Originally Posted by Laidback
Update - in recent times attacks are made by as many as 5 fast moving skiffs - the difference is that they now are carrying RPGs and will use them. A sail boat doing hull speed
of 8 knots at the best has very little chance against heavily armed boats doing 25 knots
is rather the exception compared to what happens elsewhere, such as the few incidents in the Americas, such as off of Venezuela
. I'd just rather avoid the East Africa
area altogether until the situation gets cleaned up.
As for a sailboat doing 8 knots vs a boat doing 25 knots, the speed difference is irrelevant if the faster boat cannot board the slower boat and/or faces an unacceptable risk to do so. It's the wolf vs the porcupine.
OK, had my wires crossed on the incident details with the Gandalf and the Madhi, looked it up on the web and here it is.
12ga shotgun vs. 2 boats of Pirates
Rodney J. Nowlin, USN Retire March 11, 2005
Posted on 3/20/2005 7:22:16 AM
"We are safe in port of Aden. It‚s been 3 days repairing the damage. 30 bullets holes in deck
, and alas, newly varnished mast
. Our bow shows evidence of a satisfying crunch. Our new paint
job was not meant to be. Dinghy
was seriously wounded but in stable condition, much repatched. No wine was hurt.
This is the „official‰ report filed with the Yemen Coast Guard, Yemen Navy
, Aden Port Control, US Coalition 5th Fleet, US Embassy and State Department? but not Carol‚s mother. Unfortunately, the poor guy that shoots has to write up the paper work. The one that rams does not engender any paper-work, except sand paper work.
March 11, 2005, written by Rodney J. Nowlin, USN Retired Pirate Attack off Yemen Coast
On Tuesday, March 8, 2005 at position 13 Degrees 28 North / 49 Degrees 07 East, in the infamous Pirate Alley of the Gulf of Aden, two sailing yachts, Madhi and Gandalf, were moving SW 30 miles off the coast of Yemen proceeding to the port of Aden from Salalah, Oman.
At about 0900 local, two outboard
longboats, about 20 feet long, each containing 3 men
, passed off our sterns moving south at about 25 knots into the open Gulf between Yemen and Somalia
. An hour later they returned, one coming quite close and looking us over carefully. The second boat passed off our bows but quite a ways away. These boats were obviously not engaged in a normal activity like fishing
. At that time we were south of Al Mukalla, Yemen. The area around Al Mukalla is well documented as being a piracy
, drug & people smuggling problem area and we maintained a careful watch for anything out of the ordinary.
At about 1600 we observed two different boats approaching us head
on from the west with the glare of the sunset in our eyes. These were 25-30 feet long, had inboard diesel
engines and higher freeboard. We immediately motored closer together. As soon as they saw us close ranks they started coming very fast directly at us. There were 4 men
in each boat. They separated at about 200 yards with one boat coming down Madhi‚s port side, shouting and firing into the cockpit
. The other boat, firing automatic weapons came at Gandalf. There were no warning shots. Carol on Gandalf began sending Maydays on every frequency.
The first boat swung around behind Mahdi‚s stern to come up and board us. At that point, I , Rod Nowlin aboard Mahdi and armed with a 12 gauge shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot, started shooting into their boat. I forced them to keep their heads down so they could not shoot at us. I am not sure I hit anyone at that point. I could see the driver of the boat crouched down behind the steering
console. After firing three shots at them, their engine
started to smoke and I swung around to try to shoot at the second boat ahead. At that point I saw Jay Barry on Gandalf ram the second boat amidships almost cutting it in two and turning it almost completely over. I turned back around to shoot at the boat still behind Mahdi. That was when they turned away from Mahdi and headed toward the stern of Gandalf. Gandalf was beside us about 100 feet away. The bow of the pirate boat came right up against Gandalf‚s stern and two men stood up on the bow with guns to board Gandalf. That was a serious and probably fateful error on their part. I shot both of them. That boat then veered away and I shot the driver, although I am not sure of the outcome because they were farther away and I didn‚t knock him down like the other two trying to board Gandalf.
Mahdi & Gandalf kept going at full speed to put as much distance between the pirates and us as possible. As soon as we were out of rifle range, we looked back and both attack boats were drifting and seemed to be disabled.
A merchant ship nearby finally answered our Mayday and diverted course to position itself between the floundering pirates and the fleeing yachts. They said they would contact the authorities‚ by Sat phone
and then sailed alongside us for 4 hours after dark to make sure we would be all right. Best speed was made to the Port of Aden 180 miles away.
If Jay on Gandalf had not had the presence of mind to veer over into one boat and ram it, the outcome of this attack would have been totally different. All the guys needed to do was stand off a ways and shoot us to pieces with automatic weapons. We were extremely lucky. We broadcast Mayday calls on VHF
16 and all HF radio
frequencies, including two HF frequencies that were supplied by the US Coast Guard near Oman only a few days before. Frequencies which the Coalition Forces Warships in this area were supposed to be monitoring. There was no response. The pirates were well organized and well armed. There were at least 4 boats involved. They had set up a picket line out from the Yemen coast probably covering 75 miles out, so if you transited the area during the day they would not miss seeing you. The two attack boats appeared to have come from the south before positioning themselves ahead of us in the sunset.
There has been speculation in the past that this ongoing piracy
problem off Yemen‚s coast was being carried out by Somali pirates. Given the number, the types of boats involved, and the direction the supposed spotter boats were coming from, this does not appear to be the case. The men in the attack boats looked both African and Arab.
There was no evidence that this was a people smuggling operation. There were no men, women or children
cowering in the boats. These were not fishing
boats with nets or overhead sun protection. They appeared to be purpose-built boats, 25-30 feet long, with wooden splines or poles fashioned above the gunwales to which a plastic tarp or shield was hung chest high for the men to hide behind after shooting. The problem is getting worse and the pirate attacks are getting deadly. One could only expect that the Yemen Government
will take more direct action At very least, allow yachts to group in Salalah, Oman and at some point along the NW Yemen coast request an escort until Aden or the Straits.