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Sail Away
Feeling a fine spray of ocean touching our faces as we lay on the someone’s luxury lounge, with a huge flat screen television, wall-
netting looking at the water rushing below, the only sound we could to-wall seating, well-equipped boat kitchen, and stairwells down to
hear were the sleek edges of the vessel cutting through the ocean three large overnight cabins, all with en suite bathrooms.
and the huge sails filling with the strong Sinai wind above our heads.
All that was needed was a pod of dolphins swimming in the wake
Universe was personally sailed to these waters by its owner Hamdy
beneath and a romantic sailing song playing in the background and
Samy. An enthusiastic and friendly personality, ‘Samy’ is better known
the scene would have been perfectly set for one of those impressive
to the diving and watersports community as the director of the
upmarket destination adverts on television.
Search and Rescue facility operating out of Sharm’s Travco Marina.
Samy grew up on boats and knows the waters around the Sinai better
Ten minutes of sailing on this pristine, spacious and polished vessel, than his own back garden. However, his sailing experience is still
and I was already impressed by the way it handled and was being young.
sailed by a smart matching-jacket crew. I am not a trained sailor
myself, but coming from a family with its fair share of sailing fanatics,
Deciding to change his way of life and sea vessel, he trained in Europe
I’d been on enough boats to make a decent judgement. These guys
with his business partner Sameh Halawa on a fast-track RYA (Royal
clearly know what they are doing sailing wise – and they certainly suit
Yachting Association) course for skippers in summer 2009. Following
the Cote d’Azur crew look too. Welcome aboard the Lagoon Universe
successful qualification, the pair set sail for a ,700 nautical mile trip
from Bordeaux to Sharm el Sheikh in challenging weather. No easy
task for any yachtsman, nevermind those recently qualified.
Unlike traditional one-hull sailing boats, catamarans offer a steady
position in the water with two hulls for balance. But this takes
During the three weeks to the island of Crete, their trainers stayed
nothing from its power and speed; quite the contrary.
with them, ensuring they could handle the Lagoon Universe on their
own. Then from Crete to Sharm el Sheikh, the pair and their partners
Clocking up 20knots on the way from Sharm el Sheikh’s Shark’s Bay to had to contend with some tough winds and swells over eight days
Tiran Island in moderate winds, I couldn’t help wondering why no one without their trainers eyes. Samy recalled the moment he had to
here had thought of this before. There are sailing cruises available climb the mast in a strong wind, and was stuck there for an hour or
in these waters, but on large Turkish gullets with large volumes of two, before the rope system was fixed. ‘The whole trip was certainly a
guests from various hotel resorts. quick learning curve,’ he says.
The first of its kind to be used for commercial cruises in these waters, But the testing start to their sailing career has clearly paid off
Lagoon Universe can be chartered for private daily cruises, two-hour for these two long time Sharmers. There is a quiet and relaxed
introduction to sailing, or alternatively for corporate team building confidence about their handling of the boat. They obviously love
days which are more common in the European and US business what they do and are keen to put luxury sailing on the Sinai map.
world. Universe is part of a two-boat fleet of Sharm el Sheikh-based
Sinai Yacht Charters. The other is a RIB, hired out to dive centres.
Mooring up for lunch, close to the shelter of the reefs fringing Tiran
island, we watched the colours of the surrounding area change with
Whichever type of day you choose, whether the more sporty hands- the power of the sun. Reaching for another fine Italian biscuit in this
on introduction to sailing or a laidback cruise, you are certainly in for incredible ocean setting, it crossed my mind again: ‘Really, why has no
a taste of luxury. one thought of doing this before?’
There are spacious and comfortable outside areas, which look more See Sinai Yacht Charter’s website for more information and price
St Tropez than Sinai desert. Inside, you feel you have stepped into details:
riB dives
The second service operated by Sinai Yacht
Charters is to CDWS dive centres wanting to offer
guests the option of high speed RIB diving and
snorkeling trips to Shark Reef in the Ras Mohamed
National Park and sites such as Jackson Reef in the
Straits of Tiran. With the ability to reach Shark Reef
in 15 minutes, this is a perfect option for those
wishing to dive the best of Sharm’s sites without
taking up their whole day.
RIB Diving Valiant is 8.5m-long and comfortably
accommodates ten divers, including guides. Its
twin 150-HP outboards give it a top speed of 40
knots and a cruising speed of 25 knots. The vessel
is fitted out completely with divers in mind and
even has a sturdy and large ladder from which
to climb out of the water and back into the boat
– removing the usual flop over the side like a
walrus embarrassment divers usually have to
endure on a RIB.
To stay within CDWS rules, the vessel can only be
hired by ISO certified dive centres, either by space
or the entire boat. Much like the way in which day
diving boats operate, the dive centre must provide all the adequate safety gear and a qualified guide, as well as ensure guest are capable of
diving these advanced sites. RIB Diving Valiant website:
Issue 4 January - February ‘10 9
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