23 February 2009


Hey all.

As some of you may know, I carry a device known as a SPOT Satellite Messenger, which I try to occasionally use. This nifty piece of equipment speaks to some bastard offspring of the Sputnik, and then sends a link to some people via email containing a prespecified message and a link via google maps to exactly where the hell I am. Pretty cool, eh? Now, if you have never received one of these messages, it is not that I don't like you, which I would never admit, but rather that there are a limited number of email addresses that one can enter. But I have found a solution: follow this link http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=08ZgK5bfLvaB0DqS9rgHdKt8KXnWqZ4qq by carefully typing it into your address bar. A pain in the ass, I know, but there might be an easier way, I am sure. This will, theoretically, contain all of the messages that I send from this point on, and seems a pretty cool option. Check it out, I will send an initial message when I return to the boat.

Ah, the boat. My new home, a Southerly 135 named Mistral, is a nice piece of equipment, not the least by comparative standards. It is very roomy, seemingly seaworthy, and well laid out. I inhabit the forepeak, which could prove interesting with my slight propensity towards the sea womits, but the seas around here aren't all that bad, so it should be fine. Lodewijk (Lo) is the leader of the Vasco da Gama Rally http://www.vascodagamarally.nl/ and is quite the character, exemplifying everything I like about goofy Dutch people. The dog, Hugo, a Welsh Terrier, is also quite nice and goofy, and is overall a pleasure to have aboard. And though two people on a boat may seem a bit boring to most, being the head of a rally with over 30 participating boats gives plenty of opportunities for people to stop by with questions and such.

Hey, they say second time is the charm, right?

18 February 2009

Back to the Muscat


Normally I use Microsoft Word to pre-type my blogs in order to do basic spelling checks, but the computer I am on had Word hooked up for Asian language script and I am unable to do this service. I'm sure you can all cope.

Anyways, I am back in Oman to re-begin sailing the Gulf of Aden. We didn't see any pirates the first time around, so maybe we'll get lucky this time, inshahallah. (Inshahallah means "by the grace of god" or something, but is typically translated simply as "hopefully") This time, however, I am taking a small travel break and staying in the only one star hotel in Oman, which was nice enough to supply a bucket so that I could do laundry. Oman is such a clean place anyways (compared to Yemen at least, the dumpster of the Arabian peninsula...) that even the dirtiest of hotels are kept to a dull sheen by the hoardes of Indian workers here.

Which brings me to my main travel tip, for those of you wacky enough to go to an alcohol free desert country: learn the language, or at least key phrases so that it at least seems like you are trying. Arabic is quite difficult, so while this may seem prohibitive, one need not worry, for Arabic is in truth a tertiary language here. English comes in second, due to the vast number of white people that I have seen in the last day, but Malayalam, the language of Kerala in India, is by far the most widely spoken language, which makes sense when one observes that every single shop and hotel is manned entirely by Keralites. (Ok, just go to en.wikipedia.org and look this stuff up, it will be a good lesson in both geography and population density.) So while I have got a couple key Arabic phrases down, I am not abandoning this pursuit and trying to learn some basic Malayalam, which so far has proved worthwhile. At least I think so, as the guy at the coffee shop didn't spit in my avacado milkshake. (I had to try it, and you should as well.)

I leave for Salalah in a few days. On a more somber note, the crew of Minstral has been reduced by one...Lloyd the dog died today after an illness, before I ever got to meet him. Have a beer for him.

08 February 2009

I am leaving the Eldemer

The Eldemer suffered a variety of breakdowns and failures on the trip from Salalah to Aden, and combined with the inability of the 6 hp engine to move the boat to windward, I have made the decision to leave the boat. Not that this is a problem, as the boat will not be leaving Aden for quite some time, at least until the SW monsoon starts, and favorable west winds kick in for the return trip to India. The fate of the boat once there is uncertain.

I will help Rad with any work involved in securing the boat for long term storage, then leave. I have been offered a berth on board the Mistral, a monohull owned by one Lo Brust, the organizer of the Vasco de Gama Rally, which will be coming through the area in the next couple weeks. Depending on the timetable for Eldemer work, I will either meet the boat here or return to Salalah to join up with the boat and face the pirates again. Either way, I will be able to continue north through the Red Sea, and end up in Turkey in early May. What happens from there is up in the air.

"And remember, when you come to a fork in the road, take it." - Warren Miller

Oh yeah there will be four total on the boat: Myself, Lo, Lloyd and Yugo, the former two being human and the latter two being canine. Huzzah!