots of people, mainly men, sitting at tables watching. You can tell the windsurfers in the group, they are the ones trying to stay awake!

Back to MB and bed, absolutely shattered. Another Great day.


Tuesday 25th May – Day 4

Up early for a stroll round before breakfast. They are building small apartments between the hotel and the gulf. Counted perhaps 30 or so semi built, single storey shells with lots of scaffolding and concrete. Met some of the ladies going to the 8am yoga class. They seem chirpy enough.

The winds filling in as I write this, small sea horses appearing in the bay now as well as offshore. There are lots of little flies about in the room, just a nuisance and are easily sorted with the rolled up American paper picked up on the plane (well what else would you use it for!). Some insects have taken a liking to my legs. Using the repellent stick on them after a vigorous scratching. Viv is spraying herself and the furniture with repellent – ugh smell.

What a day. Not too much wind to start with so set off with a thunderbird 6.3, almost managed to get out and back dry, but no wind (except where Ian was of course!).
Changed up to something bigger and went away very happy. Ian blasted up and down all day on something like a 5 in the morning and a 6 in the afternoon. In the afternoon we all changed up. I ended up on a 7.5, Keith on a 6 then an Ezzy 6.6 then finally the 7.5m on a carve 131. Viv had a play on a 5 in the morning and in the afternoon went out to see the dolphins but then finished underpowered, too knackered to change up. Neroli 5.5 on a Freesex 86 (the morning spent on the Acid 77 and a 4.5m.

Most of us saw the dolphins in the afternoon. I sailed with 2 on one side and 1 on the other for a good minute…magic. The others reported similar experiences. It is really nice. Fish have never looked so big! (they’re not fish!?)

We finished the windsurfing day in the bar looking at the video and enjoying a couple of beers. G&T’s on the terrace was followed by tea at the hotel. Soup (mushroom and then tomato), salad, sea-food and spaghetti finished us off. Keith managed to polish off a main course as well, impressive. We are really tired by now.

The evenings entertainment is crazy balls – petanque with a twist, down at the centre. Andy is in charge and all sorts of variations appear including turning the game into 9 pin bowling with two people, middle legs tied together, kicking a small football at a number of water bottles. It was lunacy but fun.

Sleep is interrupted during the night by sounds from the beach where staff continue to abuse themselves into the early hours.

Wednesday 26th May – day 5

Don’t feel too well and stay in for almost all day. Wind looks less than yesterday but I can’t tell if anyone is sailing as there is another villa in the way.

Dr Jason gave me a re-hydration sachet when I did appear at the bar late afternoon. Good man.

photo of Ian mid-gybeNeroli uses a 5m in the morning, very late lunch making the most of the wind and no afternoon sail. Ian has a 5.7m, Viv has a 5m and then changes up to a 5.5m. Keith tries 6m, 6.6m and finally 6.3m (he is known from then on as “Three sails Shepherd”. Ian is determined to do a “Back Winded Carve Gybe” before the end of the holiday. Coming off the water early gave plenty of time for Viv & Neroli to go to Yoga which was early due to the Wad walk. Neroli’s first yoga!

The Wadi walk went out at 6:30. This is a walk up to the top of the nearest big hill by following old stream beds, (very old stream beds!). The group are held up by yoga ladies with light sandals and are late back, walking the last bit down by moonlight. Keith and Ian went leaving Neroli, Viv and me to our G&T’s and Southern Comfort on the terrace.

Evening meal at the hotel was Macaroni au gratin. The portions were absolutely massive. Eating at 8pm is not doing our sleep very much good.

Thursday 27th May – day 6

Another day that starts with loads of wind. Guys on 5m sails and then smaller, girls on 4m. The chop is not very comfortable. Ian finishes the morning on a 4.5 “abit under powered!!!” These conditions mean that it is hard to control everything to practise the carve gybe.

Chicken pizza was ordered for lunch and we had free beach towels from the hut for the first time. The hut still has the nomads sticker we put there a few years ago.

The afternoon with larger sails. Some success with the carve entry. I had one go which almost finished but lost the rig and had to up haul. Neroli generously says this is worth ¾. The wind has dropped considerably. Everyone is out on larger sails. Managed a normal flare gybe. That’s three turns in 6 days! You’d think the treasurer of a windsurfing club would be able to do more than this. Guilt setting in.

photo of spiny normansAfter putting kit away I went for a swim with snorkel and recovered 5 or 6 spiny’s from the sand. Only looking for isolated one’s, not the ones attached to rocks or coral.
It’s the ones on they’re own that catch you out. Ian is wound up by the lack of attention from the staff to this even though they themselves suffer. Chris is using a sucker on his foot after the lunchtime session to remove spines. They are also talking about white spiny’s that we have not yet seen.

G&T on terrace, tea – a buffet night tonight, and a final sit, chat and drink on terrace before bed.

Friday 28th May – day 7 (half way)

No white horses! Viv goes back to sleep after breakfast.

Surprised – we went down to the beach to find people rigging up to go out on large boards and large sails. Ian on the hypersonic and a 7.5, Keith a 131 and a 7.5 and Neroli already out on a 6.5, (on a small Freesex I think).

We hurried to catch up and I got out on a 145 with the centres largest sail, an 8.0m. Viv found the other 131 and managed a 6.8m. What followed was a great morning/lunchtime until the wind died. Both Keith and myself pulled off carve gybes and tacks. Viv was practising the carve entry with smiles bigger than houses. Lots of fun on large boards. Just how this will equate to the handling of the smaller boards we’ve been using up to now remains to be seen. Perhaps tomorrow ? The count is 7 out of 7 days planing.

The afternoon was sociably spent with beer and conversation at the beach centre. This is the first day of the Egyptian weekend so there are lots of cars and people on the beach. There are a few more windsurfers in amongst them, but not too many to cause problems with kit or space on the water. Tea later was fairly packed at the hotel though.

Saturday 29th May – day 8

Today followed yesterdays pattern except that I missed breakfast.
Keith was first out (131 with a 7.5). I followed with the huge 145 and 8m. Ian next with a 131 and 7.5 and slightly later Neroli on a Carve 121 (didn’t like it at all) and 6.5 then Viv on a 121 (Ian nicked the other 131) and 6.8m.

There are lots of dolphins playing out beyond the blue buoy and on the speed course Ian records 16.5 seconds (knots = 397.8 / time in seconds) = 24.1 knots. We have two ice creams for a late lunch. Ian and Neroli let me have one of their re-hydration sachets (must bring some of these next time). A boots one, blackcurrant.

Checked the Venus transit of the sun for here on June the 8th. Should start about 6.30 in the morning and finish around 12.30 The staff could see Venus if they projected it onto something in a dark room. Anthony interested.

A quiet afternoon reading mostly. A beer and single G&T before the evening meal. This weeks Wadi walk sees Ian and Neroli return just before 8pm. Tea was a buffet, and ate sparingly. Back to the chalet and terrace for advice on duck gybes from Ian.
Hamish and Helen, new Kiters, came across and joined in. We are beginning to wonder about changing our names to have matching 1st initials (this is the third set!) They’re cabin is just in-front of ours. They have had a good day up at the kiting centre, 10 minutes away by minibus.

Sunday 30th May – day 9

Wind changes direction and disappears. This is the first no wind day we’ve had. Lots of book reading. Bought some tee shirts. Boat trips out to the dolphins. Had Turkish coffee at the hotel (lovely mud) with hot milk. Tried to make a pin-hole sun projector out of 2 boxes but the image is only 5mm across and unfocussed. Not really big enough to see Venus on the 8th June. Jelly fish arrive in the bay, sort of blueish.

photo of secretary cooling her heels with a beer!

 

No windsurfing today except for 2 new windsurfers, Geoff & Gillian (that makes 4 pairs with the same initials, ok definitely getting spooky now). Played with tiny fish in the shallows. The secretary was spotted cooling heels in shallows.

We found a white spiny. Beers, G&T’s, fish barbeque on the beach, reading and bed. A sandstorm came over about tea time and the wind went back to the right direction with lots of promise for tomorrow. The sail sizes spreadsheet is conceived.

Monday 31st May – day 10 (bank holiday in UK)

Lots of wind but not absolutely manic. Sails around 5m for the blokes and 4.5m for the ladies. First day back on smaller boards, couldn’t seem to do anything (except swimming and lots of water starts).

There is some filming in the afternoon from the tower by Jason. Ian & Neroli featured, no Steve, Viv or Keith. This was abit off as we expected that everyone would at least feature we have had very little videoing this holiday compared with previous trips. Viv has a word with Jason and we are on for a mornings’ tuition tomorrow. 10:30 sharp. Looks like the progression sessions are sharply defined. So at the end you do not fall into Top Tips or anything else.

Ian gets at least 2 360’s

The evening meal turned out to be on the balcony at the hotel. The sign on the beach centres board said balcony bash – meet at 8pm in the bar. We went straight to the hotel because we were starving, almost nobody turned up before we left at 9pm most of the group must still have been in the bar. Saw my first cat this holiday – there used to be loads of them. Ian not well and did not appear for either tea or Tunnocks.

Tuesday 1st June – day 11

At breakfast Ian is slowly recovering from a stomach upset. Keith had a difficult night sleeping as did I.

Jason takes us 3 on as a lesson in the morning. Very good explaining, demonstrating, sailing with us, making us try things, complimenting…10 out of 10 for effort. I manage 2 carves out the back (that makes 11 total so far) but none inside and not for the lack of trying. Wind conditions are very good for large sails, Keith and I both on 7.5’s, Neroli on a 6.6 and Viv on a 6. Ian is still not well, stayed off the water and took pictures.

Largish lunch, cheeseburger and chips, I shall probably regret this later.

Afternoon was great if very tiring. Ian was back on the water. I was overpowered on a 7m Heckler and stubbornly refused to go in and change it while Jason was filming from the tower. Both Keith and Ian were on smaller sails and seemed to be planing ok. Ian has started to achieve Carve Gybes on the wrong side of the sail! At the filming later Jason pointed out our many and various mistakes. How is it I was on a 7m screaming in past the tower and yet on the telly it looks like I am the slowest slug on Egypt. (Do they have slugs in Egypt?). Anyway we all had fun and some valuable critique afterwards that was appreciated.

We have some new windsurfing guests in Martin from the midlands and Catherine and Dominic (different 1st initials phew!). Ollie (a kite surfer having his first ever go at windsurfing) suffered a bit yesterday from a fall onto the coral where the spinys got his hand with a vengeance). The coral, at low tide, is a place to be avoided. Stay very flat if falling in here. In fact low tide is very low at the moment and the sand bar by the inner buoy is not to be traversed without thought to fins.

Beers were consumed, G&T’s and then for tea we had tomato soup and a buffet.
Chicken, Fish, and some rolled up beef. Spinach sandwich (spinach in-between flaky pastry layers) was very good and produced inevitable Popeye jokes. There are usually 3 or 4 dishes of salad that can be chosen from. Keith likes his salad.

Wednesday 2nd June – day 12

Ian & Neroli go off on the Gun Run. The website says this is a 40km blast from somewhere up the gulf back to moon beach. Judging the wind direction this is mostly downwind which we think means lots of reaches out and back. They also reckon to do it in about 4 hours so either they will stop somewhere or….. More about this later when they get back.Keith's photo of a dolphin

Elastoplast strategy – the number and location of pieces of tape (elastoplast, electrical insulating tape, duck tape, combinations etc…) required to protect various damaged sections of hand for the days windsurfing. This is best sorted out straight after breakfast with clean dry hands. Do not leave it till the beach as the sand gets in. Always put sun-cream on afterwards. Snip the tape in-between the fingers and stick down firmly to make sure that there is no access for seawater to get under because it will if it can. Remove carefully, if still in place, with beer after a hard day. The remaining glue being a topic of conversation along with the number of hairs torn out with the tape, male hands only of course.

Tonight Claire is looking for people to go for a pizza at the Hacienda Hotel. They have pool tables and ping pong. This is where Ian, Neroli, Les and Jason set off from this morning, not the original Gun Run the web site talks about. They took about an hour to get round to Moon Beach from there. Ian was sailing a 6m and Neroli a 5m.
This was great as Keith and myself were sailing 5.2m and 5.5m and must be the first time Ian has been using a sail larger than both of us!

Lunchtime was cheeseburgers and chicken sandwich for Keith and us. Chips, no salad for Ian and Neroli. Afternoon sail smashing with a 6.6 Ezzy, no carves but lots of trying.

The Hacienda was a great trip. First the G&T’s were consumed in the bar on the beach and because the minibus had to do 2 trips we managed a second drink! The Hacienda looks to be a collection of quite up together buildings with lots of people tending the guest support and gardens (there’s grass!). Matt and Dan live here and the kite centre is in a bowl shaped inlet next to the Hotel although we didn’t get time to see it. We were in one of the outbuildings at the entrance where there is a bar and some cooking facilities. Pizza’s were the order of the day. We also had some pretty good coffees. Played pool in teams of 3 – I,N and Martin versus S, V and K. Ended up a draw after a lucky / disastrous shot from Martin that sank the black on the second game. Nice place. Very different to Moon Beach.

Thursday 3nd June – Day 13

White horses are coming into the bay on the way to breakfast. Going to be another arm stretching day.

Ballistic Thursday!

Started on a Freesex 107, the largest Freesex here. Wow. Great runs out and back. A bit later in the morning Viv changed down from a Freesex 96 to an 86 and I got the 96. This is the first board I’ve sailed that is below 100 litres and it goes bloody quick. After 6 or 7 runs in the morning we have a big rest over lunch.

A text sent to Gerry at lunchtime gets answered “in the best possible taste”. We have been pestering him all holiday and expect something similar back in July when he comes out here with Chris and Brian (Nomads trip to Moon Beach Phase II). This is 12 out of 13 days planing winds. Must be a record. Only one more day to go.

Back out again after lunch, way past the outer buoy there are big rollers which we fall or jump off. Foot steering on this small board is so easy you can change the direction up these rollers to jump or follow the curve. Compare this with the chop on the inside of the outer buoy and the easier ride is definitely further out.

Ice cream, beer, G&T, Tea, bed. Knackering day.

Friday 4th June – Day 14

Day 13 of wind. Lots of it, perhaps even more than yesterday am. Chop on the inside of the buoy was almost impossible. I am making the most of both the Freesex 96 and a waist harness. Survived my first carve gybe on the Freesex 96 out the back….fantastic, I was hollering all the way back in with a smile that went all the way to the pyramids!!!!! That’s 12, excellent.

After lunch things smoothed out quite a lot and we all changed up as the afternoon progressed. Underpowered at one stage I had to land out downwind amongst the spiny’s. Not a fun thing to do with nothing on your feet. Wind came back up and the final hours of the last afternoon were enjoyed by all. Even persuaded Keith to go out with a 6m, totally overpowered!

Check out the sail sizes spreadsheet for graphs of the sails used by the 4 of us over the two weeks. Unfortunately we had no wind speed measurement to go with it. That would have helped Gerry a lot with his quest to predict what sail size for a given weight and skill. Useful though just the same.

Martin kindly lent us his room after we were told to vacate the one room we had our bags in. This is the first time this has happened and it’s probably because we are leaving on what is the Egyptian weekend. The hotel is full and they need all the rooms. Martin gets a beer and a lot of thanks. If KLM had still got the flights we would have left Saturday night when the hotel is emptying and rooms are not a problem. More importantly we would not have had to take an extra days holiday at the beginning of the holiday (rant over).

The money got sorted with Helen. Our chequebook had been forgotten so Helen gave us an invoice and we shall post a cheque when we get home. Worth knowing if you get stuck.

Tea, hotel bill and then a last G&T down the bar. The taxi is another minibus and the journey to the airport in Cairo took forever.

Photo of tunnel under the Suez canalThis is the 2nd time we have been in a minibus underwater!

Saturday 5th June – Day 15

Finally after customs forms and exchanging all our pictures we are onto the plane and off to Hamster Jam. Some food, a drink and a difficult doze, here we are in Holland. Another couple of hours and we’ll be home. What a holiday. Its time to start saving for the next one. Would we go again, absolutely! Would you like to come too?

Look out for the 2nd Trip report in August from Gerry, Chris and Brian.

Graphic of sail sizes used during 1st weekGraphic of sail sizes used during 1st week

Graphic of sail sizes used during 2nd weekGraphic of sail sizes used during 2nd week

Steve & Viv Powell

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