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ADDITIONS TO THE BLOG as of April 2017: Shamal and her Crew being Mum and Dad are in the Cayman Islands * Should you want to contact us, you can do so by clicking on the Contact Us tab below. * PLEASE subscribe to the Blog, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox.



08 April 2010

Goa - Panji to Muscat - Oman

Yes it’s us again.

Well we left Goa at 2.00pm on Friday 19th March, crossing the Bay just outside the river mouth doing a good 6-8kts on a close reach with a 1,000nm crossing of the Arabian Sea lying ahead of us to reach Muscat. We have had similar distances in the past taking a maximum of eight days, but, with it being mid to late March it is not the most favourable time to make this crossing as the north east trades are starting to run out and in our case it looks like we will have westerly’s ahead of us. We don’t have the fuel to motor the whole way so it looks like we will be doing alot of tacking.
Early morning on Day 2 Alec got me up to see what we could have driven into had it still been dark. We were motoring as the sea was like a mill pond and just in front was a fishing dory [a rather large dinghy which the Indian fishermen tow behind their vessels] which was bow straight down in the water and the stern sticking out about a meter. That could have made a mess if we had hit that!! It must have been like that for some time as it had its own little eco system living around it. The water was crystal clear and we could see the fish everywhere.

In the first 3 days we only covered 336 nm. The winds never got above 6-7kts. For that distance we were still watching out for fishing vessels and again there were plenty of them, but once clear of those it was just the large ships we had to watch out for . When you bring up the photos you will see one of our chart plotter screen showing what the shipping looks like in the Arabian Sea – and that is only the ones who have the AIS system.

In the next 24hour period we picked up a lovely breeze reaching between 17-20kts at times and were humming along again but unfortunately heading towards Pakistan. The other thing which kept us amused at times but has now become rather a nuisance is listening out on Channel 16. Alec now calls it the Monkey Channel. Every evening this guy comes on – we think he may-be a Pakistani Fisherman - and he calls up ‘The Monkey, The Monkey’ in the weirdest voice, referring to the Indian Fishermen. Then we had another singing ‘One little, two little, three little Indians, but the one Alec wanted to get on the microphone and help out through sheer frustration was a couple of Indians in the big ships trying to decide how they should pass each other. It is common to hear one ship calling another just acknowledging which side they will pass each other, but in this case it got all a little confusing for them. One kept saying we will pass Starboard to starboard but the other said NO, Port red to Port red. This went on for a good 10 minutes. I think the Port Red guy won out in the end as by now he was screaming out that they had to ‘’obey the rule’’!! We hear lots of arguments among the Sub-Continent crews and their choice of language and what they call each other is not for the faint hearted!!

Once we were clear of the Indian Coast and all the Fishing Vessels I have had my fishing line out but to date nothing. Mind you if I was a fish I don’t think I would like to be swimming out here among all these super tankers and cargo vessels. We have seen dolphins, and one night it was lovely watching them swimming beside us. You could not see them but the phosphorescence just sparkled in the wake they left behind them. You could see their trails for a good few metres. That same night we had a little bird come rest his weary wings perching on the rescue bag right beside the Port helm where we sit and do our watches. He stayed with us till dawn.

After six days out as the winds were more westerly we did yet another tack, this time south, heading towards the Red Sea. Unfortunately the set drift [current] has not been in our favour for most of the trip, and can be at times between 1-2kts. But we are back on track again now with 330nm to go. There is suppose to be more wind as we approach the Omani coast. I was on watch last night at midnight, a rather hazy night with a part moon out, and we had a merchant ship two miles abeam off our stbd bow with the usual AIS symbol showing on the chart plotter, plus radar return, and also I had visual sighting. No problems as I could see he was going to pass across the bow just over a mile in front, but, on the radar I was getting two echoes. [Multiple echoes can happen when two ships are parallel to each other as Alec keeps telling me] In this case I had only one ship on AIS and visual. On one of my visual lookouts I screamed to Alec to get up and look at this!! Yes another ship was just about to cross our stbd bow just under a mile away in total black out mode. No steaming lights, no navigation lights, no any type of light not even a port hole light, and no AIS transponder or anything apart from now showing on the radar a second clear blob which told us a ship is out there!!! All we could see was this humongous big thing moving at a good 20 -22kts through the water. Alec thinks it may have been one of those huge new super container ships by its profile. Maybe the Skipper thought he was already in Pirate waters, and as we would only show on his radar as our AIS is receiver only and not transponder, that we may have been one!!!! Anyway all was safe and well and as Alec says the mark one eye ball wins again. He has now given me my watch keepers ticket, saying he is still working on his. That is only because my watch is the 2200 – 0200 one and that seems to be when there is the most activity about.

Day 8 sees the wind change to the south and we now running on a broad reach with no more motor sailing for 36hours which was lovely. We leave the Arabian Sea and enter the Gulf of Oman. We both notice the nights getting cooler as we are heading north away from the equator. It is not until the first few hours of day 10 that we see the coast of Oman. We made our way to Muscat but were unable to reach the Port in daylight so dropped anchor about 11nm south in Bandar Khayan – a sound with several lovely sheltered bays. We were back in our old sailing waters again. Next morning we upped anchor and slowly made our way to the Port of Muscat. We were told by Port Control we could not enter the Harbour unless we had a shipping Agent. Oh dear we had not counted on that. After some talking back and forth the Port Control organised an agent for us and by late morning we were anchored in the small craft mooring area. It was not quite as straight forward as we thought – typical Arabs. It took four hours before the Agent came out in a small Police boat and took our paper work ashore to process. He said he would get us a one month visa and it would only take half an hour!! By sundown he still had not arrived back and we were just getting settled for the evening thinking we would finish things off in the morning when we got a radio call to say to move the boat to Berth 5 as a huge cruise liner had just pulled out. This we did and the Agent handed over our passports with the month long visa with us having not filled out any paper work. He then requested his fee of US $700!! Well of course this we refused to pay. He said we could not anchor inside the port area overnight and sent us off to the Marina about five miles away saying that he would be down in the morning to collect the money - yeah right!! Alec told him he thought the pirates were off Somali and not here in Muscat!! As it was now dark and the Marina office had closed for the night we anchored outside next to the British Ambassador's Residence. In the morning we got into the tender and went into the Marina to see if they had a berth available, which they did for a mere US $125 per night!! We were rather shocked at this but decided to spend a couple of nights there so we could give SHAMAL a complete wash down, and then make arrangements to moor somewhere else. Once again Alec told the office staff he thought the Pirates were off Somali and not here in Muscat!! A couple of days later we had organised to anchor just outside the Marina at the Capital Area Yacht Club with temporary membership of US $25 for a month. Talk about extremes. It is a lovely spot with a beautiful clean beach and waters so clear we can see the bottom easily at 6metres. We are able to use all their facilities.

As for the Agent and collecting his money, well he never turned up, but we both knew we could not leave Muscat until we had our paper work. Alec and I set off to find him after the weekend and he was still demanding his US $700. We decided to visit Port Services where we met a very nice Omani gentleman who got on the phone to the Agent and negotiated the price down to US $300. Still a little high, but a vast improvement on US$700. We were then able to get on with catching up with all our friends.

So here we are, back in the Middle East. We have already started exploring all the wonderful bays and beaches in the area. SHAMAL has now over 17,000nm behind her and this last leg took us 9days and 6hours. We have now been away from NZ for 11 months. Our plans are to stay here in Oman till the end of April and then make our way up to Dubai where we will take SHAMAL out of the water for the summer, and then return to New Zealand for a few months to visit family and friends. Then we will be back to continue on with our Adventures.

So from the Admiral and the Commander we will sign out for this post.

Love to you all and for some we will see you soon.

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