Piracy Halts Round-the-World Rally

Recent attacks in the Indian Ocean convinced the crews aboard 20 yachts to ship their boats to the Med.


A Dockwise ship is loaded and ready to go. In Oman, the company has arranged for a cargo ship to move the boats.Courtesy of Dockwise

The death of four Americans at the hands of Somalian pirates begs many questions about the rights—and responsibilities—of people out voyaging. Sure, we have the right to sail when and where we want on the world’s oceans. But should we? That’s a question being debated in countless marinas and yacht clubs these days, along with the thorny issue of guns on board and whether the assorted navies patrolling the Gulf of Aden should just blast the bastards out of the water and ask questions later.

What do you think? Given the news reports and warnings from a raft-up of governments and their navies about threats to international shipping, never mind to small pleasure boats, should anyone even sail into the tempest that exists in the Gulf of Aden right now?

Sailors taking part in the Blue Water Rally, who sailed alongside Quest before that boat's crew—the late Scott and Jean Adams and Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle—went off on their own course, think not. Organizers of the round-the-world rally this week announced that the event wouldn't continue on after arriving in Salalah, Oman. Rather than proceeding to the Red Sea and on to Crete, the sailors have opted instead to ship the fleet of 20 yachts directly to Marmaris, Turkey, aboard a Dockwise Yacht Transport ship.

"This decision was taken when four American ralliers were fatally shot by pirates, after their sailing yacht Quest was captured on passage from Mumbai to Oman, and the subsequent capture of the sailing yacht ING with a Danish family on board," rally organizers said in a release.

“These incidents and other recent acts of piracy in the area have made proceeding in any direction from Salalah too high-risk for the vast majority of participants. Strong recommendations from the U.K. Maritime Trade Organization and the Maritime Liaison Office were decisive factors,” organizers said.

Few would leave a safe harbor when confronted with dire weather warnings. In the case of these ralliers, I’d say good judgment and common sense prevailed.

For cruisers who’ve reached the far side of the Pacific, Dockwise offers delivery from Singapore and Phuket, Thailand, to Genoa, Italy. The company is also considering making an Oman-to-Marmaris delivery a yearly sailing as well.