Han Xiao sailed through the Gulf of Aden on May 3, becoming the first Chinese sailor to navigate these waters solo. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A Chengdu man who has braved setbacks, storms and pandemic-closed ports to realize a lifelong dream is now on the homeward stretch of his epic round-the-world odyssey, Wang Qian reports.

The dreaded Gulf of Aden, between Yemen and Somali, is one of the most dangerous passages in the world for sailors. Located in the Arabian Sea, it is a notorious hub for piracy.

After sailing for 10 days from Djibouti on April 23, not only did Han Xiao brave the sea alone on his boat, but also encountered the 34th Chinese naval escort flotilla two days later and made radio communication with the fleet, which made the captain “extremely excited and proud”.

“The short encounter and talk gives me confidence and power. You cannot imagine how these words warmed my heart at that moment,” Han said in a recent video recording the encounter, adding that he hadn’t met another Chinese boat during his one-year voyage until meeting the naval fleet.

“When you are happy and unburdened, there are others carrying the world for you. Salute to the Chinese Navy,” he added. The Navy began to carry out escort missions in the pirate-plagued waters in December 2008.

“This is the best protection at sea, reflecting the dignity of the Chinese,” Han told the camera. He sailed through the Gulf of Aden on May 3, becoming the first Chinese sailor to navigate these waters solo.

The video clip has become popular on ByteDance’s Xigua video app, being viewed about 1 million times. Han’s adventure is also in the spotlight.