Those who know me understand why I thought of our 43-foot catamaran as a person. And yes, she has a “voice.” Here is one of her sailors’ tales, written on the 6th day of a passage from the Maldives to Salalah, Oman. Position: 14º17´N, 59º23´E

Pacific Bliss

I’m Pacific Bliss, and I have my own story to tell. I wasn’t too happy last night. I droned along—as blissful as can be on a glassy sea—giving my wings a rest. My navigator was busy at the nav station entering comments into the logbook about the three fishing boats at the horizon to my port. “3-4 miles off,” she wrote. She could see that horizon under the light of a half-moon, beaming a silvery path right to the port helm seat. My able-bodied seaman Chris had just gone off watch. And my Captain was sawing logs, storing up energy for the dogleg watch.

All of a sudden, I was trapped like a hunted prey, my engine gasping for breath. And I’m a huge whale of prey, at 12 tons. My daggerboards were trapped at one side of a huge black net, and both my hulls were wrapped at the stern. I was helpless! I must say; my crew rose to the occasion. Lois ran to the helm. Chris was out of his bunk like a flash and shut off the engine. Gunter heard the commotion breaking through his dreams and arrived topsides, wearing nothing but a pair of shorts. My crew does take care of me. I’m important—and they know it.

Even so, it took them awhile to get me out of this predicament. First, they took down my sails so I couldn’t press forward. Then they raised both daggerboards all the way up to free the forward side of the net. But it was still wrapped around my stern—on both sides. White floats held the net, and one big float, the bitter end I think, was bobbing at the port side, trying to sneak underneath.

My crew used every hook on board to try to get that net free, to no avail. They discussed going down below me, into that deep dark sea, but no-one wanted to do that at night. I don’t blame them; that net was heavy and still attached to a fishing boat over four miles away.

As Lois and Chris peered over the port side, they heard the blow of a whale coming for air— three times to be exact. I wonder what happens to one of those whales caught in a net like that. I know what happens to dolphins and sea turtles; they struggle and drown. Poor things!

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Well, Chris managed to push that big float underneath me with that big hook we have on board. The float slid underneath me, past the rudder and sail drive, and out into the sea. That left only a small section of the net at my starboard stern. He pushed that down with the same hook and finally we were free. My engines started again, and we continued motoring to our destination.

Later on Captain Gunter’s watch, another fisherman hailed us on the VHF. He didn’t speak English well, but he gave his position. “Is that your net or your boat position?” Lois asked him three times. (She was still up after her watch, keeping Gunter company, “teaming up,” they call it.) Finally, the man gave her two lats and longs, one for the boat and another for the net. Turns out his net was 10 kilometers long (that’s about 6 miles for you Americans who still do not understand the metric system). We had to deviate course for some time.

Frankly friends, I’m relieved to hear that we have only 350 miles to go to Salalah. I’m tired of these Indian Ocean fishing nets, tired of sailing, and quite ready for a rest!


With the killing of four American yachties by the Somali pirates, and most recently, the capturing of a Danish family with children on board, many of my friends and readers have been asking me what it felt like to go through the 660-mile stretch of sea called Pirate Alley.

These short excerpts will show you what it was like for me. They are from my third book in the nautical trilogy, “In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss.”  The first book in the series, MAIDEN VOYAGE, was recently published.

March 7, 2007: When you’re getting ready to brave Pirate Alley, you want to do it with sailors that you can trust with your life. That’s why my husband, Gunter, and I formed the Camel Convoy along with four other sailing yachts—all on the same mission: to travel safely from Salalah, Oman to Aden, Yemen.

…Haze envelops the rocky rugged coastline of Oman, but where we are—a stretch of sea in the Gulf of Aden heading southwest toward the Red Sea—the baby blue sky is strewn with fluffy clouds, soft as a baby’s pajamas.

Oh, how I wish life could be that simple right now!  I’d rather be cuddling one of my grandchildren than approaching the Danger Box of Pirate Alley, just four days away.

…We admire yet another crimson sunset from the cockpit. “I’m bored stiff,” Chris blurts. Then, as if to correct a mistake, he adds, “Well this convoy stuff is getting to me.”

It is getting to all of us. I too, am bored. Bored, yet tense. I am living that definition of sailing that I never understood until now:  90% boredom and 10% sheer terror. Like a volunteer fireman hanging around the station, I don’t want the fire to come, yet I’m fascinated by thought that it could.

…The entire world out here is on red alert. It pervades the airwaves. It invades our psyches. It is buried deep within our bones. Yet nothing is happening in our little world. And we don’t want something to happen. The guys on the commercial ships, the captains of our sailing yachts, and most certainly the troops on the coalition ship, are all poised for action. I sense all of this bottled-up energy floating around, bouncing back off some invisible shield with no place to go.

I have posted the entire Pirate Alley story at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/49963474/Passage-Through-Pirate-Alley

Pacific Bliss

Camel roams the street