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La Palapa sails on
Somalia in the rear view mirror
03/02/2011, Aden, Yemen

well we made it to aden, aborted trip to djubuti last night because i was not happy with the pirate situation the last two days.

fyi, we will not be leaving the boat, just getting fuel and getting out of here today (or in two days if the fuel dock closes).

more on the decision making process, but i owe larry a beer for his "go with your gut recommendation" it was a hard sell to get imagine to come off the Djibouti program even after we realized things where not as advertised in the IRTC.

will add more detail after nap/fuel/underway.

we still had a great sunset last night!

cheers, roger

our new best friend US WARSHIP 87
03/01/2011, another day in the IRTC

so we where a bit disappointed that our convey partner, now know as cobra 8 blew us off completely for happy hour. karli and i sat there for about 30 minutes patiently waiting game set up and drink in hand until we looked over and saw all kinds of sail commotion on deck of our convey buddy. apparently they had decided to focus on sailing and not happy hour. we gave them a bit of a hard time about how this might be the reason their previous convoy abandoned them and how we might need to look for a new long term convey partner. it was all in good fun and as it turned out they redeemed them selves later on.

we had a great dinner of grilled bangers and mash and peas complete with ausi bbq sauce. one of our best dinners yet. before dinner and our aborted happy hour we also had another great flyover. i got a great picture and the key it turns out it for karli to be topless and wave at the pilots, it really brings the helos in close and ensures we will get repeat visits, i dont know why i did not think of this earlier. this was great because somewhere along the way our friend EU WARSHIP F576 had to run of to investigate some other suspicious contact so we wanted to encourage as many flyovers as possible.

i was supposed to do a work call at midnight when i came on watch but decided to put it off until we hit land. i did some emails and spoke to some of my guys on the sat phone but was not up for a 10 person conf call with everything going on. this turned out to be a good call as i got up for my watch just before midnight karli and cobra 8 where listening in on a merchant ship 15nm south of us reporting a suspicious contact we did our standard maneuver accelerated from 5kts to our flank speed of 6.5 kts and called ukmto. as we continued along at "flank" speed we saw our own suspicious contact astern, basically just a red light for a few seconds. cobra 8 was not taking any chances and escalated our call from ukmto up to marlo. as luck would have it marc got his buddy chris on the phone who was apparently standing duty. after the call cobra 8 reported "he is sending us another warship", we thought what a great job convey buddy, this totally made up for the happy hour debacle!

next thing we knew we had US WARSHIP 87 calling us on the VHF reporting they would be in position in 40 minutes. they seemed to show up even sooner than this doing 30kts and pulled into position behind us. they informed us that they would "launch the alert helo" and "sweep the area" for any "baddies" as karli refers to them. this was about 2 hours ago and no baddies where found they continue to steam behind us at our conserve fuel speed of 4.8 kts providing comfort and happiness for all on board. we also have a convey of about 20 merchant ships just north to us with multiple warship escorts so we are once again surnounded by miiltary assets, still no ausi ships much to karli's dismay!

i think i can speak for us all when we say we are way over this suspicious contact crap and looking fwd to sitting in Djibouti having a nice cold beer. on that note my friend lance (who spent 1 year plus in Djibouti) got back to us today with a contact of his there. we are looking forward to arriving to a friendly face and buying him some cold beer at an actual bar of some sort!

cheers, roger

03/01/2011 | nancy
Mostly glad to get your report :-) - glad my tax dollars are being put to good use. Read my email - does your "companion" relate to some of my comments? Happy sailing!
who's on first in the IRTC
02/28/2011, still in the IRTC now with cobra 8 and cobra 2

well we had a great happy hour game of "Battleship"! i am sure you all remember it and what a perfect vhf game for sailing through the gulf of aden. not only did the vessel formerly known as red back 8 come up with this but this great game but then they trounced us, karli was very disappointed and vowed to refine our strategy for tonights game. on the rename the convey red back 8 did not do so well. this was to be the final name change and the requirement was to come up with an animal name that would instill fear in the heart of the enemy when they heard it over the radio. unfortunately what we got was: 1. red boomer (apparently some sort of ausi slang for a roo that karli has never heard of) 2. blue ringed octopus (bro for short on the radio, not very scary) 3. red squirrel (what can i say here) 4. alfa que (some version of f--u if pronounced appropriately) 5. sea snake (try saying this multiple times!) none of these passed so karli suggested we go with cobra, the name of our last operation as red back 8 was having a lot of trouble getting behind the "red back" call signs. so we are now cobra 2 and cobra 8 (cobra 8 is referring to themselves as king cobra)

so we where a bit disappointed we did not get the evening fly by/air show but sometime shortly after 1am when i came on watch we got a ton of military ship activity. we had an INDEAN WARSHIP (listed as INDEAN WARSHIP on AIS) come up behind us with a group of ships it was escorting. i called out a "suspicous contact" to an him only to have that contact turn our to be a US WARSHIP who came back and acknowledged his presence and the presence of another EU WARSHIP. then apparently the INDEAN WARSHIP forgot who i was and reported me to the US WARSHIP as a suspicious contact (even though i had AIS on) the US WARSHIP told them i had already spoken to them and we where "OK" and on AIS. not sure if these guys could all get it together to help us if the s-- hit the fan or not. the good news is the US WARSHIP dropped off the EU WARSHIP F8164 who is still here about 6nm away, very comforting!

unfortunately last night we also got word from several of you that the ING pirating had finally hit the press. i mentioned this in a previous blog it occurred about 100nm north of us the day we had our night DDG rendezvous and two days after the quest pirating. it is irritating that none of the authorities have shared this info with the boats out here. we only knew about it because we where directly involved. as always it raises the question, what else is going on we do not know about and what would have happen if back to back pirate events had hit the press. in any case all this action is in the rear view mirror and we only have a few more days too the excitement of Djibouti!

we got good news from eagle 7 and eagle 9 they have located a prop and plan to install in salaha this am and join a convoy leaving there with a warship escort. eagle 7 has offered to tow eagle 9 as far as necessary given the positive towing experience. we hope to see them in Djibouti 3 or 4 days behind us for the party. we sent them our super secret waypoint list so they could follow in our footsteps.

this morning i got a great sunrise and on top of that could just make out our new friend EU WARSHIP F576 on the horizon.

cheers, roger

03/01/2011 | Gary Hayward
Like your tac sign rev. Changing them helps confuse enemy - and friendlies! Watch out for "friendly fire" with all that "help" out there! Just keep your own good watch.
unknown contact in the IRTC
02/27/2011, very northern edge of IRTC or 1 nm into the IRTC (depending on great circle vs straight line between points)

sorry for not getting a second blog out in the last 24hours, today was nap day for me caught up on some much needed rest!

last night introduced redback 8 to the vhf happy hour game celebrity head. we got to happy hour on time but delayed the game to after dinner as we where both bbq-ing. we had teriyaki chicken with rice and veggies and red back 8 had burgers. just as we where getting down to dinner we had another chopper overfly this time the "japanese aircraft" did several passes very comforting! after this karli got the game started, went pretty well even though they picked 80s US sitcoms as the subject and neither karli nor i where allowed to watch tv growing up. the answer turned out to be magnum PI (which i eventually got)

on karli's watch she and red back 8 got the japanese navy to check out a suspicious radar contact with their FLIR, (it turned out to be noise). around an hour before dawn i got another contact and we closed to our "combat" configuration with redback 8 while i out out a vhf call for any warships in the area and called ukmto on the sat phone. below is the after action report we sent in:

"traveling in convey with SV IMAGINE. at aprox 0130Z 28 feb along the northern boundary of the IRTC we observed an unlit suspicious radar contact aprox 3nm behind us matching speed and course at 13 59.0n 051 17.4e . we accelerated from 5 to 6.5 kts and turned 30deg port and contacted UKMTO via sat phone. vessel began to drop back behind us. at dawn we visually observed a small vessel 6nm behind us. passing merchant vessel confirmed contact as "local dow" towing small dingy."

turned out to be no big deal but got our adrenaline going. ironically i had been watching "weeds" on the laptop while cross checking the radar at our nav station when i saw the very faint return.

after that the day has been very slow, we are conserving fuel running at 2k rpm. looks like 3.5 days to go to Djibouti.

need to run karli is calling me to happy hour and red back 8 is promising an exciting new game, perhaps courtesy of jane back at base camp, hopefully she will also let them in on the secret coffee stash on red back 8 or we may be sailing formation with a bunch of sleepy(ing) sailors!

cheers, roger

02/28/2011 | gary hayward
What is LBC?
02/28/2011 | Erik

LBC is Long Beach and Compton. The other side of Long Beach....
cruising the hood in the IRTC (not to be confused with the LBC)
02/26/2011, somewhere in the IRTC (internationally recognized transit corridor)

well i must say our first day in the IRTC has been quite relaxing. really not much to see except a bunch of merchant traffic passing by us. we officially entered the IRTC at 10 am after motoring at 2400 rpm all last night to make 6.8 kts. we burned a bit more fuel than i anticipated (about 7.5 nm per gal, we normally try to get closer to 9 or 10). we should have just enough fuel to get in to Djibouti with no wind and the adverse current we have now. if we get some wind or positive current we can speed up and if not slow down a bit.

i mentioned yesterday the red back 8 is a bit of a light nazi apparently i am a radio nazi. i was appalled when red back 8 hailed a freighter that showed up on AIS last night and passed their relative bearing and their boat name, basically same as turning our AIS on as the freighters response and AIS location can be received for 20 or 30nm easily. this is in contrast to LED running lights that best case can be seen at a couple of miles. in any case we compromised on no VHF hailing and no lights, should be even safer seth :). of course we are now in the IRTC where we are supposed to run AIS and lights, not sure what we will decide to do on this but the Pk of a ship running you over is pretty close to 1.0 and their are a lot!

again this last 24 hours have been super relaxing, i am sure a lot of this comes with having the seasoned crew of red back 8 right next to us! it is almost like being in a marina we are on autopilot track and should not need to touch anything until the next waypoint which we should reach in aprox 88 hours :) i am thinking perhaps we will launch cubre libre and head over to red back 8 for happy hour rather than teach them how to play celebrity head via vhf (THIS IS A JOKE PLEASE DO NOT COMMENT HOW IRRESPONSIBLE THIS WOULD BE, bill).

all good here, a bit concerned we may find DDG 84 in Djibouti but i figure the bar tab will still come in under 30k (the cost to ship the boat to the med). fyi we have heard very sub optimal things about aden, massawa in eritera and plan to go from Djibouti direct to egypt preferable to a nice marina resort complex where we can dive and visit the pyramids, anyone have any ideas?

cheers, roger

02/27/2011 | Frank
Well, let's see according to Jane's Fighting Ships, your typical DDG has 33 officers and 258 enlisted. Here's another math probability problem for you. $30K divided by ~300 navy squids is $100 per head. What are the chances a sailor can drink more than $100 worth of beer in Djibouti? :) Regardless the bar receipt would be priceless and definitely should be framed/mounted on La Palapa.
02/27/2011 | Seth
Great pic. Is marc actually smiling in that shot? Looks like it. :) Keep us updated and be safe.
happy hour air show!
02/26/2011, somewhere in the gulf of aden

so leaving eagle fleet operation cobra turned out to be quite sad. we had way too teary good buys on the vhf. we will really miss these guys and i really wish i could have done more to get a prop lined up for Vaganbond. on top of this we had to say goodbye to warship 84 DDG Bukeley. these guys are real heros out here doing an amazing job with what i am sure are a ton of constraints really makes me proud to be an american! in our thank you message over vhf we offered to buy them all drink if and when we ever ran into them and i further added if they wanted to follow us to Djibouti i would start buying as soon as we got there!

so after our teary goodbyes we had about 20 min before imagine arrived, so we decided to take advantage of it and have a much needed swim call. i must say it was a surreal experience here we are swimming in the gulf of aden in a completely flat ocean beautiful blue water. we can see warship 84 off to one side beyond them we see the spec of imagine growing on the horizon and we are thinking this is amazing it does not get better then this!

we got ourselves organized and on board just as they blasted up at 7+ kts. we where a bit concerned about keeping up with them so i had arranged to get some fuel that am by dingy from vagabond. it was again dead calm at 8am and i did not want to wake karli so i slowed palapa down to 3 kts, dropped the dingy and motored over to vagabond, i must say it is a strange sight to see your home sailing in formation next to you on autopilot! i got 80 liters of diesel from them and came back to palapa without incident, this time i remembered to take my man over board tag off!

in any case we blasted off with imagine after introducing them to the fleet red back call sign program (they are still getting used to it). they are pretty hard core and insist on sailing with no lights at all. right now it is 8pm pitch black no moon and we are blasting along at 7 kts. when i go on deck all i can see is their bow wave in the phosphorescent. this is s kindergarden compared to sailing at 8 kts but they are stressing me out about even turning on a head lamp!

the best part of the day was happy hour, we introduced imagine to the mandatory happy hour kicked off by the palapa bell on vhf. no sooner than we had done that and toasted warship 84 but what did we see but warship 84s helo doing a fly by. very very f---ing cool. they did several passes and then headed out in front of us. either they where checking out our way for us (we had 100nm to go to the security corridor) or heading to Djibouti to take us up on our drink offer. if they are anything like the pilots i used to know it was both. we got a great shot of them on their 2nd or third pass and it it was a huge boost to our overall happiness level! we need to do a latitude article about these guys.

in any case thats about it, i am afraid to do anything in the cockpit as i may break the stringent imagine light standards. again all is well and we sail/motor on.

cheers, roger

02/26/2011 | Seth
Hey Palapa and Imagine! VERY happy to hear you two have met up. Take care of each other and stay safe (that means no lights Roger!). We're all thinking of you back at home. Wish we were together sipping rum drinks in Bora Bora again... Seth & Crew...
02/26/2011 | richard
Congrats you two - and good luck with next phase - look out for that beer bill in Djibouti - 600 thirsty sailors - richard and anne from Good Hope heading from Gan to Chagos
02/26/2011 | Bill Wickman
Dear Red, excuse me, Red those whirly beast boys a couple long cold ones for us when you get to Djibouti. Glad to read you're getting close.
02/27/2011 | Ann giles
Hey roger, we will be on Bora Bora in a couple of weeks. Where is the best place for those rum drinks? Love, Aunt Ann
end of operation cobra beginning of operation redback!
02/25/2011, 70nm south of salaha oman 26feb 0300Z

well we have had another amazing bit of luck with the weather. last night right as we where finishing up happy hour the wind really came to a stop. we decided to make the call to begin towing right then which was a bit dicy as we only had about 30 min before sunset. we got the dingy launched and karli held position off to starbord to eagle 9 while eagle 7 took up position off to port. eagle 9 continued sailing at aprox 3 kts. i took a tow line over in the dingy and we connected it from the stern of eagle 7 to the bow of eagle 9 and then eagle 7 took up tension. went pretty smoothly and we got the dingy back on board just after sunset.

the good news was the sea and wind continued to abate and eagle 7 was able to tow at 6.5 kts which should allow them to make landfall by sunset today. last night was amazingly relaxing and down right boring compared with the night before where we where sailing in formation with lights out making 7 to 8 kts and rndving with the navy! on top of this our warship wanted to deconflict traffic for the group. there is nothing like the call "MERCHANT VESSLE THIS IS THE US WARSHIP 15NM OFF YOUR STARBOARD BOW ALTER COURSE TO STARBOARD AND STAY WELL CLEAR OF US" seemed a lot more effective than any conversation i have had with merchant traffic!

in any case this am the ocean was like glass, see photo we continue to make 6.5 kts toward salaha and our rdnvs with imagine at noon.

cheers, roger

02/25/2011 | Christina Cope
Sounds like quite the adventure! Been following you closely and imagining what your voyage is like. Sounds like your journey is being blessed in some surprising ways. Give Elise love from me (step-mom) and her dad!
relaxing day!
02/25/2011, 150nm south of salaha oman

well today was pretty relaxing at least compared to the crazy 8 kts full speed night formation sailing, very tiering! the winds have finally started to fail on us. under 10kts now and we are coasting along at sub 4 kts right now. karli is watching a movie on the laptop on the romper room bed and i was up in the cockpit about to tune in bbc.

we have got our next convey to Djibouti lines up we are supposed to rndv with imagine tomorrow afternoon off of salaha and then head from their to the security coridor and onto djubuti, only 750nm nothing at all although this is going to turn into a 2k nm passage!

i have got the dingy ready to launch when we loose wind to get tow lines set up between scott free and vagabond hopefully it will not be at night but that is always the way these things go. not sure how long our big grey friend is going to hang out they claim until we get to slaaha but i can imagine they might have something more pressing.

we got some unfortunate news today that ING had been pirated, does not seem to have hit the media, we think they where from denmark or norway or something like this. the incident occurred at 10 am local yesterday about 100nm NNE of where we where which is why we have warship 84 here with us i guess. i was talking to marc on imagine on the sat phone today and we both can not get out of this place soon enough! the political bs and games that must be going on to allow this situation to get to this point is incredible.

we did not quite get a swim in as i had a bit too much drag when i tried climbing down the swim ladder (4 kts) but the pic is of a one of the first few days of the passage when we did swim.

cheers, roger

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Sail on La Palapa
Who: Roger Hayward
Port: Lake View OR USA
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