February 29, 2000

 Our tranquillity was shattered.  We escalated from calm to tension instantly. 

 At 20:30 we had finished dinner,  Charlie had come down from the cockpit with some dishes and was adjusting the radar.  He said, "I only see four boats." Jeannette was washing up and I was trying to decide which movie I wanted to watch.  Suddenly there was a bump, a scrape, and  as I looked up the first thing I saw was an eerie green glow in the cockpit.  Charlie rushed up the companionway and found the bow sprit and anchor of Pimalo pounding the side and stern of  Sea Gem.  The crew aboard Pimalo was below calmly having dinner.  They did not anticipate that our speed would change after we took down our MPS sail for the night.  They were gliding along on auto pilot when they plowed into our stern. Things became frantic as Charlie fended off the bow of Pimalo and yelled, "Bear off, bear off."  I cranked both engines and put them in gear to put some distance between ourselves and Pimalo.  As we separated the boats Charlie immediately began to assess damage.  Fortunately the blow had not released our "JON BUOY" or man overboard module.  That item is the size of a small overnight case, yet packed within are hopes for survival, if one of us should go overboard.  The price tag of that bit of insurance is about $1,000.00.  The damage to Sea Gem is mostly cosmetic.  There are some deep scratched in the fiberglass on the side, a porthole screen is bent,  molding was ripped off and some of the wood railings are damaged.  Getting the right talent to do the repair work will be the major challenge.  We will look to the facilities in the Mediterranean for repairs.

 Ern, our friend and the captain of Pimalo was crushed.  Charlie did his best to reassure him that, "Accidents happen, and that this incident will serve to make us all more vigilant."  It is a little like "friendly fire" during wartime.  We worry so much about the dangers "out there" that we minimize the dangers close at hand.  Traveling in convoy has been both a comfort and nerve racking.  The boats travel at different speeds and we split into two groups on March 1.  The boat, Santana, which had joined us after sailing alone from Cochin, made number six for our fleet.  Santana has had engine trouble and three  boats are also low on fuel.  After mulling over the options it was the consensus to split into two groups.  We did transfer two jerry jugs of diesel to Pimalo, and later Charlie and Jeannette drew off another two jugs for Que Sera.  Getting the fuel out of  the Sea Gem tanks was a hot, back breaking job as it had to be done in the engine room through one of the small hoses.  The transfer was slick though.  Charlie transferred the cans by tying them to a long line and trailing them while the other boat pulled up and picked them up with a boat hook.

Empty cans are easier than full ones, but the transfer both ways went without a hitch. 

Sea Gem, Pimalo and Prince Karl have headed straight for Djibouti and Santana, Que Sera, Sera, and Stampede will stop in Mukalla to get fuel and to get the necessary Band-Aid type repairs to Santana so that they can continue on to Djibouti.  Another of the Millennium Odyssey boats was already in Mukalla with two other yachts.  They will travel in company to Djibouti.

March 1, 2000

 We got word from Rally Control that a suspicious boat tried to stop one of our fleet, Nori, that was near  Djibouti.  They put out a distress call and the other two boats, traveling in company with Nori, Aventerero and Foxy Lady, rushed to assist, and the threatening boat took off.  The French Navy dispatched helicopters right away.  They are also providing a presence near our boats so that pirates will think twice before molesting  any of us.  Piracy is a real threat in this part of the world.  The victims are usually large commercial ships with small crews.  Most of the pirates board from the stern under the cover of darkness.  Usually they use small fast boats and take crew member's hostage while they rob the ship of valuables.  Usually there are no injuries and no loss of life but when thugs are brandishing knives or guns that is enough.

There is an international anti piracy agency established in Malaysia, on duty twenty-four hours a day, and all incidents are reported there.  We get daily reports over our mobile communication system of the current piracy incidents.  We knew this leg was going to be nerve racking and are looking forward to pulling into port.

 We have had almost no wind for most of this passage and the water is as calm as a lake.  We are getting into some traffic now and with that and the concern for piracy it has made this part of the trip a little more tense than usual.  We are getting some boat chores done before we reach port with the calm seas so that will make it nicer when we arrive.  Jeannette has done a lot of polishing and the boat is in pretty good shape considering how long we have been out.  We will do more cabinet cleaning tomorrow and get the refrigerator ready for the new stock of food to prepare for the long passage up the Red Sea.

 Our bread machine bit the dust but I have found that I really enjoy doing the bread by hand and it doesn't require running the generator as long.  We also deep sixed the ice cream freezer.  Maybe you are not supposed to make ice cream at sea.  Until later . . . from Sea Gem in the Gulf of Aden.