SANDY SUNSETS AND ORANGE SKIES
I didn't plan to sail up the Red Sea. It sort of happened by default.
My trip around the world in Exit Only took so long, I was hoping they would have a Trans-African Canal completed by the time I arrived in the Western Indian Ocean, but that turned out to be wishful thinking.
In the real world where I lived, I had only two choices.
I could head south into the deep southern ocean, visit Madagascar and South Africa, and sail round the Cape of Good Hope into the Atlantic Ocean, or I could sail up the dreaded Red Sea.
I knew that Exit Only could withstand the rigors of either trip if I was careful.
The southern route would be potentially dangerous because of the weather.
Sailing in the southern ocean during winter is never fun.
The waters of the Mozambique Channel with its treacherous Agulhas current is a graveyard for ships, and if you don't get it right, you take a mighty beating.
One of my friends flipped his monohull sailboat upside down in that area. Fortunately, he and his boat survived with minimal damage.
The northern route suffers mainly from political perils.
The reefs and headwinds of the northern Red Sea are manageable challenges, and as long as there aren't any major foreign policy disasters working themselves out during the trip, you can make the Red Sea transit without too much difficulty.
I had to decide whether I wanted to see Red Sea sunsets or southern ocean sunrises.
All of our friends were sailing up the Red Sea, and so we decided to go with the flow.
It turned out to be a good decision, because we survived, and survival is always good.
Our Red Sea Adventure took us to Oman, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan and Egypt, and in spite of the politics, we had a uniformly good trip.
I speak Arabic, and I'm sure that lubricated our passage through those supposedly perilous waters.
Wherever we went, people always treated us with respect. We never felt threatened when on dry land; it was only at sea in the Gulf of Aden that we had any major concerns.
There's a hundred mile long danger zone where Somali and Yemeni Pirates prey upon passing ships and yachts.
We teamed up with another yacht, Balmacara, to make an uneventful radio silent passage through pirate alley.
Not all yachts were so lucky. Gandolf and Mahdi had a gun battle with Yemeni pirates two days after we made our trip, and the pirates lost. Several of the pirates went to paradise, or to wherever pirates go when they die.
We didn't plan to go into Yemen, because the US Navy ship, the Cole, was nearly sunk in Aden harbor. As it turned out, we had no choice but to stop in Aden for refueling because diesel wouldn't be available again until we were half way up the Red Sea in Sudan.
There was a fuel shortage in Eritrea, and the government wouldn't allow yachts to purchase diesel at any price.
Aden turned out to be a nice surprise. We had total freedom of movement in this former British protectorate.
More than once, people walked up to us on the street and spontaneously said, "Welcome to our country."
That had never happened to us before and hasn't happened since.
Fuel was cheap, food supplies were basic, but adequate, and the people were lovely.
We made only one significant blunder on our trip up the Red Sea. We unknowingly walked through a minefield on Difnein Island in Eritrea.
Next time I make the trip, I'll read the cruising guide before I go ashore on remote islands, because that type of mistake can end in disaster.
I worked as an eye surgeon for sixteen years in Saudi Arabia at King Khalid Eye Specialist Hospital, and my patients came from all the lands bordering on the Red Sea. The trip north gave me an opportunity to visit the homelands of the people on whom I performed surgery during all those years. I now had the privilege of walking in their footsteps and seeing their towns and cities. What I saw confirmed what I already knew. The overwhelming majority of them are good people, and when you treat them with respect, they treat you the same way.
We saw more than sixty sunsets as we sailed up the Red Sea.
Because of the dust in the air and paucity of clouds, an orange sunset frequently greeted us at the end of the day. We saw the same type of sunsets when we camped in Empty Quarter of the Arabian Peninsula.
Sailing up the Red Sea isn't for everyone, but it worked for us.
If it wasn't so far away, I would happily do it again without fear in my heart.
In spite of the negative media coverage of this region of the world, it's a great place to cruise. If you like pristine diving, wonderful people, and orange sunsets, the Red Sea is the place to be.
Even in the Red Sea, life is good.
Awesome music video that captures the essence of what it's like to sail offshore in a catamaran around the world when conditions are less than perfect. David Abbott from Too Many Drummers sings the vocals, and he also edited the footage from our Red Sea adventures. This is the theme song from the Red Sea Chronicles.
Sailing up the Red Sea is not for the faint of heart. From the Bab al Mandeb to the Suez Canal, adventures and adversity are in abundance. If you take things too seriously, you just might get the Red Sea Blues.
If you like drum beats, and you like adventure, then have a listen to the Red Sea Chronicles Trailer.
Flying fish assault Exit Only in the middle of the night as we sail through the Arabian Gulf from the Maldives to Oman. And so begins our Red Sea adventures.
Sailing through Pirate Alley between Yemen and Somalia involves calculated risk. It may not be Russian Roulette, but it is a bit of a worry. Follow Team Maxing Out as they navigate through Pirate Alley.
Stopping in Yemen was just what the doctor ordered. We refueled, repaired our alternator, and we made friends with our gracious Yemeni hosts. We also went to Baskins Robbins as a reward for surviving Pirate Alley.
After you survive Pirate Alley, you must sail through the Gate of Sorrows (Bab Al Mandab) at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The Gate of Sorrows lived up to its name with fifty knots of wind and a sandstorm that pummeled Exit Only for two days. Life is good.
Join Team Maxingout as they sail through Pirate Alley and up the Red Sea
See what it's like to cruise on a catamaran before you spend a bazillion dollars purchasing one
After watching the Red Sea Chronicles you will be able to see yourself sailing on the ocean of your dreams
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