O Man, We're Almost There
24 April 2010 | Day 16: 135 Miles From Salalah, Oman
7:00 p.m. (14:00 UTC) Saturday, April 24, 2010 16 52 N, 56 42 E
We had really been sweating the fuel situation for a good part of the trip. We sought to carry enough to get us there, but we had to rely on the wind to cooperate at some point. It didn't make sense, of course, to enough fuel to motor the entire 1,600. So we estimated, and then took some calculated risks along the way, such as motoring during the middle of the passage because good winds were forecast later. Each day, we had pen and paper, bar graphs, wind charts, and all sorts of scribbles and doodles as we calculated how much wind we were supposed to get, how much we could motor, how much fuel we had left, and the distance remaining. Now, a day out and a little more away, we have three days of fuel, AND good wind, so we played it correctly.
We had heard of other cruisers running low, or even out, at the end of such long passages, including this one, and they have bummed fuel off a passing fishing boat or even, in one case involving some friends of ours, a cruise ship. We hoped to avoid that, both because it would be a bit of a logistical challenge to get the fuel from one of those big guys, and because, in this neck of the woods, you don't want to be flailing around calling passing ships for fuel, given the bad guys lurking about. That would be a bit like throwing chum in shark-infested waters. For that reason, too, the ships that you would call would be less likely to want to stop and play around for a few hours, and probably even respond to your call at all.
We motored most of the day, and are sailing now, after heaving to for about an hour to empty our remaining jerry cans into our tanks. The wind is a good 12 knots out of the SSW, and as we're going due west, it's just forward of the beam. With only a day left to go, however, and a potential weather window opening for the next leg to Aden, and fuel no longer a concern, we'll probably turn on the engine and motor through the night. It makes sense to take the extra two knots we gain with Westy running and push through. Also, of course, it pays not to linger too long in these waters.
It'll be nice to get this passage done, although the even bigger relief will be Aden, when the troubled waters will be behind us. Then it'll be another big relief to get through the straights at Bab El Mandeb, the aptly named Gate of Tears, which can be a bear to get through if the winds aren't cooperating. But then it'll be an eager bigger relief to get through the Red Sea, with adverse winds running much of the way! We certainly have the bit between our teeth these days, as we press on through areas we have less interest in seeing towards the Med and Sima's home.
But we are getting a big and challenging leg out of the way here, having crossed the last big chunk of the Indian Ocean before the SW Monsoon set in and the weather window closed. The first beer we drink will probably be shaken and sprayed on each other, like the celebrating champions we are. I think we'll be pulling a lot of corks and just spraying for a while, and those are stories for a different day.
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