23 June 2005

Sea Life.1951.The Modasa. The Red Sea.

First draft:
The Red Sea leg of our journey was in the region of 2000 miles. Leaving Suez the first 200 miles or so was down the Gulf of Suez 20 miles wide before it opened out into the Red Sea proper.

Our first port of call down here was Port Sudan to deliver cargo, our length of stay would be no longer than 24 hours at a rough guess. I remember little of the stop other than a desolate outlook of sand and a few warehouses. It certainly had little else where we berthed.

I went down the companionway, down on to the wharf, probably more to streach my legs and feel firm ground more than anything else. I distinctly remember rounding a corner of what appeared to be an office and standing there were 2 dark coloured figures standing with long staffs in ragged loose white garments and the wind blowing. What caught my attention was their hair, a great mop of matted, plastered curly hair. I suddenly realised I had seen pictures of figures like this before in books, I had met my first Fuzzy Wuzzies.

I learnt later that they were most probably down from the mountains visiting and their dress was as it had always been for aons of time. The fuzzy hair would probably be plastered and set with liquified cow dung which set hard when dried. Much like ladies hair spray of today. Thinking now I probably was a surprise to them as they were to me.

Leaving Port Sudan we continued south towards the entrance to the Red Sea leading into the Indian Ocean. Our next port of call was Aden in what is now Yemen. In the 1951 Aden was an important port for refuelling and it was here we would not only deliver cargo, we would take bunkers on board. In our case coal, for the Modasa was an old ship built in the days when coal was king.

When we entered the Red Sea from Suez we noticed a distinct rise in temperature. The Red Sea is one of the hotter regions of our world, hot winds blowing off the desert sands of the Arabia coupled with the heat of the sun, pushed the temperature to high levels.

In bygone days when travelling overseas, by ship was the only method; the passengers, especially in the cabins on the lower decks used to suffer from the extreme heat, for air conditioning was then, just a word. Cabins on the port side of the ship were much favoured on the trip out from the U.K., for the prevailing wind was from the port side.

Consequently the trip back to the U.K. via the Red Sea, the prevailing wind was from the starboard side of the ship. These preferred cabins were at a premium and it was only the richer passengers who could afford them. A phrase was coined; "Port out, Starboard home" which led to the well known word... POSH.

True or not I'm not sure, but that is the story I was told in my learning years.

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