Last night another commercial vessel was attacked and boarded by pirates. It happened not far from us and we overheard the conversation between a coalition warship and the motor vessel in question. For obvious reasons I am not saying which attack it was but I was able to record the second half of the conversation between the coalition warship and another warship in the area. I have written the first part of the conversation between the warship and pirated vessel from memory with Liz’s help. It makes for interesting reading but please don’t let it worry you. We are perfectly safe and currently in negotiations with the coast guard (who have big armed vessels!).
Meet Big Brother, watching our every move since Egypt!
Sadly it is nigh on impossible to undertake the paperwork required to enter Oman without the use of an agent. We know of one yacht who attempted this and was so distraught at the heartache involved they eventually succumbed and employed an agent too. More frustratingly, however, is that there is only one agent we are aware of and much of the rally fell out with him for over-charging for his services.
Where the women are forced to wear black and their presence is absent from the streets. Welcome to Oman, a country that lives indoors in air conditioned buildings and drives around in air conditioned cars. Welcome to Oman, an expensive country boasting the most incredible beaches yet desperately lacking in soul. Read what I really think of this strange country…
Collisions, fishing nets, narrow escapes, exhaustion, arguments and tantrums. And that was just the first day! Sailing in convoy with fourteen other boats through the most dangerous waters in the world is enough to turn any sane man into a quivering wreck, excuse the pun. For some of us more conscientious sailors the Pirate Alley convoy was a living hell!
Pirate Alley. Two words that strike fear into the armchair sailor, apprehension into those who actually sail it, and have the effect of filling my pants out of shear fear when that phrase is uttered. In this preamble I attempt to put some of these thoughts into context.
I am the first Englishman to dance with Yemeni fishermen. Actually I think the accolade I was awarded by the coastguard who gave me this video clip was that I was the first foreigner to lead a troupe of Yemeni fishermen in dance. Ever. Don’t worry I’m not being serious, even though the coast guard was. I was quite touched that one of the coastguard-policemen came looking for me to lead me up to Colonel Mohamed’s office to watch this clip. All ten policemen were huddled round a TV with a camera plugged in to it, watching this clip! The actual event was a leaving ceremony put on by Colonel Mohamed of Aden for the Vasco Da Gama rally and the fishermen were breaking out some traditional dance routines to a live band. I have to say they were excellent and the music was pretty cool too. Check out the video clip.
Come with me to Crazy Place, a place like nothing you have ever witnessed before. Crazy Place is the name given to the qat market, the covered area where the locals come to buy their drug. It is an insane place. It is Crazy Place.
I found Yemen a difficult place to love when I first stepped ashore. With the beauty of the desolate marsas of Sudan and Eritrea behind us I found Aden an industrial mess. After spending some time there and traveling around, especially to Arab Town, I began to understand it a bit better. Some of the people we met were wonderful. But the problem I had with Yemen was qat.