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In & out of port Aden in Yemen. Where to go to? Record fishing day!

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The Isokratia Voyage update   12th March 2007

In & out of port Aden in Yemen. Where to go to? Record fishing day!

Very  low wind from Salalah to Port Aden in Yemen. Mostly motor sailing.  We reduced speed so we can arrive in Aden in the morning  hours to go into port with daylight. Proven to be the correct decision. There are two channels. Many green and red lights. So confusing at night time as to where to go.

Aden looks different. Is a small port. The town is build on lava mountains. Formalities were quick . Everyone even the chief of immigration demanded backshish,  their – tip! They needed a photo of each crew so we drove with Mr Sami ( taxi man acting as agent) into town in a shopping center. Luckily I managed to find good capacitors /Actuators for our generator. I bought eight. So now all I needed was diesel and I will get out same day!

Back on the boat we arrange for diesel. We had to pay in advance. But when we went to fill up, we are told they closed at 13.00. And that we had to go back the next day Thursday which I was told was there Saturday and prayer day and no one works. I wanted to get out the same day.

I tried to sweeten them by offering backshish but they still refused. I must note that after one o’clock mid day 95% of them including those still working in government will start chewing Kat. A strong drug. They claim it to be mild. But by two o’clock I saw people that could not see in front of them. As Sami said, “ they were travelling on the moonâ€?!  They will have mattresses on the floor next to their office desks and lay there chewing Kat. Others will just lay on bare concrete anywhere under shade and chew Kat. The whole town gets stoned. So being stoned in Kat they refused to give us fuel. It was then that I lost it. I yelled like hell to them. No more Mr nice guy. I then demanded that they either give me my diesel or they give me my money back now.

It was then that they decided to call ten managers. I spoke to them in an angry tone demanding money or diesel now not tomorrow. They looked at me as if I was coming from the moon. Perhaps they could not believe that someone in their country in their office can demand and be angry with their bosses. It did the trick though. The big chief  instructed the zombies to give us fuel. They did but they cheated us 100 litres. We were glad to see the back of them. I did not want to go see the ancient town or anything alike. Let them come and see ancient towns, ruins and history in Greece and Cyprus. By 18.00 we left.

Night time and if it wasn’t for the electronic navigation screens to show me where I was I would have sank. Many ship wrecks around. One just at the edge of the channel into port. Not surprising with the chaotic green red boys marking the channel.

The decision now had to be made . Where do we head for? DO we go Djibouti where I managed to speak to the Volvo agent who did not seem to know what he was talking about. We also wanted to avoid it because of the high  Malaria risk. To Port Suez is 1200 miles. Our fuel will not take us there unless we find good sailing winds. The nearest will be Port Ghaib in Egypt but even that  is 1050 miles away. Before that we had Jeddah of Saudi Arabia but you are not allowed to go in unless you have permissions issued with prior arrangements.

There is also Massawa in Eritrea and Port Sudan. But you have to get fuel in jerry cans. Plus malaria risk. No agent will answer from port Suez. There must be a number added.

Meanwhile I was tired. I stopped the antibiotics and fever pills and it hit me again hard. Shivers with sweat. Massive headaches. So I decided not to decide! WE just headed out and we will decide later on according to the Volvo replies.

We noticed  that the engines started vibrating. In addition the engines will not go over 2000 revs. Usually they will go to 3000 revs.  A dozen emails to Volvo agents and they all gave theories. Mark mentioned a friend with similar vibration that found the problem to be the engine  base bolts. Ours were Ok though. Emails to Volvo Singapore, Volvo Thailand, Volvo UK, Volvo Sweden  asking them to verify that the propellers could be the problem and how dangerous was to run the engines with these larger propellers, but nothing certain was given to us.

It was not until we spoke to Mr Theo the mechanic in London that we got somewhere.

At first Theo like  Mr Pafitis mechanic in Cyprus advised that it is a fuel supply problem. Not enough fuel going to the injectors for the engine to go to 3000 revs. But we already had the hoses examined and there was no blockage anywhere. We changed the primary filters just in case. But that was not the cause .  A few minutes  on the phone with  Theo  informing him that we examined the fuel supply and the only other difference is the bigger propellers, and Dr Theo concluded that the  bigger propellers we installed in Male were overloading the engines and gearbox. He went  on into some technical analysis of gearbox ratio to shaft and so on, which to me it sounded like mumble jumble, with my zero mechanical knowledge. Theo’s explanations helped me understand better what was happening and convinced me I had to take action.

So  I instructed every one to run the engines between 1200 and 1500 revs. Only going to 1500 when speed drops below 5 knots.

Volvo started coming back in email answers confirming that we must not run the engines at full capacity which was 2000 revs. Must keep them to 1500 or below. Thank you guys!! We already reached this conclusion with the help of Mr Theo. Thanks Mr Theo.

I discussed where to go with George and Mark but made no final decision. After speaking to the Volvo agent in Djibouti and realising their capabilities will not be to my requirements the decision was made not to go for Djibouti.

I plotted some possible emergency positions like small fishing villages where we could get some fuel in emergencies. Another idea if things get more serious with engine vibrations, was to stop somewhere drop anchor and replace the port engine propeller with the original smaller size which we still have on board. We bought diving gear and cylinders in Male so we would do it our selves.

So the decision was made. We will head for Port Suez and stop in Port Ghaib or Abu Tig Marina if we are shot in fuel or even to some fishing villages. Only hours after we made the decision the winds came up strong but were right from behind us. This meant we could not set the main sail up as it cannot open all the way because of the side shrouds.  Mark made his magic. He set the genoa in a position they use when racing and we started doing 7 and 8 and 9 knots at times even above ten. A bit uncomfortable right but all we wanted is to stop the engines. Wind forecasts are varying but it looks that we could get  at least three to four days sailing. That will mean we will have enough fuel from there on.

I asked not be awaken the morning of the 22nd as I was completely gone. But Jui following previous instructions at 06.15 knocked on my door. That meant emergency! Jumped out of bed with my knickers and on to the deck eyes still shut. Jui pointed to something ahead. I though it was a white  fish net boy. Jui said no. no. Boat  waiting! A look through the binoculars ( Xmas present form George and Phydos which is useful for a change!! Thank you guys) and Jui was correct. This small boat barely visible in the white crust of the waves as it was white colour was sitting there waiting.

As we agreed from before I instructed Jui to change course 30 degrees to starboard ( right). Meanwhile George came up as well, Chrysta was looking through the hatch window ready for action. I told her where to kick if we have visitors! Although we changed course as soon as their boat came across our port side they started moving fast their boat jumping up and down the  waves. They headed straight for out boat.

I tried to identified if they were drawing any fishing lines but nothing of that sort. Their clothing was full foul weather gear at least two of them yellow colour. The spray from their boat was heavy all over them. Sitting  waiting in our path. Then they make a run for us! Adrenaline started running, indicating danger!

I tried to see how many on that boat and I counted 5 to 6. Some of their clothing colour made it hard to say if some of them were men or not. George had a look and he counted 7. Whilst  George was looking I started both engines and increase speed. That made them push their engine harder which by now we could hear aloud. They were trying to show us something to buy , but we could not make it out, but we were waving and shouting no thanks. Chrysta out on deck wearing her hat looking like a boy they could see four person on our boat now. George waved them away. They came as close as may be 20 to 50meters. The rough waters and high eaves did not make it any easier for them.

What ever happened they seemed to be convinced to change course and leave us alone. One things for sure these were not fishermen� Half an hour later nerves still not fully calm and another similar size and shape boat was seen coming across towards us. A careful look through the binoculars and this boat had only two people, and was going on a steady course to cross our stern. They had fishing lines drawn from the boat as well. So we felt easy. They cross our back at about 200 meters and went their way. Indeed they were fishermen. Not every boat is a pirate boat. But the earlier one was let say was very, very suspicious!

Made contact with DB marine in Windsor UK. Richard  confirmed they had stock of the smaller size propellers, a pair and that they will replace our propellers with pleasure. That’s why I like to do business with UK. Try to get an Asian dear to replace something you bought. No chance!

Now all I needed was to make contact with an agent in Port Suez so I can give an address for the propellers to be shipped to. The famous Prince of the red sea agent was not responding to phone or email. After 24 hours he did. So all ahead instructions send to DB Marine and Yiota to organise the airfreight of the propellers to Port  Suez. All done.

Time to pass through the straights of the Hamish islands. Right between Yemen and the islands will be passing through the spots where there were two pirate attacks in February. Right between Eritrea and  the islands . Small rocks danger on both dimensions.  George favoured to stay on our route which was between the islands and Eritrea. Mark seemed to prefer the Yemen coast.

We left the decision to be made when we got to the point we had to turn one way or the other. Went the time came Mark choose to go George’s way. The winds favoured this as well. Steering had to be precise as the current was  strong and we had top pass between rocks on both the left and the right side with only less than a mile between them. AT night time with strong winds and strong currents the autopilot finds it hard to maintain accurate and strict course.

22nd March 2007 Record day for fishing.

The rods started reeling from mid morning. One Tuna, another and anther. Then A large Barracuda and another. Then a hunter fish. Also named dolphin fish. Beautiful yellow, green grey with a long fin all along it’s back. Good size too over nearing 3 feet. And then another. George loved to reel them in despite being very tire full. Jui fast on killing and cutting themup.

George and Jui reeled in 10 fish. One lost just yards from bringing it on board last minute cutting the line. Very big!

Another escaped after they landed it on the back steps of the boat and another the same. We kept 7 or 8 fish I do not remember. Guess what’s for dinner and lunch and for next day dinner and next day lunch. Chrysta can eat fish every day. But with me still under the weather I need meat protein.!! So it was back to tin food corn beef! 

The next day 23rd George brought in anther long Barracuda a good 2.5 to 3 feet again. Then another hunter fish. Over 2 feet long too. The freezer is full of fish now. No more space! Lunch next day and I tried the hunter fish and Barracuda cooked in silver foil yesterday. Just delicious!!

Still under sails. We completed 24 hours under sail no engines running. Hopefully we will do more and perhaps all the way without running the engines. We need to preserve them in case we cause damage to shaft bearings and gearbox. When we cross the Suez canal we are told we have to be on engines and have to do minimum speed of 5 to 6 knots.

That’s it for now. Next update when we reach or cross the Suez canal.

Chris Neophytou

Friday 23rd March 2007-03-23 Yacht Isokratia


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The Isokratia Voyage update 12th March 2007 Arriving at Salalah in Oman
Isokratia crosses Suez Canal arrives in Larnaca Cyprus Sunday 15th April 2007
What you will find in Part III of Isokratia
In & out of port Aden in Yemen. Where to go to? Record fishing day!
Voyage update 7th April 2007 - Isokratia on retreat ! Forced to turn back!
Voyage update 10th April 2007 - Through the straights of Hell Twice-
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