From ‘Tranquil desert havens’ – Gulf of Aden Convoys

From Ocean Navigator #138
May/June 2004
January to May 2003
Information based on 10 yachts, participating in different convoys (total 48 boats)

Number of boats in convoy Key criteria for choice of partners

2 x 2

3 x 2

4 x 1

5 x 2

7 x 0

8 x 1

  • Same boat speed

  • Like-minded people / Shared attitude

  • Familiarity/friendship

  • Common language

  • Departure date

  • Firearms, yes or no

Convoy rules
  • Agreed speed

  • Agreed course

  • Distance between boats 1/4 to 3/4 mile (diamond formation)

  • Agreed procedures if any vessel attacked

  • Agreed nav light routine

  • Minimal use of low-power VHF

  • Agreed firearms policy

Some convoys held formal meetings before departure to agree to procedures and appoint a leader, who would make any necessary adjustments to convoy speed and manage any disagreements. Others were more informal (especially those made up of previous friends). Most convoys left from Salalah, Oman, two had rendezvous at sea. Positions were given in relation to a waypoint. All convoyed as far as Aden or Djibouti, many continued on as a convoy to Eritrea. Crews reported that they found the close-quarters sailing extremely stressful, especially at night, but would join a convoy again for the security and support it offered.
Colleen Ryan & Brian Savage

By Ocean Navigator