A Somali pirate explaining why he is in the seajacking business. Screenshot courtesy of Ross Kemp/ youtube.com (click to enlarge)
Sarah Outen alone on the Indian Ocean with her happy socks. Image ever CONTACT 4.0 courtesy of sarahouten.co.uk (click to enlarge)
Many records were broken during the Indian Ocean Rowing Race from Australia to Mauritius. Image of the first team of four, enjoying victory, courtesy of indianoceanrowingrace09.com (click to enlarge)
Teenage victory. 17-year old around-the-world sailor Mike Perham reached his finish line. Image courtesy of PPLmedia.com (click to enlarge)
Jessica Watson, 16, set sail from Sydney on 18 October to sail non-stop, unassisted around the world. Image courtesy of Thorne/Getty/ nydailynews.com (click to enlarge)
Northwest Passage boat, Fiona driven to ground by ice in Resolute Bay. Image courtesy of Russ Roberts/ yachtfiona.com (click to enlarge)
Lunatic Piran was spotted on the ocean, floating uncontrolled without her captain, 72-year old Jure Sterk. Image courtesy of fotobesenicar.com (click to enlarge)
Reid Stowe: "I sail and write for those who have embarked upon quests with open hearts and a longing for oneness." Image courtesy of 1000days.net (click to enlarge)
Soanya with Darshen on his first boat ride. Image courtesy of 1000days.net (click to enlarge)
ExplorersWeb 2009 Year in Review: The Oceans

Posted: Dec 19, 2009 04:06 am EST
In previous years, ExplorersWeb have published one big Year in Review on January 1st. This year we are cutting it up in sections, to be posted every day until the awards, with the compiled report to go up early 2010.

Today, the main events on the Oceans.

Gulf of Aden attacks

The Piracy off Somalia's coast has reportedly caused 30% falls in tuna catches in the Indian Ocean but that's where the good news ends. A regular ExWeb news staple for years, the pirates really took off in 2009, with private hotlines straight to international newsdesks.

But times also got rougher: U.S. Navy snipers shot three pirates holding an American captain at gunpoint in a lifeboat.

This year, changes in attack patterns and tactics were reported. The Pirates are extending their area and there is an increased number of night attacks. Others profiting lately are insurance companies, "security firms" and people traffickers.

Rowing milestones

124 days after departure, early August 24-year old Sarah Outen (UK) became the first woman to row single handed, unsupported across the Indian Ocean from Australia to Mauritius. "In short, I was rolled, at least three times, by some huge breakers as I approached the entrance to the bay, meaning that instead of coming through the channel in the reef to walk up onto the beach, I came to rest on the reef itself," Sarah reported about her arrival. "I said I was determined to hit Mauritius, and I did!

The Indian Ocean has been rowed single-handed/unsupported only twice, in 1971 by Swede Anders Svedlund (64 days) and in 2003 by Brit Simon Chalk (107 days). Simon organized a first race across the ocean this year, which was completed early August.

Teen sailors

British Mike Perham and American Zac Sunderland sailed around the world this year at only 17 years old. Two 16-year old teenage girls, Jessica Watson from Australia and Abby Sunderland (Zac's sister) from the USA, now want to beat the records. Jessica is enroute while Abby is preparing her boat in LA.

Laura Dekker was prevented from sailing alone around the world by the Dutch authorities and the court ordered she stay under provisional supervision until 1 July 2010. Laura turned 14 this fall, and would have to leave on her two year voyage before she is 15 to break the record.

Arctic passages

There was more sea ice in the Arctic this summer than in the past two years contrary to early spring ice forecasts and the longer-term trend of melting sea ice, reported the NW Passage vessels.

Attempting the passage from west to east, Baloum Gwen, Ocean Watch and Silent Sound were blocked by ice in the Gulf of Amundsen. Sailing from east to west Fiona was blocked by sea ice at Resolute with reported considerable drifting ice, some pieces 8 ft above the water. Fleur Australe with famous French skipper Philippe Poupon finally met up with the eastward boats in Cambridge Bay while Silent Sound hit a small island and went aground.

On 7th of September, two multi-purpose heavy lift project carriers, MV Beluga Fraternity and MV Beluga Foresight, became the first non-Russian commercial vessels to make it through the Northeast Passage from Asia to Europe. They entered the so called Northern Sea Route via the inspection point at Vladivostok in order to deliver their project cargo as far into the destination area as no other merchant vessel had previously been able to.

Other news

A 72-year old sailor from Slovenia, Jure Sterk, left Tauranga, New Zealand, in December 2007 on his sailboat Lunatic Piran to become the oldest man in the world to sail around the globe non-stop and with the smallest boat without an engine. He last reported in early January 2009. Thereafter the boat was spotted on the ocean, floating uncontrolled without a captain.

Soanya Ahmad left the schooner on day 306 with "seasickness." On his return to New York in 2010, Reid Stowe will have spent nearly three years without stopping or resupplying, surpassing the current continuous solo sailing record of 657 days held by the Australian Jon Sanders. The captain will also see his first child for the first time, a son born on day 457 of the 1000 Day Ocean Odyssey.

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