Monday, April 6, 2009

Piracy in the Seychelles

Security was a significant consideration when we planned our grand adventure. Traveling in the Middle East carries risks, both real and imagined. But it was the Somali pirates that captured our attention. After they hijacked an oil tanker last November, we carefully compared their sphere of operations with the intended route of our Indian Ocean adventure.

That comparison made it clear that piracy was a risk once our ship was up near the waters between Tanzania and the Seychelles. Certainly not a big enough risk to forego the trip, but something to be aware of.

We therefore weren't surprised when some large, tattooed, crew-cut gents showed up on the ship for a few days to provide security consulting before we entered those waters. Nor were we surprised to hear that the Somali pirates did strike again, very close to the Seychelles.

But it did hit closer to home when we learned that the pirates struck in one of the exact places we had been -- just off Aldabra -- and that one of the victims was a ship we had shared moorings with.

When we visited Assumption on the National Geographic Explorer, there was one other ship at anchor, coincidentally named the Indian Ocean Explorer. Sadly, the IO Explorer and its crew were taken hostage a few days ago, one of several hijacking in a recent "spree". We hope everything turns out well for their crews.

Not surprisingly, the ship we had been traveling on has now changed its sphere of operations. The National Geographic Explorer is now located much further away, exploring the far eastern edges of the Seychelles. We wish we were with them.

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