Posted by: passedportsnyc | August 18, 2009

Ahoy, Captain Felucca!

August 13, 2009, Egypt

**Photos to come, pending a decent internet connection without a line of people waiting to use it**

We decided that the people sitting at the table near ours at lunch looked like “the felucca type.” As they were leaving I got up and chased after them to see if they would like to be our sailing companions. About 24 hours later we set sail. They still joke about being “assaulted by that American girl.”

Most people who cruise down the Nile do so in large hotel boats or other luxury vessels. We decided to go the more adventurous route.
A felucca is a traditional Egyptian sailing boat. It is wooden, with one large sail that can be rigged any number of ways. The boats have no engine or electrical power of any kind, no inside or below area, no bathroom. Most have a large canvass strung up beneath the sail to provide shade on deck.

Feluccas carry 6-10 passengers (in the end we had eight) along with a captain and one crew member.  Everyone eats and sleeps on deck together. Going to the bathroom involves finding a secluded spot along the shoreline. 

We spent 2 nights on our felucca, sailing downriver part of the way from Aswan to Luxor. The river water had a cooling effect on the strong hot wind which, combined with the shade of the canvass, made the felucca the most comfortable we’d been in Egypt, despite being out of doors the entire time in 100+ degree heat.

We were lucky to have good companionship including a friendly couple from Capetown who offered us lots of great tips for South Africa, a globetrotting Dutch couple who already took two year-long travel breaks and are planning a third (they also honeymooned in Iran last year and loved it), an astute and outgoing Canadian law student, and an unassuming, mildmannered young Brit who turns out to be quite the intrepid traveler. Good company was critically important as we were in very close quarters for quite some time.

We didn’t share more than a dozen words in common with the captain and crew.  The closest we came to communication was the captain instucting us to call him Captain Felucca.  But it didn’t much matter.

We floated down the Nile, hearing nothing but the mummer of the current streaming past the boat, the creeks of the splintered wooden mast and beam, and the flapping wings of the occasional passing bird; the chaotic land-based soundtrack of “you want to buy cheap price how much you pay cheap price cheap price,” quickly became a distant memory.  We read, wrote, and swapped travel stories to pass the time, but mostly we just watched the riverbank float by: water buffalo, fishermen, kids swimming and mothers washing in the Nile, and lush green palms against a the barren reddish backdrop of desert mountains.  As it turns out, it is possible, even in 2009, to pass days without a thought of cell phones or emails.




  1. Amen to that thought!
    I am glad to have checked in, seems like you and max are having a great time.
    NYC is hot as hell, so don’t miss it:)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: