An old friend sent me a document, recently issued by a group of long-distance sailing associations, which gives an update on the piracy threat in the Gulf of Aden and Arabic Sea areas; the full document, which is a very sobering read, can be downloaded at te following link: http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/25523088/271916555/name/Piracy3.pdf
I report this information maily to warn the friends that we met in the past years and that are currently either sailing or planning to leave soon, because:
THE SITUATION HAS SERIOUSLY WORSENED!!
A brief summary:
– pirates are no longer impoverished fishermen, but rather true criminal organisations which lately have shown an alarming degree of ruthlessness and disrepect for human life.
– the limited military forces in the area are stretched thin, and their mission is to protect merchant shipping and not what they perceive as “leisure” sailors who could quite simply stay out of the area. Even large groups of yachts cannot expect to get a dedicated escort.
– realistically, a nearby ship could prevent an assault only if very near, and once the attack has been successfull no military action is feasible to avoid endangering the crew, even more so as recently the pirates have deliberately killed the hostages at the slightest sign of a possible attack, as it happened to the unfortunate crew of S/Y Quest.
– pirates no longer operate from ol fishing boats, but rather use some of the kidnapped ships and crews and consequently have greatly increased their range:
PIRACY ATTACKS HAVE TAKEN PLACE AS FAR AS THE SOUTHERN TIP OF INDIA, THE MALDIVES AND THE SEYCHELLES, SOUTH TO MAGADASCAR AND NORTH TO THE SOUTHERN END OF THE RED SEA
– under these conditions, the only options available to circumnavigators are the following:
a) from Indonesia or Thailand, sail straight towards the eastern side of Madagascar and from there to Cape Town, to then cross the Atlantic towards Brasil on the way to the Carribbean and eventually back to Europe: a long and challenging detour,which may become unsafe in the future if the pirates extend their reach further south or east.
b) put the yacht aboard a ship for the voyage from Thailand (or other east asian ports) to the Mediterranean: unfortunately a very expensive solution (in the range of 40.000 USD for a medium sized ocean-going yacht).