Eight o’clock in the morning and Lo was on the VHF attempting to get the attention of all the rally boats. Overnight the b@$tard Eritrean navy had changed their minds and sent out a skiff with three military personnel to forcibly remove us from our spot! I say forcibly because they came alongside each boat, screamed “Go! Go! Go now!” and refused to entertain any excuse not to move immediately. I was in the middle of changing a filter on the engine and hadn’t bled the fuel lines so Esper literally could not move. It made no difference, however, the command was to “Leave NOW!”.
Liz then tried a trick I’ve fallen for myself: she burst into tears! For a few moments they didn’t know what to do with this hysterical, babbling, blubbing, red-faced female and with me shouting “engine kaput” we thought we had them. Alas, they drew their breath, recomposed themselves and then resumed their orders, which even a phone call to the British ambassador in Asmara could not over-turn.
Anthony on ‘Divanty’ suggested that Lo send them over to him. “Perhaps I could have a word with them”, he offered. Clearly he had not understood the gravity of a third-world military state sending over armed soldiers to remove 15 boats from a restricted area. As Lo said when he upped anchor to leave: “We have lost this game. We cannot win. I know it, I have seen it before”.
With much to-ing and fro-ing, and with ‘Full Flight’ almost running aground due to some engine problems, we settled on the west of Sadla Island in questionable holding. In fact the rally divided in two, with ‘Roam 2’ leading half the boats to another bay with better holding.
Theirs was extremely rolly though and I can’t do sideways rolly so we stayed with the others in deeper water and calmer seas. If we dragged we had plenty of sea-space behind us!
Being kicked off Mersa Dudo was actually a blessing in disguise for Sadla Island was an absolute gem. In fact those who had managed to get ashore on the first night waxed lyrical about its wonders on the evening net. Tony of ‘Full Flight’ and I arranged to go ashore early next morning as he had discovered nesting turtles on the eastern shore and was curious to find out more.
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