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March 11, 2007

Dodging Traffic

LOCATION: Arabian Sea Crossing
Day: 40
Longitude: N:13°24.072'
Latitude: E: 047°46.842'
Heading: 250°M
Wind: ENE, Force: 2
Miles total Mumbai - Djibouti: 1,881
Miles from Mumbai: 1,581
Miles to Djibouti: 300

We have witnessed an abundance of fish fauna in the coastal area that we are traveling through here in the Gulf of Aden. At the end of our pedal shifts we usually take a dip in the sea. Some days the water has seemed colder than others. On these particular days I've noticed a lot more fish under and around the boat and it has also been windier and we have noticed a strong current. What is happening is that the current and wind is blowing the surface water offshore, which is resulting in the upwelling of cold, deep water. The the result of this upwelling is this rich aray of marine life that we see flourishing around the boat. The upwelling itself is a combination of several forces: wind, the rotation of the earth and current. When the wind combined with the deflecting effects of the earth's rotation blows the surface waters offshore, the deeper water rises to replace it. A book I brought on board has been very instructive in answering many of the phenomena I have observed over the course of the voyage. This book is 'The Sea Around Us' by Rachel L. Carson.

Our radar detector has been beeping nonstop these past few days. This isn't surprising considering the number of ships we've encountered since entering the Gulf of Aden. We're plum in the middle of the major shipping route for oil tankers from the Persian Gulf and container ships filled with merchandise from China stacked like dominos for consumers in Europe. We've seen all kinds of vessels: car carriers which look like giant shoe boxes, oil tankers, container ships etc. This increased volume of shipping has required us to be extra vigilant. Early yesterday morning while pedaling I spotted a ship coming up astern. It looked like it was going to pass us on our port (left) side. Having made this determination I continued pedaling. Very shortly thereafter I looked back and there it was, almost upon us! This required an immediate change of course and luckily there was sufficient to get out of it's path. Alot of these big ships don't seem keen to change course at all, so it is very important for us to get a good sense of their direction early enough to enable a change in our position accordingly.

The nighttime has been particularly stressful, trying to figure out the direction of ships from their navigation lights. They also travel very fast and they'll be on top of us in just 10 minutes after first appearing on the horizon. I've had to interrupt Jason's sleep a few times to get a second opinion that one of these things will clear us. Sometimes the ocean, which looks very big, can actually seem very small, especially when you have one of these monsters is bearing down on you!

We also saw an oil slick snaking it's way over the surface of the water, marring the otherwise beautifully clear blue waters that we've been pedaling through all these weeks.


Posted on March 11, 2007 3:18 PM