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Formerly hi-jacked Yacht-Sailors arrive safely in Yemen

By Sue Richards last modified Jul 21, 2009 09:00 PM

Published: 2009-07-21 21:00:35
Countries: Somalia , Yemen

As Reported by ECOTERRA Intl.

"We just got word that Mr. Juergen Kantner and Mrs. Sabine Merz onboard S/Y ROCKALL have arrived safely in Aden", ECOTERRA's monitoring unit reported this morning. "We spoke with skipper Kantner, who is very happy that they made it against all odds."

The sailors where abducted with their one-mast yacht on 28th June 2008 while on their way through the Gulf of Aden and later were carried off into remote hideouts within the Cal Madow mountains in Northern Somalia. They were freed only on 9th August 2008 after a lengthy ordeal, during which they had to experience mock executions and other torture, and after a substantial ransom payment.

Meanwhile their yacht had been taken by local militia by force from Laskooray, the coastal town of Warsangeli-Land, which is located between the larger blocks of Puntland and Somaliland, to the harbour town of Berbera in Somaliland. After having gone through another nightmare back home in Germany, the penniless couple set out again with the help of some friends to get their boat, which is their real home.

And they found in Somaliland and especially Berbera real people, who understood and helped them in the true tradition of hospitable Somalis assisting a stranded stranger. They managed to install a donated used engine, because the original one had been ruined by the militia-pilots running it without cooling, repaired the sail and all the 1000 other wounds the Rockall had suffered during her Odyssey.

But bad luck struck again, when just a day before they were set to sail a mobile telephone mast operated by TeleSom came crushing down in the strong wind that day. Unfortunately it hit the yacht and caused major damage, but luckily the couple were not injured.

So the two "we-will-not-give-up"-sailors had to endure another stretch in Berbera during which they had to bring the yacht at least into such a condition which would make any sailing not too risky. All that with very little supplies and primitive - or shall we say ancient - methods and tools.

They succeeded again and set out - after sending us a last signal from Berbera in order to monitor their voyage - through the dangerous waters of the Gulf - without a gun or naval escort - to Aden, where they safely arrived despite the rough weather and a still not fully repaired vessel. A strong South/South-westerly wind in this part of the Western Gulf of Aden helped.

"Aden looks like Paradise", said Mr. Kantner this morning, who knew the Yemeni town from the old days, when it was the Soviet-era horror-place on the northern side of the Gulf. "Aden has completely changed for the better and we hope we can repair our yacht here", he said.

The couple will have only a short time, because they have to use the time of the westerly winds in the Gulf for their passage, and therefore needs the help of many to get the yacht back into shape for the further voyage to the East. One thing is for sure: They will not give up their dream to reach the maritime wonder world of the Indo-Pacific.