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March 8, 2007

Into the Gulf

LOCATION: Arabian Sea Crossing
Day: 37
Longitude: N:14°20.500'
Latitude: E: 049°49.842'
Heading: 250°M
Wind: n/a, Force: calm
Miles total Mumbai - Djibouti: 1,861
Miles from Mumbai: 1,449
Miles to Djibouti: 407

Yesterday we crossed the 51 degree east line of longitude marking our long anticipated and struggled-for entry into the Gulf of Aden. This is a great relief as we are now definitely on course for making it to Djibouti versus being dragged south down the east African coast with the vague hope of making landfall in Mombasa, Kenya.

The occasion also marked the three quarter point of the voyage, duly celebrated with the last of the cheese, crackers and a bottle of red Sula wine that I'd completely forgotten about but rediscovered while rooting around in the sleeping compartment in search of video tape. This gives you some indication of how ridiculously healthy the life our lives have become out here - when I forget the whereabouts of a bottle of booze on board (or perhaps just how bad my memory is getting).

One advantageous effect of the last major push north by the current from a few days back is that we've landed up on north side of the gulf, exactly where we planned to be at this point in the voyage in order to be as far from the north Somali coast as possible. The downside is that we're jostling for space with a mound of shipping; in any one hour of the day or night we will have two or three monster container vessels/oil tankers tracking parallel to us either heading towards or away from the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. So we are constantly scanning the horizon to keep out of their path, although our Pains Wessex Ocean Sentry radar target enhancer gives us plenty of forwarning of their whereabouts and hopefully ours to them also.

A few Yemen fishing boats have crossed our path, but in general they're not as friendly as the Iranian fishing boats from a week ago. One did stop by earlier today to try and see what this floating submarine covered by dirty laundry was all about, but duly took off as soon as they saw me appear on deck without a stitch on. The old anti-piracy strategy works every time! They probably thought we were refugees from Somalia - the last thing they wanted to be taking home as the day's catch.

Other than that it's business as usual - grinding out miles. The windless conditions have returned and it's now so hot that any surface of the boat not covered by shade becomes too hot to touch by mid-morning. And the pedal seat area is so stuffy that we had to inflict further surgery on the perspex canopy today, this time on the port side, in an attempt to increase air flow to the pedaler.

For those of you located in the UK in particular, you might reference this recent full page spread in the Guardian with a thought to writing in to the letters page


Posted on March 8, 2007 2:51 PM