Wednesday, March 04, 2009

270 miles to Aden

After an intriguing stay in Mukalla we're off again, for the comparatively modest 270 miles trip to Aden. The infamous five have become the depleted foursome; Helen Kate wanted to press on to Aden rather than spend time exploring inland - how will we manage without the protection of our Viking twosome?

Jasper made me feel better about running out of diesel on the previous trip, by running out of water the instant he left the port - it seems a common problem - misjudging the levels of fluids in our tanks.

After a slow start the wind soon kicked in and up went four spinnakers. It's been a manic morning - preparing for sea, recovering and stowing the stern anchor, securing the dinghy and then the seemingly continuous adjustment to the sails as we worked our way around the coast. There was little spare time to worry about the pirates. However, sixty miles west of Mukalla is an area renowned for numerous armed yacht robberies, so it was important to stick together. I've never worked so hard. Of course if you fall behind, you can always ask the others to slow down a little, but that's tantamount to admitting your sailing ability is below par. In fairness the four yachts have very different sailing characteristics, so in practice the faster yachts tend to reduce sail earlier or delaying hoisting their larger sails, but it still means the slower boats have to work hard to stay close. With much work Kika held her own, but it's been an exhausting day.

The sail through the night, past the piracy hotspot was notable in two ways. Firstly the wind continued blowing all night, and allowed us to sail; recently we've had to motor after the sea-breeze dies soon after dusk. Secondly, just before midnight, we came across a confusing array of lights. The radar showed three boats close together. Calling them on the radio, clarified the situation. It turned out to be a ship under tow with an armed escort - not met many of those before.

Position @ 12:00 (GMT+3), 04/03/2009: N14deg 14' E048deg57'
Distance to Aden: 250
Engine hours: 2

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