No Jack Sparrows today thank you

About a week ago, we passed from the Indian Ocean, through the Gulf of Aden and into the Red Sea. For those of you that have not been watching the news, this is the area where there is very high incidents of piracy. The problem with pirates is that due to Captain Jack Sparrow of the Black Pearl, there is an impression that they are jovial, lovable rogues. They are far from it. For the month before our transit, we had been receiving extra training in how to differentiate between Yemeni fishing boats and pirate boats, the most obvious clue being that you cannot fish with an AK47 (unless you shoot the fish of course). On leaving Oman, the ship was decked out in barbed wire all around the possible entry points, a 24 hour watch consisting of about 40% of the crew was placed, after dusk the exterior doors were sealed and exterior lights extinguished, onboard was a Royal Navy piracy expert. Our usual safety drills were postponed and instead we carried our a pirate attack drill and all non essential satellite communication was shut down.

We entered the safe corridor at 18 knots, basically flat out, as pirates very rarely get above 14 knots for an attack, all breakables were secured incase the ship needed to make severe maneuvers, out of sight but not out of mind was a Royal Navy ship keeping a watch on us and other ships passing through the corridor. It took about 36 hours to transit the safe corridor and for all intents and purposes it was a safe passage. However for those on the bridge, listening to radio transmissions, there was an attempt on a container ship a few miles behind us and on the very same day, pirates took the Maersk Alabama.

So here we are safely in Egypt, the pirates behind us but unfortunately ahead we have Egyptian hawkers, who quite honestly are the land lubbers equivalent of your Somali Pirates. Only worse. And of course we have the lovely Egyptian sand flies, who seek out moisture from 200 meters, the said moisture usually being my eyes.

In a few days we will leave all the drama behind and head for Beruit. Whoever would have thought of that!

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~ by jasonrow on April 13, 2009.

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