Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Somali Coast 2008

Red Sea Travel Blog

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Another ship off our starboard (right) side

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.

At the stern of our ship
We were only there overnight and the next day we continued on for our next destination of Mombasa, Kenya (see my Mombasa blogs). As we left the Gulf of Aqaba, we turned south and headed for the southern end of the Red Sea. This was my first trip completely through the Red Sea and I had no idea what we were going to experience. I have always been curious about word origins but had never researched how this body of water got it's name. Now I know! As we sailed further south, the temperature began to rise rapidly. By the time we reached the Gulf of Aden, it was RED HOT! Where I worked in the engine room, it was over 120 miserable degrees. I did not take many photos partly because it was hazy all the time but also because it was so hot in the engine room, I stayed in my air conditioned cabin as much as possible.
Oil rigs in the Red Sea

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.

This is the west shore of the Red Sea close to where Djibouti is located.
It appeared he had never been in a war zone as some of the rest of us had. It was a very helpless feeling to know that we were going to do nothing to protect ourselves and were going to hide in the engine room!

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.

View from the stern.
Whee! That was my first and last trip through that area!

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!

vances says:
Another interesting Arabic word is admiral, which comes from "amir al" or commander (emir) of the sea.
Posted on: Oct 24, 2009
bashmentbabe says:
sounds like you had a great time
north africa also looks great and would be another adventure to consider ...your pics are great thankyou.
Posted on: Oct 24, 2009
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Another ship off our starboard (ri…
Another ship off our starboard (r…
At the stern of our ship
At the stern of our ship
Oil rigs in the Red Sea
Oil rigs in the Red Sea
This is the west shore of the Red …
This is the west shore of the Red…
View from the stern.
View from the stern.
Me near the stern with the sun in …
Me near the stern with the sun in…
Our very good steward assistant
Our very good steward assistant
Me in my engine room uniform
Me in my engine room uniform
More oil rigs
More oil rigs
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Red Sea
photo by: johnyb66