Sailing From Asia To The Med Can Be Trouble-Free
To those considering traveling from Asia to the Med: This is not an armchair response, but from a sailor with 100,000 miles under my belt. My purpose is to simply relate our experience, which is a positive one. We, along with more than 50 other boats made the journey from Thailand to the Med this year TROUBLE-FREE. Yes, there was a terrible piracy incident off the Yemen coast but this was ONE incident. With all due respect to the pirated yacht, in my opinion they were too close to the Yemen coast, in spite of all the sailing directions in the Red Sea Pilot that states that one must stay AT LEAST 50 miles off of the coast for safety sake.
But, enough B.S. about how terribly irresponsible one would be to take this route; especially from those who are sitting in their chairs talking on the radio and not actually out here sailing. We sailed alone, not in convoy, and on our voyage, we felt warmly welcomed in Oman, Yemen (Aden), Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, and now Israel. The "tensions in the Middle East" have had absolutely no effect on our warm welcome and trouble-free journey on the entire voyage. Our only weapon aboard was to stay off of the coast at least 50 miles, move as quickly as possible, and not dawdle in the "pirate zone". Our only contact was with an Iranian fishing boat that warned us to change course so we wouldn't get caught in his net, and offered his help if we needed anything. He wanted to assure us that these were friendly waters, and our experience confirms this.
Yes, there are 20-25 knots of wind on the nose in the Red Sea, but not every day. And if one takes the time to wait for decent weather windows, the Red Sea is rewarding with great beauty, great diving, and very friendly people. Yes, plan to get caught in some head winds, but compared to the route of going around South Africa, the Red Sea is definitely easier and the more prudent way to go. And now that we are in Israel in the Med, we are experiencing wonderful culture, great cruising, and are looking forward to a wonderful time in Europe.
We feel terrible for what happened to the pirated yacht who are friends of ours, but feel that those considering the same route should weigh the facts, pay attention to the sailing instructions, stay away from the coasts in the "pirate zone", and not listen to scare tactics and fear generated by those who haven't actually experienced this voyage. For those of you passing judgments on what is responsible and irresponsible at sea, perhaps you need more blue water experience and less armchair judging. Any sailor worth his salt knows that the route around S. Africa is a very dangerous and rough way to go and is famous for its bad weather. With our experience from the actual voyage, we would definitely choose this route again.
Larry, s/v JULIA