Gulf of Aden – Our Experience, August 2008

Published 14 years ago, updated 4 years ago

Pirate Attacks – Gulf of Aden 19, 20 and 21 August 2008

On our voyage from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Kantang, Thailand aboard our 36 foot sloop, we entered the Gulf of Aden from the Red Sea on 17 August 2008. Slight winds and a full moon, we chose to keep 50 miles off the Yemen coast in company with many east and west bound commercial ships. At night we showed no lights and saw close by a VLCC also with no lights.

On 19 August at 1915 local time a Mayday was broadcast on channel 16 from chemical tanker Bunga Milati at 012°45´.1 North, 047°57´.7 East, 120 miles Southwest of our position and only 25 miles from our previous nights track. The Fillipino radio officer sounded terrified and broadcast his Mayday constantly as pirates boarded his vessel, until radio silence prevailed.

From earlier radio traffic there were at least 2 coalition warships in the area, 1 United States and 1 Spanish, and from the time the Bunga Milati ceased broadcasting, her position, speed and heading was reported to the to USA warship from other ships nearby. The last we heard was she was heading at speed for the Horn of Africa.

On 20 August we heard another Mayday pirate attack on channel 16 but were too far away to know the details.

On 22 August we entered the Port of Salalah where a French coalition warship was visiting and from an Omani naval officer we learned first hand that an Iranian oil tanker was also boarded by pirates the following night. He described how 2 pirate boats, usually Somali small fibreglass open boats, would be joined by a long rope across the path of the victim; as the ship’s bow fouls the rope the 2 pirate boats are drawn alongside the victim and boarded.

On a lighter note, due to no wind and constant motoring, we had to put into Nishtun, Yemen for an emergency fuel stop where we found the local fishermen friendly and who assisted us. Nishtun has no facilities for visiting yachtsmen but we were able to buy 80 litres of diesel.

David Woods

S/Y Nicola

Now in Thailand

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