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Moon Beach 2004 / II (the sequel)

As the late Douglas Adams might have said: "here follows the second and final part of the trilogy".

Instead of the more usual Diary form of narrative I thought I would just put down a few random thoughts and observations about the place and this year's holiday there.

After the visit earlier in the year by Ian, Neroli, Viv, Steve and Keith, the last two weeks of July saw the afterguard of Chris, Gerry and myself turn up at the Egyptian resort.

Since the last time I was there, kite surfing and yoga activities have been introduced. I did try myPhoto of windsurfers disappearing over the horizon hand, or was it foot, or was it legs at yoga which takes place in a room in the main hotel. There are two sessions per day one at 8:00 in morning and one at 6:00 in the late afternoon / early evening. Instruction and demonstration are by Herra of the soft Irish voice and super supple body. An excellent supplement to windsurfing (I’m told Robby Naish is a practitioner), helping strengthen the inner core muscles and aid balance. You just have to gird up those mental loins, and either get up early in the morning or stir yourself from the after windsurfing ice cool beer sessions in the bar. A Tricky situation, and almost certainly the reason that I only managed one yoga session the whole time we were there, and that on the one windless day.

Kite surfing takes place at a beach called the Hacienda, a five-minute drive up the road. The beach gives waist height+ levels of water at high tide, but dries out and is therefore unsailiable at low tides. I did think about trying kiting on the less windy days but the reality was that if there was insufficient wind for windsurfing then there was insufficient wind for kiting. I suppose with skill and a super large kite, a session in light winds would have been possible. But the perils of kiting when the wind dropped are far greater than for windsurfing, so an extra margin of safety was applied. Thus the minimum wind requirement for kiting was just about as much as would get an 8mtr sail and big board on the plane. So no contest there - Windsurfing it was.

Temperature – amazingly comfortable – the combination of having everything so near the water and the consistent daytime wind / evening breezes, it always felt pleasant. There is plenty of shade from large umbrellas and the bar at the beach. And in spite of temperature maxing at 40 degrees on a couple of days, I never felt really hot or uncomfortable. Of course if the body heat does build up there is always the Oggin available a whole 10 paces away ready for a pleasant cooling plunge.

photo - G&T’s on the terrace

Pre dinner drinks on the terrace – a most civilised and British activity masterminded by Gerry. In the early evening having just showered and changed prior to dinner. Then it’s over to Chris and Gerry’s terrace for Gin and tonics or in my case Rum & cokes. Stretching out in easy chairs watching the sun go down - rush hour / rat race!! What rush hour /rat race??

Spied out the secret testing of the latest addition to the Fanatic board range. The appropriately named Zebra. Couldn’t get the full low-down, but it would appear from our observations to be a very short high volume board, aimed at the beginners market. At great personal peril we manage to sneak past the guards and capture photographs of the board actually being sailed. Technical problems have delayed the developing of the photographs so missing publication in this issue of the newsletter, however rest assured next time we will be publishing the photo’s of this brand new revolutionary design.

We usually managed two or three 2 hr sailing sessions per day, of which 50% of my time was spent planing on short board kit (under 100ltrs and 7 mtrs), 30% spent planing on big board kit (up to 145 litres an 8 mtrs) 15% spent in sailable but non planing winds and 5% when there was no bloody wind at all.

The centre operates of policy of supporting sailing until you want to stop. None of this off the water. Something supremely chilled out about coming off the water in the late afternoon / early evening; staggering five yards or so to the beach bar, then slouching in a chair, feet up, tired but happy. Supping an ice cool beer with friends discussing the day and watching the few remaining boys and girls just finishing their sessions - Shall I have another beer or shall I go and get ready for dinner - oh decision decisions??

The Moon beach Friendships / Camaraderie is legendary with the guests and sailing centre staff all mixing, drinking and sailing together. Everyone bouncing off each other, helping each other, giving encouragement and banter; generally joining in the communal fun and frolics. Loads of group generated entertainment and socialising – relaxed and informal style – no hassles, no silly rules/ restrictions - just everyone generally having a bloody good time with like-minded people in a superb location.

A great crew of guests and staff came together whilst we were there. In no particular order with photo of some of the moon beach staffapologies to anyone I have forgotten or misspelt there was Ben, Georgina, Abbey, Michelle, Ivan & Lisa, Jim, Geoff & Sophy, Rob, Chris and Sally, Jill & Steve, Anthony, Dave & Sandra, Helen, Chris & Claire, Andy, Dan, Matt, Jason, Ciarra, Jim & Barney, plus the Nomadic posse of Chris Gerry and Brian. What their surnames are, I haven’t a clue, but I feel like I know them all – it’s that sort of place.

Like the rest of the set up the tuition is flexible and tuned to the photo of brian individual and the conditions. If you want to learn carving – ok. If looping's your bag – sure. Waterstarting – no problem. General sailing - right on, etc etc. And if it’s planing techniques you are interested in, and the wind don’t blow, then no problem - delay the lesson until it does.

Visiting Egypt does provide a few Uniquely Egyptian experiences, noises for instance - no more motorway sounds, no car horns, no rap music, few mobile phones. No a completely different set of sounds. In the cabin, an air-conditioning unit of dubious vintage that rattles and vibrates on a level to compete with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. A fridge that hums with the volume but not the tone of a Welsh male voice choir. And a plumbing system that delights in producing strange gurgling noses at odd times. What could be more evocative than the scratching of the climbing rose thorns on the side window as the wind blew the bush. – the stronger the wind the more the scratching. Now that sound I liked a lot, in fact my little heart skipped a beat when I didn’t hear it.

The incongruity of Egyptian women swimming in the water fully clothed in traditional garb whilst a few yards away western girls in bikini’s swam, sunbathed and windsurfed. Both probably baffled by the others attire.

Long queues at passport control with no sign of humour from the Custom officers, unlike the other Egyptians we met who have a ready smile and sense of humour very similar to the British.

Whilst the food is wholesome and plentiful, France has no worries about Egypt becoming the gourmet capital of the world. Innovation is not a prime feature of Egyptian menus. Especially at the hotel where some form of chicken, fish and meat in gravy was available on the hot buffet trays each and every night. And to finish, desserts that takes sweetness to a new dimension. But hey you can’t have everything, and the lunchtime cheeseburgers were superb - definitely several cuts above Macdonald’s efforts, both in quality (Real Beef) and size.

Water - it’s hot over there, a dry comfortable heat with the cooling winds / breezes. But still hot and the body will de-hydrate unless enough water in drunk. This means at least 3 litres a day of bottled water. Not too much of a problem when first out of the fridge, but after an hour or so, at the beach, in the heat of the day. The stuff becomes warmish in the bottle and not quite as palatable as earlier, but duty calls and it must be drunk; flavourings are definitely an improvement. Photo of dolphins taken with cheap, waterproof cameraat 5 o’clock stuff. Great for an early evening sail if energy and desire permits. Water-skiing / wake-boarding / snorkelling are all light/ no wind options. As are the almost daily dolphin experiences which can find you sailing or swimming with families of them in their natural habitat. Sometimes they want to play and will hang around for ages, other times it’s a quick investigate and then off. But to encounter, then sail or swim with them in their natural environment for however long duration is still a wonderful experience.

Part of this year's sailing experiences was the Master Blaster race where all guests and a few staff blasted out in handicap order to race out, around the Boat and back to the shore. In marginal conditions the girls showed the men the way home successfully navigating between boards and avoiding the abject mayhem and carnage at the gybe / tack mark. Chris upheld the Nomads tradition, gaining a podium place by means of a masterful tactical display of sailing i.e. not falling off at the gybe mark and dodging the sandwiching tactics of Gerry and Steve. T’other two nomads - Gerry and myself - both blew our chances in true style at the gybe / tack mark, falling in and becoming part of 8 board / sail tangle.

As we sat chilling out in those restful times between sailing, thoughts and conversations ebbed and photo of one of the guys pulling off a vulcan(?)flowed to all manner of topics, with one inevitably emerging as our time in Moon Beach came near to its end – Next years Holiday. Any windsurfing holiday is good but one with friends and companions is even better. Annual Nomadic windsurfing holidays have settled in to become a regular feature of the clubs windsurfing calendar. This year it was Moon beach in two phases, five in early June and three in late July. Last year was ten plus two in Ireland. 2002 saw a fragmented arrangements with mostly everyone doing their own thing, whilst 2001 was a biggie with 16 going to Dahab on a guy Cribb week. Previous years saw groups of Nomads holidaying in Moon Beach and Hurghada.

Good as these holidays were, with a little support and planning the 2005 holiday could be even better. If enough of us get together we could take over a centre: bring in a windsurfing guru (Guy Cribb, Simon Bornhoft etc); get discounts on flights, accommodation, tuition etc. It appears as though every year a core of about 8-12 nomads manages to get a holiday plan arranged. If we could build on this number, make our plans early enough then the 2005 Nomadic holiday could really be a classic. More on this theme later in the year...

Graphic showing the sail sizes we usedGraphic of the sail sizes we each used on each day

Brian Derrick

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