Sunday, March 6, 2011

Crossing the Gulf of Bengal.

As we left Chalong, Thailand we were entering a new phase of our trip by leaving South-East Asia and commencing the crossing of the Indian Ocean that would lead us up to the Red Sea. Covering over 3400 nautical miles (6300 km) this section of our trip is unique in many aspects. For one it can only be sailed during the North-East monsoon in January and February as the rest of the year the wind comes from the West making it impossible for a sailboat to go that way. But the biggest problem resides in the fact that we need to go through the Gulf of Aden in the West, the most pirate infested waters in the world. However, if you sail around the world the options are not legion. You either go through this area or you skip all South-East Asia and sail directly from Australia to the rough waters of South-Africa then into the Atlantic and if after that you still want to see the Mediterranean Sea you need to add one more year and two ocean crossings to the trip. We elected to go through the pirate region but to sail the Gulf of Aden in a convoy of sailboats we would meet in Oman at the entrance of the Gulf too reduce the chance of an attack. We left Chalong, Thailand on Jan 6th in direction of Sri Lanka but after a few hours of motoring on a flat sea we realized it was a bad idea to try to cross 1200 miles with limited fuel we had and decided to turn back to Chalong to wait for a better window and get more fuel. Besides the forecast showed the coming of a huge storm in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and we learned later that indeed the storm was pretty bad and a sailboat was lost at sea. We finally left on Jan 13th, 2011, had a nice smooth ride and nine days later we landed in Galle, Sri Lanka. The picture of this beautiful sunset over the Bay of Bengal, somewhere between Thailand and India, speaks for itself.