World circumnavigation rally cancelled nine months out

Blue Water Rally - called off for October 2011
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Evidence that voyaging through the Indian Ocean is getting just too hard for the cruising sailor, if you didn't already believe it, is underlined by the fact that one of the best known world circumnavigation rallies has been called off nine months before it is due to begin.

The Blue Water Rally, which would have been on its ninth circumnavigation, setting out from Gibraltar in October and picking up participants along the way, has been cancelled.

The rally traditionally follows the 'milk-run' route tracing its way by using the best trade winds that the world has to offer. The route also involved going through both the Panama and the Suez Canals, but reaching the Suez Canal via the Red Sea requires crossing the Arabian Sea, across which Somali pirates have now spread their deadly tentacles by using captive ships.

While the Gulf of Aden was the only issue facing round-world voyagers, the rallies kept going, because organisers of rallies and convoys had developed a successful way of negotiating this section of the voyage. Blue Water Rallies have stated that they made the unfortunate decision before the killing of the four kidnapped yacht crew who had been in their rally, but, fatefully had left it just before their seajacking.

Prior to leaving the rally, skipper Scott Adam, 68, and his wife Jean, from California and their crew Phyllis Mackay, 59, and Bob Riggle, 67, of Seattle were sailing Quest, a 58ft Davidson a pilot house double-headsail cutter, as part of the current BWR round -the-world rally, but left the rally in Mumbai.

It proved to be a crucial moment, and the rest of the tragic story has been told.

According to the organiser of another rally - the TTT (Thailand to Turkey) Rally - Rene Tiemessen, up to 100 yachts, including the thirty yachts in his rally, the remaining members of the Blue Water Rally, and many yachts travelling independently, still have to make the transit from the general area of India to the Red Sea.

It is these cruising sailors who must be proceeding very nervously, as they make their very secret way across the danger zone.