• Latest post
  • ⇐ March 2019
Latest position:
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21° 21.0' N
37° 00.7' O
Khor Shinab, Sudan, Rotes Meer
17:30 UTC+3
Weather report:
16.04.2019 10:40 UTC+3
88 °F
Gentle breeze from East

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Ship's log for April 2019

22.04.2019 - Khor Shinab, Sudan

Storm at anchor

Easter Bunny has been visiting

Yesterday in the morning the boys have been waking us up as they stumbled over coloured easter eggs and even found easter baskets. Apparently, the Sudanese bunny somehow made it on board. But the basket didn’t contain chocolate eggs or chocolate bunnies. They must have melted on the way through the dessert. The boys still had a blast. The day before, we had jointly been baking easter nests, easter bunnies and chicken. They were supposed to be presents for the easter bunny, but must have been overlooked. This way, we had some variety, when having breakfast, as our supplies are slowly running low.

Trapped on board

It’s time to leave this place. For one week, since we arrived in the marsa, we are sitting on board and haven’t been ashore. Everyone is well now, but the wind still is blowing full force. I just read 38 knots on our meter, which is not even measuring the gusts. It really is stormy. Even without hoisted sails Moya is slightly tilted. Our wind generator usually is barely hearable, but now is making noises like Moya soon is going to take off. We are therefore switching it off most of the time. But when we are making water, it is switch on to refill our batteries. Our dingy is lying at the foredeck. It’s impossible to launch it currently. Winds even were forcing a plate out of Christians‘ hands, when he wanted to dump potatoes peel into the water.

Our hook was holding well, until winds strengthened further. We noobies had missed to drop our full anchor chain. It’s quite embarrassing. Moya first moved sideways to the wind, then slowly began to drag towards the reef. Before the anchor alarm started peeping, I was in the cockpit and Christian at the ignition key. We lifted the hook by show of hands. Outside, communication by talking and even shouting hasn’t been possible for days. The howling of the wind drowns out everything else. Two years practicing at the anchor payed out. After 30 minutes Moya safely lies at anchor again, full chain out, in some distance to the reef. As tomorrows’ forecasts is similar to today, we are planning to tie our second anchor to our main chain for increasing the weight and reducing the force pulling at our main anchor. Usually, winds are slightly decreasing before sunset. That’s gonna be the time. Equally strong winds over such a long period of time, we just experienced in Columbia, over one year ago. Considering the constant flow of air, one might wonder whether in the mediterranean has some air left, at all. We are crossing our fingers, that we are out of here in three days from now.

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19.04.2019 - Khor Shinab, Sudan

Preparing for Eastern in the dessert


Winds arrived as scheduled and are blowing at full force ever since. With these winds we haven’t been leaving Moya. Despite sitting in a lake like Marsa, waves are building in the short distance from shore. The dingy ride would have been wet for sure. Our current situation is more like a passage with getting some sleep.

Raiding our medicinal cabinet

Not only the weather held us on board. It was Joshua, too. Since we arrived he dragged himself from his berth to the salon and back again. First he was complaining about a headache, later also about a sore throat. Indeed his tonsils were covered with white pus spots and he was boiling. I put him instantly on antibiotics. Yesterday in the morning, his condition was more or less unchanged and we decided getting a consultation from Medico in Germany and started working on emergency plans - again. Tacking between the reefs into the strong wind towards egypt we consider difficult or maybe even dangerous, going back to Port Sudan would be a safe alternative, however we would loose several days and still remain in Sudan, depending on its health system. Calling a car to the street behind the Marsa for getting to Port Sudan would have the same downside. Probably, we would have crossed the Red Sea to Jeddah. Saudia Arabia usually is out of limits for yachts, however in an emergency situation we would have been allowed to enter the country, which probably has an improved health system as compared to the Sudan. But it didn’t come to that.

Calling the physician from Medico was a big relief. He confirmed my layman diagnosis, as well as the medication for Joshua. Moreover, he promised us professional help in case the antibiotics would continue failing to work and Joshi would need a doctor. Medicos main task is to medically consultant commercial ships, therefore they are well connected with similar institutions around the world. In the end the call worked fine, Joshi felt better within a few hours and today behaves naturally already.

Good Friday on the water

Winds are covering Moya in sand and we continue remaining below deck. Whether the easter bunny will find his way into the dessert and is able to come on board, is far from sure, but if he does, he would be glad. The boys were drawing pictures, crafted cups to hold the easter eggs and coloured some eggs to decorate our saloon. Let’s see what we are coming up with next.

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16.04.2019 - Khor Shinab, Sudan

Hiding in a Marsa

Marsas are large, river like clefts of the sea into land. On both sides they are lined with fringing reef. Khor Shinab is a large Marsa leading several miles into land and even beyond hilly chains. Late afternoon, after several hours of poking around, we dropped anchor here.

Already at Sanganeb reef, yesterday at a little stop over at the Talia island and now today we had serious difficulties finding a suitable spot for dropping our hook. Apparently, the bottom of the Red Sea is covered with coral, which are building canyons below the water surface. Grounds are uneven and mostly are far too shallow or far too deep for anchoring. For biological reasons, we don’t want to anchor on coral, but even if we took aside our ecological concerns, the anchor wouldn’t hold well and there would be significant risk that we would loose it, as it easily tangles and is getting stuck around the coral. The Red Sea has the most terrible anchor grounds of our voyage. If you were here, you could see the relief in my face, each time the hook eventually is holding.

Currently, the anchor is holding well, and it needs to, as tonight strong northerly winds are forecasted to rise and will be blowing for 10 days in a row. At the moment, Moya lies in a calm and the weather change is hard to imagine. But recent experience told us that winds can change as quickly as by a switch. Also tonight winds are supposed changing direction 180° within an hour. We had hoped to meet Windchase here again, but we are all alone. There is also no village, just water, dessert and Moya. I guess the 10 days until our departure might be getting long, but there is barely an alternative. 30 knots of winds on the nose are better being sit out.

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14.04.2019 - Sanganeb reef, Sudan

A lighthouse, 6 men and a breathtaking under water scenery: Sanganeb

Taking the good weather window, we were heading to Sanganeb reef. The reef with it’s 50 meter lighthouse lies just around the corner of Port Sudan and is something of a divers Mecca. Apart from the lighthouse there is no land, just a huge area with coral reef and a central lagoon.

Slowly, we have been sailing the just 40 miles from Suakin through the night to avoid arriving early before sunrise. It was freezing, aerial greetings from the mediterranean, finally the time came for sorting out our blankets. In the dark entering to the lagoon is not possible and also tying up at the pier in front of the lighthouse would definitely be a bold move. We arrived at the lighthouse at dawn with each minute of the rising sun, the reefs were better to make out. Initially, we planned to attach ourselves with a long line on the jetty, but experiencing the winds and waves against us and seeing the sheer height of the peer, we changed plans entering the lagoon. Finding a suitable anchorage was taking time. The bottom of the lagoon is uneven and mostly covered by coral. Just before giving up, we found a large enough sand patch free of bommies (19°44.0' N, 37°26.9' E) and the hook instantly was holding well.

Straight after breakfast we took the dingy motoring to the lighthouse to meet it’s watchkeepers. What in Europe and most parts of the world is done fully automatically, is here still being monitored by humans. Six men at a time are living out for two weeks at the lighthouse before returning to Port Sudan and working for one month at the port. Osman, their charismatic boss, was spreading his wings over us and invited us to have breakfast together with his team. They served some kind of thick pancakes with a brown, slimy paste in a big bowl. Everybody was eating with the right hand from that bowl. The men have just been smiling when Joni ripped his first piece with his left. We were having breakfast in the forecourt of the lighthouse sitting in the shade, surrounded by the beautiful colours of the sea. It has been an amazing experience not at last because of the once again great hospitality the people. Osmans is fluent speaking English and practicing almost every day, when one of the diving boats with their international guests are visiting. He explained us the technical installations of the lighthouse while the boys have been playing with a transport lore on rails, which the men are are using for transporting their supplies from the biweekly supply ship over the jetty to the lighthouse. A little later we stood at the top of the tower, next to the huge bulb, inhaling the breathtaking scenery. The captain took pleasure in investigating the original african technical installations and was utterly surprised that they are indeed working.

At the front end of the jetty, the reef dropped more than 30 meters into the sea. Standing aloft it being like looking into an aquarium. Colourful reef fish were abundantly living at the coral wall. Apparently, it’s known as a divers paradise, but also for snorkelling it has been awesome. We have been watching not only the little reef fish such as clownfish, doctorfish, butterfly fish and many more, but also their predators looking for lunch. I found it remarkable, that the fish not seemed to be shy, I was able approaching them surprisingly close. On the wall also giant clams are living and many kind of coral. According to Murphy, I must have forgotten the camera on board - and I did.

Osman wasn’t letting us leave without having coffee and a Fanta, thus we returned to Moya in the late afternoon after an absolutely intriguing day at the reef. Great people, great hospitality, great nature.

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13.04.2019 - Suakin, Sudan

Communicating diversely

We had planned to quickly go ashore handing over the rest of our toys and clothes to Mr. Mohamed, before going to the farmers market, lifting the hook and going sailing. Northerly winds have been forecasted to clam down a little and we wanted to use the weather window for going north. That’s what we did, with some extra loops.

Before breakfast I noticed that I had missed to contact an Egyptian agent. As the next spot with internet coverage actually might be egypt, I was stuck with my computer for quite some time. Eventually, we made it ashore carrying three full bags and Jonis‘ bike. But today we couldn’t find Mr. Mohamed. Finally, we left the toys with a man, who promised passing them along. It doesn’t matter, who will actually circulate the things. Heading finding a tuktuk taxi we crossed the path of a few boys and I immediately regretted not having anything left to give away. One of the boys was pulling a home made car, build from a cut jug, with wheels made out of lids and nail axels.

We couldn’t find a tuktuk and decided to have some Jelaba and Coffee instead. In the shade around 20 men were sitting seeking protection from the heat of the day. In front of them stood tiny roundish bottles containing coffee. At this time of the day many of the men have been wearing turbans out of white cloth. They were waving us over to chat with us. Without speaking Arabic, communication is working with hand and feet mainly. Barely anyone is speaking English. We couldn’t even find the bakery, despite asking multiple time people carrying bags containing bread. And the reason was not that people haven’t been trying to help. It really is a pity, the language barrier is limiting what we learn from people and the local culture.

Anyhow, it was quite special sitting between the men in the shade just watching the happenings on the street. A man just arrived carrying water in open jerry cans from his donkey wagon to the hut selling tea and coffee. Sometimes a woman quickly passed by vanishing in one of the shops. Two boys were riding on a donkey and on the edge a man was milking a goat. Across the street a tuktuk was getting a gas bottle. As we were running out of coffee, we asked him to bring us to the market municipal. We had been recording Mr. Mohamed saying the word in Arabic. Our driver smiled and took us but stubbornly rejected to take our money for the ride.

At the market not only vegis and fruits were sold, but meats too, hanging from the roof. Bread however we still couldn’t find. Also not in the many surprisingly well stocked shops around. Finally, we bought flour instead of bread for baking ourselves as well as frozen ground meats.

Imitating waves with the hands we let the tuktuk driver know we wanted to the port. He dropped us a little later. A new sail boat had arrived - Miss Cat. On board we met the French captain and a german couple he was about to drop in Suakin. „Poor you, how are you gonna fly out with the borders closed“ I wanted to know, but they just smiled shaking their heads. „We are living here“. On our voyage we have been meeting many German, virtually everywhere. I think only the number of Swiss and Australians on our route was about in the same range. It‘s always great to talk to expats, everyone has a different story. Today we learned a little more about the UN mandate in Darfur and the work for the german embassy. All to soon, Mike and Janine had to leave catching their domestic flight to Khartoum, where they are living and where they have been looking forward to partying with the locals tonight.

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12.04.2019 - Suakin, Sudan

Old Suakin in dispair

Every time we passed the gate to old suakin, a man has been waving and approached us with a smile. Every time we have been putting him off - later! In the afternoon we were passing through the gate and entered the small island of old Suakin. Nothing but debris is left from the old coral buildings. Strangely enough, Turkey now is starting to rebuild some of the houses. There must been a great collaboration between Turkey and Sudan. Between the coral debris big stone blocks are lying, material for construction and indeed at the coast construction is ongoing. It’s a huge project to work through the ruins of the last century, tidy up, like no one does, and start something new. After strolling through the miserable streets, Mr. Mohamed took us for a ride in his historic Mercedes and drove us to new Suakin, which lies a couple of kilometres away. There are real streets, shops and normal buildings. Not all of Sudan is rubble. I’m glad I have been there seeing the new light shed on this country. The best part however was that we have been taken to a real restaurant. There was only one menu, grilled chicken with bread and dips of lentils and beans. Served with no silverware, as everywhere. It has been our first meal with meat since weeks and it was not just because of it, wonderful. We left the place gaining at least two pounds. Today we spent the day maintaining and socialising. The winches started moving difficultly over time, desperately waiting for maintenance. It has been a day filling task. We gladly accepted the invitation and visited Windchase. A little side track was more than welcomed. In any case, the kids were totally excited to be on another boat. The boat dog was just a plus.

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11.04.2019 - Suakin, Sudan

Military takes over: It’s getting hot - but not here

Late afternoon we eventually made it ashore. We took Tilly and dingied to the small island. There was no pontoon or anything really where we could fix her. At some spot there were tyres lying over the rumble and a line was fixed in the bottom, where we tied up the dingy. We landed in the midst of ruins. Debris is everywhere, not only at the little island of old Suakin, but also on the street enclosing the harbour. There is barely any construction which can be recognised as a building. Every single one is damaged, even the mosques. On board I have been wondering that I couldn’t here the muezzins call for prayer. Now I saw that he is calling without a mic, just like that. The people are living in, shacks would be an exaggeration, between the debris. On the street we have been meeting mostly men and kids, but barely any women. Everybody was very nice and welcoming, smiling and shouting welcome or assalamu alaykum in our direction. We were walking through the dusty streets, not so sure any more, whether we indeed wanted to eat ashore. Even if there was meat we wouldn’t order it, the chance to catch something appeared high. Eventually, we had the courage to enter a hut and I was relieved when the guy served fried fish, bread and unopened bottles of Sprite. It was delicious.

In the morning we went to the farmers market and purchased tomatoes, carrots, some kind of cucumbers, potatoes, onions, bananas and melons. It was quite an experience to see how the people work. Weighing one kilo tomatoes with the same stone as 2 kilo potatoes. Education indeed seem to be neglected, we couldn’t convince a shop owner, that we gave us too much change. Also Moyas fuel tank has been filled already, the captain has been working hard with multiple jerry cans.

The events of Khartoum are leaving us widely untouched. The only thing we noticed of the presidents step down and the military take over was that social media are blocked and some internet pages censored. If I haven’t been reading the news I would have no clue about the current proceedings. All is well. No worries.

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10.04.2019 - Suakin, Sudan

Still on Bord

How annoying! It’s 4 pm now and we are still stuck on board. Since 9 am this morning Moya is lying at anchor in front of the circular little island of old Suakin. We have a great view on the ruins of the once mighty port. Unfortunately, views are still from Moya. My legs are itching, they want to walk.

The coral buildings of old Suakin are completely collapsed. The historic city looks like it has been destroyed by a major earthquake, or as I’m imagining a city after bombing attacks. The city is damaged since ages and keeps dilapidating ever since. Today one barely recognises any kind of building. Since the foundation of Port Sudan in the beginning of the last century, the city lost its importance as sole and major port of Sudan and became a ghost city. Despite all of that, the farmers market as well as shops are supposed to still being around this area, which currently is hard to believe from our perspective. But we will see.

Mr. Mohamed has been visiting us two hours ago, we were filling in the papers, now he is with the officials for our inbound clearance. In the meantime we are still stuck, but luckily he left a SIM card (internet works surprisingly well) and sudanese pound, thus we are ready to go once he returns with our passports and the shore passes.

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09.04.2019 - Red Sea, 18°28' N / 38°11' E

Day 26: Suakin we are coming

Eventually, the desired winds started blowing. First we were going downwind, but all too soon winds shifted to the east and then northeast, which makes it impossible to approach Suakin directly. We are tacking. Nevertheless, we will reach Suakin tomorrow, only 70 miles to go.

Currently, we are sailing between the Sudanese coast and the reefs offshore and preparing ourselves for our landfall. The boys have been preparing a huge bag inserting a good part of their toys as presents for the poor Sudanese children. It hasn’t been easy for them to separate from their Lego Duplo and other things, but they wouldn’t allow that kids don’t have anything to play with at all. I sorted out worn out and too small kids clothes, for which we probably also find a recipient. In 2013 (more current data not available on board), the Sudan were rated on position 166 of the human development index list and therefore is among the 25 least rated countries. The index is not only considering the brutto national income per person of a given country, but also life expectancy, standard of living and education of its people. The likelihood for Sudanese people to develop, is therefore even decreased as compared to people of Papua New Guinea (position 157) and Vanuatu (position 131), the so far poorest countries we have been visiting on our voyage. Unbelievably, just 49% of women and 71% of men are capable of reading and writing. Luckily, we still have a few books, pens and pencils as give aways, leftovers from trading in the Louisades.

Mr. Mohamed, our agent, is informed about our upcoming arrival and is already starting to organise our inbound clearance and fuel for Moya. We are already very much exited about visiting Suakin and the African continent.

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08.04.2019 - Red Sea, 17°37' N / 39°28' E

Day 25: Land, at last

After 24 days at sea we have been on land yesterday. I guess, going ashore wasn’t 100% legal, but the heat on board was hardly bearable. The sun was burning, the air unmoving. We were jumping into the water from the boat and were setting up a little blow up boat the kids were using as mini pool on our aft deck, but it wasn’t the same as playing at the beach. White sandy beaches were waving at us, wildly. On Entaasnu we didn’t see anything apart from water, sand and sea gulls. We finally decided to launch Tilly. The greenish water was crystal clear, even in 5 meters we have been observing fish swimming between bits of coral.

On land, it was hot as well and there was no shade at all. As we were setting up our beach umbrella, a load of rust spoiled over our feet. The statistics now is counting one more victim of the aggressive salt water atmosphere, which was making the umbrella rust from inside. It did it’s job one more time. As we were fighting with the umbrella, the kids were running along the waterline chasing sea gulls. Afterwards we walked along the coast and spotted a thousand hermit crabs, an amazing red crab, wonderful conchs and a huge skull of a bird, maybe of a pelican. Despite wearing swimming shirts and protection factor 50 sun screen, we couldn’t stay long. We were feeling dessert isn’t far.

Late afternoon we pulled our hook deciding to motor during the night. Luckily, almost half of our fuel is left. Now, we are waiting badly for the desired southerly winds.

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Comment from André, SY Mirabella
Grandios! Immer wieder schön von euch zu lesen.
07.04.2019 - Entaasnu, Eritrea

Day 24: Head winds

In case you carefully tracked our position, you surely noticed that we already passed Massawa, our initial destination. We didn’t skip Massawa for touristic reasons, the city actually has a dense and interesting history, we continued sailing once again for the weather.

Generally, the macro weather situation in the Red Sea is predictable. During the winter in the southern part southerly winds are prevailing, whereas in the northern part winds are mainly blowing from the north. In between, approximately at the boarder of Eritrea and Sudan, winds are converging resulting in any kind of weather. During the summer, in the whole Red Sea northerly winds are prevailing. In other words head winds if one is traveling northbound. Additionally, a number of local less foreseeable effects are common: the Khamsin is occurring in the northern part and is carrying dust and sand from the Sahara; the Belat is a phenomenon of the southern part, blowing in up to gale force from the arabic peninsula resulting in big seas; the Haboob, a gale force wind, occuring at the Sudanese coast; and the Kharif a northerly wind originating in Somalia. Mildly speaking, the weather in the Red Sea is a real challenge.

Therefore, we are currently trying to make use of the last bits of northerly winds, avoiding the head winds as long as possible. Yesterday, northerly winds were predicted for tomorrow, which is for this longitude and time of the year rather unusual. Thus, we decided to straight head for Suakin in Sudan accepting the downside to cope with our empty pantry. Today, it is rather unclear whether the northerly winds will indeed reach us.

We already sailed to the island of Harmil, seeking for shelter against northerly winds and swells. Our hook barely touched the water surface when a little boat rushed to us. Three man were on board asking for our papers. Apparently, the situation was new to them and they were uncertain what to do with us. Finally, the went away with our documents promising to return. I was a little wary about that from the start, the captain however absolutely relaxed from hair to toe. Just before sunset they finally returned making us move. Harmil is supposed to be a military restricted area, but we were welcome to anchor on the neighbour island Entaasnu, where we are currently located, not so well protected against winds and swell.

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Comment from Gabi
Super gemacht bisher, aber ihr denkt schon an den Krieg im Sudan. Wenn ihr im Sudan Proviant bunkern wollt, befürchte ich, dass ihr eure letzten Dosen an die hungernde Bevölkerung spenden werdet. Hoffe, dass ich zu schwarz sehe. Weiterhin gutes Gelingen. Gabi
06.04.2019 - Red Sea, 16°27' N / 40°10' E

Day 23: Treasures of the sea

Yesterday, we caught a bluefin tuna for the very first time. By the time of landing we just knew it was a tuna, but not which species exactly. Bluefin tunas are also called giant tunas as they can get as large as 15 feet and as heavy as 650 kg. Out catch was a small one, but it has been fighting as if it was huge. Later we figured out, that we actually pulled out a small treasure out of the sea.

I reckon, that our little fellow was between two and three years old, 1 meter long and weighted approximately 10 kg. If my assessment is correct, it has been a tuna teenager not being reproductive, yet. That’s a real pity, as bluefin tunas are endangered due to overfishing. Bluefin tunas are also called red tunas for their amazing red meat, which also is staying red when fried. This type of tuna is not going to be canned, that’s their white fleshed relatives such as the bonito or the yellowfin tuna. Red tuna is a delicacy. If you are ordering tuna sushi or sashimi in a sushi restaurant, you’ll most likely get bluefin tuna on your plate. Unbelievably, 80% of all red tuna, which is most abundant in the Atlantic Ocean, is currently being exported to Japan precisely for this purpose. For years a total fishing ban is being discussed, but unfortunately it never was executed. Therefore, it’s not unlikely that bluefin tuna might just be available in high end restaurants in near future.

Also our catch has been eaten raw as sushi and it was absolutely delicious. Even Joshua, who usually is refusing all kind of sushi, first gave it a try with restrain, but then wasn’t stopping eating until nothing was left at all. Thanks to the treasures of the sea and to your recipes we are not starving. We already tested all of them with positive marks. The children even were battling for the last bit of Mekkis Kartoffelsterz.

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Comment from Claudia und Christoph
Hallo ihr Abenteurer, das war alles super spannend bis jetzt. Wir lesen täglich eure Berichte und können gar nicht glauben, dass Curacao schon über ein Jahr her sein soll. Wir drücken euch die Daumen, dass alles weiter so prima läuft! Lieben Gruß Claudia und Christoph
05.04.2019 - Red Sea, 15°46' N / 41°21' E

Day 22: Leaving the pirate alley

Today we are leaving the military controlled area, also known as high risk area or pirate alley. As we invested quite some time and efforts considering back and forth whether or not sailing through this area, I wanted to take the opportunity to sum up our views:

In our opinion it wasn’t coincidence, that our passage from the Maldives to the Red Sea went smoothly and secure. The Anti-Pirate Coalition is doing an amazing job in this area. A few nations are jointly and systematically ensuring security in a narrow corridor through the Golf of Aden into the Red Sea. The corridor, IRTC, together with the extending shipping lanes has an approximate length of 650 nm and is strongly used. During our 5 day transit we have seen hundreds of ships within the corridor, mostly tankers and freighters, but also yachts and cruise ships. Every day a navy air craft flew over us at least once, seeking radio contact and asking for the conditions on board. War ships we only saw one in real life and none on the AIS, which for two reasons make sense: Firstly, transmission of AIS signals would be contra produktiv informing pirates about the location and absence of war ships. Secondly, war ships patrolling northerly or southerly outside of the corridor is more effective in comparison to going in between the heavy traffic in the lanes. There can be no doubt about the abundance of war ships, we heard them daily multiple times on channel 16 or 8 radioing with freighters. Also reception of high distance AIS targets might have been related to the presence of ships or air crafts and usage of repeaters. For years, there haven’t been successful pirate attacks (also not against freighters) within the corridor, whereas pirate attacks have been prevalent outside this area. For example, during 2017, there have been 11 reports of attempted or successful pirate attacks against freighters along the Somalian east cost, all of them outside the corridor. Most likely, piracy also within the IRTC would undergo a renaissance in case of the termination of the military mandate of the anti piracy coalition. However currently, the watchkeepers seem to control the corridor effectively due to systemic, continuous monitoring, 24/7 communication with transiting ships and their military presence.

Overall, piracy against sail boats is a topic discussed heavily and emotionally between cruisers. Of course, that’s no surprise, as pirate attacks are affecting the well being of crews and ships. However, a glance into the statistics tells that less than five cases of attempted or successful pirate attacks have been reported yearly in recent years. Defining theft not as piracy, but cases of unauthorised boarding and violent robbery. Finally, the risk assessment is lying in the hands of the captain of each vessel, who has to judge about the relevance of single, but terrible cases on his ship and crew. Under the same circumstances, we would be starting again on passage to the Red Sea. During the whole duration of three weeks in the high risk area, we felt safe.

Currently, we are sailing full speed northbound. The northerly winds have been switched on in the morning and are now blowing at 30 knots, again much more than forecasted. Moya is flying over the waves of the disturbed seas, without main sail, just going with genoa and jib. Weather in the Red Sea is challenging, indeed.

This post has one comment.
Comment from Martin ( Schwiegervater von Sarah)
wünsche euch eine gute Fahrt durchs Rote Meer.....der Wind könnte laut Vorhersage sich mit eurer Fahrt zu euren Gunsten wenden...
04.04.2019 - Red Sea, 14°06' N / 41°52' E

Day 21: Stop over with giant jelly fish

Also for tonight winds directly on the nose have been forecasted. Beating another night into winds and waves were absolutely not appealing. Also, I felt a bit strange. But a good nights sleep and a break at anchor work miracles.

Since early in the morning swarms of black and white birds accompanied Moya. They surrounded her, took a break swimming and again flew just over the top of our mast or of our solar panels. It looked amazing, quite majestic. Joni and myself sat on the reeling for the good part of an hour just watching what they would do next. They wouldn’t leave us the whole day. Maybe they supposed we were a fishing boat loosing fish sooner or later? Late afternoon, we approached the little islands of Mersa Dudo, Eritrea. We chose to anchore here in the shade of Sadla island, protected against northerly winds and swells. A fishing boat was anchoring at our spot already. It was not big, quite small actually, and full to the top with fishing nets, bouys and seven black skinned men in colorful clothes waving at us. They were just lifting their anchor when we were approaching and I stopped pondering about something suitable to give away.

When preparing our anchor I noted large white shapes in the water. At first glance, I thought it must have been jerry cans or plastic bags, but at a closer look I realised white screens pulling some cauliflower like tentacles. There have been hundreds and they were huge, not all of them, but a few of the jelly fish were at least three feet in diameter. I instantly changed plans, swimming with the kids at anchor was out of reach now. We neither couldn’t go ashore as we have not yet cleared in and given the military presence. Therefore, I rather raided my hidden treasures and pulled out ice tea and jelly candy for a little welcome party.

This morning we all have been up and well awake early. Skies are misty. We once again are at sea, northbound, our passage is not yet over.

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Comment from Lars
Megaritt! Sehr spannend! Weiterhin gutes Gelingen und Spaß!
03.04.2019 - Red Sea, 13°44' N / 42°20' E

Day 20: Land ho!

After more than 19 days at sea we spotted Land, twice. First, the to Djibouti belonging Seba islands, appeared in the haze on our port side. A little later then the island of Mayyun on the starboard side. Mayyun belongs to Yemen and lies just 2 miles off the coast. Joshua dearly liked to go for a visit and wasn’t comprehending at all, why the hell we were continuing sailing. Shootings are still something romantic in his childhood mind, no matter about our explanations. Not just because of the cival war, anchoring is not possible at Mayyun, it was restricted millitary area already before. But now Houthi rebells were lying sea mines off several yeminiti harbours off the western coast and there are reports about yachts being shot on. Yemen and its fore lying islands are absolutely tabu for us. Passing Bab el Mandeb through the coalition controlled shipping land will have been the closest approach to the country. With moderate winds from the aft we have been sailing through the gate to the Red Sea.

For 10 days, just before Soccotra, we have been intensifying our watches during the day. We tried to have always someone in the cockpit scanning the horizon for anything out of the norm. Just before entering Bab el Mandeb, I shouted for the first time „Christian, there is a skiff around.“ Actually, there were two of them, traveling southbound approximately half a mile away. The small, white, open boats are difficult to spot in the haze and between the white spray of the waves. Each boat was fully occupied and carried 5 men. We couldn’t see any fuel barrels, ladders or fishing nets and therefore couldn’t tell what they were up to. It was strange to see, two little boats in the shipping lane heading for the freighter traveling behind us. We continued watching them, but lost them when they were no more than a mile away, even using binoculars. From the distance it was quite difficult to tell who are the good and who are the bad guys. But we would rather bet on the good side, at least they didn’t approached us or any of the freighters behind us.

With dusk contrary winds have been rising. By then we already passed the narrowest part of Bab el Mandeb. Winds were blowing stronger as forecasted and for the first half of the night straight on Moyas nose. As we wanted to continue going north within the shipping lane, we had no other option as to motor against winds and waves. It wasn’t nice, at all. But before dawn we were sailing again, hard on the wind in Eritreas waters.

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02.04.2019 - Somewhere in the Golf of Aden

Day 19: April fool

I needed to fool somebody at the first day of April. The selection of victims on boards is rather limited. Of course, we are NOT in Aden, but still sailing. Yesterday’s log was a hoax. I made everything up, but the empty vegi nets.

Indeed, our fresh produce is almost gone. Our last chance for shopping at a farmers market was in Galle, one month from now. Except for a few wrinkled apples, there are just a few onions, potatoes, eggs, a cabbage and a pumpkin left. My creativity is currently being challenged in the pantry. I even started to write down ideas instantly in order to not forget them. Food without meats, little cheese and almost no fresh produce gets boring soon. Not just because of the movement of the boat, I spend significant time each day in the pantry. Sometimes we need some variety in our menu even when preparing it takes some time: Home made Falafel, Spätzle, Pizza, Lentilballs, Rotis, Gnocchis all take some time to prepare, but it is worth it, otherwise we would face mutiny. Alternately eating rice and pasta is unbearable over time, at least without being in bad temper. In case you want to share a recipe for cooking with limited fresh stuff, leave a comment. Please! I would be delighted. Today our dinner is set, as we have been catching a barracuda, yesterday on the way to Bab del Mandeb. Today we are reaching the red sea, but it is still going to take several days to reach Massawa, as winds on the nose are forecasted.

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Comment from Marcus und Judith
Hey! Wir haben es geglaubt und uns Sorgen über Euren Geisteszustand gemacht! Für die gelungene Veräppelung gibt es jetzt ein Rezept für lecker Kartoffelsterz: 1 kg Kartoffeln (mehlig), 100g Mehl, (Weißmehl), 1 TL Salz, evtl. ein Ei. Die Kartoffeln kochen und vollständig auskühlen lassen. Die gekochten und erkalteten Kartoffeln reiben oder durchpressen und mit dem Mehl und Ei und dem Salz zu Streuseln verarbeiten. Falls die Kartoffeln nicht mehlig genug sind, braucht man u.U. mehr Mehl. Die Streusel in einer Pfanne im Fett anbraten. Entweder in der Pfanne langsam ausbacken, oder ca. 1 Stunde im Backofen bei 180 Grad im Backblech fertig backen, dabei immer mal wieder mit dem Pfannenwender durchmischen. Am Ende sollte er goldgelb und schön bröselig sein. Als Beilage gehen Apfelmus oder andere süße Kompotte. Man kann ihn aber auch deftig zu Sauerkraut servieren. Guten Appetit und viele liebe Grüße
Comment from Marlene und Werner
Wir dachten ihr seid von allen guten Geistern verlassen. Der Aprilscherz ist gelungen Vielleicht lassen sich eure Lebensmittelvorräte für Griesschnittn oder Milchreis jeweils mit Kompott verwenden. Zuvor eine gebrannte Griessuppe. (4 Essl. Griess mit etwas Butter anrösten und mit Wasser ablöschen,etwas Suppenpulver dazugeben und ein verschlagenes Ei unter Rühren dazugeben.)
01.04.2019 - Somewhere in the Golf of Aden

Day 18: Unplanned short trip to Aden

Strong winds continued, Moya also today was flying over the waves. To reduce the wind pressure in our rigging, we pulled in our main sail and changed the sail configuration. We were hoisting the jib together with the poled out genoa and now were going in westsouthwesterly direction with two foresails and no main at all. Life on board was more comfortable now, Moya was almost moving at the same pace, but less rolling. Also with two set foresails our navigation capabilities are limited as it is just possible to go downwind.

Just after dusk, winds unexpectedly shifted to the SE. We briefly considered to change our sails again, but decided against the nightly work on the foredeck for the rough conditions. Instead we planned leaving the shipping lane and meeting her again later. The lane continues in WSW direction, but is turning to the NW not far from where we have been, thus moving directly to the west would be a shortcut with better wind angle at the same time. With the next gap in the line of cargo ships, we crossed and left the lane and switched our AIS transmitter off. Christian went for a nap and I set the timer for the nights watch. Outside of the lane I increased the time between the lookouts from 10 to 15 minutes, as I didn’t expect traffic.

The lack sleep over the last days must have been accumulating, as I must have been fallen asleep soon. My sleep was deep and sound and I didn’t hear the ringing of the timer. Usually, I’m waking Christian up at the end of my watch, but today I wasn’t. It was still dark, when I finally woke up. The timer was still ringing. I switched it off and went outside checking the sails and the traffic. All good, no light in sight. Looking on our GPS finally alerted me. It said course 303°, 4:31 am. I thought „That can’t be right!“ and tipped on our board computer waking it up from the standby mode. With a shock, I realised that it almost was dawn indeed and that I must have been asleep for most part of the night. Instead of sailing to the west, we have been sailing in northeasterly direction and now were located less than 10 miles from the coast of Yemen. Aden straight ahead. With shaking knees I went to wake up the captain.

Christian wasn’t sharing my shock. He had slept well and actually nothing happened really. „As we are here now, we could even go ahead visiting the town“. I’m not quite sure whether that’s the best idea, but he convinced me that we all needed a break and our empty vegi nets refilling. We are now lying at anchor in the port of Aden waiting for the officials. The land lies peacefully ahead.

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Comment from Flo
Sollen dort schöne Kirchen haben...