Ex-Marine Dom Mee talks to Sue Pelling about why he was called in as a piracy consultant during recent delivery trip of Tracy Edwards' catamaran to Qatar
Dom Mee, who last year completed a solo expedition to the Arctic following in the footsteps of Sir John Ross’s expedition of 1829 to 1833 in search for the North West Passage, has also just completed the delivery of Tracy Edwards’ catamaran to Qatar in the Middle East. Hot-footing it straight from Doha to Antigua Sailing Week, Mee is currently racing aboard the Russian Swan 48 Murka. From here he has plans for another polar expedition to the north but this time his decided to go in company because he says the risk of being trapped in the ice, meeting polar bears and Arctic Bisons is far too dangerous to go it alone.
While Mee is enjoying racing with the partially Russian crew in the superb windy conditions in Antigua, the five-week, 6,000-mile delivery trip to Qatar is still at the forefront of his mind. Commenting on why he was chosen for Edwards’ delivery crew Mee said: “Although I was there as a crew member together with nine others including some of Tracy’s Maiden crew and some of the crew from Club Med, the main reason I was there was in a professional capacity, because of my Marine background and my connection as a consultant for IDS International as a piracy terrorist specialist. Because the cat was going through the Med, Suez Canal and through high-risk areas, I was called in, in partnership with IDS because they are the main security consultants for Lloyds register, and we put together a threat assessment for the trip.
“The main threat was piracy, especially in the Gulf a Aden, near the Somali coast which is very dangerous so it was critical to put a procedure in place. There are different categories of protection to put on the boat and in some cases we’re armed, although not on this occasion.”
Fortunately Mee and crew arrived at their destination in tact although the trip wasn’t entirely incident-free. As well as taking longer than expected due to a Force 9 battering in the Bay of Biscay most of the trip they had the wind on the nose making the going exceptionally tough. Mee added: “We spent two days just going north and south across Algeria because these cats don’t point very well. It was quite a frustrating trip in some ways, but at the same time interesting because there are not many racing boats of that calibre that go down that way”
Although there were no major piracy problems on their trip they had a couple of incidents where they had potential threats. Mee continued: “One of them was from a vessel in the Red Sea but we did some evasive manoeuvres and they backed off. If such a thing did happen there are different levels Standard Operational procedures that are put into force as an emergency plan. Generally speaking if something did happen my first aim would be to get the crew off deck, below out the way, secure and as low down in the boat as possible, and then deal with the problem.”
Mee says he’ll be announcing details of his forthcoming expedition to the north later in the year and from now until then most of his time will be taken up with preparations. Mee concluded: “My sailing plans for this year are fairly fluid because I’m trying to put off as much as possible to get ready for my expedition, so that’s my priority. Having said that, if a great sailing programme comes up then yes of course, I’m sure I’ll fit it in.”