The Gulf of Aden 27th aug -2nd sept

david and margaret ritchie
Mon 4 Sep 2006 10:34
Whenever we have discussed our trip to any cruisers, this is the area most feared.
The Gulf of Aden is considered the Pirate Alley of the world for yachtsmen and there are many websites with talk of armed robberies in this sea between Yemen and Somalia.Our insurance insisted on only a stop at Aden, no other.Our attempt to go as a group failed due to timing and equipment failures on other yachts.  We set out from Aden nevertheless in good spirit and followed our plan of going up the centre 50 miles offshore from Yemen and about 100 miles from Somalia.
  In the event we had no problems but the skipper lost a good few years due to panick attacks.
   Only 25 miles from Aden, in mid afternoon, we had about 12 fast open boats come racing towards us with half a dozen ruffians on board.They passed pretty close and looked pretty scary but were obviously the fishing fleet heading for port.At night ,in the shipping lanes we had to work hard to ensure we were not run down bybut virtually all the traffic were on AISand so identifiable. One or two odd wons caused concern for periods but we got through safely.
   Socotra has to be avoided by 100 miles minimum because of piracy but our main concern was the weather.In July and August it blows F7-8and upwards virtually all the time. Would the wind know that it was now the 1st \september. Obviously not,we had 2 nights and days of F& and F*with enormous seasand a dreadfull period of 40+Knot winds. which forced us to eventually run north for 6 hours.
 We survived intact, albeit with a tear in the mainsailand a very wet boat but we are now in the Indian Ocean bouncing along at 7knots directly for Male which is only 1000 miles away