We write this information while it is fresh in our memory so that we
can look back well after the Month of Piracy is but a distant memory. We share this if you are interested
in our story, but what follows is our collection of emails, memories, and thoughts for the last couple of months. Although
some of this information may become tedious and at times, repetitious, we hope that through it, you can come to better understand
the facts and emotions surrounding the very difficult decisions that we made, and what we experienced.
until the news of the tragic events of the crew aboard Quest, most Americans were happily oblivious to the events unfolding
in the Indian Ocean. Although many people had heard of Somali pirates, if piracy was mentioned, most people’s
first image was Johny Depp and the “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Although there are over 600
people, primarily professional seamen and approximately 30 vessels held hostage, since very few were American, it wasn’t
high on the priority list of the mainstream press. Very, very sadly this year proved to be different –
and as quoted from a seaman aboard a USS warship ‘This is the most violent I have seen this area so far.
I've made 4 trips out this way and all the attacks this year are just unbelievable.’
We, on Imagine, and approximately 150 other boats endured this saga that is more fit for fiction than real life and we only
hope that it does not define or become the legacy of our adventure together. We hope the Med brings new
life to our cruising and the month of February, the month of Piracy, simply becomes a means to an end.
History and Events Leading Up to our 2011 Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden Crossing
with any major decision in our lives, Marc had researched and prepared for this dreaded part of our trip for years.
The fact that there were pirates in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden was in no way a surprise to us. We
did not enter into this part of the world blindly. We knew and understood the risks as they had been for
the last few years. What we could not and did not predict or expect was the radical change in both number
and location of piracy attacks this year. Attached are some of the facts regarding piracy in the
Indian Ocean/Gulf of Aden (GOA) as we knew them going into the 2011 passage season.
- Approximately 150 sailboats were planning to make the passage across
the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea this year which is approximately the same number that do so each year. Marc
had most of the names of the boats on a spreadsheet that he had been compiling over the last few months. There
were 3 Rallies organized to make the passage, each with approximately 30 boats. The rest of the boats were
going independently and assembling convoys in Salalah, Oman.
- The three rallies that
were offered to cruisers for a fee ranging from ($350 to $6000 US) were also focused on the GOA. None of
the rallies had set up convoys for the Indian Ocean because it was not deemed necessary based on previous years.
We seriously inquired into all of the rallies. But Marc believed strongly that this would be the
most important and dangerous part of our trip and he did not want to rely on an unknown entity to guide us through the process.
These initial thoughts on this have been proven correct over and over. You didn’t
need a rally to prepare you, the information and assistance is there for everyone, if you just look and ask for it.
- According to EUNAVFOR, the number of total attacks
for January and February 2010 were 11 (were 9 attacks in the GoA area & only 2 in the broader Indian Ocean)
- See Bar Graphs below
- In previous years, the primary concern was the Gulf of Aden (GoA) area specifically. This
is why all boats, including the rallies, would assemble for convoys in Salalah, Oman, not for the passage across the Indian
Ocean (Maldives or India to Oman).
- Although many cruisers that we met in Thailand,
Sri Lanka & Maldives believed that the pirates were simply not interested in yachts, we DID NOT believe this for a minute.
Many of our cruiser friends, liked to quote the fact that only 1 yacht had been taken in the last
2 years – and that yacht was simply in the wrong place. We have always felt that the pirates will
strike at anything they see – a yacht is just a soft target and easy pickings for them. We felt that
there had not been more attacks on yachts because the pirates had just not come across yachts in the big ocean.
We believed that yachts were vulnerable.
- In January, in Sri Lanka and into the
Maldives, Many cruisers quoted that no yachts had been taken this year (2011) – a statement that caused us to scratch
our heads as almost no yachts had made the passage yet this year.
- We knew,
thanks to Marc, all of the government agencies that we should report our positions to. We had the phone
numbers for all of these organizations keyed into our satellite speed dial and we were already receiving daily reports from
MARLO (Maritime Liaison Office). Click on the MARLO logo below to see the piracy reporting for the timeframe mid-December
to early March. This is the data we were receiving on a daily basis.
- We had always, since before
we left Chicago, agreed that the children should not be on the boat during the GoA passage. We had always
thought that this would be the most dangerous part of our journey. We had already made plans to assure
that this would happen.
February 6, 2011 – Uligan, Maldives
the beauty of the Maldives could not hide what awaits us in the Indian Ocean. The threat of piracy
in this part of the world has been a huge concern for us since we left Chicago. We have watched the trends
closely and last year had been somewhat encouraged that the coalition forces and world’s warships had started to make
some strides against this despicable activity, as the attacks in the Gulf of Aden (GOA) had dropped in 2010.
Despite this, we had always agreed that the children should not be on the boat through the GOA.
While in SE Asia, as this part of the world was no longer in our distant future, we began the immediate preparations.
Marc poured over piracy websites, such as, ICC (International Chamber of Commerce Commercial Crime Services) which
maps all pirate attacks. He also began the process of contacting the various government/military organizations
of our plans, such as, MARLO and UKMTO to better understand our options. Jane began to research the cities
in the Middle East where she and the kids could fly in and out of and safely stay while they waited for Marc.
And Marc began the exhaustive search for crew to sail with him.
so fortunate (lucky, really) with our search for crew when friends who we had met crewing in the Carib and Pacific, Mike Felner
and Kieran Dooley, happened to respond to our Christmas newsletter and prompted Marc to say…..”Hey, what are
you doing for the next month???” This lead to several emails and commitments that Mike would meet
us in Sri Lanka and Kieran in Salalah, where the kids and I would leave Imagine to meet back up in safer waters.
For several months, Marc had been tracking the sailboats that would be making this passage this year and had been contacting
those with compatible timing and boat speed to convoy with in the GoA. He also had been studying previous
year’s routes and convoys to determine the safest route for Imagine.
still very worried, we left Thailand thinking that we were all set. Even though we were anxious, we were
committed to enjoying the countries of the Indian Ocean. But then, quite frankly, all hell broke loose.
While still in Sri Lanka, Marc and Martin from Anima, began to notice that the January pirate activity was increasing
significantly and spreading throughout the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. We also began to get daily reports
from MARLO with accounts of pirate attacks & hijackings and their coordinates (sometimes 2 or 3 a day). Very
concerned, we vowed to continue to follow it in the Maldives and possibly change some plans, routes, flights, etc.
Above is the piracy reporting in only the Indian Ocean (not including GoA) YTD as of the end of January while
we were in the Maldives and evaluating which route we would take. Remember that there were only 11 attacks
in Jan and Feb 2010 in the IO and GOA. This map shows 28 attacks in January, only in the Indian Ocean.
The trends were absolutely alarming. The Green represents the track that we decided to take and
the Blue roughly the track that many cruisers in the Maldives chose.
While in the Maldives, it just got worse.
Marc and other cruisers in the area were speaking with representatives from MARLO and UKMTO directly to better understand
the situation. The military representatives from these organizations were VERY, VERY concerned.
They said that the pirate activity had become “ballistic” and none of this sounded like CYA rhetoric.
Being government agencies, they would provide absolutely no advice to the 30+ boats now in Uligan except
for DO NOT GO. We asked more than once, for advice on safest routes - were there specific areas where there
would be more warships, etc. Being the gov’t, I am sure that they were concerned that if they provided
advice and something happened to one of us, they would be liable. And although, they provided no recommendations at all on
best possible routes, they did mention more than once that many large, commercial shipping vessels were now being diverted
up the coast of India and around the Indian Ocean.
We spent many hours discussing our options:
- Sail a modified direct route from Maldives to Salalah,
Oman in convoy
- Stay in Maldives for 2-3 months, then sail to Chagos, down the coast
of Africa, around the cape, back north up the coast over to Brazil and then back to Caribbean.
- Turn around, sail back to Singapore, back north to Japan, across the Aleutian Islands to Alaska and back to the west
coast of US.
- Sail toward India and follow the coast of India north to Pakistan and
cut across to Muscat, Oman. Then follow closely the coast of Oman to Salalah then to the GoA
- Martin on Anima and Marc even looked seriously into the very real possibility of having
armed (AK47’s and RPG’s) Yemini security personnel on board our yachts. These were private
contractors who had crossed eastbound on cargo vessels and were looking for a ride back to Yemen. The deal
was to meet them offshore so they would not have to throw their weapons overboard on arrival to Sri Lanka. Although
it sounds crazy, this was a very legitimate offer that in the end, didn’t pan out….not sure if that was a good
or bad thing.
To be honest, none of these options were appealing
1. Even with a convoy, there was no assured safety crossing through these pirate infested waters to Salalah.
Although a ‘modified direct’ course would be south of the pirate attacks, it would be in between the recent
attacks and Somalia – home to all of the pirates. We did not want to be the last boat that they stumbled
upon on their way home.
The route around S.
Africa is not free of pirates either. In fact, the number of attacks near Madagascar has increased drastically.
And the weather can be just dreadful.
Although we love Alaska,
the 3000 mile N. Pacific ocean passage did not sound friendly.
4. Going up the coast of India and around the attacks would require an additional 1000+ miles of motoring with
wind probably “on the nose”. We did not have an Indian Visa so we weren’t even sure if we could stop in
At the same time, we had to consider the best place for the children
and Jane to leave the boat and return to the boat. With everything going on in Egypt and the Middle East,
this became an issue that we had not expected. If we did decide for Marc and Mike to continue directly
to Salalah in a convoy, we looked at homes to stay in Uligan with a family which would have been QUITE an experience.
When all of these discussions first occurred there were less than 10 boats in the anchorage and by
the time that we left there were about 35. Every day at 4:00 pm, all of us met up on shore to discuss new
information, possible routes, strategies, weather knowledge, etc. Marc spoke to MARLO and had a representative
from UKMTO call us at a meeting with all of the cruisers. Although this was a horrible process, we
made some new friends as we all struggled with this truly life or death decision. Marc called our original
group….the Uligan Refugees because that is what we felt like. Of our original group, the first boat
to leave was Convergance, a US vessel. Although we weren’t ready to leave, as Randy eased out of
the anchorage we were somewhat jealous that he had made the decision to move on. We anxiously received
email messages every day and prayed for his safety. (Convergance is now safe in the Med)
As more and more people arrived to the anchorage, what became amazing to us was the lack of knowledge and preparation
by many of the boats. Most boats had not been following the ICC attack website, had not registered with
UKMTO and MARLO so they were not receiving the reports, and quite frankly did not know the risks that faced them.
In the last two years on this trip (and really 20 years in our marriage), I have had many times when I thanked God
for the preparedness of my husband but probably never was I more thankful than during this time. Marc was,
by far, one of the most prepared people in the anchorage and acted as a leader (although reluctantly) in the early meetings
to educate the rest of the cruisers on the procedure for reporting and the current attack scenario.
But despite the many meetings and sharing of knowledge, we still had to make our own decision. We had
many sleepless nights with 2 AM conversations. For a few days, every day held a different direction….go
up the coast of India, go somewhat straight in a convoy, go to S. Africa. In fact, one morning (about Day
5) after an emotional breakdown, we made the decision to go the S. Africa route. We had never had a desire
to go this direction and it would mean never realizing some of our dreams for this journey, such as, seeing the Pyramids and
sailing in the Med. But we did believe, at the time, that it would be the safest way of realizing another
dream of circumnavigating the world. So we arose early to a beautiful sunrise and glassy water sitting
on our back deck and invited Martin over to share our “final decision”. Marc even called home
and told his parents the news. That lasted for one day. We made contact with a friend
who was in the process of sailing around Africa, and several factors started making this option less desirable – not
the least of which was the very real threat of piracy in the Mozambique Channel and the treacherous seas that are common around
Emotionally spent, we cannot think of any other decision in our
lives that we have made or been faced with that was fraught with more fear, anxiety or danger. For you,
as you read this (and especially after the tragic events of Quest and ING), there is no decision – you don’t go
– simple, end of story. Anyone thinking otherwise must have rocks in their head. But
we’re sorry folks, it’s just not that simple when you are out here. It’s not like a snowy
day when you just go back into your driveway. A decision to turn around or change our course could affect our schedule for
a year or more and take us to areas of the world that we had never planned to go and can be equally fraught with their own
Through all of this what made us laugh was to think about the silly decisions we would fret over in
our old life….which computer to buy, what color to paint the bedroom, what to do for the weekend…..we longed
for that type of decision. But we HAD to make a decision. Although the officials in
Uligan (where we were only supposed to stay for 3 days) had been patient and understanding, they would not let us stay forever
without a cruising permit. We started to call Uligan “Hotel California”….you can check
out but you can never leave.
So after a little over a week of stress, we went back to the decision we had made right after Marc spoke
to MARLO the first time. We decided to take a 11 day 1000 mile detour motoring into the wind the entire
way to stay as clear from the pirates as possible based on the data we had available. We would sail up
the coast of India, close to Pakistan, and over to Muscat, Oman in close convoy with two other boats, Laroobaa and Saildance
II both Blue Water Rally boats.
We chose this option for many reasons. The
Indian Navy and Coast Guard had been very aggressive in protecting their waters against pirates, recently sinking a mother
ship 200 miles from their coast. We would basically “hug” the Indian Coast within 20 miles
to assure this added security. We would go to at least 24 degrees north which would keep us hundreds of
miles from the most recent attacks. It would also provide the least amount of time in the open ocean where
the majority of the attacks occurred. Although the passage itself, would be predominantly into the wind
and would require much motoring, Imagine carries a lot of fuel and motors well into the wind. Really, if
any boat can do it, she can. Many boats are just not equipped to motor for this many miles into a headwind and therefore this
route is simply not an option for them. By taking this route, which we felt was the least risky, the kids
and I would remain on the boat to Muscat. This would allow us to better assess the situation in Egypt and
the Middle East, in general, to develop the next path forward.
Of the original “Uligan Refugees”,
everyone made their own decision. Some friends chose to go back to SE Asia, many went direct with a convoy,
some went direct alone, some plan to go to South Africa, and some stayed in the Maldives and waited for more information.
Most of the independent boats in Uligan, that did the Indian Ocean passage did a direct/varied rum line course from
Maldives to Yemen or to the IRTC. Most of these boats went in a convoy with other sailboats.
On the day that we were about to leave, we went ashore early in the morning to get the bread that was
baked for us the night before from the locals. We passed the palm tree area where all the cruisers had
met each day to plan strategies and discuss options. It was a place we gathered in angst, fear, and emotion,
and that morning it was empty and quiet – it was a strange feeling, and for some reason, that moment was one that we
won’t ever forget.
We finally hoisted the anchor at mid day, and set off from the
Maldives. It was bittersweet. Hugs and well wishes to those who we were leaving behind.
Martin & Jason, and new friends we made there and we were all wondering where we would next see each other.
I don’t think that anyone who was in Uligan this year will ever forget their time there, or the feelings and
emotions we were all going through. We hope that we are all making the right choice for ourselves and pray
for everyone’s ultimate safety.
February 6, 2011 –
Uligan, Maldives – Jane’s Website Entry
Although it was very difficult, we refused to let pirates completely ruin our time in this absolutely breathtaking
location. Over the years we had heard much about the beauty of these atolls in the Indian Ocean and they
are even more beautiful than we expected. So here is our “real” blog of the Maldives with no
reference to those thugs from Somalia.
We were the third boat to arrive in the crystal
clear waters of Uligan. In contrast to Sri Lanka, the officials were extremely polite and did not ask for
one thing. In fact, they gave us a Maldives courtesy flag for free.
soon as we went to shore, we met Assad who is a yacht services rep who sets up fuel, tours, and anything that a yachtie would
need. I mean anything…..he even gave us the sim card out of his own phone. Although
eerily quiet, the village was immaculate with homes made of white coral lining the perfectly aligned streets.
Approximately 400 people live in the Muslim village and although friendly, the traditionally dressed women tended to
The Maldives pride themselves on maintaining their conservative values,
despite the expanding tourist industry. They do this by only allowing resorts to be built on uninhabited
islands and having strict rules on visits to villages. For a yacht, this means that unless you have a very
expensive cruising permit (about $600) your boat can not leave the port where you checked in. Since we
did not get the permit, we had to stay in Uligan…which was not too bad. We were able to roam freely
on the island of Uligan, seeing the village and spending time on their beaches. Assad planned an island
hopping trip for many of the boaters so we could see some of other islands. The restrictions of these other
islands quickly became apparent to me when the kids and I left the group at a grocery store to go to the park and play.
As I was walking down the street, two men came into the street from their homes to politely ask me: where
was going; how did I get there; where was my guide; and most importantly, where was my husband.
After, I explained that I was with a group but wanted to take the children to the park, they smiled and waved me on
but it was obvious that they took their privacy seriously.
One of the most special components of the Maldives is the crystal clear water which is packed with marine life.
From our boat, we could snorkel and see giant angels, triggerfish, etc. etc. And from the beach we were entertained
by a SeaWorld worthy show of 50+ spinner dolphins. But the highlight was the giant manta rays that swam
in the anchorage daily. The kids were so excited when they first saw them that they jumped out of the dinghy
with their clothes on.
Assad worked with the island to host two wonderful parties for the cruisers. The
first was a beach BBQ potluck where the locals provided fish and rice and all of us provided the side dishes.
Martin, from Anima, played the guitar and we all sang our favorites and relaxed. The other event
was a very special dinner hosted by the island with local foods. Assad (who is only 21) and his young friends
had decorated a courtyard with white lights and they had music playing. They created a picture perfect
event . It is really one of those nights that I won’t forget.
This little slice of heaven is one of the places that we wish that we could have stayed longer and enjoyed more.
This should have been paradise savored. Every day we were there, we promised to dive with the kids,
snorkel, play on the swing, swim, or play a game. Every day to our deep regret, we were distracted by the
drama of the day and the looming decision of what to do. Although, we desperately tried to enjoy the beautiful
islands and our time together, we were consumed with planning and anxiety. Hopefully, this soon will be
a distant memory. Next time, we’ll stay longer and relax more.
Satellite Email Messages – Passage from Uligan, Malidives to Muscat, Oman
Hello everyone -
Well we have left the beautiful waters of the Maldives and we are on our way to the Red Sea.
The Maldives were absolutely lovely with dolphins and manta rays swimming in the anchorage and huge, gorgeous reef
fish swimming right under our boat.
We really tried to enjoy the gorgeous scenery but we have to
admit that the stress of the upcoming passage wore on all of us in the anchorage.
all know the Gulf of Aden between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea has been plagued by pirates in recent years.
We had been preparing for this and had planned to sail from the Maldives to Salalah, Oman where we would meet up with
other boats and form convoys to go through the GOA corridor (Gulf of Aden). However, while we were in Sri
Lanka we received reports that there were pirate attacks occurring further out into the Indian Ocean basically right in the
path that we had planned to Oman. So for the last week, we've been analyzing every option to avoid
this area (including getting to the Caribbean via S. Africa instead of the Med or turning back to Thailand and then getting
back to the US via Japan and Alaska)....neither option seemed great to us. So after much thought and prayers,
we have decided to sail 1000 miles out of our way around the Indian Ocean to avoid the trouble spots.
are out here now, making our way over to Oman. It will be a long trip and probably not very fun since
the predominant wind will be "on the nose" but we think that it's the best option for us. We
are traveling very close to two other boats that we have met.
send you a quick update each day letting you know that we are safe.
We hope that
you are all staying warm and shoveled out of the big snowstorm. "Go Packers!!!" So
when is the Super Bowl anyway.
Love to all,
Marc, Jane, Caroline, Grant, and Noah
9 February 2011
Just a quick note to let you know that we are still doing well out here. We've had
a pretty comfortable ride so far. The wind is not quite on the nose so we've had sails up most of the
way but have been motoring as well to keep our speed up. We are still sailing very closely with two other
boats and should be with them the rest of the way.
We are all doing well and the kids have been
doing school everyday - unlucky for them. We've also even managed a little baking with muffins for
breakfast and homemade pizza last night for dinner. The worst thing has been the many, many fishing boats,
out of the 1 billion Indians here, I think that at least a million are fishing on the western coast. It
was a crazy night trying to see them all and then maneuver the three boats around them. But the best thing
was hearing the Indian warships calling vessels yesterday, which reminded us why we are taking this course.
We hope that you are all doing well and keeping warm. We'll continue to keep you posted.
Jane, Marc, Caroline, Grant, and Noah (and Mike)
On this day we received an email
from our friend, Bill on Bebe informing us of the possibility of a transport ship stopping in either Cochin, India or Male,
Maldives to pick up boats and deliver them to the Med. We were already past Cochin and after some discussion
decided to keep on going. If that option would have presented itself when we were still in the Maldives,
I believe that we would have seriously considered the option. The cost would be about $35K for Imagine.
Hind sight being 20/20, we may have made a mistake by not turning around at this time.
11 February 2011
Just a quick note to let you know that we are still
doing OK out here. We should arrive in Mumbai mid-day tomorrow for our quick 24 - 48 hour stop for fuel
and hopefully food. If we can't reprovision, we will be eating a lot of pasta and peanut butter (not
together) on the next passage. Oh well, we have plenty of Pringles and Oreos on board.
it has not been a great sail and we have run the engine every minute to keep a good pace, it has not been as bad as we expected
- at least, so far. Except for the fishermen, who are everywhere and make watch very, very busy.
Thankfully with Mike on board helping us, Marc and I are able to get a little more sleep than usual.
We'll keep you all updated. Thanks for the emails, it's great to hear from you.
Jane, Marc, the kids (and Mike)
FRIEND OR FOE???
On the passage from Maldives to Bombay, India, we had 2 very close encounters that we felt threatened
by. As we were travelling in convoy with Saildance & Laroobaa, we were approached at high speed by
an open bow fishing boat with twin outboards – the picture of the typical ‘pirate skiff’. This
skiff had at least 6 men all standing in the boat – but could not tell if they were armed or not. Alarmed
that the skiff was coming directly at us at high speed, we quickly went into our ‘attack formation’ essentially
bringing the 3 boats in close quarters (within about 20 meters of each other). We altered our course by
90 degrees, and they easily matched our course and with their speed were right on top of us in no time at all.
Imagine was in the middle of our formation, and Marc was at the helm – our speed was at max between 7-8 knots
and the adrenaline was pumping fast. The kids went below to their ‘secure’ location (basically
between the engine block & freezer), and Marc, Jane & Mike were in the cockpit, communicating with Laroobaa &
This skiff was not going away and Marc had enough. Marc turned the helm hard to starboard, circled
behind our formation, and made a course directly for the skiff at max speed. In a sort of ‘chicken’ with the skiff,
we felt the only way this skiff was going away is if we chased him out. Fortunately, this time the strategy
worked. As soon as we got closer to the skiff, he veered away and left the scene. We
were all spooked by this, and were shaken by how quickly and easy they came up on us from out of nowhere.
The second approach by another skiff came later that day. Similar circumstances
to the first skiff, we did a great job pulling our 3 yachts together into formation in short time. This
time, the skiff appeared to be going after Saildance, and Saildance maneuvered in front of Imagine with the skiff fast on
its stern. This positioned the skiff directly in front of Imagine and Marc again took an aggressive approach
to the situation. As the skiff crossed our bow, Marc accelerated and got within 10 feet of the stern of
the skiff. At that point, the skiff first noticed Imagine bearing down on them and quickly accelerated
out of the way and eventually bugged out.
After the stress of the situation
calmed and the adrenaline subsided, we could make a better assessment of what happened.
First, any vessel approaching us at high speed – especially one that had been described as how
the pirates operate, was an immediate threat to our safety. We were not taking a ‘wait and see’
approach. Any approach was a potential threat. In reality, looking back, we know that
these were most likely innocent fishermen who were probably looking to trade, or for water, or most likely just to say hi.
It is very unfortunate that the threat of piracy has everyone spooked to the point of this, and under normal circumstances,
we would always be welcoming of the local fisherman to see their catch of the day, or simply to wave and say hi in some way.
I’m sure these two boats were no different, and wondered what the hell was going on with the three sailboats
and the one in particular who was trying to run them down….. Looking back, I think I would still react in the very
Quick update to let you know that we are anchored here in Bombay - arrived 2pm local time. We
arrived without visa's which is presenting a problem. We are requesting a 24 hour 'safe harbor'
refuge to obtain diesel before we proceed. At this moment, it is unclear as to what will happen.
They may kick us out of the country....
Our plan briefly at this point Phase 2 is to sail far north to
almost Pakistan, and cross the Gulf of Oman to Muscat. Phase 3 will be sailing down the coast of Oman to
Salalah, Oman. Phase 4 will be sailing through the Gulf of Aden to Djibouti & Phase 5 will be to sail
up to Port Ghalib, Egypt.
Jane & Kids plan to fly from Muscat to Djibouti.
Jane, Marc & Crew
13 February 2011
Hello Everyone -
After hiring the services (for a nominal fee) of
a very nice, ex-Olympic sailor, marine service agent, we were approved to anchor, fueled up, and out of India within 24 hours.
We are debating if we can actually say that we have been to a country if we never actually stepped foot on it.
We don't think so....
We have been sailing (motoring actually) up the coast of India for about a day along side our friends on
the boat Laroobaa. So far, so good although it is still quite stressful. Last night
our AIS (which is the instrument that locates large ships for us) was maxed out at 250 boats. At one time
we were sailing between oil fields and rigs on the port side and literally a thousand+ fishing boats on the starboard side.
It takes A LOT of fish to feed 1 billion people.
This morning was a little rough so the kids
got out of school but the seas have laid down nicely and now we are playing games and doing origami. We
are already planning to make valentines and a pink cake tomorrow to celebrate Valentine's Day.
hope that you are all doing well and thanks for the emails.
Love to all,
Jane, Marc, Caroline,
Grant, and Noah (and Mike)
14 February 2011
Happy Valentines' Day!!!! Just
a note to let you know that we are doing OK out here. We were actually able to sail with no motor today
for two hours. This is the longest that we have sailed since we left Maldives. But then
we hit a squall and had to take in the sails and motor through it. Oh well, it was better than nothing.
It's a bit lumpy today so no one feels like a big Valentine party but we did have muffins decorated with hearts for
breakfast and if it calms down we are going to make a valentine cake today.
I think that
I forgot to mention yesterday about our call from UKMTO which is the UK Maritime Trade Organization of the Royal Navy (sounds
impressive, at least). We report our position to them daily and they called us to let us know that they
are receiving our emails and are monitoring our progress. Sounds good, at least.
Well we hope that you all enjoy your Valentine's Day with the ones you love.
Miss you and
Love to all,
Jane, Marc, Caroline, Grant, Noah, and Mike
15 February 2011
Just letting you know that we are still out here motoring into the wind. Wow, this is
a very annoying passage. Although, we knew we wouldn't have great wind, we didn't expect to have
15 - 20 knots on the nose all of the time and from the looks of the weather reports we could have it this way all the way
to Muscat. Fun, fun, fun.
But we are still doing OK and hanging in
there. We are trying to do some school today to keep us busy.
hope that you are all doing well.
Love to all,
Jane, Marc, and the crew
16 February 2011
Just letting you know that we are still motoring away out here in the North Indian Ocean. Although
the wind is still "on the nose" it is not as strong and the seas have laid down quite a bit so it is much more comfortable
today. The kids are busy reading right now....They have a strategy that if they are reading
they won't have to do school. I'm not sure about that one.
big past time this trip has been doing origami and Grant has made almost every animal in his book. In fact,
he is now giving lessons (for a fee of course) and I progressed to a fox yesterday.
Marc and I
are hanging in there but pretty stress out. Again, we're glad to have Mike on board this trip so we
can at least get a little more sleep.
We hope that you are all doing well and staying
Love to all,
Jane, Marc, and the crew
17 February 2011
We are 130 miles and 20 hours and 59 minutes from Muscat. We are STILL motoring and have
used so much fuel that we actually had to borrow some from Laroobaa, the boat we are sailing with. This
is a first since we have huge tanks and usually pride ourselves on how much fuel we carry but, of course, we're not used
to motoring for 6 days straight into the wind. It was pretty exciting getting the boats close enough today,
while going 5 knots, to pass jerry cans of fuel from Laroobaa to Imagine. Good driving on the captain’s
The big excitement yesterday was a fly over by a naval helicopter. We couldn't
see a flag to know who it belonged to but it flew close to us and tipped toward us so he was definitely checking us out.
It's good to know that they are out there.
We hope that you are all doing well.
Stay warm and good skiing to the Adams' family in Snowbird.
Love to all,
Jane, Marc, Caroline,
Grant, Noah, and Mike
February 18, 2011 – Muscat, Oman
“Happy 8th Birthday, Noah” !!!!! We arrived in Muscat, Oman just in time to
celebrate Noah’s Bday. Noah was so excited for his birthday and we were all so excited to be on land
after a very long haul. We started the special day with a very special Bday breakfast of “Fruit Loops”.
Now for most kids this might not be special, but for boat kids this is a real treat because we never know when we’ll
see this American delicacy again. Then Noah opened his presents of Bionicles, the game Rush Hour, and a
backpack full of Ben 10 toys.
We also started the day arriving in Marina Al Rowda Bander in
Muscat, Oman. Although they let us fuel up, we were quickly told that we had to go to the main port to
check in. Fueling up was exciting as it was some of the cheapest fuel we have had in the world…gotta
love the Middle East. However, we quickly learned that this was the only “cheap” thing in Oman.
We, again, were forced to get an agent and with his fee of $150 US, VISAs for everyone at $60 each, this would be one
of our most expensive countries….we didn’t even know yet that the dock fee would be $100 per night (again the
most that we have ever paid). Oh well, we’re here and it looks beautiful and we definitely deserve
a rest after 12 days on the boat.
We celebrated Noah’s Bday with dinner out
at the marina restaurant and Kieran met us for the celebration. Now the new crew Imagine is complete. One
thing is for certain, Noah had plenty of deserts. At the restaurant the waiter brought a small cake,
candle, and we all sang Happy Bday…..and ice cream was included in the meal. Then back on Imagine,
we had a dinosaur cake that Caroline had decorated and jelly from Laroobaa (which is the Aussie name for Jello).
Noah said that it was his “Best Birthday Ever” which, of course, brought tears to my very tired eyes after
what we’ve endured the last couple of months and then we all had a GOOD night’s sleep.
Satellite Email Correspondence – re: Quest
19 February 2011
You may have heard that a US sailboat - 'Quest' was taken by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean yesterday
2/18 - late afternoon. We became aware of this today and know that it is already in the mainstream press.
We just wanted to reassure all of you that we are safe and sound in Muscat, Oman. Although we do
not know all of the details on the attack, from what we have heard it took place hundreds of miles from the course that we
took from Mumbai to Muscat.
This is why we made the decision to sail over a 1000 miles out
of our way and stay close to the Indian and Pakistani coast to avoid the known areas where the pirate attacks had occurred.
Although it was a long and sometimes arduous journey we are so thankful that we made the decision that we did.
is going to get a cell phone sim card right now and we'll try to make some calls later today. Again
thanks to all of you for your assistance, prayers, and emails.
Love to all,
Jane and Marc (and
all of the crew)
February 22, 2011 – Muscat, Oman – Jane’s Website Entry
I stood on
the dock at the marina and watched Marc, Mike, and Kieran set off toward Salalah, the Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea.
I’ve said worried goodbyes to my husband before as he has gone off to climb mountains, but this was different
and we all knew it. This was the most concerned that I have ever been for his safety. Although
I feel quite strongly that we have chosen the least dangerous route possible, it is not without risk and we all know it.
This was obviously driven home this week with the hijacking of the Quest. We are sickened by this
recent news and pray for their safety. We do not know the crew of Quest personally, but they were anchored
directly behind us in Mumbai, India. Based on their position at the time of the attack, they took a much
more direct course.
Marc left in convoy with Larooba. We have
sailed over 1700 miles with them and have never been more than ½ mile apart. This is really quite
a feat in itself. Although we have an autopilot which holds our course, boats do not have cruise control
and the seas and wind conditions greatly affect our speed and it’s a testament to our tenacity that we have been able
to stay together.
The kids and I will be staying at the National Hospitality Institute
which is a college for the hospitality trades. They rent out small reasonably priced apartments so that
their students can “practice” their skills in housekeeping, maintenance, front desk, etc. It
seems like the perfect place for us as we determine our next step.
On a much more positive note, we have thoroughly
enjoyed our time here in Muscat. It is a beautiful clean city with traditional Middle Eastern architecture
surrounded by red, dry mountains dotted with ancient forts. The landscape looks somewhat like our southwestern
states like NV or NM. The people still wear the traditional Muslim clothing with the long white robes for
the men with hats or headscarves and most women covered head to toe. Although the attire at first seemed
intimidating, we have found that it is just the way that they dress and is like “jeans and a T shirt” for us and
the people are so warm and friendly.
We were determined to enjoy ourselves here despite the pressure that we are under. So
before Marc, Mike, and Kieran left we did a tour into the Wahiba Sands desert. We had an absolute blast
and for a brief time forgot almost about the pirates. We stayed in desert huts run by the Beduin
people. Abdullah, the manager and our guide, was fabulous and did everything possible to make our stay
enjoyable. We rode camels, snowboarded down the dunes, and visited a traditional Beduin village.
But the experience was the dune bashing in the 4WD. Abdullah drove our family and the two children
from Laroobaa. We screamed, laughed, and held on tight as we went up and down the huge dunes.
The harder the kids laughed, the faster Abdullah drove and the more he smiled. It was great!!!!
But after all of the fun, it was back to Imagine and to face the reality of what lies ahead. So after
lots of hugs, kisses, and a few tears we wave good bye to the men and just pray for their safety.
Satellite Email Correspondence – Marc
22 February 2011
Just wanted to drop a quick note letting you all know that we (Marc with crew Mike & Kieran) are leaving
Muscat in about 1 hour. Once we do the check out procedures, we should be underway by around 3pm local
time. Our destination is Salalah, Oman which is about 600 miles to the south. We will
be sailing along the coast for the most part trying our best to avoid the fishing nets(and yes, pirates) along the way.
We continue our convoy with S/V Laroobaa (whom we've been joined at the hip with since the Maldives some 2000 miles
ago) Jane and the kids will be staying in Muscat & will meet me in an area yet determined.
the best from the Captain & Crew.
23 February 2011
We left Muscat yesterday at approximately 2pm local time. Since we left, we've been
battling a 20-25 knot headwind which is slowing our progress a bit, but we slog along and still expect to be in on Saturday.
Having Mike & Kieran on board has been a Godsend and we are doing well despite the stresses.
now, I am sure that you are all aware of the fate of the crew aboard Quest. We were stunned and devastated
when we got word about the outcome. I received a call from the duty officer at UKMTO late last night and
discussed our route again with him and he had informed me that they are watching our route closely and know of no pirate vessels
in the area & they will be calling us via sat phone if any issues arise that we need to be aware of.
We were shocked and truly sickened by what has happened & ask for your prayers for the families of Quest and for us
We are meeting another boat who is about 90 miles ahead of us currently and will join us in convoy
down to Salalah.
All the best from the Captain & Crew.
Via Con Dios
24 February 2011
Our Current Position:
& course 219T
312 miles to Salalah
Wind is 10 knots on the nose, current is against us, but the
sun is shining & all is well on board.
We rendezvoused with another yacht - Journey who
will be with us til Salalah. Currently Laroobaa is towing Journey to maintain a reasonable speed and we'll
end up sharing in the towing responsibilities. Have not yet figured out our plan from Salalah, but will
attend the memorial service for the crew of Quest who will be brought to Salalah on the USS aircraft carrier (along with the
pirates) on Saturday.
25 February 2011
Our Current Position:
& course 233T
157 miles to Salalah
Journey is no longer with us. We may change our
destination plans. We had an Omani Warship steam past us and I called to let them know it was good to see
them out here. We have heard initial reports of another issue, but nothing confirmed at this point.
is well on board.
26 February 2011
Our Current Position:
& course 244T
We have changed our plans. We will not go to Salalah.
Blue Water Rally boat Laroobaa - who we have convoyed with since Maldives, decided that our speed was too slow for them.
They left us and went on their own to Salalah....so much for the convoy/buddy boat system...
We are doing well, and this afternoon will rendezvous with a friend, US S/V "Lapalapa" to continue on to the IRTC
that we will follow until we reach Djibouti. Lapalapa has been enjoying the company of US Warship 84 -
Bulkley for the last 2.5 days, and not sure what 84's next task will be, but heard them on VHF this morning.
Sadly, we learned that another yacht has been hijacked by pirates.
Mike & Kieran
27 February 2011
Our Current Position:
& course 252T
At 0630Z we reached the corner of the IRTC. The corridor is 490 miles long, so we will
be in this zone for the next 3.5 days or so.
Lapalapa - our new convoy partner has brought with them good
juju. Not only did Roger & Karli come with a US Warship escort, later in the day we had a US Navy Helo
give us a fly by last night and better yet, for the first time since leaving the Maldives - some 2500 miles ago, we no longer
have wind on the nose! We are happy sailors for the moment. And, as I write this, we have just had another navy plane fly
by. At the very least we feel that someone knows we are out here.
plans at the moment will be to sail to Djibouti, refuel and move on from there. Some have asked why Djibouti
and not other spots and I offer commentary by fellow cruiser & friend Jason on Pegasus with his report below on stopping
in Yemen(hope you don't mind that I share this Jason, but it's good intel & great writing)
"HI Mark, great that your with Roger. and a warship...excellent news. I left aden last night midnight as mass protests
on street and gunfire around. Army out with 50 cal on back of jeeps...i was the only boat there and feeling like the last
tommato in a salad. I managed to get my passport back from immigration in the afternoon, and just thought..im going...stopped
by a port control launch with Kalachnikov bloke on front...port control ordered me back to anchorage 5 times i refused, saying
that there was gunfire on the street, im a uk boat and i want to leave now. after half an hour he called off the dogs and
gave me permission to leave and asked if i would please come back to aden and its not always like that!!!! decided to get
on and head N... in bab el mandep now,...sat 1400 blowing 30 and big waves, 4 reefs main, slip of staysail but fine, making
10-12 on the rolercoaster...dont know how far i can get in this window will see. Take care."
said that trying to make it through this region of the world...It's a shit sandwich and no matter how you slice it, still
tastes the same. And yes - oddly as it sounds to folks back home, we'll be thrilled to get to Egypt.
One last note: Roger on La Palapa is far more sophisticated than I am when it comes to updating their blog (yes Seth, I
know we haven't updated since last year!). You can check out their commentary & follow our progress
Thanks to all for the notes of encouragement.
We all appreciate your assistance, thoughts & prayers.
Marc, Mike & Kieran
28 February 2011
Our Current Position:
& course 251T
Moving slowly along the IRTC - about 360 miles to the end before we veer off towards Djibouti.
All is well on board. Had Japanese Helicopter pay us a visit and also a Japanese Warship.
We asked the warship to check on a radar contact we both had on our screens and they reassured us that all was clear
on our rear after visual, infrared, and I'm guessing a more sophisticated radar system than we have. So
we slept well for a while.
Fair amount of shipping in the lanes and we are just on the northern edge to keep a good distance from
the traffic, but close enough to find the psychological comfort in the company of others. Early this morning
we spotted a fishing dhow towing a skiff and Roger on LaPalapa called UKMTO, but unlike the movie version, we had no blackhawks
appear instantly over the horizon to check it out for us. We did contact a freighter who was coming up
from behind, and he did confirm the sighting of 'a typical fishing vessel'....Fortunately the dhow (aka mothership)
and skiff carried on towards Yemen - no doubt smuggling Somalis to Yemen - at least that's my version.
We'll look forward to our arrival in the garden spot of Djibouti & catching up to those ahead of us who are now
in the Red Sea.
Marc, Mike & Kieran
1 March 2011
5.5 knots & course 252T
Moving slowly along the IRTC - about 220 miles to the end before we
veer off towards Djibouti - still expecting arrival early hours on Friday - trying to time our arrival at daybreak.
All is well on board. It's always a good day when we DON'T get a report from MARLO or a
call from UKMTO!
Warship activity last night included contact with Indian, Greek/European & US Warships. Also
have aircraft in area checking in via Ch 16. At one point Indian Warship identified 2 suspicious vessels
at our exact coordinates...glad they did not take a shoot first ask questions later approach, and glad they are out here.
The Greek warship appears to be staying on our course from the center lane of the IRTC. Wind picked
up slightly and we actually turned the engine off for the first time since leaving Muscat - it lasted a whole 1/2 hour....
I understand the confirming reports of the hijacking of the Danish S/V 'ING' are in the news. We
haven't heard further details, and we are keeping the family of 5 with crew in our thoughts & prayers.
Palapa has been updating their blog entries along the way with up to date info on our convoy and can be found at:
Unfortunately I have no editorial say in the content of the palapa
blog & as such, any insinuation that the crew Imagine 'cheated' at our game of VHF Battleship last night are patently
false. We used a superior naval strategy learned from years of play with Caroline, Grant & Noah to
soundly defeat Karli & Roger on the high seas. Certainly round two will be forthcoming.
for now from the Crew Imagine
Marc, Mike & Kieran
Our close encounter
in the IRTC:
1 March 2011 -
During the day, we received fresh reports of piracy attacks that had occurred over the last 24 hours.
The trend was disconcerting. Several attacks had occurred very close to the exact route we had just
traversed. One of the attacks was actually in the very location that we were warned of just 3 days earlier.
Then another attack just a few miles from our rendezvous point with LaPalapa just 2 days prior. We sat
in the cockpit and I had a very uneasy feeling. The attacks were coming back to the GoA area.
Occasionally there were times along the corridor that we saw no shipping traffic which was an eerie feeling –
kindof like we were in the twilight zone! We kept on motoring close to the northern edge of the corridor.
It was about 11:20pm in the evening and Kieran was on watch when he heard the frantic distress call
of the MV Berthea. They were reporting an attack by 2 skiffs. Their position was approximately
8 miles south of us. Kieran woke me and I immediately got Mike up, made my way to the cockpit, and as I
was on the vhf to LaPalapa, saw the first flare from the vicinity of the MV. We closed our position with
Lapalapa and made max speed continuing west away from the incident.
moment, we saw the second flare and heard and confirmed on the AIS that the ship was taking evasive maneuvers to deter the
pirates. I had Mike on the helm, Kieran with the binoculars and I called UKMTO on the sat phone to report
the incident location and request assistance. The Duty Officer at UKMTO took the coordinates and said that
was all he could do…thank you very much. No he could not confirm if there were any coalition forces
in the area and that was it. I was in shock & hung up the phone, went back to the cockpit and reported
the lack of interest to the crew & LaPalapa.
We were on our own.
Just as we were having this discussion and steaming away from the incident, Karli on LaPalapa called and asked why we had
a red light on. I looked around. It was not us. It was coming from
our 8 O’clock position and coming directly at us at a high rate of speed. We were all watching the
light then it went dark. We didn’t like the situation at all. I told everyone
that I was calling MARLO to report and see what could be done. I rang the emergency number and LTCR Chris
Godier answered the call. I gave Chris the details of what was transpiring and Chris put me on hold while
he identified a US Warship that was very close to our position. He called the ship directly, and rang us
back to let us know that the USS Mason was steaming towards our position and they would get a helicopter in the air.
Chris stayed on the line with me, and relayed our coordinates to the Mason real time. We lost visual
of the light and could see no sign of the approaching skiff. We kept our speed at max closing with the
Mason who was 20 miles away doing 30 knots. We made radio contact with the Mason and they gave us an eta
of 20 minutes – an eternity, but the fact they were on their way was incredible. We felt for the
first moment, that the cavalry was on the way.
Meanwhile, I was on the vhf with the Mason who
was asking how we were ‘armed’ in one ear and Chris at MARLO on the other. At one point, Chris
very frankly was giving the ‘last advice’ – should we be boarded, do not resist, keep hands up - Game over.
I told Chris that we were not prepared to do that – especially after Quest and that I had no intention of going
to Somalia. All he could say is: “it is up to each master to make those decisions”….what
else could he say.
Shortly after, the Mason called and reported that they were closing
fast and had us on their ‘gadget’ (by the way, I’d like to have a gadget – I’m sure it’s
way better than any of my gadgets). They got a helo in the air and began sweeping the area.
The commander of the Mason called and asked if we wouldn’t mind if they took up a position to our stern and hang
around for a while…We were grateful and welcomed him to stay as long as they’d like – all the way to Djibouti
if they wouldn’t mind! We could hear some radio transmission of the helo to the Mason, but could
not determine if they had found the suspicious skiff or not. The report came that all was clear and they’d
stay with us until the morning. I slept soundly for the first time in weeks.
So was it pirates chasing us in a skiff? In the dark of night, we can’t be 100%
sure. Given the attack just south of us, we weren’t leaving it to chance and made the calls.
In our sailboats we are vulnerable and given what had happened to Quest & ING, we are glad we did, and we were
incredibly fortunate there was a warship in the area that could respond and grateful for the US Naval forces and the crew
of the Mason for their support. You will notice below in my daily email updates to our family and few friends
that my update the day after our ‘incident’ was brief. It was too scary to report to Jane &
2 March 2011
Our Current Position:
& course 252T
Moving slowly along the IRTC - about 100 miles to the end before we veer off towards Djibouti - timing our
arrival for early hours on Friday at daybreak. Looking forward to landfall! All is well on board.
Mike & Kieran
3 March 2011
Our Current Position:
ANCHORED IN ADEN, YEMEN
As they say, cruising plans are written is sand...at low tide. Scratch Djibouti....Hello
Aden. If you recall from one of my earlier emails, I included an excerpt from our friend Jason on Pegasus
who wrote about Aden - it sounded insane to go here! That should give you a sense as to what we were faced
with in the 'patrolled' IRTC.
Everyday, we check in on a SSB net, and last
night's net included a report from yachts who were about 50 miles ahead of our position. They reported
that at 1230 local time, they were 5 miles from an attack that was taking place in the middle of the IRTC. Gunfire
and distress calls, evasive maneuvering prevented the pirates from taking the merchant ship. When we heard
the report, the position was 12 04.7N 45 37.4E, this was only 35 miles in the direction we were heading. We
had discussions with LaPalapa and relatively quickly made the decision to divert north to Aden which was 70 miles north of
our position - easily doable during the night hours. I called my contact at MARLO, who got us intel on
our new routing, and for the first time, gave us an actual opinion on our new course. We also had the information
that the USS Aircraft carrier was not far away, and he contacted them to let the Carrier know our intentions.
He has been on call for us 24/7, and has been our best resource since leaving Sri Lanka.
So here we are....Aden, Yemen. It wasn't in the round the world destination blogs I ever read.
Early reports of continued violence outside the port area will keep us on the boat for the most part.
Kieran was able to get off the boat and after some customs/immigrations dealings, we got him signed
off the boat, to the airport and on a flight home only 4 hours after we dropped the hook. I don't think
he'll believe it's real until the plane lifts off the ground. Having Kieran & Mike aboard has
been a Godsend for me, Jane & the kids. We couldn't have made it this far without them.
We are forever grateful.
Now we have paid for our fuel and waiting our turn to fuel up. Another yacht rally (Vasco
de Gama) has been here, and there are several boats ahead of us to fuel up.
Our intention will be to continue on with LaPalapa as soon as we fuel up - we hope that is yet today! We
plan to take advantage of good winds to go 650 miles north to Sudan...yet another destination on everyone's top 10 list!
At least safe enough for Jane & the kids to rejoin.
We'll post more later, but are keeping an eye
on the fuel dock now.
Marc, Mike & Kieran
Notes on Yemen:
This is how bad the threat of piracy had become
in the IRTC – to consider that YEMEN was the safer alternative…..that says it all right there. The
decision to divert to Yemen was very difficult. On one hand we were close to our destination of the relatively
safe haven of Djibouti. On the other hand, the reported attack that had occurred ahead of us in the IRTC
and the trend of recent attacks plus the reports on Yemen were not good at all. I had to make a call for
Imagine and unfortunately there was not consensus on board. Kieran felt the goal line of Djibouti and a
flight home was being moved on him, and was understandably upset – we had no idea how/if he would be able to fly home
from Aden. Did Aden even have an airport – if by chance it did, would there even be flights, and
where on earth would they go to. At the same time, I could not in good conscience take Imagine and crew
into an area with recent attacks when we had an out only 75 miles to our north. I made the call for Imagine,
and shortly after sunset, we took a right turn with LaPalapa and set our course for Aden, Yemen. Shortly
before sunrise, we would be pulling into the harbor. Through the night, I had emailed Jane who was able
to get intel on flights out of Yemen so when we arrived and set the anchor, Kieran was off and running to the airport.
In hindsight, the decision was right – of course with the requisite drama, in the end, the flights worked out
for Kieran, we refueled, and had a quick rest, and were off again.
Aden, Yemen itself was a scary place. The harbor though was fine,
and the port area was heavily patrolled with many armed military. We felt relatively safe, but the surrounding
area was the scene of brutal uprising/protest with recent fatalities on the streets close by. Fortunately
I did not see this personally, but Kieran on his way to the airport and Mike on his trip to the market got more than enough
of the violence in Aden.
My only venture away from the confines of the port area was to check out with the harbor master. This
was a cab ride away down the coast on deserted roads that were littered with debris straight out of a warzone movie scene.
Eerie with no other people around, and when the cabbie pulled up to the shelled out remnants of a building that he
called the harbor master’s office. I was wondering if I’d been drawn into some trap.
As we climbed the stairs that had crumbled concrete and bare wires all around, we kept going up. Four
flights and no one to be found – for the first time, I was feeling a bit nervous about where I had been led to.
I’m sure my fatigue had been playing at me, but all I could think of was that I was being led to an empty room
with a single chair that I would be tied to and beaten and absolutely no one knew where I was. I was thinking
Roger on LaPalapa had done it right by not checking in to the country at all! We climbed the final set
of stairs and to my relief, opened a door that led into an air conditioned office of the harbor master overlooking the harbor
entrance below. I exhaled deeply and smiled as the very courteous & professional harbor master took
care of the paper work. Afterward, feeling a bit more comfortable, my cabbie took me on a small tour of
Aden – yes he was proud there are many Catholics here, and drove me by the Church (front entrance cinder blocked over
for security) but there it was. I was happy to get back to Imagine and we had the anchor up at noon and
once again underway!
4 March 2011
Our Current Position:
OF ADEN, YEMEN. Departing at 0900Z (noon local time)
Refueled yesterday, had a very restful night at
anchor (almost too quiet without the engine!). Now Mike & I are ready to go & we will continue
on with LaPalapa to a Suakin, Sudan about 650 miles from here - yes from one garden spot to the next here in the middle east!
We still have a concern for piracy for the next 300 miles, and will keep a vigilant watch and stay close to the coast
- after which, everyday will give us a little more piece of mind!
Most folks we dealt with were very pleasant
here in Yemen, but it will take some getting used to the whole baksheesh dealing in these parts. "I meet you at dock
- have baksheesh for me". "I walk with you to customs - have baksheesh for me". I come along side your boat
in my crappy skiff & bang into your boat - have badsheesh for me" I'm going to have to walk
around with 10 packs of cigarettes everywhere I go from now until the med!
Our short stay here will deserve far more
detail in a blog at some point, but it's time to ready the boat for what looks to be a wild & crazy ride for the next
few days! At least we'll be sailing!
Mike & I are not sure how we're going to
deal with watch now that Kieran is gone. No more 6 hours of continuous rest!
Marc & Mike
5 March 2011
Our Current Position:
ARE IN THE RED SEA! Very happy to report that we made it through Bab el Mandeb strait last night around
It was a fast ride with winds reaching 35 knots, but no complaints here since we've actually been
sailing the majority of the time since we left as we continue to convoy with LaPalapa.
now just north of the northern most piracy attack in the last 4 months, and are feeling just slightly more confident about
the risk of piracy. With every passing mile, Somalia, motherships and skiffs loaded with pirates, AK47's
& RPG's are fading in the rear view mirror. After another 150 miles, we'll rest easier I think,
but this is a big step for us, and for the first time, we can take a deep breath.
it's back to sailing & seas. It has been a wild & rolly ride with high winds and fairly large
waves - a welcome change to the last month. If you can recall, we departed the Maldives almost exactly
1 month ago on 6 Feb, traveled about 2,500 miles and almost all of it motoring until yesterday! I've
been separated from Jane & the kids for 11 days now which seems like a lifetime and counting the hours til we are together
again. We expect to be in Sudan in 3 days now.
For Mike & I, our watches will become
more relaxed and our eyes won't be glued to the horizon 24/7 keeping an eye out for the bad guys. The
captain will even lift the reading ban during watch hour. Hopefully, once Jane & the kids return, our life at sea will
regain some 'normalcy' but after this past month, it may take a long while to get there.
Take care, and I can't thank you all enough for all your emails, assistance for me & Jane and your thoughts and
We'll continue to send updates on our progress, but my hope is that our reporting will become so
boring that you ask me to take you off our email lists!
Marc & Mike
6 March 2011
Our Current Position:
up the Red Sea, making fairly decent time. The wild winds have calmed since yesterday, but took a toll
on Imagine earlier yesterday doing a bit of damage to the mainsail.
news is we are 310 miles from Somalia, and we are feeling more and more comfortable that the majority of the piracy is behind,
leaving us to focus on sailing and winds. We'll still be vigilant as normal, but are relieved that
this drama is fading to our stern. This story won't end though until all our friends and yachts are
out of this region - by sail, or transport or via different route - we keep them all in our thoughts - especially for ING,
and the families of Quest.
Previously, I mentioned how our watch schedule would be a bit tougher without Kieran, but more relaxed
given where we are now. I was subtly reminded of this and I do need to comment (for folks back home especially) on two close
friends who have also made this passage ahead of us. Martin on S/V Anima & Jason on S/V Pegasus.
If you think this last month was difficult (it was) now imagine doing this on your own - without crew.
Sailing, dodging pirates, across 2,000+ miles by yourself trying to keep your head about you along the way.
I cannot imagine it, and really don't think I'd have it in me to do what Martin & Jason have just done.
Courageous or just crazier than me, congratulations to you both! Both Martin & Jason are working
their way north in the Red Sea where we all look forward to reuniting with family and friends. Next beers on me guys!
As for us, we'll sail as far north in the Red Sea as possible before the winds are expected to roar out of the north.
If we can, we'd like to make it to a small anchorage just north of Sudan in Egypt. We continue
on with LaPalapa and for the first time in a month, actually had our lights on last night! Once the north
winds abate, we'll push on into Port Ghalib where Jane & the kids will be waiting (I hope!) & I get to shave.
8 March 2011
Our Current Position:
Quick note from Imagine. We are continuing our progress north on the Red Sea.
Weather has calmed today and we are motoring in flat seas. At least we have a positive current at
the moment, and making good speed towards Egypt and NO dramas to report!!
We have heard from Jane, and she has flights
scheduled to meet us in Port Ghalib, Egypt for Saturday, and we are hoping that the weather will cooperate with us to allow
us to get there not too long after. Right now though, it looks like we will have to stop short - just 150-200
miles south and wait several days possibly before making it into Port Ghalib. So close, yet still so far
As you can imagine from both ends, we are looking forward to getting back together. It
has been way too long to be apart and way too stressful for all of us.
It has been pretty uneventful here for us
on the Red Sea - no fishing boats to watch for, and very little shipping traffic in our area. Last night
though, we had a US Aircraft carrier operating in the area. We got within 2 miles of the gigantic ship
and they were launching all kinds of jets & helicopters during the night. Very cool watching the lights
approach the carrier and disappear as they landed on the ship. We think they should be conducting their
exercises a little further south though....somewhere in the GoA, but we were excited to have the action. It
also prompted 2 Sudanese choppers to give us a flyby as I think they were monitoring what was going on just off their border.
Either that, or they were in on the exercises.
Right now, we are looking forward to setting the
hook somewhere soon, and getting a good nights rest.
Marc & Mike
March 8, 2011 – Muscat, Oman – Note from Jane
It has been 14 days since Marc, Mike, and Kieran
left the dock here in Muscat. Caroline, Grant, Noah, and I have been trying to enjoy this beautiful, modern
city although it has been difficult as my mind is always is occupied with worry for Marc and the crew.
It has been an incredibly stressful two weeks for all of us in the family, especially Marc. When I am
able to speak with him via sat phone, he sounds absolutely exhausted. The day after Marc left, we learned
of the horrible fate of the crew of Quest and a few days later we learned of the kidnapping of ING. I am
absolutely sickened by all of it. To think that there are teenage children now in the hands of pirates
fills me with rage for the pirates and fear for the family. We can only pray that they will be released
soon without physical harm.
Many people have asked me, “How are the kids really doing and what do they know?”
Our children, of course, know far more than any children should about pirates. And they know that
we are not funny like Johny Depp but do they truly understand the full scope of the danger? No and I am
very, very glad. They know that they are off of the boat because there are great risks and we were not
going to take those risks with them. They know that what Dad, Mike, and Kieran are doing right now is dangerous.
But they also have seen the map of the Indian Ocean and reviewed our route with them. We have explained
why we chose the route that we did so they know that we have done everything possible to be safe. They
also know that Quest and ING have been hijacked but they do not the ultimate fate of Quest. We will need
to tell them the truth but not until Marc is in safer waters.
now, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief as Marc is in the Red Sea. Although this area is not completely
free of risk. Marc will be updating the website as well with tales of the stress he has endured the
last two weeks. I will focus on our adventures in Oman.
Muscat, Oman proved to be the perfect place
for us to stay. There is much to do and the people have been friendly and helpful. It
is a very modern city with almost every convenience of US city, so it is almost impossible to imagine that only 40 years ago,
there was only one school and one medical center here. Due to a fear of communism invasion and religious
protection, the previous sultan had basically shut off the country to foreigners and development of any kind.
His Majesty, the Sultan Qaboos, assumed power from his father in 1970 and led a sort of renaissance transforming the
secluded, rural region into the contemporary county that it is today. They are very proud of their heritage
and seem to truly admire and respect the Sultan.
We have learned about the history and culture by
visiting the Sultan’s Armed Forces Museum and the Bait Baranda Museum. The kids loved the Children’s
Museum so much that we went there twice. The Muscat Festival with its carnival rides and many shows including
laser lights and acrobatics was also a lot of fun. But the biggest hit of all for the children was the
indoor ice skating rink. Who would’ve thought that our first time skating since Chicago would be
in the Middle East!!! What a sight – Omanis in traditional dress ice skating. As
I said, it is modern and has all of the modern American fast food so we had to get our fix of McDonald’s, KFC,
Pizza Hut (delivery actually), and Subway. Don’t worry, we had schwarmas, too (traditional food like
a gyro). They even get American movies here so we had to see “Big Momma – Like Father, like
son”. What’s funny in a movie theatre is that they actually cut words or scenes that they deem
obscene so even in Big Momma all of a sudden a scene would shift. With kids it’s actually nice to
watch TV and movies here, you don’t have to worry about sex or foul language.
Although not without a lot of stress and tears, in a certain sense, it was a vacation for the kids and me. But
it was definitely a “working vacation”. I spent hours on the phone and on websites every day.
My first priority was trying to find additional assistance and information for Marc and the crew out there.
I had several conversations with armed security companies both armed guards and armed escorts (that is definitely not
what I signed up for on this adventure), MARLO representatives, and Lt. Col Sullivan from the US Embassy trying desperately
to find more support. What I quickly realized is that there were no armed security teams or escorts available
and that we were already doing all that we could. Although, there are people tracking Imagine’s course
and there are many warships available, they really are out there on their own. If something happens, your
safety would rely on how close you just happen to be one of the patrolling ships. Although comforting that
they are there, it’s still far from safe.
I would like to mention that a company called
Solace Global Maritime did provide much insight and advice to us. Although they did not have a security
team available to assist, they did place Marc on their watch list for no charge.
After focusing on Marc and the crew’s safety, the priority became where will we meet them. In
speaking with US Embassy employees I learned quickly that Eritrea was a definite No Go as an Aussie yacht was taken
into custody there in Dec. Although Djibouti seemed safe, although not pleasant, from a land point of view,
it is just too close to the pirates for our comfort. Sudan was out of the question (not that I really wanted
to go there anyway) but they are very strict on VISA’s and no way could we get one on time. So it
appears that Egypt is the safest place for us to meet back up with Marc. Crazy, huh? Well,
at least the flights and hotels should be open and cheap.
circumstances, this would be a wonderful place to vacation. If any of you are interested in visiting the
Middle East, you should look at visiting Oman. Although modern and full of amenities, it still has the
traditional charms to get a real feel for the region.
While we were in Muscat, we were interviewed
for an article that appeared in the local paper. Click the icon below to view the aritcle.
10 March 2011 – Correspondence from Marc
We set the hook this morning at 8am local time (think it's 8 here) in Egypt! After
6 days of beating up the Red Sea, we had to pull into an anchorage to wait out a cold front that is blowing through from the
north. Wind of 30 knots on the nose & rough seas will keep us here for a bit until we can push the
last 120 miles to Marsa Alam (Port Ghalib) where we will meet Jane & the kids. Our buddy boat LaPalapa
decided to pull into an anchorage further south - beating into this crap wasn't of interest to Karli or Roger - can't
blame them, but my motivation is a bit different. So we'll look forward to reuniting in Port Ghalib
for that cocktail hour that we've been waiting on for so long!
So we are happy on the hook right now. Mike
has gone for a snorkel - the air is cool and crisp, & I'll wait on that for a while. Got a good
rest in this morning and not sure how long we'll sit out the weather here, but not too bad of a place to chill out.
We were greeted yesterday afternoon as we passed north of the Sudanese border into Egypt by an Egyptian Naval vessel who
called on us - actually several times, before we could understand they were actually hailing us. Language
barrier was a bit tough, but they were extremely nice & welcoming and offered any assistance. What
was interesting were the 2 massive missiles that were mounted on the back of the otherwise tiny patrol boat - these were huge
- I have no idea how they could actually launch them from this small boat. Mike got a couple of photos
before they asked not to take any pix. It was pretty cool though and after they circled us a few times,
they took up a position about 40 feet of our stern. I guess they get pretty bored out here.
So other than 20 knots on the nose and choppy seas, that was our excitement for the day.
One thing out of the last month and a half that we've got out of this trip is an impressive up-close & personal
display of naval firepower. Even cooler was the outreach by a crew aboard the USS Destroyer Bulkeley who
found our contact info from our webpage and sent us a note.(the Bulkeley was the warship we met at the beginning of the corridor
& who's commandos recently took back a MV from pirates)
All the best to everyone on the high seas ahead
of us and behind, at anchor, and at home!
Marc & Mike
12 March 2011
Quick note to update on our progress.
We finally made it to Port Ghalib, Egypt. Arriving this morning at 9:30am local time.
It was a long slow beat into rough seas and heavy wind - we even pulled out the storm jib which hasn't been used
since the Caribbean 1500 years ago, but Imagine pushed through it all in better form than her crew. But
that is now behind us, and we are in the process of clearing into Egypt with Customs & Immigrations.
This afternoon, Jane & the kids arrive from Oman & Imagine will be back to normal. At least for
Mike & I, we'll be looking forward to a day or two of rest before we head off to visit some of the treasures of Egypt.
Port Ghalib is a new port in Egypt and so far, everything looks great - even a proper fuel dock! We'll
update more later, but just wanted to let you know that all is good & looks like we'll be spending the better part
of the day rinsing the salt off Imagine that is caked on everywhere!
Marc & Mike &
soon to be the rest of the Crew!!!!
Thoughts about the month of February.
are the attacks YTD as of March 14, 2011, which includes the time while we were transiting.
The 2 Red spots below represent the approximate location of the attacks on Quest who left from Mumbai & ING who
left from the Maldives.
notice a number of attacks that occur along the coast of Oman. These appear closer to shore – in
fact, most are at least 30-50 miles offshore. When we sailed along the coast, we stayed within 12-15 miles
of the coast and most times closer. That being said, attacks had been occurring shortly after we had passed
through that area. We did receive a phone call from UKMTO reporting that a Pirate mother ship & skiffs
were in an area ahead of our position nearby Masirah Island off the coast of Oman at 20°14N. We altered
our course to attempt to stay clear, and fortunately saw no pirate activity as we passed. It was only 2
days after we passed that point that an attack had occurred approximately 20 miles from our course line.
Somali Pirate –
Somalia is a country of 9 million people with a literacy rate of 38%,
a life expectancy of 49.6 years, and no working government. It is an international embarrassment that the
world’s military powers have allowed these approx 2000 thugs to completely commandeer an entire ocean. It
is believed that the ransoms paid are in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year with total economic effects $7 –
12 billion. Not to mention the horror that the 600 hostages are enduring right now.
it time for the world to wake up and do something to actually resolve the issue, not just put a bandaid on it.
We are excited when we hear of a mother ships and pirates being captured by our military, but let’s face it a
Somali taken prisoner will have a life 1000 times better in our jails (with 3 meals a day and a clean mattress) than any life
they had in Somalia, so what is their downside? http://saveourseafarers.net/problem-of-piracy.html
EU NAVFOR forces responsibilities – http://www.eunavfor.eu/
EU NAVFOR acts in accordance with United Nations Security Councils resolutions.
EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation ATALANTA’s main tasks are to escort merchant vessels carrying humanitarian
aid of the World Food Program (WFP) and vessels of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Example of the INEFFECTIVENESS of EU NAVFOR
their website: “On 5th March, an EU NAVFOR aircraft and the EU NAVFOR French warship FS NIVOSE disrupted a suspected
pirate whaler off the Somali coast. The whaler was suspected of leading a Pirate Action Group (PAG) at the time of the
incident. On the
morning of 4th March, a merchant vessel reported being chased by one skiff about 350 Nautical Miles south of Mogadishu. In
response, the EU NAVFOR warship FS NIVOSE was immediately ordered to locate and disrupt the suspected PAG responsible for
the incident. In addition, the EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) was also dispatched to join
the hunt. The aircraft located the suspected PAG, consisting of a whaler-type open boat, soon after and guided the FS
NIVOSE to intercept. There were no attack skiffs found in the vicinity of the whaler. Upon finding the whaler, the FS
NIVOSE launched its helicopter which was forced to fire warning shots ahead of the vessel to force the suspected pirates to
stop. The crew of the whaler had already been filmed by the MPRA throwing equipment overboard.
The French warship launched its boarding team to intercept the whaler and 3 suspected pirates were found on board. Apart
from a large number of fuel barrels, no pirate related equipment was discovered. As there was
insufficient evidence to pursue a prosecution, the three suspected pirates were returned to the whaler.
Most of the fuel was confiscated but they were left with enough fuel, food and water to reach the Somali coast. This
disruption has hampered pirate action in the area and is assessed to have prevented attacks on merchant and other vulnerable
EUNAVFOR may have been a noble program in its day – providing food aid. Today
however, the facts are far different, and the EU Nations that still direct their Naval forces under this charter are wasting
their money and resources dealing with pirates in this manner. Until the forces are allowed to take an
aggressive stand against the piracy by taking out the motherships & skiffs before they enter open seas, or when they are
found, this threat will continue. Allowing pirates to freely return to Somalia is simply shocking.
United States Naval Forces & MARLO
We were in daily communication with MARLO via email
and phone, and had direct contact with several US Warships throughout our passage. In addition to our experience
with the US Naval presence, we have heard from other cruisers who also had high praise for the US Navy forces, as well as
the level of support we received from MARLO. Several of the US Warships in the area including the USS Bulkeley,
Mason, Enterprise, Leyte Gulf, Sterett and presuming several others who have been actively engaged throughout the region &
we are thankful for their presence and assistance. Recognition also goes to the Indian Navy for their active
role in taking out pirates & the Russians and South Koreans should have been praised not chastised for the use of force
against the pirates.
A special note of thanks to Chris Godier, LCDR, U.S. Navy. Executive
Officer Maritime Liaison Office. From our early decisions while we were in the Maldives, Chris has been
a resource for all cruisers – although constrained most of the time with the level of intel he could provide.
When we thought we were in trouble, I called from the Sat phone and Chris was there for us throughout the ordeal and
was responsible for getting the USS Mason to come to our assistance. Thanks again Chris, and look forward
to sharing those beers with you, somewhere, sometime!
UK Maritime Trade Organization - UKMTO &
Maritime Security Center – Horn of Africa MSCHOA
UKMTO was active in tracking & reporting of
all vessels in the region. We reported daily to UKMTO & MARLO. UKMTO is supposed
to be the first call in an emergency. It was our first call, and unfortunately, other than taking a position,
offered nothing. At one point along the coast of Oman, we were called on the sat phone by UKMTO and were
notified of suspicious activity along our intended route, and 2 days later, it is the scene of a piracy attack – they
have the intel, but unfortunately do not proactively take action on the intel. As for MSCHOA – I
have no idea why we were reporting to this agency – absolutely nothing came from MSCHOA.
The Internationally Recognized Transit Corridor ‘IRTC’ –
– a great idea. In practice – not all that effective. The coalition forces
are spread way too thin to act as a protection force or to react to suspicious vessels. We saw this
first hand on 2/28 – we relayed a report of a dhow towing a skiff in the IRTC to UKMTO & MARLO and nothing was done.
No helicopter, no warship, no plane was sent to investigate it! This shocking reality was one of
the reasons we diverted to Aden.
I always believed and still do, that a yacht is the easiest target
for a pirate, and that if a pirate came across us, they would attempt to hijack us. Unfortunately, the
ransoms paid for other cruisers, make us just as profitable to a Somali, and I think we would be a hell of a lot easier for
them to handle.
Sailing Convoys –
We convoyed with 1 or 2 other yachts the entire
way. Other than the comfort of having someone close by, I feel strongly that it is NO deterrent to a Somali
pirate. Even if they came across a convoy of 10 yachts, I believe 10 yachts would be in as much danger
as a single yacht.
We will preface this section by acknowledging that we really aren’t
“rally people”. But truly in this situation we saw little value in the rallies - note
that a convoy is far different than a rally. The rallys were no better informed and in many cases, rally
members over-relied on the organizers when it came to the safety and planning for this passage. The
only rally that we were impressed with was the Vasco da Gama. The cruisers and the coordinator of the group
were welcoming and helpful & most importantly, they all stuck together and helped each other throughout.
So if you are “rally people” this would be the only Asia to Med option that we would even consider.
Private Armed Security Guards and Escorts –
We knew very little about
the private security firms that were available to either provide armed escort boats to accompany a boat or armed security
guards on board. When Jane was on land she gained insight into these companies through the US Embassy and
our friend, Scott Witte who is a former Marine. Unfortunately for us, none of the companies had vessels
or guards available at the time we needed them. Although it is not cheap, for those cruisers who are planning
for an Indian Ocean passage, you may want to seriously look at this option. The companies that Jane spoke
with were Solace Global Maritime and PVI Limited.
Military Escorts –
were informed explicitly that this was not available to ANY vessels transiting the area. No military escorts
or convoys were organized. In reality, we saw no less than 4 military escorts in and around the IRTC!
Each escort had at least one warship and most had two that were accompanying generally 8-12 merchant vessels.
When asked specifically about these convoys to MARLO or UKMTO, they denied that these were taking place.
The question of course is WHY these escorts were not made available to the more vulnerable yachts that are transiting the
Armed or not – The ultimate question.
If we could
have armed ourselves in some way, I would have. Especially after the result of ‘Quest’ –
I was prepared to defend myself to the end. Again, going to Somalia was not an option I was willing to
consider. We were prepared with what little defenses we had to prevent a boarding. Firing
back during a pirate attack appears now to be the only deterrent that pirates react to. This comment will
trigger a lot of debate among cruisers as it always has, but for this cruiser – I would have liked to have some sort
of self protection of a weapon on board. Would I have fired warning shots on those fishing boats off the
coast of India?? I hope not. But the reality, as easy as it is to talk about it, in
reality, obtaining weapons is a very difficult thing to do.
So Why Do Cruisers Take This Route
We realize that there are a lot of arm chair quarterbacks
out there wondering why in the heck someone would actually sail through this body of water and for recreation. I very stupidly, read the many blogger comments
regarding this after the hijacking of Quest. As with all of the decisions regarding this passage, each
Captain and crew had their own reasons but we will try to list a few.
1. At the time that we were in Uligan there was no
opportunity for transport. Even if there was, for many cruisers the 35K pricetag would have been too costly.
For most cruisers, this may be more than their whole cruising budget for a year.
2. For our friends from Europe, this was their only
way to get home. The only other option would have been to stay another year in Asia or attempt to sell
their boat. Many did not have the money to extend their trip another year.
others, they felt that the risks were overblown and believed, wholeheartedly, that yachts would not be of interest to the
Some felt that the safety
of a convoy was enough to get them through the scariest waters. On contrast, many others believed that
the best approach was to go alone, fast, and stealthy. It is a vast ocean out there and what are the chances
that a pirate is going to come across us.
5. There were also those that just didn’t know
or want to know the increased danger in the Indian Ocean…..the head in the sand approach.
And I can’t say
anyone was so bold as to think they were invincible or immune to the dangers, but there were a few who either concealed their
fears better than I or they were far braver than me.
Knowing what we know now, would we do it
again? NO, of course not, you’d have to have rocks in your head to do what we just did.
But we say that now sitting here in the ‘safety’ of Egypt knowing with certainty that pirates DO attack
yachts and that the attacks continue to increase daily. But knowing what we did in Uligan, we probably
would still have done the passage similarly. We still liked our course along the coasts of India, Pakistan
& Oman, but in hindsight Marc would now have continued along the coast of Yemen instead of using the IRTC.
However, if the option of a transport was available before we left the Maldives, I think that it would be very likely
that we would have enjoyed a couple of months in the Maldives and happily paid the $35 grand to put Imagine on the ship.
Finally, A note of thanks to a few folks who were incredibly helpful to both Marc & Jane
over the last couple of months.
We were without internet for most of the
time in the Maldives and the entire time on our long passages. We had many friends and family who offered
assistance to research everything from hotels, travels destinations, flights, marinas, piracy attack reports, military assistance,
arms acquisition, and anything else that you can think imagine. Thanks to Mark Lynch, Chuck Peruchini,
Julie Hettenbach, Martha Paczosa, Michele Adams, Seth Hynes, and Scott Witte (our Military liaison).
Michele Kilgore. Thanks for all your prayers and daily emails. The church must certainly
have run out of candles over the past month.
Thanks to the members of the US Embassy in
Muscat who assisted us during our visit. Marcy Brown, Lt. Col Ed Sullivan, and Tracey Thornton answered
an email that I sent after we decided to stay in Muscat. They all provided much information including contacts
for armed security agencies, direct phone numbers to almost every US embassy in the Middle East, and even invited us to school
activities and neighborhood pizza parties. Their assistance and friendship to us went above and beyond
their jobs. I hope that any American faced with a similar situation will be given as much assistance.
They made a very difficult situation much easier.
To all our family and friends who have called
and emailed us over the last month with your assistance notes and updates. Thank you!
Finally, the biggest thanks goes to our guest Crew members of Imagine:
Mike Felner – Mike joined Imagine in
Sri Lanka and has been with us through to this point.
Kieran Dooley – Kieran joined Imagine
in Muscat, Oman where Jane and the kids waited till we arrived in safer waters. Thanks Kieran for your
patience and multiple flight changes and for sticking with us!