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

Somali Pirates in the News

The airwaves have been quite full with the news of Somali Pirates these past few years. So it’s no wonder that whenever I give a talk about our world circumnavigation on a 43-foot catamaran, one of the first questions asked is about pirates. How did it feel sailing through Pirate Alley from Oman to Aden?  We formed a CONVOY of five sailboats, but even then, it was scary.  Some pirates shoot first, then take over the sailboat, especially if it is a nice one like Pacific Bliss that can be used as one of their “mother” ships.

This is from my website blog of March 10, 2007 @ 13º37 N, 48º21 E, with 200 miles to go to Aden, Yemen @ http://www.pacificbliss.com/journal164.htm

“Out here, I have the sense that the entire world out here is on red alert. It is in the air. 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 convoys, and most certainly the troops on the coalition ship patrolling the area are all hyperactive; I sense all of this bottled-up energy floating around, with no place to go. There’s no way to release it. Laps around Pacific Bliss? Not such a good idea when we’re moving along. Push-ups or calisthenics? Too hot, and water for showers is limited. If there were a good wind, we’d be adjusting sails, automatically swaying to the motion—good isometric exercise. But under the hot sun on a flat sea? Nothing. There is no way to relieve the tension.”

November 14, 2010: The Chandlers are Finally Freed!

For the past 388 days, Paul and Rachel Chandler have been held captive when their sailboat was hijacked by Somali Pirates in the Indian Ocean. Relatives in Britain disclosed that one of the main hurdles they faced in their efforts to secure the Chandlers’ release was the refusal of some pirates to accept that they were not millionaires.  Ransom negotiations broke down several times during the Kent couple’s 388-day ordeal because pirate leaders refused to believe that more money could not be raised.

“Throughout the protracted discussions…it has been a difficult task for the family to get across the message that these were two retired people on a sailing trip on a small private yacht,” the couple’s relatives said in a statement. “[They are] not part of a major commercial enterprise involving tens of millions of pounds of assets. Thankfully, common sense finally prevailed and a solution was obtained for their release.”

Reportedly, Mr. and Mrs. Chandler had ploughed their lifesavings into their 38ft yacht, Lynn Rival, and had even sold their house in Tunbridge Wells, U.K. to fund their retirement on the ocean.


Yemini Fishermen Approach Pacific Bliss