Salalah to Aden via Mukalla ..The emptier coast. 22.3.2011 -28.3.2011

This was the start of serious convoy sailing in two groups trying to keep within about 200m of each other in strict positions. It is extremely tiring and very irritating as other boats and almost certainly ourselves do not always behave as predicted .Judging distance at night is very difficult and the radar was invaluable . The slowest boat was in the front so we had to motor at their pace usually around 5knots so not really very good for our engine running at low revs .But this is the only way to manage the current situation so we had to comply.
Luckily there was little wind most of the time as it is impossible to keep a convoy when sailing so when we did get wind we had free sailing and it was amazing how quickly the other boats disappeared leaving us alone on the coast at night .As we had all dimmed our lights ,turned off AIS etc things that might make a boat easier to find it was really quite tricky to find the others .It was not a very pleasant night although it could have been under better circumstances as the wind was good and it should have been a pleasure to sail rather than motor but the angst was too high. We all managed to regroup in the morning but it took some time.
We continued close to the coast which was very beautiful, bare barren rock with high mountains steep to the sea so quite dramatic and almost uninhabited. There was little shipping thankfully but of course we were all on skiff alert and whenever one appeared and we had to close even closer together until their nature was clear .Luckily none threatened us but some came to have a look and one will never know their intentions .It was always a relief to see them go away with a friendly wave
After 2 exhausting nights ( and days ) we stopped in Mukalla a small fishing village like an Arabic version of Mousehole .After the usual compulsory second anchoring request we settled in the inner harbour to the noise of a demonstration in the town so no shore party that night .The following morning a failed attempt to get into the town was made and we only got as far as the port gates despite the girls being dressed up like locals to avoid any offence .We were treated to an extraordinary scene of hundreds of goats being off loaded from a boat in the harbour they had come from Somalia and were milling around the port in large numbers .We were luckier in the evening and were allowed to go with an armed escort to the local Arabian version of KFC .Luckily there was some local cuisine available which was very good ,goats cheese ,hummus and salad .We were returned to the port by the armed guard one crew member nearly losing his i-phone for taking a video from the van window The town looked better from a distance as closer inspection that evening revealed it to be rather scruffy and dirty .
Refreshed by two nights sleep we headed nervously to Aden keeping a good lookout for trouble. The main problem keeping so close to the coast was fishing nets and inevitably a few boats including us got caught. Luckily we came off easily but John took a dip just to check the propeller as it had made a frightening screeching noise in the net . It was daylight and the water warm so it could have been worse .We decided it was better to take several dips than risk a trip to Somalia by being too far off shore .The weather was fine for the whole trip and the coast continued to amaze and delight us taking our mind off other things ! We continued in close convoy encouraged by our leader who has been a great help as he has done the route before and is a very experienced sailor.
At dawn on the 28th March we see the hills around the port of Aden through the mist with a great sense of relief .It is an amazing natural harbour so one can see why the British grabbed it for themselves but it is much less busy now and rather unkempt on first acquaintance. Lets hope closer inspection improves its image.

Mukallah town- looks quite nice from here


Mukallah port- the view from our stern.


upturned hull on entry to Aden


First view of Aden harbour

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4 Responses to Salalah to Aden via Mukalla ..The emptier coast. 22.3.2011 -28.3.2011

  1. janet crisp says:

    We are soooo relieved that you managed to reach Aden. What a trip. More photos on the blog please……………..x

  2. Josephine Davies says:

    Wow!! What a journey! Thinking of you often.

  3. J&A says:

    Forget the Somali pirate threats, – its the Arab ‘Awakening’ that worries us! You have managed to tiptoe past the Yemeni cauldron but let’s hope the House of Saud does not implode in the next ten days as you sail past. As we read your blog in Glasgow with a large glass of single malt Andy is very envious, – but I’m clutching the kitchen table in terror!
    See you in the safe blue waters of the Med……. avoiding Libya!

  4. Derek says:

    Hi John and Julia,

    This has been a good read so far. Do hope nothing goes wrong, if so the up side is definitely a book, everybody will want to read! Look forward to hearing about Aden, a place one read about a lot in the 1960s. As you allude, it was once a ‘coaling station’ for the steamers to India. Maybe your pictures will show something of the history? Maybe you will astound us with tales of G & T at a colonial watering hole, but I think not! Good luck and we look foward, with bated breath, to reading more.

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