Your Macerating Pump Professionals Stress the Need to Exercise Caution
We, the crews of all 27 yachts heading westward off the coast of Yemen, watched with dread as a large, rusty fishing boat slowly revealed itself in the morning mist.
Our convoy was sailing in tight military formation and pressed on despite our nervousness. The tension was thick. We’d tracked the shabby vessel that lay ahead on our radars with much discussion and speculation.
Just as we were close enough to smell its rotting fish, we heard a roar. A large, powerful skiff appeared around its transom and careened directly at us at high speed. For a moment, our formation held.
“He’s right next to me!” screamed a woman on the VHF. “This must not be allowed to happen. I need support right now! Now, goddamn it!”
“Welcome to yachting, Gulf of Aden style,” I said in response.
Everyone who circumnavigates must either sail the Red Sea or around the southern tip of Africa.
It was strictly a Corinthian affair, so there was no cost to anyone. There were, of course, some ground rules. Participants had to be able to do five knots through the water and to be able to carry enough fuel for the full 650-mile run. Radar reflectors and masthead running lights were prohibited, and only dim, deck-level lights were allowed.
Since we knew pirates might be equipped with radars, radios, and other gadgets, we didn’t use our regular boat names; instead, we adopted military-sounding ones: I was “Eagle Three,” and my German friend. Horst, on the Island Packet 38 Pacific Star, was now called “Merlin Lead.” All told, we represented 17 countries, almost a floating United Nations.
Tom decided we’d convoy in groups of six, with two lines of vessels arranged three abreast.
A convoy boat lost power three times during the passage. Tom would then call for us to “loiter,” and the entire fleet would stop, more or less in formation, for 10 minutes for the mechanical problem to be sorted out.
Your Macerating Pump Experts Recommend Having a Good Mechanic On Board
Luckily, we had light weather the entire way. Your macerating pump specialists know that if we’d encountered a major storm, it was agreed that we’d go our separate ways and reconverge at our next waypoint, knowing that pirate activity would be low because of the weather: Somali pirates generally don’t attack in winds greater than 25 knots.
Pirate attacks against large commercial vessels are a daily occurrence in this area; some days, multiple attacks occur within 100 miles of Aden. Luckily, small sailboats aren’t the preferred targets of the Somalis.
Only the Russian coalition forces bragged to me-they’d been drinking at the Oasis Club in Salalah-that they’d slid up alongside a nonplussed pirate boat, lifted it up via their deck crane while still full of pirates, and carried them both, boat and crew, back to cold, cold Siberia.
Each of our convoy members kept a sharp lookout, visually and on radar, for approaching vessels. If any were sighted, the entire group was immediately given a heads up with bearing and distance.
Each group would then huddle, with the wing vessels moving in closer to the group leader and the second line squeezing up forward between them.
In my opinion the most important ingredient for a successful convoy is the character of its leader. We were lucky to have Tom Sampson’s steady hand at our helm.
There were, of course, a number of times when tensions flared, which is understandable when transiting pirate-prone waters. But for every act of individual selfishness, there was a collective act of selflessness.
The result was 27 vessels arriving in Aden safely and free of any pirate engagement. We were all extremely grateful for our safe passage. It could’ve easily gone the other way, as it had for the traumatized crew of Rockall, who were captured and held for 52 days.
So, a few days after our safe arrival, many of us gathered on the foredeck of our boat, Wild Card, which was anchored in almost the exact location where the attack on the USS Cole took place. We were there to honor the 17 young Americans killed in October 2000. We poured our prayers, our flowers, and our love into the harbor waters, as well as a tot of rum for each lost sailor.
“Peace,” we muttered sadly from the deck of an American yacht in the waters off the war-torn Arabian Peninsula.
Learn more from Raritan Engineering and see how we always know more about macerating pump and on how to avoid pirates.