Friday, March 18, 2011

Piracy puts an end to circumnavigator's dreams

Sadly, it seems the risk far outweighs the desire for adventure.
Below is an email posted by the crew of Doramac:

I guess its time I admitted to the list and to myself that our dreams of a
circumnavigation will remain just that, a dream. Were still traveling on Dora
Mac and still enjoying the lifestyle but the passage from Cochin, India across
the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea just became too dangerous.

The rest of the story on page 2. (interesting read)

We arrived in Cochin on January 27th and docked at the private dock of Dr John
Crabtree. While this dock, with water and electric power is very convenient to
the touristy areas of Jew Town and Fort Cochin, it was away from fellow
cruisers at the new international marina. John and his wife were very
accommodating and even had Ruth and me over to their house one day for a
wonderful lunch.
After seven days we moved the boat to the marina. Then is when we started
hearing reports of the piracy issues all across the Indian Ocean. I had been
monitoring the news but at that time no yacht had been taken near our planned
route and there was very little news through my normal sources about the
spread of attacks. When we left Langkawi it was thought that staying north of
15N and east of 60E would keep us safe from pirates. Bill Rouse on the S/V
Bebe first alerted me to the situation and even printed and presented me with
a copy of a chart showing all the recent attacks. He was monitoring a site
that gave the coordinates and he transferred them to the chart.
It got my attention. I contacted the Marine Security Center Horn of Africa
(MSCHOA) on Feb 7th and was told I should go up the Indian coast to the 22nd
parallel before turning west to Oman. That was our plan and on Feb 7th or 8th
I shared it with Scott Adams on S/V Quest who was docked beside of Dora Mac.
Three cruising boats ahead of us had turned back and people were telling Ruth
and me not to go and my excuse was no yachts have been taken on this route and
no ship has been attacked above the 20th parallel. Then on Feb 9 and ship was
taken at 2127N and I no longer had an argument. On Feb 10 we decided to ship
Dora Mac from Male, Maldives to Marmaris Turkey. I still could only imagine
the things I could have bought for the $31,200. When we decided to ship on the
10th, we were within two days of departing Cochin.
Quest was part of the Blue Water Rally group and was the last of the group at
Cochin. Several days before, four members of the rally had left at the same
time. Scott said they were going as far as Mumbai and make a decision then.
They made the wrong decision it turned out because they parted with the group
in Mumbai and headed straight for Salalah. On Feb 18th they were seized by
pirates and all four were murdered on the 22nd. The rally made it to Salalah
but because of the increase of attacks between Oman and the Red Sea,  21 of
the boats have opted to be shipped to the Med.
After the attack on Quest and then on Feb 24th, the attack on ING, the Danish
yacht, it scared me to think we came so close to going. Had we been captured
we would have lost Dora Mac, our lifes savings, it would have put all our
friends and family in a position of trying to raise money and awareness of our
situation, and of course the trauma would remain with us for the rest of our
So now, Friday March 18th, we set at anchor in a quiet lagoon near the airport
in Male awaiting our transport ship due to arrive on March 30/31. There are
reported to be between 16 and 19 boats here doing the same thing as we are.
There are also many boats that are turning back to Asia or going around the
Cape of Africa. The Africa route adds 10,000 NM and a year to the trip. I
understand the waters around the cape are no piece of pie with the wind
against the current.
We wont be aboard Dora Mac during the transport and I dont believe riding on
the back of a transport ship applies to a circumnavigation. I know Speejacks
got towed but they were still making their own wake.
I feel like I have had a thousand pounds lifted from my shoulders. I didnt
realize how much stress I was under until about a week after the decision. I
was still monitoring piracy sites until I realized I didnt have to anymore.
Now were just looking forward to getting to the Med and relaxing in cooler

Randal Johnson

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