Well, you’ll be pleased to know that we’re still here 🙂 Our 4th day at sea and one more to go before we reach Aqaba. We paralleled the coast of Oman, heading for the IRTC and the route towards the Bab-el-Mandeb, or the “Gate of Tears”, the narrow choke-point straits through which all the ship-traffic from and to the Suez Canal has to pass. The navigable section is on 4 miles wide, I know that seems quite wide, however in ‘ship’ terms it’s not. About 1½ miles if its width are for northbound ships and another 1½ miles is kept for southbound, the remaining 1 mile is the ‘separation zone’ a sort of median in the centre.
We have of course been in the High Risk Area since we left Muscat and whilst we had no incidents, we did have one or two small fishing boats, towing small skiffs which momentarily gave us cause for concern. They never came too close, probably because they know that some of the slower, lower ships carry armed guards and they were there to fish, not to get shot at. We had adjusted our speed after leaving Muscat, to ensure we went through the Bab during daylight, night-time is when things start happening off Yemen, warships moving in and heaven knows what. As it was, we saw a preponderance of warships this transit, Indian, American, Saudi Arabian and (yeah!) Brits. They were seen in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden and I have to admit, i got that “warm, fuzzy” feeling again, just seeing them.
15 miles before going through the Bab, we increased speed and our baby shot through at 24 knots, (with a bit to spare). We were overtaking everything, as if they were standing still and then, late in the afternoon and out of Yemeni waters, we reduced speed, (little 🙂 ). In the evening, having passed 15°N latitude, we passed out of the HRA, for another year at least. So, a few photos, some taken with a 600mm telephoto, you will see why….