Voyage 19

Malé, Maldives to Djibouti
March 24 – April 9, 2018

Day 1 – Saturday, March 24, 2018

maldives_djiboutitnI’ve been anchored at Malé for a little over a week.  This was a nice stop.  The Maldives are beautiful and it was great to be on land after more than 4 weeks at sea.  My next voyage is shaping up to be a long one, although not quite as long as my sail from Darwin, Australia.

I am not looking forward to sailing past Somalia and traveling the Red Sea.  This is, however, all part of the adventure and it is necessary for me to get to the Mediterranean Sea, which is where I am headed.

Tahiti Dream is provisioned about as well as can be expected after my stay in Malé.  It was nice to get fresh fruits and vegetables again.  I have a supply that will last me the first week of this sail.  I expect that this trip will take between 3 and 4 weeks, depending on the prevailing winds.  I took on a supply of dried fruit, so perhaps that will make this long passage a little more bearable.

At about 11:00 AM local time, I raised anchor and set the sails.  I headed west and expected to be west of the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean, in about 6 hours or so.  The wind is out of the north-northeast, so my sail will be on the close reach and will probably be that way for several days until I get a few hundred miles to the northwest.

The rest of the day was peaceful.  The sky was clear.  It was a good start to my current voyage.

Day 2 – Sunday, March 25, 2018

03/25/2017 0145 UTC – 4º 49.09′ N 71º 43.46′ E

At 6:45 AM, it was a beautiful sunrise.  I was already up because there was a Mariners Spring Training game on.  The wind was very calm this morning, at only about 4 knots.  There are stronger winds ahead, but it’s going to take me a while to get into them.  For now, I’m enjoying calm seas, perfect weather and the Mariners playing the Chicago Cubs.

Day 3 – Monday, March 26, 2018

03/26/2018 0119 UTC – 5º 58.23′ N 69º 52.53′ E

During the past 24 hours, the wind has been mostly light.  It kicked up to almost 10 knots for a few hours, but it’s mostly around 5 knots now.  The wind direction moved to northeast, which allowed me to set the helm on a direct course.

My plan is to aim for a point northeast of the island of Socotra, then turn west-southwest and sail mid-way between Somalia and Yemen.  That’s not the most hospitable part of the world and I hope to stay equal distance from both shores.  I will sail direct toward Djibouti, then turn northwest, through the Bab al-Mandab Strait, and into the Red Sea.  I still have about a week of sailing before I reach the Gulf of Aden.  In the meantime, the weather is beautiful and it is an easy sail.

Day 4 – Tuesday, March 27, 2018

03/27/2018 0139 UTC – 6º 58.49′ N 68º 9.74′ E

My crossing of the Arabian Sea is taking longer than I had planned because the wind has been so light.  For most of last night, the winds were no more than 6 knots and it looks like today’s forecast is for the same.  The sea is calm and I had some dolphins following along with me for a time.

While I was checking weather forecasts today, it occurred to me that making a stop before Suez would be the way to go.  Once I get into the Red Sea, I will still have about 800 nm to sail.  I decided that I will make a stop in Djibouti.  I researched this port and decided that it would be a hospitable port of call.  I should be able to pick up a few fresh provisions before I begin my transit of the Red Sea.

Day 5 – Wednesday, March 28, 2018

03/28/2018 0245 UTC – 7º 39.04′ N 66º 37.64′ E

I lost another hour overnight.  My ship time is now only 4 hours ahead of UTC.  At a little before 7:00 AM, I was looking forward to another peaceful day at sea.  I had dolphins with me again this morning.  Other than the dolphins, it’s just me and the ocean.

The weather forecast should be interesting in a few days, not in a stormy way, but in a calm way.  I am expecting very calm winds between my current location and the Gulf of Aden in about 3 days.  I decided to turn a few degrees to the west because it looks like I will have better winds if I stay farther south of a direct course.  The weather is basically a gamble because the forecast does not always end up being what I see as a result.

I passed another milestone overnight.  I have sailed over 20,000 nm since I left Washington State last July.  It is hard to believe that I have been gone for 9 months.

Day 6 – Thursday, March 29, 2018

03/29/2018 0339 UTC – 8º 32.21′ N 64º 50.96′ E

Today, the wind has increased to around 9 knots, which means my boat speed is up to 5-6 knots.  It’s not fast, but it is faster than I have sailed for the past 2 days.  During the past 24 hours, I have sailed just about 120 nm.  The 24 hours before that, I barely made 100 nm.  Since a good day is usually about 160 nm, I am definitely lagging behind a good day as far as distance.

It is another beautiful day, although it is quite warm.  The air temperature is 84ºF and the water temperature is about the same.  It would be more comfortable if there was more wind.  The wind forecast is for decreasing winds over the next 2 days, then the wind is going to pick up and push me right toward the Gulf of Aden.  At least it looks like my course is just about right.

Day 7 – Friday, March 30, 2018

03/30/2018 0515 UTC – 9º 8.39′ N 62º 40.79′ E

The wind picked up some today, but it’s still not very strong.  My distance traveled in the past 24 hours was only about 135 nm.  The weather continues to be very mild.  I had dolphins swimming with me again today and I spotted a whale of the starboard beam.  It was the first whale I’ve seen since I have been sailing Tahiti Dream.  The weather forecast says my current course is still good.  I am headed to 10º N 60º E and then I should be able to sail north-northwest toward Socotra Island.

Day 8 – Saturday, March 31, 2018

03/31/2018 0321 UTC – 9º 30.48′ N 61º 14.8′ E

The wind is all but gone this morning.  My boat speed is 3-4 knots and the wind isn’t much more.  The weather forecast says that the wind should pick up this afternoon.  This part of the trip is slow-going.  As warm as it is right now, a bit more wind would make it more comfortable, and it would give me more speed.

Day 9 – Sunday, April 1, 2018

04/01/2018 0120 UTC – 10º 3.71′ N 59º 42.78′ E

I was up early this morning because, at about 5:30 AM, the wind was only a light breeze.  Overnight, the wind dropped and the wind speed is right around 2 knots, which is barely my boat speed.  Last night, the wind was up as high as 7 knots at times.  During the past 24 hours, I have traveled only 98 nm.  There is something very serene about being on a vast ocean when there is no wind.  It’s like being on a huge lake.  The temperature is 80ºF right now.  With the lack of wind, it is a bit warm.

I checked the wind forecast and I should see the wind increase this evening.  In about 12 hours, the wind should pick up and start blowing toward Socotra Island.  I had originally plotted my course to pass the east side of Socotra, then sail west toward Djibouti.  The wind maps show a wind shadow on the north side of the island, which would be good to avoid.  I adjusted my course plot to pass close to the southwest coast of Socotra.  Once I get closer, I should have some strong winds all the way to Djibouti.

Day 10 – Monday, April 2, 2018

04/02/2018 0530 UTC – 10º 30.44′ N 58º 30.73′ E

The wind continues to be almost non-existent.  This morning, it has come up some, but it is still mostly under 5 knots.  In the past 28 hours, I have traveled 76 nm.  These extremely calm conditions are very peaceful, but I am in need of some wind.  Within the next few hours, I expect the wind to finally pick up some.  I hope the forecast is right.

Day 11 – Tuesday, April 3, 2018

04/03/2018 0509 UTC – 11º 13.13′ N 56º 40.34′ E

As was forecast, the wind finally picked up.  This morning, I awoke to wind at 7-8 knots.  I didn’t make great progress over night, but 118 nm for the past 24 hours is much better than what my speed has been for the past several days.  I am now less than 200 nm from Socotra.  I should arrive there tomorrow evening.

Day 12 – Wednesday, April 4, 2018

04/04/2018 0322 UTC – 11º 56.04′ N 54º 43.89′ E

The wind continues to blow at a little under 10 knots.  I traveled about 125 nm during the past 22 hours, which is quite respectable.  I am now less than 60 nm from Socotra.  Depending on the weather and when I reach the island, I am considering dropping anchor and staying one night at anchor, just as a breather.  My research suggests there isn’t much to see on the island, but it would be nice to have one quiet night, then I can push on toward Djibouti.  I will make a decision this evening when I reach Socotra.

At about 7:00 PM, I was off the southwest coast of Socotra.  I was ready for a break after having been at sea for almost 2 weeks.  I found an area that was shallow enough to drop anchor.  Once the sails and anchor were secured, I went below for the night.

Day 13 – Thursday, April 5, 2018

04/05/2018 0534 UTC – 12º 20.47′ N 53º 30.56′ E

I awoke to calm winds and beautiful weather.  At about 8:30 AM, I raised the sails and the anchor and continued on my voyage to Djibouti.  I felt very rested after having spent last night at anchor.  The GPS reports that I have just about 620 nm before I reach Djibouti.  After the distance I’ve traveled across the Arabian Sea, what I have left should be a walk in the park.

Day 14 – Friday, April 6, 2018

04/06/2018 0303 UTC – 12º 54.3′ N 51º 16.84′ E

I awoke to a welcomed sight this morning.  The wind was blowing over 15 knots, the swells were at about 5 feet with some whitecaps, and my boat speed was a good 8 knots.  During the past 24 hours, I’ve traveled about 135 nm.  I could tell during the night that the wind had increased because the boat was moving around more than it has been during the past 2 weeks.

I am about 60 nm north of the northwest peninsula of Somalia.  If I were sailing this route IRL, I would probably not be sailing as close to the coast of Somalia as I am.  Since I don’t have to worry about pirates in the simulator, I’m taking advantage of a shorter sailing route.

My GPS reports that I have about 480 nm to Djibouti.  At my current speed, I expect that I will arrive there sometime on Monday.

Day 15 – Saturday, April 7, 2018

04/07/2018 0411 UTC – 12º 57.15′ N 48º 34.75′ E

The increased wind speed continued for most of the day yesterday, dropped a bit in the early evening, then picked up over night.  In the past 24 hours, I traveled 159 nm, which is a good 24-hour distance for this boat.

I am now squarely in the middle of the Gulf of Aden, between Somalia and Yemen, headed west-southwest bound, about 300 nm from Djibouti.  I continue to be on-track for arrival on Monday.

Day 16 – Sunday, April 8, 2018

04/08/2018 0500 UTC – 12º 15.22′ N 45º 41.17′ E

This morning, the winds continue to be strong giving me a fast downwind sail.  The wind speed is generally 15-20 knots and my boat speed is 7-8 knots.  In the past 24 hours, I traveled 175 nm.  That is a very good one-day distance for this boat.  I have 155 nm to go, which I expect to cover by tomorrow morning.  Two and a half to 3 weeks is a good sail, but I’m looking forward to some fresh produce, if I can find it.  The forecast is for the wind to stay strong all the way into Djibouti.

Day 17 – Monday, April 9, 2018

04/09/2018 0432 UTC – 11º 44.11′ N 43º 31.69′ E

I awoke this morning to the sight of a beautiful sunrise.  I am 23 nm off the coast of Djibouti.  As I have gotten closer to Djibouti, the wind has died off quite a bit.  The wind is 5-8 knots right now, mostly on the lower end.  My boat speed is less than 4 knots, which means it’s going to take me a while to traverse the 23 nm I have left.  The GPS says I have about 7 hours of sailing left.  It looks like I will arrive in port at about 3:00 PM this afternoon.  For now, I will just enjoy the smooth seas and the few dolphins, who are following me.

At about 4:15 PM, I dropped anchor in the harbor at Djibouti.  I have enough daylight to head ashore.  I plan to spend about a week here restocking my supplies.  I will also be planning my transit of the Red Sea, on my way to Suez, Egypt, my next port-of-call.

04/09/2018 1316 UTC – 11º 36.32′ N 43º 7.95′ E