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.
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
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.
|Pakistani or Banglideshi fishermen unable to leave the port area and unable to go to sea and work||Fishermen at work|
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.
|one of several tourist resorts||the laundry shop the day after the fire|
|street scene||street scene|
|street scene||Lulu’s Supermarket|
|street scene||street scene|
|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.
|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.