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The Multihull Company Newsletter March 2011
In This Issue
Multihull Seminar At Strictly Sail Oakland Boat Show
What You Need To Know About Vessel Surveys
Passage Through Pirate Alley With The Camel Convoy
Featured Article

Lois Joy Hoffman, author of the book "Maiden Voyage", takes readers on an adventure through pirate alley in this recent excerpt of her third book in the series, "In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss."


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2008 92' BluBay

2008 89' Catana 90

1996 89' Custom Trimaran
Long Ranger

2001 67' Lagoon 67S

1999 60' Fountaine Pajot Marquises 60 Custom
Dream Catcher

2006 60' Fountaine Pajot Eleuthera

2004 58' Catana 581

2003 58' Catana 582

1993 57' Jeanneau Lagoon 57S

1993 57' Nautitech
Yamba Yeye

1983 56' Custom Cross Trimaran Pilot House Ketch

1997 56' Fountaine Pajot Marqueses
Equinox II

1996 56' Fountaine Pajot Marquises

1996 56' Gold Coast
Virgin Fire

2002 55' Outremer Light
Shining Time

2010 54' Gold Coast
Day Sail Catamaran

1994 53' Catana 531
Mantra I

2011 52' Aikane T 52

2004 52' Catana 52

1986 52' Pinta Exception 52 Pinta
Paille en queue

2007 50' Catana

2002 50' Contour C50
Cruz del Sur

2004 50' Contour

2001 50' Horizon 50

2008 50' Lagoon 500

2011 50' Morelli and Melvin Custom
Shooting Star

2009 50' NEEL
Just Makes Sense

2005 49' Privilege 495

1996 48' Catana
Atlantic Adventure

2004 48' Looping

2004 47' Catana Ocean Class

2001 47' Catana Owner version

2000 47' Catana 471

1999 47' Lagoon 470
Carpe Diem

2001 47' Leopard 470

2005 46' Broadblue
Gypsea III

2007 46' Custom Catamaran

2005 46' Dolphin 460

2005 46' Dolphin 460
Casa de Verao

2008 46' Leopard 460
Desert Eagle

1999 45' Jeantot / Privilege

2002 45' Outremer

2001 44' Privilege 435

1982 44' Trevor Banks
Hot Sauce

2001 44' Voyage 440

2004 43' Catana 431
Pomme Cannelle

2004 43' Catana 43

1999 43' Catana 431

2002 43' Catana 431
Aventura I

2001 43' Catana 431

2006 43' Fountaine Pajot Belize

2008 43' Gypsey

2002 43' Lagoon

1996 43' Nautitech 435

2003 43' Power Lagoon
Miss Baby

1998 42' Custom Woods Nimbus 42

1994 42' Jeantot Privilege 42

2011 42' Lagoon TPI
Kinship II

1998 41' Lagoon 410
Double Tap

1988 40' Condor 40 Trimaran

2010 40' Fusion 40
Fusion 40

1995 39' Catana 381

2008 39' Custom Searunner Custom

2001 38' Fountaine Pajot Athena

2001 38' Fountaine Pajot Athena

1987 37' Crowther Shockwave

2009 37' Moxie Yachts Island Hopper

1998 36' Dean Chinook

1994 36' PDQ Mark II

1992 36' Solaris Sunstar
Susan M Jackson

1994 35' Fountaine Pajot Tobago

1994 35' Walter Greene 35

2000 34' Contour Yachts SC
Far and Away

1992 34' Prout Event
Golden Eagle

2002 32' Custom-Brown Marples
Liberty II

2005 32' Twin Vee
Ocean Cat

2002 30' Raider Grand Prix
Raider 302

2008 30' Wharram Boatsmith Tiki 30

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Multihull Seminar At Strictly Sail
Oakland Boat Show    

Catamaran Cruising From Start To Finish - Sponsored by Multihulls Quarterly Magazine and Strictly Sail


How To Find, Purchase and Outfit a Cruising Multihull


When:  Friday, April 15, 2011 - 1pm - 4pm


Where:  Strictly Sail Pacific, Jack London Square, Oakland CA




Part 1: Finding the Right Catamaran for Your Needs and Budget, by Phil Berman


1 pm to 1:35 pm


There are many catamarans on the market for sale, new and used,and in a wide range of price points. Given where you intend to voyage, and the things you are looking for in a boat, which designs make the most sense for you? Given your budget, which models offer you the best compromise to achieve your dreams?


5 minute stretch


Part 2: The Process of Buying a Multihull, by Phillip Berman and Matt Dunning


1:40 pm to 2:20 pm


Phil Berman: If you have decided you want to buy a multihull, how do you do it? Do you do it on the internet by yourself? What are the pros and cons of this approach? Do you work with a broker? If so, how do you pick a broker to work with? How do you get boats pre-inspected to determine their condition if they are far away? How do you ascertain the true market value of a catamaran you are considering?


2:05 to 2:30, Phillip Berman: The nuts and bolts of making an offer and going through the steps.


A Yacht purchase and sale agreement. What is important here? Please see a copy of the standard purchase and sale agreementOrganizing a proper sea trial and surveyFlagging, duty, and taxes, closing process, escrow, closing statements, title transfer


Break 2:30 pm to 2:35 pm


Part 3: Getting a Proper Multihull Survey, Phil Berman and Matt Dunning


2:35 pm to 3: 00 pm, Phil Berman


Getting a good survey is never as easy as one might think. A great many people pick the wrong surveyor and end up learning only too late that their dream catamaran has some serious problems. Here we discuss not only what skills and qualifications you need to look for in a surveyor, but go over in detail the major problems that can occur in a multihulls survey: delamination, water incursion in the core, mast base compression, bulkhead distortion and cracks, mechanical problems with the engines or generator, standing rigging problems, etc. We also examine the most contentious part of the purchase process for any yacht buyer - After Survey Negotiations and how they work. Please see handout.


Five minute break, stretch


Part 4: Outfitting a Modern Live aboard Multihull, Matt Dunning


3:05 pm to 3:50 pm


What gear and equipment do you really need to go cruising? Do you really need a water maker? A Generator? Sea Anchor? Drogue? Spinnaker? Storm Jib? Solar Panels? Generator? Air conditioning? Radar? Chartplotter? Life Raft? Often, people draft up a must-have list of all the cruising gear they believe they must have to live comfortably on a cat, yet this list is often not at all requiredfor the sort of voyaging they plan to do. Here in this seminar we discuss in detail the various items you may or may not need to have on your boat, the pros and cons of not having them, and which ones are the most essential for a given cruising agenda.


Course Handouts:


Copy of Standard Yacht Purchase and Sale Agreement, Copy of Ten Biggest Mistakes Made When Purchasing a Used Boat and How to Avoid Them, Copy of After Survey Negotiations


Sponsored by MULTIHULLS Quarterly magazine and Strictly Sail Miami 


What You Need To Know About
Vessel Surveys 

By Carol M. Bareuther, All At Sea Magazine

The purchase of a new boat, damage assessment and condition valuation are all reasons to have a small vessel or private pleasure craft surveyed. What do you need to know to get the most out of the process and information provided? We asked three professional Caribbean-based marine surveyors for their expert opinions.


"One of the most common reasons for requesting a survey is at purchase," says Bob Goodchild, of Flyingfish Ventures Ltd., in St. Georges, Grenada. "This is where the surveyor is acting for the purchaser when the owner's insurance company has requested a survey before they will write cover on the vessel or renew a policy; in this case the surveyor is acting for the owner."


The pre-purchase survey, adds Canter de Jager, of Dutchman Marine Survey and Services, in St. John's, Antigua, "is the most thorough survey. It includes deficiencies, recommendations, a sea trial and a rigging inspection."


Will Howe of Howe Marine Surveys in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, says, "No one likes to come in for a damage survey especially when it's due to a traumatic experience such as an accident or injury. But, it's necessary for the insurance company."


Condition valuation surveys, says Dutchman Marine's de Jager, "should be done at least every three years to determine current fair market price and any defects or recommendations."


Another reason for a survey, adds Flyingfish Venture's Goodchild,"is if the yacht has been in storage for some time or is about to undertake an ocean passage after a period of little use and the owner wants the surveyor to prepare a work list to get the vessel ready for sea."


Ideally, owners or buyers will have their vessel open, clean and well prepared before the surveyors arrive.


Beyond this, specific examples of properly preparing a vessel for survey include making a reservation with the boatyard if the
 yacht must be hauled (the cost of the haul out is typically not covered in the survey fee), arranging for a captain if the owner is not available for a sea trial (the surveyor cannot drive the vessel and survey it at the same time), setting up a shore power system so that 115 or 230 volt AC systems can be checked if the vessel is on the hard, and having paperwork prepared including the vessel's registration and any maintenance logs.


"The surveyor will need to access many areas of the boat which are not normally accessed in the everyday use of the vessel and this may require the removal of gear," says Flyingfish Venture's Goodchild. "In particular, note that the steering gear including the quadrant and head of the rudder stock will need accessing as will all seacocks, the engine, the generator, batteries, the bilge, bilge pumps, the base of the mast if it's keel stepped, chain plates if possible and bulkhead to hull join where possible, etc."


How long does a survey take?


"Depending on the survey type and the length and make of the vessel a pre-purchase or condition survey on a medium to small vessel can be done in one day," says Dutchman Marine's de Jager. "However, the haul out schedule has to be arranged carefully including the sea trial. Vessels that have any exterior hull problems or damage might need to be inspected the following day when they have dried up."


The cost of a survey can range between US$12 to US $20 per foot, depending on the type of survey. Said another way, a full pre-purchase condition and valuation survey with sea trial for a 45-foot yacht, for example, runs about US $1000, while an insurance renewal survey for a similar sized yacht costs around US $650. Damage surveys are usually conducted on an hourly rate with a three hour minimum charge.


One of the most frequently asked questions, says Howe Marine Survey's Howe, is how quickly an insurance company will pay claims after a damage survey is completed. "It depends on a large extent how fast the insured provides everything that is required. For example, the insured must coordinate the repairs and get estimates from contractors. Contractors work for the owner or insured and not for the insurance company. A marine surveyor can review these estimates and offer advice and recommendations."


A marine surveyor can indeed be an invaluable source of help and information.


"Remember," says Flyingfish Venture's Goodchild, "that the surveyor is constantly working with a great variety of yachts, different repair facilities, and sees more problems on yachts in a year than most boat owners will see in a lifetime."


This article was originally published in All At Sea Magazine, theCaribbean's Waterfront Magazine.  For more articles, visit them on the web at


Passage Through Pirate Alley With The Camel Convoy
By Lois Joy Hoffman

This is an excerpt from Lois's third book in the series, "In Search of Adventure and Moments of Bliss."


Her first book in the series, "MAIDEN VOYAGE," was recently published and is available at and through her website,


March 7, 2007: When you're getting ready to brave Pirate Alley,

Lois Joy Hoffman

you want to do it with sailors that you can trust with your life. That's why my husband, Gunter, and I formed the Camel Convoy along with four other sailing yachts-all on the same mission: to travel safely from Salalah, Oman to Aden, Yemen.


I sit side-by-side with Gunter at the helm of our forty-three-foot catamaran, thinking back. It's not like we can avoid running this 660-mile-gauntlet. The only other way to complete our circumnavigation would be to sail all the way around South Africa, braving the fearsome currents that lie in wait near the Cape of Good Hope. Back in January 2007, when we sailed out of Thailand, we had committed to the Med. In that sea, along the southern coast of France, we plan to thread the needle and close the circle, crossing our outward path taken almost seven years ago, back when we were clueless and na�ve. We are far from that now.


"Look! We are in fight formation," Gunter says.


"Let's call it flight formation."


I'd rather think of birds than war planes right now.


Relaxing in the cockpit with Gunter and Chris, our 24-year-old Aussie crew, the three of us scan the sapphire sea, which stretches forever in undulating rolls of shimmering satin. The surrounding four vessels comfort us. Li is about a half mileahead on the point with our boat, Pacific Bliss, to her stern. The three other yachts-Aldebaran, Windpocke, and Faith-are spread out evenly behind us, all droning along at five knots.


Haze envelops the rocky rugged coastline of Oman, but where we are-a stretch of sea in the Gulf of Aden heading southwest toward the Red Sea-the baby blue sky is strewn with fluffy clouds, soft as a baby's pajamas.


Oh, how I wish life could be that simple right now! I'd rather be cuddling one of my grandchildren than approaching the Danger Box of Pirate Alley, just four days away.


Today is March 7, 2007-an auspicious day for me to begin one of the most dangerous passages in the world, because seven is my favorite number. We'll need good luck. There have been about a half dozen confirmed pirate attacks on small yachts in the Gulf of Aden during the past five or six years. I try to rationalize my misgivings. Given an estimated six hundred pleasure craft passing through the region, that's about a one percent chance of an attack. Even so, says my pessimistic side, these are not mere random robberies; the attacks here are always threatening and usually involve gunfire.


Yachties thrive on sailing horror stories that become increasingly dramatic with each telling. But in this case, the true accounts of attacks on cruisers sailing through Pirate Alley do not need embellishment.


The latest story making the rounds is the ordeal reported by Rodney Nowlin. Rumors say that he is retired US Navy-a Seal no less-and Captain of the cruising vessel Mahdi. On March 8, 2005, Mahdi and their Buddy Boat Gandalf were about thirty miles off the coast of Yemen proceeding southwest to Aden, right through the coordinates of the Danger Box off Al Mukalla, Yemen.


At 0900, two outboard-powered boats, both about twenty-five feet long with three men aboard, passed off the stern of Mahdi, moving south at twenty-five knots. An hour later they returned, obviously scouting their prey. Then about 1600, two different boats approached them head-on from the southwest. These boats had a higher freeboard and were diesel-powered. They were coming on quickly, with four men in each boat. The powerboats were separated by an estimated two hundred yards.


One of them beared down Mahdi's port side while firing into the cockpit. The other pirate boat let loose with a Kalishnekov, firing at both sailboats. The first boat then swung around behind Mahdi's stern to board. By that time, Rod had armed himself with a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with 00 buckshot, while his wife steered with her feet, lying down in the cockpit to avoid being shot. Rod's counter-attack forced the pirates to keep their heads down. After firing three shots, their engine started to smoke, so he swung around to shoot at the boat ahead.


Meanwhile, Jay, on steel-hulled Gandalf, proceeded to ram the second pirate boat amidships, almost cutting it in two and turning it over. As the bow of the first pirate boat approached the stern of Gandalf, about one hundred feet away, two men stood up to board. Jay took aim and shot them both. The boat veered away and Jay shot the driver. Mahdi and Gandalf then continued on at full speed. Once out of rifle range, they looked back to see both boats drifting and disabled.


The cruisers this year hope that the Mahdi/Gandalf story is still circulating among the would-be pirates, spreading the notion that attacking yachties can bring sudden death.


None of the vessels in our Camel Convoy, to my knowledge, have guns on board. On Pacific Bliss, our flares are at the ready. They can be deadly at close range. I am relieved that there have been no stories about pirate attacks on so-called "pleasure boats" this year. But the year is young. And the annual cruiser migration through the Red Sea and on to the Med has just begun.


The scariest stories are about Pirate Alley, but our next destination, Aden, does not instill me with confidence. This port just happens to be the site of the USS Cole bombing that killed seventeen sailors, one from our home town of San Diego, California.


But that was many years ago.


Camel Convoy, thename I proposed when we formed our group, has apparently stuck. Camels. The ships of the desert. A name not readily recognizable as a flotilla of yachts. Back in Salalah, I organized a meeting to hammer out how the flotilla would work together-never easy with a bunch of independent cruisers. But it went well. I opened the meeting. The leadership of the convoy quickly went to Patrick. Exactly what I wanted! Patrick and Olivia of Aldebaran had been our steadfast Buddy Boat pals many times during our circumnavigation, coincidentally sailing into the same ports and anchorages. Last year, back in Thailand, we began serious discussions about partnering with them to form a convoy.


I head for the navigation station in the salon to check our course. My eyes wander over to the paper headed "Camel Convoy Rules" taped to the shelf. The ongoing discussions after that planning meeting eventually resulted in a vetted document, diligently posted in their yachts by all five Captains.


We no longer use the name Pacific Bliss. We are # 4. We don't give out waypoints; instead, we radio our positions as x miles from Alpha, Bravo or Charlie. On the low power VHF, we monitor Channel 16 as required, but then call out "change-change" to direct us all to our secret channel. On the high power SSB, we monitor one agreed-upon channel, and then call "switch-switch" to go to the same frequency that we now know is being monitored by the nearby Coalition warship. We close in tight at night, but keep our running lights on (other convoys have elected to travel this area without running lights).


I feel like I'm living inside of a CIA thriller. Is all this overkill? Probably.


My musings are interrupted by the sounds of commotion topsides. I race back to the cockpit. "We just passed a bay loaded with fish traps," says Gunter. "Chris got out the fishing gear, and already caught two mahi-mahis."


"Where are they?"


"He threw them back in to grow up."


Within half an hour, Chris is rewarded with a nice-sized yellow-tailed kingfish. We are off to a good start, with a supply of fresh fish for our passage.


Cool it. We'll be okay. Just cook. Go through the motions. And don't think too much.




During my 9-12 p.m. watch, I am struck by the river of phosphorescence churned up by the propeller of the droning port engine. It reminds me of my Wisconsin childhood: the rushing sounds of white-water rapids, the joyous sight of melting snow, the scent of damp moss, the anticipation of rewards to come for braving the harsh Wisconsin winters. I check the water flowing out of the engine output hose. Under the starlight, it appears to stream into a pebble-strewn swamp of pea-green algae. I check the front. The bows of Pacific Bliss are plowing through clouds of phosphorescence, like a handle-bar moustache frothing with soapsuds. Above the mast, the stars envelop me, brilliant and thick.




A couple of peaceful days pass as we burn lots of diesel.


We are humming along the coast of Yemen now. The three of us sit in the cockpit, contemplating. Chris is at the helm, shirtless, wearing a back-and-white Arab turban instead of his blue Pacific Bliss cap. Gunter wears only a gold-and-black, geometric-patterned lap-lap. And I'm wearing a flowered pareu.


Since it helps keep the convoy together, we're not lamenting the lack of wind, even though we are baking in the withering heat. Four hundred miles into this passage, we have only two hundred miles left to go, one hundred until we reach the Danger Box. The Box is the area along our route in which, statistically, the pirates are most likely to attack.


Cruisers in Aden who have transited Pirate Alley earlier this year have forwarded a confusing report. 'The Yemeni Coast Guard assured us that they have cleaned up piracy, with no incidents along their coastline in the past four years. On the other hand, they asked us to stay not more than ten to twenty miles off the Yemeni coast so that they can 'protect' us-presumably from those non-existent pirates."


"Welcome to the lands of Arab logic and double-speak," Gunter says. "Well, the Coalition warship probably has some reasons for hanging around here. You heard them. They call regularly on VHF 16 to every passing commercial vessel by name..."


As if on cue, the VHF crackles. "Lucky Sailor, this is Coalition Warship Number 48. Please report to us any suspicious activity or vessels in your area."


"Look up!" Chris points. A drone circles over our convoy-twice-like an oversized albatross high above our mast. The stark white drone is eerie, silent as a banshee.


"Eyes in the sky," I whisper.


"See what I mean?" says Gunter. "From the warship. Checking us out."


The incident is a reminder that, despite the calm seas, this is no ordinary passage.




I sit at rapt attention during my entire night watch, keeping track of the positions of the other four yachts in our Camel Convoy. We meet half a dozen oil tankers and container ships, green-to-green, heading from Aden towards Oman and on to the Persian Gulf. Because our radar gave out in the Maldives and we have been unable to secure the parts to have it repaired, Patrick is covering for us; he has radar plus a new AIS (Automatic Identification System) used by commercial carriers, so he can address ships by name. He calls one tanker barreling down toward our stern. "Sir, do you see our group of sailboats?"


"I do now," the tanker answers. "Which way do you want me to go?"


"Just not through us, please." The tanker deviates course significantly. Later, he calls back to chat. He is headed for the Suez and on to the U.S. He is utterly flabbergasted to hear that this fleet of little sailboats plans to sail up the Red Sea and all the way to Turkey!


"You all must be really brave. Good luck," he says as he signs off.




The days settle into a routine: cook, eat, clean up, read, and catch up on sleep lost while on watch the night before. The engine drones on as we enter the fourth day of this passage.


We admire yet another crimson sunset from the cockpit. "I'm bored stiff," Chris blurts. Then, as if to correct a mistake, he adds, "Well this convoy stuff is getting to me."


It is getting to all of us. I too, am bored. Bored, yet tense. I am living that definition of sailing that I never understood until now: 90% boredom and 10% sheer terror. Like a volunteer fireman hanging around the station, I don't want the fire to come, yet I'm fascinated by thought that it could.


"I don't blame you for being bored," I answer. "I am tired of our own Camel Convoy rules, such as not using yacht names-but numbers-to call each other...I am tired of maintaining radio silence, except for the curt "change, change," and "switch, switch." There is no exchanging of recipes chit chat."


"Yah, I miss the chatter. The 'how's everything on your boat?'"


"And I hate our own enforced radio silence," Gunter chimes in. "It makes me all the more irritated by all the VHF 16 chatter-grown men on commercial ships chanting songs to each other in some Eastern language-and all the lewd language and foul jokes."


"But we have to listen in," I add. "Because 16 is an official channel, required by law. You heard every so often, another ship's radioman interrupts. He tells them to knock it off and clear the channel...but before long they're at it again."


"Only one voice stops them," says Chris. "The announcement, 'This is Coalition Warship.' Then they cut it out."


" You're right," I answer. "I always hear that. Even when I am off watch. Even when I am in a dead sleep. Through the fog, my brain instantly snaps to attention."


The entire world out here is on red alert. It pervades the airwaves. It invades our psyches. It is buried deep within our bones. Yet nothing is happening in our little world. And we don't want something to happen. The guys on the commercial ships, the captains of our sailing yachts, and most certainly the troops on the coalition ship, are all poised for action. I sense all of this bottled-up energy floating around, bouncing back off some invisible shield with no place to go.


It helps to talk. Because by now, we have fallen into a deep fatigue caused by all this watching and waiting. Certainly, there is no other way for us to release the tension. Laps around Pacific Bliss? Not such a good idea when we're moving along. Push-ups or calisthenics? It's too blazing hot and water for showers is limited. If there were a good wind, we'd be adjusting sails and swaying to the motion-good physical and isometric exercise. But under this merciless sun on a flat sea, there is no relief.


We talk fondly about the frantic fishermen who approached our convoy those first few days, like a school of fish sensing fresh food."They made those days interesting," Chris brightens. "And it was daylight, so we didn't mistake them for pirates."


"I loved the decision-making," says Gunter. How many packs of cigarettes should we give them? How much water? Should we offer food?


Chris laughs. "Should we take them up on that smelly, too-young dolphin fish they want to give us?


"Should we limit the hand-outs to one yacht per fishing boat?" counters Gunter.


Along the way, though, our Convoy has adjusted the Alpha and Beta waypoints farther out to sea, avoiding the fish pots in the huge bay of Ghubbat Al Qamar. Now, we are sailing far beyond the Yemeni fishing grounds.


"Well soon, only a few days more," Gunter sighs. Then it will all be over,"


I smile and leave the cockpit to make dinner. "Soon we'll be spinning our own sailor's yarns about Pirate Alley."




Even in the dark, the approach to Aden is magnificent. I turn to Gunter, beside me at the helm. "One of the best natural harbors in the world," so says the Lonely Planet."


" That it is. I'm so relieved to be here."


In the wee hours of the morning, the half-moon begins its rise, luscious like a translucent peach. Under the faint light, we can make out the masts of the Camel Convoy surrounding us. A line of lights scales the mountain to our starboard.


Could that be a road?


I am overwhelmed with the task of distinguishing the lights on shore, the convoy lights, the fairway lights, and the lights of anchored commercial ships. I awaken Chris. Now we have three sets of eyes. Without radar, we need them.


I call Port Control on VHF Channel 13 to announce our arrival. We enter the fairway, lined with red and green lit buoys, past the first breakwater, past the clearly marked wreck, past the second breakwater.


So far so good.


A cruiser already in port has waited up for us. "I've got my spotlight on," he calls on our Camel Convoy frequency. "But just follow the music." At 0200, the disco is blaring; it is loud, excruciatinglyloud, after the silence of the sea. I can only imagine how deafening it must be inside of the club.


I don't want to anchor across from that!


Still fatigued and stressed, we wind our way past the disco lights. We probe the darkness for shapes; the half-moon is too dim. Then Chris spies Windpocke, another Camel Convoy yacht, anchoring. Gunter motors to anchor alongside them, yet far enough away to allow for swing room. I quickly drop the anchor, but I feel it dragging on the rocky bottom. "Please God," I pray. "Let this anchor grab; I cannot bear re-anchoring in the dark."


"I've got plenty of room at my stern to pull back," Gunter calls from the helm.


I can feel the anchor catch and dig in.


Thank you God! And by the way, thanks for getting us safely through Pirate Alley.


Soon the guys are making high fives. Chris is opening a beer. Gunter is fixing a nightcap. I perform my duties like a robot: Fill out the logbook. Record the anchor spot to four decimals in case we drag again. Save the Track. Shut off the instruments. Record the Trip Miles, 660 over the water. I've had only one and a half hours of sleep this final night of our passage, and it shows.


"And what would you like, my navigator?" Gunter asks.


"A glass of cold white wine would be fitting."


"Coming right up."


We have survived Pirate Alley. Another notch for our circumnavigation belt. Soon, you can bet on it, the cruisers will be putting the fear of Pirate Alley behind. They will be talking up the dangers of the freighter traffic through the chokepoint Bab el Mandeb, the Strait of Sorrows, only 18 miles wide. They'll be warning about the difficulties of anchoring near the reefs in the Red Sea, and about the fierce northerlies that blow down from the Med. But all that is for another day. Tonight, our arrival drinks sit well, as the peace of being in port sinks deep.


Lois and Gunter Hofmann returned to their San Diego home in September of 2008, after completing an eight-year, 34,000-mile circumnavigation on a 43-foot Catana Catamaran. To access more stories of their adventures, go to Read Lois' blog at