About 15-20 yachts have already enquired about rounding the Cape rather than risking the Red Sea route back to the Mediterranean, according to the Ocean Sailing Association of Southern Africa (OSASA). It’s the latest indication of increased maritime traffic since Houthi rebels starting attacking vessels in the Red Sea in November last year, apparently in retaliation against Israel’s invasion of Gaza.
In January SAMSA reported an estimated 35% increase in shipping traffic around the Cape since November, and cruising yachts appear to be following suit, opting for the longer but safer route around the Cape. “It is very interesting to see how the forward-thinking yachties are already making plans to move away from the Red Sea route back to the Mediterranean from Indonesia etc this year,” confirms OSASA’s Jenny Crickmore-Thompson. “Already this early in the season, which only starts in a few months time, some 15-20 yachts have made enquiries about the alternative route, concerned that the attacks between the Houthis and the Western powers will escalate, and reluctant to face potential piracy or aggression sailing this passage.
“Most are now making plans to cross from the Indian Ocean Islands and either sail to East Africa or down past Mauritius and Reunion towards Richards Bay and Durban. The plan would then be to round the Cape of Good Hope, to St Helena and Brazil or directly back to the Caribbean from Cape Town. All of which adds a good few months on to the passage home, but is conceivably better than the perceived danger of facing the Houthis up the Red Sea.”