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Thailand to Turkey 2007 Part One – Thailand to Massawa in Eritrea

By doina — last modified Nov 19, 2007 03:45 PM

Published: 2007-11-19 15:45:20
Countries: Eritrea , India , Oman , Sri Lanka , Thailand , Yemen

Thailand to Turkey 2007 - notes from Pat & Olivia on ALDEBARAN

Part One – Thailand to Masawa in Eritrea

Comments etcetera to [email protected]

(Please check all waypoints before use)

Before departing Ao Chalong, Phuket we stocked up with very good quality frozen foods inc. a selection of sausages, beef, roasts, lamb etc. from Master Butchers (we think) on the left hand side about 5km on the coast road to Phuket. He vacuum packed them in meals for easy defrosting and met us at the Lighthouse Bar with everything packed in a polysterene box. Great value.

We got our Indian Visa from Emotion Travel, 104 Rassada Road, Muang, Phuket, Ph (076)222320, Fax (076)222420 for 3000 Baht each. A very efficient service. This was the only visa we needed in advance on route to Turkey. Purchased diesel from Pier Station at Ao Chalong for 24 baht/lt.

12th Jan. Moved to Nai Harn from Ao Chalong (7nm). 13th Jan. Departed from Nai Harn for Galle, Sri Lanka (rumb line 1,090nm) via Sombrero Channel in Nicobar Islands using wpts (all North and East) 7-38/93-35, 5-50/80-35, 5-59/80-15, 6-00/80-13, 6-01.4/80-13.4, 6-01.6/80-13.5.

Sri Lanka

Anchored outside breakwater at 6-01.78/80-13.6 in 10m (log 1,105nm) after contacting GAC Shipping on VHF 71 to arrange clearance, you cannot go directly into harbour. Within the hour we were boarded by two Navy Personel who gave us permission to enter the harbour. They stayed aboard until we berthed, stern-to, at a rickety floating pontoon to starboard just inside the harbour. There is another black floating pontoon further inside and a harbour wall. After 2 days when a vacancy arose we moved to the wall. All the berthing facilities are “crap”, a surge enters the harbour at times and the situation becomes very uncomfortable. We destroyed a number of warps and fenders alongside the wall. GAC charged $200 for the clearance including their charge. The morning after arriving we were boarded by a customs man who asked to see our wine store; we produced a bottle and a box. He handed the box back and said “you keep”, he took the bottle. Diesel from GAC cost 65 Rupie/Lt, about €0.48. GAC gave good service but the $200 is very expensive.

Using Merlin we had a 5 day/4 night tour in a nice minibus with a good driver called “ROHANA”, with another yachting couple. The van with driver cost $50/day and bed/breakfast/evening dinner cost $50 per couple per night. Entrance fees cost approx. $35 each inc $20 to climb Sigaria. We enjoyed the tour and considered it good value. Marlin Yacht Services were ok for provisions and they have a very good selection of country courtesy flags at reasonable prices, email [email protected]

We are glad we went to Sri Lanka but would not go back as we felt we were being “ripped off” in most places.

Sri Lanka to Cochin in India

Jan 30th at 1440 hours; We departed for Cochin (rumb line 360nm) via wpts. 6-02.2/80-13.34, 6-01/80-13, 7-45/77-20, 8-50/76-25, 9-55/76-12, 9-58.08/76-11.8, and anchored in the area of 9-58.14/76-15.4 at 1020 hours on 2nd Feb. The passage across the Gulf of Mannar was very uncomfortable but once rounding the tip of India conditions were lovely. Have plenty of coke and biscuits for the many local fishermen that are likely to approach, they were all very friendly and never caused us any concern.

On anchoring you are likely to be approached by NASAR, boat No 72 (P.M.Nasar), he will exchange monies and is very helpful, can be recommended. Customs and the Port Authority came aboard and after “MUCH” form filling we were brought ashore to complete formalities with Customs and Port Auth. Then took tuk tuk to Immigration and got back to the boat at 1420 hours and 312 rupie lighter, and moved to the inner anchorage at 09-59.14/76-16.18. Distance logged from Sri Lanka 363 nm. Everybody was helpful & friendly.

During our 15 day stay we were invited to a local wedding, took a very enjoyable day tour through the waterways for 425 rupees, bought a 75W solar panel for 19,100 rupee (about €346), bought extra fuel cans, had a stainless ladder made for 3,800 rupee (€69) and bought diesel from Nasar at 41 rupee per litre. In summary we very much enjoyed Cochin.

Cochin to Salalah in Oman

On Sat 17th Feb., having checked out the previous day, we departed Cochin for Aden in Yemen a distance of 1,890 nm in company with Moonshadow, Richard & Anita (USA), Snowgoose, Helmut & Luisa (Swiss), Barnstorm, Roy & Margaret (NZ), Pacific Pearl, (Sweden) and Li, Boris & Lizbeth (Sweden). However the following day we decided to divert to Salalah in Oman some 460 nm shorter. The reason being that the majority of yachts were gathering there to form groups to transit the renowned “PIRATE ALLEY” between Salalah & Aden. The route would also keep us further from the Somali Coast. On the fourth day out we were approached by a fishing boat who indicated they were thirsty and hungry. We gave them water, biscuits and cigarettes; they in turn gave us a large tuna.

A major danger on this passage is the abundance of very long drift nets. These are very hard to see and can stretch for miles, we had to negotiate one in posn. 13-14.7/62-53 but yachts were reporting them throughout the area. A number of yachts fouled nets and Snowgoose was caught in one for many hours until daylight. So be extra vigilant, travelling in company helps in reporting the position of nets. We had problems with our main battery switch, and I am sure you do not want to hear about. Am I right?

On Thur. 1st March at 1215 hours we anchored at Salalah in posn. 16-56.2/54-00.37 in 5m after logging 1427 nm in 289 hours. Mohammad, (email; [email protected] GSM 99499390, 99088206) in his all white garb, organised the paperwork, formalities and exchanged monies. We found him to be very helpful. Together with Roy & Margaret from Barnstorm we hired a car from him for 12 Rial (€24) per day. On our last day with the car we cracked the sump travelling over an unpaved road about 50 Km from Salalah. He came out, did a quick temporary repair with two-part epoxy and had it fully repaired the next day and only charged us 57 Rials (€114) inc. two oil fills. He also organised a night at the ex pats “Oasis Club” where we had a lovely meal and were able to buy alcohol. When sufficient yachts required diesel he organised a tanker to the dock from where they gerry jugged it. Using the car and our cans we bought 308L from the nearest fuel station at 0.146 Rial (€0.29) per litre. DHL in Salalah is Ph 23290447, I have no idea what the service is like.

Salalah to Aden in Yemen

On Wed. 7th March at 0815 together with Li (Sweden), Faith (USA), Pacific Bliss (USA), and Windpocke (German) and of course we being Irish made our little convoy truly international. Lois from Pacific Bliss christened us “The Camel Convoy” in the hope of confusing any pirates that might be listening on the VHF. Up to this we were reporting our position daily to the Indian Ocean/Red Sea ssb net, however we now reverted to distances to or from agreed waypoints which were referred to as “A”, “B”, “C” and “D”. Not really sure if this was necessary. We did however keep VHF radio communication to a minimum and used codes, depending on the circumstances, to switch to agreed SSB frequencies. Greg on Faith spoke to a coalition warship on a regular basis using the VHF and so any Pirates in the area would know we were in contact with the warship. On advice we sailed within 15/20 miles off the Oman & Yemen coasts, had enough fuel to motor the 600 miles and kept a minimum speed of 5 knots, this was determined by Windpocke, a catamaran, who had problems with one of their two engines. During daylight hours we were always within sight of each other and at night we closed into a fairly close formation.

On the second day out we were visited by many small fishing craft - they were very friendly and just asked for the usual drinks, food and cigs. Each one of them seemed to visit each of us and I am sure that when they left each of them had more coke and biscuits than we had left. Other than these fishermen the passage was uneventful.


At 0245 hours on Mon 12th March we anchored in Aden Harbour in posn 12-47.572/44-58.878 having logged 603 miles in 114 hours, an average of 5.27 per hour. Prior to entering we called the Port Captain for permission to enter the harbour. Be careful anchoring, we dragged twice over the few days we were there. Going ashore to complete formalities was easy; there is only one place with 2 sets of steps to bring your dinghy. Nobody came aboard. The exchange rate in 2007 was approx. 240 Rials / €.

Diesel can be obtained from a dock in approx. posn. 12-47.57/44-59.21 at $0.53 (€0.44) litre. You order it in one office in metric tons (0.237 metric tons is about 272 litres) go to a pay office, back to the first office, then to the pumps to complete the transaction, all very easy if a little inefficient. I got two 4kg tanks of gas filled for $10 each and petrol from a nearby station cost 60 Rials/Litre about (€0.25). There are plenty of “willing” helpers/advisors to meet you as you leave the Port area. We did a few day tours with them, agree your price first.

NB. This is your last chance to purchase US$ for the passage through the Red Sea and Suez Canal. Some of the ATM machines dispense US$ especially the ones in the new shopping centre outside of town. However some will only give you $200 at a time but I was able to make 3 withdrawals in a day. How much US$ do you need? I would estimate about 1,000 to be on the safe side.

Aden to Massawa in Eritrea

On Tuesday 20th March, having checked out with Immigration, Port Captain and Customs we departed Aden for the Red Sea at 1245 hours. It soon became evident that we had a problem with our engine cooling as we had very little water exhausting. I checked all the internal possibilities after which I decided it had to be a blockage on the inlet. Conditions were a little rough for diving and so we slowly made our way to Jabal Aziz on the NW of Ra’s Imran and anchored at 12-44.5/44-42.62 where I dove and found, to my relief, that there was a plastic blocking 90% of the inlet. On removing it and restarting the engine, we were back in business and continued to the entrance of the Red Sea. This was a very nice sheltered anchorage and would be worth considering if you just wanted to day hop into the Red Sea. At 0930 the following morning (Wed) we were at 12-40.3/43-26.6 in the middle of the smaller channel at Ras Bab Mandab and entering the Red Sea.

We were assured by the Port Captain that there was no problems stopping at the Hanish Islands, some of the yachts anchored off but we decided to continue for Masawa in Eritrea. We had very strong southerly winds and sailing was brisk. At 1900, in the dark, we tried to anchor at Bianco Island (White Island) inside Ras Terma. With a temperamental windlass, a 25/30 knot wind and bad visibility I decided it was too dangerous even though there were two other yachts already anchored and helping to guide us in. And so we went back out to sea and continued through the night, it was actually quite nice. With favourable winds we decided to spend a third night at sea and continue direct to Massawa in Eritrea.

Massawa, Eritrea

On Friday March 23rd we anchored in Taulud Bay, Massawa Harbour (15-36.694/39-27.772 in 8.1 metres), having passed the bombed out Palace to port, and having logged 413 miles in 80 hours since Aden. Going ashore at the steps (15-36.58/39-28.35) we checked in with the Immigration, Port Captain and Customs, 3 different buildings, no problems or cost. You will be asked how much money you wish to exchange in the bank as this is the only OFFICIAL method, they will give you the authorisation. At some stage shortly after arriving you will be met by Mike, who is very helpful, has a small bar/restaurant and very discreetly exchanges monies at 16 Nakfa/US$, one more than the bank. There are no ATM machines.

This is a very poor country and we are told they have no imports although when we were there in 2007 they were erecting large new cranes on the wharf. We can recommend Beaches and Adulis restaurants. In paying for a meal at Beaches Boris, from the Swedish yacht Li gave the waitress a US$100 bill instead of Nakfa 100 (about US$7), they look very similar. The waitress reported it to the Manager who called Boris in and corrected the mistake. That was honesty. Our meal for two including 5 beers cost US$14. Also at Adulis Restaurant (can highly recommend the prawns) we did not have sufficient money to pay and was told “no problem it will do tomorrow”. Adulis do not sell alcohol but as you face the Restaurant go down the street on the left about 100 metres and on the left there is a small shop operated by two women who will sell you beer extremely discretely. Tell them you are at Adulis and not at the Moslem restaurant opposite them. You can take the beers back to Adulis and drink them without a problem; you will have to bring back the empties. There are a number of small stores in town but none well stocked.

PART TWO - Eritrea to Turkey