Part 7 – Oman

Ashore at Salalah

 

Sun 10 Jan 10

1000hrs: Everyone still in bed. A knocking on the hull. Alongside is a dinghy with a Caucasian man and two others with a weather-beaten appearance. We learn later the Caucasian fellow’s name is Mark and he’s a Kiwi. He owns a boat called Quo Vadis which is up on the hard stand supported by wooden poles. He’s about early fifties, number 1 crew cut, an average build and intense eyes that fix on you.

Mark is quite inquisitive. Wants to know all about us, who we are, where we’re going and details about the Vasco da Gama rally. He’s obviously deduced we’d been part of the rally because we still have the rally banner displayed along the stern rails. I had mistakenly surmised he was from the only other yacht moored here named Alamic, a Swiss registered yacht. Mark tells me it is supposed to be heading for Thailand tomorrow.

I’m still a bit fuzzy headed from having just woken up so don’t pick up immediately on asking more important questions such as how and where to get water or fuel, exact details of booking into the country and so forth. The little group moves off to shore with promises to catch up later. Mark gets off on shore and the others go over to Alamic.

Looking around in the bright daylight across our little mooring basin is an Omani warship, which to my limited knowledge of naval vessels might be a small frigate. At the end are a couple of small Police patrol boats. Further around to the left are several large, brightly painted, tall timber-hulled boats with relatively small topside superstructure and huge rudders. Just to our right is a concrete launching ramp and further along are several exotic looking fishing vessels with high prows and a long timber shade structure sloping along the poop. There are several men of Indian appearance working in and around them.

Beautiful day. Large shoal of fish up to around 20cm or so milling around the front of our boat, keeping a clear distance in a ring around the anchor chain as it drops down in the light green water to the bottom.

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Jenzminc and Alamic in the yacht mooring basin SV Alamic
03 04
Typical fishing boat A typical traditional Arabian timber ship
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Left:
Looking towards the boat ramp from the yacht mooring basin

Morning: The others don’t get up for a couple of more hours. I settle in to do some computer work bringing my hand written journal notes up to date. After the men get up we spend time just leisurely doing minor odds and ends cleaning up after our last passage.

Late Afternoon: Go ashore. Climb a million steps up a concrete stairway leading to the Port Control Office on top of the hill adjacent to the yacht mooring area. Once up there we find the building also houses the Harbour Master. After knocking on a door marked with Arabic writing we find ourselves in the main Port Control room. Inside are a couple of men, one in an impressive white maritime uniform with lots of gold trim. He ushers us next door to a conference room then asks what can he do for us. After explanations he goes away and comes back with a form already completed with all our details and stamped with the Port Control Office stamp. They’d have recorded all our details when we got permission to enter the harbour last night over the radio. He tells us we now have to go to a place called CGT Finance to pay the port fees. Takes us outside onto a terrace and points out where the place is, hidden from view around the corner of another nearby hill.

As we walk down the hill a younger uniformed maritime man driving a big black Chrysler Jeep like an imitation Hummer stops and asks if we need a lift. He seems confused about where we have to go but drops us off near where we’d been told to go. In a nearby office we find a small cashier type booth but the bloke behind the counter. He’s wearing one of the common long white smocks and vari-coloured brimless caps that seem to be all the rage in Oman, but he doesn’t know what to do with us or what we want to do. Back outside we look around but can’t find this CGT place. There’s a little Police building with a sign saying Passports and Residence but no one is there.

With nothing else to do we start trudging along the main road. Trudging, trudging maybe a kilometre or so. The loose dust on the side of the road soon covers our lower legs like long white socks. A semi-trailer turns off the main road in amongst big piles of loose stones leaving a powder white dust storm in its wake. Wait for it to clear. No one stops to give us a lift. Reach the front gate manned by Oman Police. Inside are four men at the counter. They’re all dressed in the standard white smocks and all talking at once to a Sergeant, a Corporal and another unshaven man standing behind the counter with a dirty smock and towelled head. Everybody is talking at the same time without regard to anything the other is saying. It’s a real babble in there. Two of the police wear sidearm pistols, the other two do not. Quite a difference from Egypt and Yemen.

The staff don’t speak English very well so one of them eventually rings the Port Control Office who gives them instructions what to do with us. We’re led outside to a Police car.
“Get in the back please”.
Emphatic hand signals not to get in the front passenger seat. We’re driven like Lord Mucks around to the Container Terminal. Lots of talking at the main gate. Drive away and come back. More talking. Eventually drive over to a big building 100 metres away with a sign outside saying Administration Building. Around to the side is a little door and inside is a small room with two serving windows, one on each side. One for Customs and Immigration and the other probably has something to do with the Container Terminal operations.

Under a sign which says Passports and Residence, a Police Sergeant (three stripes) after some more apparent confusion and mucking about starts to process our papers. We’re beginning to learn that the officials here are not much used to handling cruising yachties, only the big shipping stuff. Several forms each with two carbon copies, much signing and payments made. That’s Customs completed. We now have to wait for the Immigration people to arrive.
“This will just take about 20 minutes. Please just wait here”.
Waiting, waiting. An hour goes by. It’s turned dark long ago. One of the clerks from the other office comes outside and stops for a chat. On learning we’d arrived from Aden he makes mention of the habit of gat chewing. Explains that it doesn’t make them loopy but just has a calming effect,
“If you go out and kill someone, no problem. Kill maybe a hundred people, no problem, everything is okay”, he says with a big grin.
Makes us cackle a bit too.

Make enquiries back at the Customs/Immigration counter.
“Just another 10 minutes”.
Waiting. About another half hour a man in standard white smock and brimless cap appears behind the counter and starts processing our passports. Heaps of forms, carbon paper, payments. Hands us our passports appropriately visa stamped and we’re officially clear to enter the country.
“Have a nice stay”, we’re told.

Outside at the main gate we ask for directions to the Oasis Club. From the guide books back onboard this is the place to go for a good meal. It’s apparently not too far away and alcohol is available. The guard directs us to another gate back inside the terminal but a man with crossed eyes tells us we have to exit through the road leading out through the work area.
“It’s policy”, he says.
Make our way through the multitudes of cranes, stacked containers, big trucks and huge forklifts moving around. No OH&S here that’s for sure. Strange that we couldn’t just go out the main gate and onto the main road.

Walking, walking. Come out on the main road near the front gate again. Show our passports to the Police guard and head out the gate, along the road, left at the intersection and up the hill. Long walk. Brightly coloured lights at the top of the hill mark the Oasis Club and we thankfully go inside. Pay the US$2 price for Wi-Fi access and send some emails off. Change some US Dollars for Oman Rials. US$20 equals 7.200 Rials. We have to multiply the price of things by 2.5 to get the roughly equivalent Aussie price.

Have a couple of drinks. Order a meal. Roger goes for The Challenge – a huge Kiwi steak plus two 500ml beers to be finished inside half an hour for an Oasis Club T-shirt?
No, no, no – wagging fingers and wide grins.
The meal is lovely. We even order chocolate nut sundaes and coffee to follow.

Approx 1000hrs: Catch a cab waiting outside back to the port but the Police stop the taxi at the gate. We have to walk from here. Back onboard everybody is well and truly bushed. Off to bed.

Mon 11 Jan 10

Morning: I stay on board to finish updating my Jenzminc journal. The other boat Alamic had left early in the morning. Andy and Roger go ashore to find this place where we’re supposed to pay our Port fees. Roger is back after a few minutes to change his clothes. He’d slipped on the slippery surface of the concrete launching ramp and got wet.

They go first to the nearby Police building marked Passports and Residence. Unattended. Walk over to some nearby offices. Nobody knows where this CGT Finance place is. As they walk along the local docks next to the fishing boats a man says hello and makes his acquaintance. Asks what we want.
When told he says, “You need Mohammed”, and makes a phone call.

About 10 minutes later Mohammed arrives in a large Kia All Wheel Drive and introduces himself. He’s probably about middle age and black African appearance, although he later said he’d been born in Oman. Says he spent many years in the Oman military and then in the Royal Oman Police before becoming an agent. Takes the boys over to the Administration Building where we’d been last night and up the stairs out the front of the Customs and Immigration. This is the CGT Finance place. Mohammed had apparently been thinking we were leaving but on learning otherwise tells the boys that this port payment can all be done on the last day.

Mohammed drives them into town to hire a car for about 11 Rial per day. It’s a little four-door Toyota Yaris, small but suits our purpose admirably. They fill it with 35 litres of petrol for about three Rial. Mohammed then takes them to a place where they can pick up a map of Salalah. They also grab an Oman phone simm card so that we can keep in easy contact with Mohammed. Return to the boat.

Afternoon: All ashore again. We’re on a mission to buy two new house batteries having decided they’re on their way out and it would be best to replace them now. Find Mark on board his boat Quo Vadis nearby. Interesting man. Had been in charge of IBM in New Zealand some years ago but retired to go permanently cruising. Had left Salalah for Aden but had problems with his sail-drive and returned here. After lifting the boat to inspect it he found all the engine oil like mayonnaise treacle. It’s now been on the hardstand for about 8 months and he’s replaced the sail drive. Has seen a lot of cruising yachties coming and going since and is just waiting for a rally group to arrive in Salalah to tag along with to Aden.

Mark learns we want batteries and elects to show us where to get them. Climbs into his Nissan sedan and takes off towards the city centre with us following. It’s about 20 km or so. Beautiful roads lined with ornate black and gold painted light poles. Surprised to see speed cameras. Couple of big roundabouts. Clean roads and streets with workers using hand brooms. Most of the buildings look recently new. There tends to be a lot of vacant desert land between some of the bigger buildings. Very spread out. New multi-story buildings going up everywhere, mostly with a distinct Arabian Nights or Persian architectural look. They have a different but pleasant aesthetic appeal to western eyes. Well maintained. Some big tourist resorts and a couple of big hotels such as The Hilton. Almost no litter anywhere.

Mark guides us into an industrial area and pulls up outside a reasonable sized store. All the staff are Indian and don’t really speak very good English, but we’re able to get across what we want since we’ve taken one of the old batteries with us. They don’t have any deep cycle batteries in stock and don’t seem to be able to source them either. However we are able to get two 110 Amp Hour maintenance free, long-lasting batteries for 170 Rials after bargaining them down from 97 Rials each. Andy also buys a 5-litre container of diesel engine oil. Head uptown to change some Euro’s into Oman Rials at a Western Union office.

06 07
Ornate street lights and speed camera (centre left) on the main roads Street scene with mosque
08 09
Buildings are typically spaced well apart A group of suburban shops. Our laundry shop was located in the middle of this group, and which subsequently burnt down
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Left: Typical of many shops in the more central shopping districts

Dusk is coming on as we start heading back out of town. Get a flat rear tyre on the passenger side and pull over to the side of the road. Search high and low for the jack. Find it under the driver’s seat. The handle is under the boot cover and the tools in a little bag in a side pocket. Three young local lads take a keen interest in what we’re doing.

Approx 1830hrs: Meet with Mark at the Oasis Club. Wi-Fi internet not working tonight. Have some drinks and he joins us for dinner. During the conversations we learn that the fee to come alongside a jetty for fuel and/or water is payable only once and costs 55 Rial. From this we gain the idea that perhaps we might be able to tie up to a wharf for a few days until we leave. We’ll need to approach Mohammed about it tomorrow.

Approx 2200hrs: Back onboard Andy starts to replace the old batteries but strikes a problem with the terminals on the new ones. Makes a temporary connection but new clamps are going to be required.

2300hrs. In bed. Read a book for a short while.

Tues 12 Jan 10

Morning: Andy rings Mohammed to confirm arrangements with the Harbour Master for us to move over to one of the wharfs. Make our way over to the launching ramp where Roger slips again on the slippery surface of the ramp. Mohammed soon arrives down at the boat and takes Andy and I up to the Port Control Office. Roger stays down near the boat to dry out in the sun.

Under Mohammed’s guidance Andy writes a letter to the Port Operations Manager explaining that we need to do some repairs and will need around three days against the wharf to complete them. This isn’t entirely untrue. We do have to make some repairs to the wind generator mounting, a small tear in the mainsail and we need to service the motor. We also want to clean the boat, re-provision and take on water and fuel. Much easier to do all this when tied to a wharf rather than out on an anchor. The Operations Manager is at a meeting so Mohammed brings us back down the hill to the boat.

Mark arrives for a chat when we notice that the opposite rear tyre is now almost flat. Mohammed tells Andy and I to follow and leads us down to the container terminal. Pulls up in an area stacked with huge tyres and talks to the Indian man in there. We’re told to stay in the car. The Indian man pumps up our tyre while huge cranes shuffle back and forth just metres away. Head back to the mooring basin. Mohammed now leaves telling us he’ll call us on the phone when he’s heard back from the Operations Manager. His last minute instructions concerning the tyres are that it shouldn’t cost more than 1 Rial to get each puncture repaired.

Drive into town and pull up at a tyre place. Everyone seems to be Indian again and no one speaks English very well. One fellow eventually comes out to inspect our flat. He finds a cut and says the tyre will have to be replaced. Wants to replace all our tyres while we’re at it. No. Quotes four Rial to fix the slow leak on our other tyre. Andy tells him we’ll think about it. A visit to another shop gets some new terminal lugs for the new batteries.

We’ve learned there is a Lulu supermarket here in Salalah and find it marked on our map. Don’t have any difficulty navigating our way to it. Do some shopping but can’t use the ATM since its being fixed. Roger and Andy decide to take off and find a bank to get some more Rials to buy groceries, but as soon as they leave the ATM is working again. When they get back we finish the shopping, load up our groceries and head back to the boat.

Groceries ferried out to the boat. Andy sets about finishing the installation of the new batteries. New storage places have to be found for some extra groceries but it’s all duly put away eventually.

Afternoon: Mohammed calls on the phone to tell us we can now move to Berth 29 which is against a nearby wharf. Call Port Control to advise them. They tell us not to move yet and will call back. They soon respond saying permission granted. Rope untied from the rocks and pull the anchor up. Motor the short distance to the wharf and with the assistance of a couple of Pakistani fishermen standing around get Jenzminc tied up alongside. The fishermen continue to take keen interest in us. They squat along the wharf watching our every move. We were to learn they lead pretty hard and boring lives. The wharf is filthy with cement dust and the starboard deck is soon dirty from climbing back and forth. At least there are large rubber tyres lining the cement wall and with our fenders the hull is safe from damage.

Mohammed gives us a key to the “Royal Suite” which is a locked room to the nearby ablutions block normally used by the Harbour Master but is available to visiting yachties. It contains a shower, proper toilet, sink, mirror and cleaning brooms. It’s a much nicer facility to use than the public one which is used by the local Pakistani and Bangladeshi fishermen.

Late Afternoon: Everyone enjoys a shower. Late sundowners. There is some trucking activity in a large flat bitumen area next to our berth with some men walking around wearing reflective vests. Truck drivers are being trained in backing shipping containers with sharp right angled turns between 200-litre drums. One bloke is quite good at it and spins it in straight away. Another has all sorts of problems and keeps running into drums. More practice needed.

Evening: Visit the Oasis Club for dinner but don’t stay too long. Manage to send off some emails and do some internet banking. Everyone’s really bushed and return to the boat fairly early.

Farewell Jenzminc

Weds 13 Jan 10

Morning: Mohammed comes down and waits while we siphon diesel from the jerry containers into the main tank. We order an extra 500 litres of fuel through him. Patch a small tear in the mainsail. Nice to see the house batteries holding a reasonable charge overnight. Arrangements also made to get access to an adjacent water outlet on the wharf. Wind has risen causing Jenzminc to bump and jerk against the wharf wall.

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Left: One of the big timber ships leaves the harbour

Marks drops by. Tells us the wind is only recent and that normally there’s nothing. Also surprised to learn there’s a Wet and Dry Season. Lot of palm trees but the rest of the vegetation where it exists is a kind of thin leafy or thorny kind of low bush or plant. During the Wet Season the mountain ranges in the distance turns green. At least there are some kinds of vegetation on them whereas in Egypt and Yemen they are totally arid. Further south and in the town they only ever get a drizzle if it rains at all but it seems to be enough for a few thorny sort of plants to grow.

Mark points out one of the Pakistani lads. Pirates had captured him and the Oman Government paid his ransom. He now has to remain here working on the fishing boats until he can pay his ransom money back. In the meantime he has no passport and cannot leave the Port area. Poor bugger. He’s a nice young fellow with an interest in collecting bank notes from other countries, which is probably his only hobby.

But he’s not the only unfortunate around the port area. Mark says the Omani fishing fleet get their crews from Pakistan and Bangladesh through an agent and are supposed to be paid a share of the catch. But they either don’t get paid or their expenses are heavily deducted and they are confined to the port area. At the end of the season they’re given an aeroplane ticket home.

As a result the word has spread through Pakistan and Bangladesh and many of the fishing boats here can’t get enough crew any more. Without sufficient crew the boats don’t go out and the men assigned to the boat are left to languish there while their expenses keep mounting up. Hard state of affairs for our friendly little lad trying to pay off his ransom. It’s slavery, pure and simple.

Andy wants everyone off the boat so he can pull out and clean the whole of the fuel system and service the motor. Gives Roger a Yanmar fuel filter to go into the city to buy two more. Mark leads us to the Honda Centre which also supplies Yanmar parts. Their computer system is down so we’re unable to find out if any filters are available. They tell us they will ring Muscat to see if they have any there and if so it will be despatched today. We should get it tomorrow.

Next stop is laundry. Go to a little shop by the side of the main road where Mark gets his washing done. He picks up his washing and we pass over our three bags. We’re to pick them up tomorrow at 4 pm. Mark then leads us to a little bakery shop popular with western ex-pats near the local Air Force base. Beautiful fresh bread and cakes baked on the premises. As well as a bakery it also runs a little store containing several lines of western food including bacon that’s either hard to find or unavailable elsewhere. We decide we’ll come back here to do some final shopping before we leave Salalah.

Now to the local market and get pestered by some Indian men who wash the two cars. Highly persistent and don’t seem to understand the word, “No”. Fresh meat, fruit and vegetables are available but although not clean by western standards it’s clean enough. Didn’t go into the “wet” area which judging by the smell is a fish market. Meat is hanging in there but I’m put off by someone sorting through some guts with a large gathering of flies in a small skip bin nearby. Good quality fruit and vegetables. Buy a case of sweet Egyptian El Manar oranges for 3 Rials a case of 42 oranges. The Egyptians arguably supply perhaps the sweetest oranges in the Middle East.

Last shopping item is Kentucky Fried Chicken. Get three packs for 1.5 Rial each with four pieces of chicken, a bread roll and chips. Good value. Rear tyre still going down but not too bad yet.

1400hrs: Back at the boat Andy is still working away on the motor. Neither the water nor the fuel man has shown up yet. Sit down and have lunch. Large flocks of grey sea birds very much like seagulls gather and bicker around the boat, fighting for scraps of KFC thrown over the side. Andy tells me my wife Delma rang while I was in town. Says she will ring back later. She’s learned to use Skype and the internet to ring my mobile phone. That way it’s only a small cost at her end.

Andy returns to servicing the motor and lifting floorboards to see if there is any water under there. Roger takes off in the car to try and find the longest hose he can buy so we can run water directly from the ablution block to the boat. Phone call from the Honda people. We’ll be able to pick up our filters the day after tomorrow.

1730hrs: The fuel man arrives with 2 x 200 litre fuel drums through the afternoon. The water man also turns up to attach some pipes to the nearby water outlet on the wharf so that we can run some water. Andy finishes his work. We’ll fuel up tomorrow but right now the bucket, broom and detergents have work to do. The cement stains on the starboard side are stubborn. Roger gets down on hands and knees with a scrubbing brush and Jif cleanser to clean it off. Douse down the boom bag, both bimini’s, rails, decks and cockpit to get rid of the salt. Fill the main water tank. Lift the dinghy onto the foredeck.

Sundowners. Roger tells us that while he was in town there had been smoke everywhere in the area of our laundry. Fire engines milling around. Traffic stalled. He thinks that maybe it might have been our laundry but couldn’t be sure.

Evening: Andy has understandable concerns with security of the boat so I elect to stay onboard. Roger once again wants to attempt to get his emails sent so the boys head off to the Oasis Club. Don’t particularly want to go anyway. Work on some music files to upload to the iPod. At one stage there’s lots of noise going on outside. One of the huge 28-wheeled mobile cranes is moving along the road with flashing lights and warning beeps. Moves across the large yard area nearby and parks itself on the wharf next to the water down near the launching ramp, right alongside Quo Vadis. Lights off. Silence descends again. They use these cranes to lift yachts and other boats out of the water onto the hard.

Thurs 14 Jan 10

Right: Securing the dinghy12

1000hrs: Mark confirms it was our laundry shop that burned down yesterday. There must be hundreds of laundries and the one we select burns down the same night. He suggests we may still be in luck, that perhaps they might have done the washing off the premises as they sometimes do. Roger starts cleaning inside the boat while Andy and I start to fill the fuel bladder which has been placed into the dinghy.

1330hrs: Refuelling completed by siphoning around 300 litres of fuel through 13mm clear hose. Tedious process. Roger has just completed all the interior cleaning so we all stop for a drink of cold water and cuppa’s.

Afternoon: Roger and I crash asleep. Andy stays up to fix the wind generator mounting. He also polishes the stainless steel pipes which had been starting to get some surface rust on them. Late sundowners.

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Pakistani or Banglideshi fishermen unable to leave the port area and unable to go to sea and work Fishermen at work
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Left: Quo Vadis on the hardstand

Evening: Up to the Oasis Club where we meet Mohammed. Tells us the Alamic was heading directly for the Seychelles enroute to Phuket in Thailand. We’re a little stunned by this apparent stupidity. We’d been told that Somali pirates were now using big mother boats and ranging further out into the Indian Ocean, especially around the Seychelles.

Lot of Canadian Navy crew inside the club. Roger has a chat with one of them who tells us the current warning is to stay outside a 600-mile limit from the Somalia coast. Have dinner. Return to boat for cuppas.

Andy is unhappy with the way two of the four rafted but unattended fishing boats are hanging back and ready to collide with Jenzminc. On checking I can see the bow line connecting the third and fourth boats has parted. They’re hanging at an awkward angle and threatening to break clear with the wind and tide. Walk up to the next group of boats and call out to the fishermen there. After much hullaballoo a couple of the younger ones grab a line, run over to pull the detached boats back into line with the others and tie them off. Takes about half an hour to get it done. Back to bed.

Fri 15 Jan 10

Morning: Jump into the car to drive into town. A large cruise ship Costa Europa has come in overnight and Omani security is tight. There are additional armed security guards at the front gate in addition to the Canadian Navy Shore Patrol guard. Lots of tourists milling around and perhaps dozens of taxi cabs or mini buses parked nearby. Just along the road a bit further is another checkpoint with about a dozen or so armed soldiers. Two machine gun crews mounted in open backed vehicles are positioned further along the road at separate intersections.

First task is to check the laundry shop just in case they’d actually done the washing off the premises. No such luck. The Indian owner meets us with the sickest expression on his face I’ve seen for a long time. There is a pile of clothes reduced to a blackened, sodden heap on the floor inside. Poor fellow.

Leave him to his misery to check on whether we can pick up our fuel filters. No. Shop is shut. Over to our little bakery shop for some more shopping. Pick up some bacon, tinned potatoes and other items not readily available elsewhere. Off to Lulu’s where we buy a few more items we’ve thought of and I buy a replacement towel, two pillow cases and a small alarm clock.

We’re temporarily undecided how to proceed now. We have to get official clearances out of the country, return the hire car, pick up our filters tomorrow and fix the fuel bladder which has sprung a slow fuel leak. There’s maybe 20 litres of diesel leaked into the dinghy and we’ve no idea where the leak is yet or what we’re going to do about it.

16 17
one of several tourist resorts the laundry shop the day after the fire
18 19
street scene street scene
20 21
street scene Lulu’s Supermarket
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street scene street scene
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The Hilton hotel, Salalah street scene

Approx 1200hrs: Set up a hose fuel feed line to siphon some of the leaked fuel from the dinghy into the main tank. In the process of doing this an unfortunate incident occurred that brought my involvement in this journey to an end. It is suffice to say without any finger pointing or laying blame that heated words were exchanged between Andy and myself. I spoke with Andy two separate times after that following a cooling off period of about an hour apart, but in the end we could only agree to disagree. Each of us was looking for an apology that they thought ought to come from the other.

Approx 1500hrs: During the last conversation Andy tells me it makes no difference to him whether I stay onboard or not. However it is obvious that a point of no return has been reached and I feel that further sailing with me on board could not work. It would only lead to awkwardness or even more conflict so I decide to leave the boat.

Pack my gear. Pass my bags up the companionway to Roger and then heave them up and across the lip of the wharf. We part amicably enough in the circumstances. Andy sticks out his hand. I shake it and wish him luck – and sincerely mean it. Roger grabs the hire car keys and drives me into town to the Salalah Hotel, a clean looking place with a Wi-Fi network available in the lobby and near to the airport. Tell Roger that I will not book an airfare until lunch time tomorrow. Also tell him that I hope they both have a pleasant and safe voyage to Thailand and that I deeply regret this moment had come to pass. I meant that from the bottom of my heart too.

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View from hotel window. Young people playing soccer. a mosque at dusk

Evening: Walk about the city centre. Find a nice, clean restaurant selling Indian and Arabian food. Cost just 3.2 Rials for a beautiful meal that I simply couldn’t finish because there was too much of it. Early to bed. Sleep does not come easy.

Sat 16 Jan 10

Wait until lunch time then start looking online for an airfare home. Book my flight. Spend the rest of the day resting. Nothing much to see or do in Salalah anyway. Perhaps I could go to see the tomb of Job who is mentioned in the Bible but my heart is not much in it. Have dinner at the same restaurant and then take a despondent walk through the local shops.

Sun 17 Jan 10

Relax in the hotel for most of the day. After lunch I take a taxi out to the airport and begin the long journey flying home Muscat, Doha, Singapore and Denpasar to Darwin.

On reflecting on this trip I have much to be thankful for to Andy and I am grateful. He offered me a trip of a lifetime during which I visited a beautiful area in Turkey, sailed the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. I saw the Great Pyramids and Sphinx, Luxor and Aswan in Egypt. Visited Aden in Yemen and Salalah in Oman and sailed the notorious Pirate Alley along the bottom of the Arabian Peninsula. Quite a list not to mention memorable adventures, meeting lots of nice people and giving me the most enjoyment I’ve had literally for many years along the way.

In closing I’d like to include this comment passed on by Roger when he’d been talking to Mark earlier. Mark had said something to the effect that of all the yachties that had passed through coming from the Red Sea, most if not all of the crews were bickering, even apparently slanderous of each other. Mark had complimented the Jenzminc crew on how well we were all getting on together.

In the light of this outside view of the crew it just makes it that much more sad that I now think of Andy and Roger out there now heading towards Galle in Sri Lanka – and turn my thoughts towards home.

THE END

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