22 March 2008

2008-Mar-22 Noon Update

Gulf of Aden
Indian Ocean
Offshore Yemen Coast

  • 88 nm last 24 hrs
  • 425 nm to Aden
  • 170 nm from Oman
  • Winds SE 10 knots
  • Seas 0-1 feet
Another 24 hours of sail/motoring. We were able to sail late yesterday afternoon till evening. But were not able to sail our track line and were heading straight for land on Yemen. We have motored through the night and all day today as winds are right off the bow. As usual, this should have been a route that could sail.

Lots of shipping traffic around. S/V Shiraz and Sandpiper have been within 2 miles of each other for the last 24 hrs. We have been staying well offshore of Yemen, the closest being 12 miles, for safety as there are some undesirables in this area.

This morning, before sunrise, I saw a set of mast head lights. From my time in the Guard I knew immediately was a warship lurking around. Right after the sun came up they called us on VHF saying they were a 'coalition' warship and wanted to advise us (us and Shiraz) of piracy issues between Somalia and Yemen. I chatted them up for a bit asking what flag warship they were. But we were told that they were not authorized to tell us. But from the size of the ship , and the accent of the guy on the radio, it was obvious that it was an US Navy ship. I told him we were two U.S. flagged boats and to pass our greetings from a retired 'Chief' to his command, and their chiefs mess. We also thanked them for being out here so far from home watching out for us. They were very professional. They then turned and vanished over the horizon.

Later in the afternoon we started to come across Yemen fisherman. They were 20 miles off shore in open fiberglass boats with outboards on the back. We are a bit paranoid about any small boats in this area.

One boat came alongside Shiraz looking for handouts. After getting nothing, we were next. The boat came right up on us with 4 guys on board with a bunch of sharks that they had caught. They motioned with their hands that they wanted some smokes. We tried to wave them off, but they were so excited that they came right alongside us while we were going 5 knots. I kept trying to wave them off and they kept talking loudly in Arabic pointing at their sharks. Trying to wave them off did not work. They were pounding against Piper's hull. So Amy grabbed the helm and turned away from them until we could clear them.

The fisherman out here are very friendly... too friendly. We cannot take any chances along this coast, so we will not be giving anybody anything. Sorry Yemen Fishermen.

More in 24,
Tom and Amy

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