After a few day there ware about 30 yachts at anchor in Uligan, Maldives, all aiming towards the Red Sea. But the recent development of increased piracy activities in the Arabian Sea caused confusion, uncertainty, hesitation and fear amongst all of us. At daily skipper meetings there were new intimidating news of attacks and incidents, so I had to think over and find a decision how to proceed at that critical that point.
These were the possibilities:
1. Ignore all warnings and just go
2. Detour along the coast of India and Pakistan and then cut across to Muscat, Oman to avoid very dangerous areas (2200 instead of 1300 miles)
3. Spend some months in the Indian Ocean and wait for the SW-Monsoon Winds, then sail back to Thailand or Malaysia, leave the boat there, continue next year or later.
4. Extend the voyage for another year and sail via South Africa and the Atlantic.
5. Take an armed security team on board.
6. Sail in convoi with other yachts towards the Gulf of Aden.
Except the first one, all choices would have been possible for me. The hardest part these days was to make a decision. I also had tto consider that I was singelhanded, so
ad 2. along the coast fo India was not a feasable option. Fishernets, shipping traffic and headwinds would make this route almost impossible for Anima.
ad 3. probably the most reasonable solution. But how could a keep proper maintenance with Anima being so far away? And when would it be possible to continue? And I really did not want to break or maybe even end the circumnavigation in that way.
ad 4. Challenging, interesting, but bad timing: December/January is the time togo around the Cape of Good Hope. So, first it would be hanging out in the Maldives, Chagos, Madagascar and then many miles in a relatively short period to be back in the Med in summer. In addition it would be tough for the boat and for my financial plan.
ad 5. There was a vague chance of taking three armed men, who were on a cargo ship eastbound and take them back to Yemen free of charge. But that was unconfirmed at the time when I had to decide, so I eventually went for
A group of ten yachts decided to sail all the way together in tight convoi formation. This was also the only way for me being singlehanded to cope with the nights: being the lead boat, the others could watch out for me during my hours of rest.
Many other yachts reconsidered their cruising plans: Most went the long way via along the coast of India, some sailed back to Thailand and a few chose South Africa. After we had left, there was another option: Shipping the boat on a freighter from the Maldives to Turkey. 15 yachts were to be loaded in March.
We left on February 7. One boat had to give up with engine problems after two hours, but the rest of us made it safely to Mukalla, Yemen after 13 days and 1500 miles of very exhausting sailing. A really remarkable achievement with very different yachts from 28 to 51 feet and everybody's committment and compromise to stay together at all times.
Excerpts of the logbook:
6.2. the day before departure: a welding seam broke on the bracket of the engine's raw water pump, I can weld it with my own equipment and shore power in the village. That not enough, diods and bearings of the towing generator had to be replaced. Not a very relaxing day...
7.2. 2h after departure: Swedish NJORD has to turn back due to transmission problems
3h after departure: 1 hour stop for AMANTE to fix the exhaust system
8.2. light winds, forward of the beam: Less than ideal sailing conditions for ANIMA, which has to help with engine while others can sail easily.
10.2. Finally wind picks up and is on the beam. Wonderful sailing for all of us.
11.2. Confusion at night, formation broke up, hard time finding positions and reforming group
13.2. sighting of warship nearby. Reports of piracy activity in the area, very intimidating.
14.2. new course, close hauled, diffiult conditions for ANIMA.
15.2. Discover leaking raw water pump, replacing with spare pump.
New course towards GoA, beautiful sailing at night.
16.2. Toggle on CHOCOBO breaks, convoi hove to in 20knots during repair.
SEEAMIA reports transimission cooling problems.
17.2. AMANTE takes SEEAMIA in tow. Flyover by helicopter.
19.2. Report of the kidnapping of SV QUEST, 250nm SE of Salalah
20.2. Last night on approaching Mukalla, 3 boats caught in fishing nets.
9.30 a.m. at anchor after 13 days and 1500 miles.
the convoi participants:
CHOCOBO (CAN), Roger und Danielle
SEEAMIA (CAN), John und Monica
AMANTE (USA), John und Vera
GLIDE (USA), Brian, Lisa und zwei Kinder (15,17)
KATHLEEN LOVE (ENG), Graham und Gillian
MARGARITA (DEN), Anders und Birgit
MANTRA ASIA (POL), Asia und Alex
TIKU MOJE (CH), Jean-Claude und Denise