Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somali Coast 2008
Red Sea Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
I was working on an old steam ship, a tramp steamer, in 2008 and made two trips into the Red Sea. My journal entry says Red Sea, Egypt but the blog software would not let me enter "Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somali Coast 2008" so that's the reason for the misnomer. The first trip, our ship entered the Red Sea at the northern end as we completed transiting the Suez Canal and sailed a short distance on to Aqaba, Jordan. We unloaded our cargo (grain and cooking oil for displaced persons in Western Iraq, a UN progarm) in Aqaba (see my Aqaba, Jordan blog) then returned to the Suez canal empty and entered the Mediterranean for our return trip to Lake Charles, LA.
On our second trip thru the Red Sea we again entered at the southern end of the Suez Canal and returned to Aqaba, Jordan to unload the military patrol boats for the Jordanian military.
Finally we transited the Gulf of Aden and the temperature began to lower a little. This was in September and at that time the pirates off the Somali coast were attacking ships in the area of approximately 60 miles offshore. Our captain decided to go out about 200 miles offshore to avoid the pirates even though it would require an additional $10,000 in fuel. The crew had pirates drill with a special signal and all the details of what we were going to do in the event of a pirate attack. We taped cardboard over all the portholes (most pirate boats did not have radar at that time and spotted ships by night lights) and disabled all the outside lighting including the navigation lighting. I have to admit it was scarey and the first mate had totally unrealistic knowledge of the damage a rocket propelled grenade can do.
After a couple of days we reached the Kenya coast offshore of Mombasa and anchored the rest of that night. In the morning our pilot came aboard and we sailed into the Port of Mombasa. Later that morning, a Canadian Naval frigate tied up at the pier behind us and we learned that it had followed us all the way off the Somali coast so there was no worry after all. The next day we found out that a Russian/Ukrainian ship carrying some Russian tanks was taken by the Somali pirates about 6 am at the exact latitude and longitude coordinates that we had passed through at 2 am.
The map for this adventure would not work for me possibly because there are no actual cities and countries or maybe because I don't know how to work it. If you will click on "sat" then click several times on the zoom out, the - sign, you can see the areas we traveled through.
It was all worth it in the end as got to stay in Mombasa for 12 days and meet some of the friendlist people in Africa. I even returned there on vacation a few months later. I recommend Mombasa to all my fellow travelers!