Thursday, February 12, 2009

Setting sail for the Gulf of Aden

I set sail at 2.30pm for the 1550 nautical mile passage into the Gulf of Aden, with near perfect conditions; a flat sea, gentle breeze and clear skies. If the wind had been a little more from the North-East rather than the North the conditions would have been ideal. Still with the sails sheeted in tight, and a full moon guiding me, I cleared the north of Ari Atoll and the last of the potentially treacherous coral a little after midnight and headed into the empty expanse of the Indian Ocean.

I'd intended to set off first thing in the morning, but last-minute pre-passage preparations took up the morning including... spending the last of my Maldivian money, making yoghurt, engine checks, cleaning and stowing the dinghy, finalising a cunning pirate avoidance route, stowing the folding bike, securing all below deck, cleaning out the fridge, checking the weather forecast, emptying the bilge and final attempted repairs to the electronic self-steering. These were just the last minute items, I'd been preparing to leave over the last couple of days; restocking with food, refilling the water tank, downloading podcasts and checking out of the country with help from Amead our agent. As ever there were lots of items that fell off the list, including uploading photos to the blog and writing up our Maldivian adventures. I'll endeavour to complete the write-up over the next few days, but the photos will have to remain unpublished until I reach an internet connection, probably in Aden.

The only other item marring the start of the trip was a sudden infestation of flies as I sailed along the southern coast of Male'. Fortunately I was a little more prepared than last time and liberally fumigated the boat with my Chinese fly spray, reducing their numbers. A few robust individuals appear to have immunity to the spray so guess it'll take a few days until I manage to entirely eliminate my uninvited passengers.

Sadly for David the tourist diversions in Male' ran out after a couple of days and he found the time waiting for our return, trying. So much so that he decided to head home. So I'm starting this trip with a degree of trepidation; I'll be single-handed for nearly two weeks and heading into a renowned pirate zone. Still on a more positive note, the northern Indian ocean is known for its benign conditions, since I left the Maldives the radar detector hasn't located any other boats, and the navies of the world have defined a patrolled safe transit corridor through the Gulf of Aden. What most concerns me however is that I'll return to my feral ways, undoing two weeks of Kristin's civilising influence.

Position @ 12:00 (GMT+5) N4deg 37.2' E071deg 50.2'

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