More problems for rally crews hemmed in by piracy in Oman as yacht transport deal is delayed

Things aren’t getting easier for crews in the Blue Water Rally, stuck in Salalah, Oman after a decision that piracy risks make it too dangerous to continue into the Red Sea.

Last month, after a conference about the options, the skippers of the 21 boats in the rally decided to ship their yachts to Turkey. A deal was arranged to transport them from Oman to Turkey.

The rally group is reported to have received a discount on the usual commercial rate of about $1,000 per foot, but the cost is still enormously expensive.

Yacht transport specialists charter ships for this route as they deem it too dangerous for their own vessels and crews. Chartered vessels normally have a range of anti-piracy measures such as razor wire and even armed guards on board.

Yacht transport company Dockwise put out a press release recently about transporting the fleet. However, the arrangement hit a major snag this week after the company they chartered from went bankrupt.

The ship that had been earmarked to transport the Blue Water Rally fleet is reported to be chained to the dock in South Africa.

The bankrupt company, shipping line Beluga, was itself a victim of piracy in January. One of their transport ships, Beluga Nomination, was taken by pirates north of the Seychelles with a deck cargo of yachts and motorboats on board.

A rescue attempt by the Seychelles authorities resulted in the pirates taking a crewmember on deck and executing him by shooting him through the head.

The pirates have been demanding $8 million to release the ship.

As for the stranded Blue Water Rally crews, they had hoped to be shipped in the first week of April. A spokesman from Dockwise assures us that the shipping will happen in April, but would not specify dates.

Meanwhile, 15 yachts that were part of another cruising rally heading towards the Red Sea are being shipped from the Maldives with another yacht transport company. This is part of an exodus from this part of the world, as cruising sailors accept the whole of the northern Indian Ocean is now a no-go area.