Sunday, November 17, 2019

An Informative Sea Day

Today was another day of new learnings.

Ever see a sunrise over the Red Sea? You can now say yes!

The ship held a Pirate Drill Presentation in the Princess theatre twice and we all were encouraged to send at least one person per cabin to the presentation. While it was a short 20 minute presentation, allowed no questions, had slides that were too hard to read, wasn’t about the Pirate Drill (it was actually entitled a Maritime Security Briefing), and was presented by a security officer who spoke pretty softly, it still was informative.
  • We found we will soon be sailing in a High Risk Area (HRA). The boundaries of these designated areas have changed through the years. The HRA we will be encountering will occur as we sail around the Horn of Africa on our way to Abu Dhabi. During that time we will be sailing between Yemen and Somalia.
  • Some of the reasons for the High Risk Area designation are because of drug smuggling, human migration, the Yemen Conflict, piracy, and charcoal exportation. We were surprised at hearing there is money in charcoal and I’m interested in finding out more about it.
  • We heard that piracy is a business, with sponsors at the top. There are some typical telltale signs to identify pirates. Skiffs are towed behind motherships which can be spotted on radar miles away. Two skiffs travel together when targeting ships and can look like normal fishing boats from afar but once binoculars are used the difference can be detected. The skiffs carry grappling hooks, increased fuel, and no fishing gear. The pirates may also be in possession of AK-47s.
  • Ships use several methods to ward off pirate attacks. Our ship has already prerigged hoses along the Promenade deck. We saw these hoses hanging down all along the deck when we were out there today. They have a nozzle on one end, with the other end of the hose attached to the water supply across the deck. 
  • When in use these hoses will create a water wall, if needed. We’ve seen these hoses being used in drills before but I thought they were water cannons. (You can see them used during a crew drill in my photo from last year here.) We will also be increasing our speed as we make our way to Abu Dhabi. There are some recommended things we won’t have, but I won’t mention those until after we’re through the HRA. I also learned about citadels on container ships - something I never even knew existed.
  • We will be having a pirate drill in a couple days. 
It was a lot of information crammed in the 20 minute presentation, but it was a good overview. More than one person wished they had a map in hand to look at the areas more carefully. Us included.

The rest of our day was spent doing not much of anything. We have Aqaba, Jordan coming up tomorrow. While I would have loved, loved, loved to go to Petra, being it is a full day excursion with lots and lots and lots of walking, there is no way E can make it. My second choice was snorkeling the Red Sea, but in the interest of his comfort, I canceled the excursion before we left home. Now we’re left with taking the shuttle from the ship to the city center and possible grabbing a city tour.

But E has come down with a bit of the cruise cough and isn’t feeling so great. He tells me he’ll be ready to go tomorrow, but I’ve lived with the man for 36 years and I know his patterns of illness. If he was still teaching, I would expect tomorrow he’d be calling a substitute to cover for the day. So I may be waving at Aqaba from afar and spend my day at the pool while he spends it in bed. We shall see.