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November 2018: Shamal and her Crew (Mum and Dad) are currently in Grenada waiting for the Hurricane season to end. *ATTENTION PLEASE* If you are still interested in receiving the posts, could you please subscribe to the Blog following the two step process in the right hand column, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox. As of next year the reminder emails that are being sent out will cease. Thanks to all of you for following our Adventures.

15 February 2011

Salalah - Southern Oman

Hello To You All Again

Well we have now been in the Port of Salalah for nearly two weeks. Yachts have come and gone off in both directions, and one returned from his onward passage to Dubai due to strong head winds. All is well. We are waiting for a boat from Dubai to arrive with spare parts for us. We have just had news from them that they will arrive tomorrow. We will continue on with them and possibly another one or two boats. Been good reports from yachts going both ways. Anyway we have been wandering the docks and spoken with the Somali traders who are bringing in livestock, so Alec says he has made ‘good’ contacts there in case of a diversion!! We have also said hello to different members of the coalition forces who use the same Wharf as the Somali traders. In port at the moment are the Korean, Japanese and British Navy’s. The Italians, Chinese and a British ships have just left to go out on patrol.

The day after we arrived, friends from Dubai arrived to spend three days with us which was fun – well fun may not quite describe the way things panned out. Both Alec and Rob have an uncanny way of getting into a situation which can at times become quite complex!!! That is often how our ‘adventures’ begin!! This one started even before we arrived here. We had emailed ahead to find out the correct port procedure, thinking Port Control would be the correct people to make contact with. An email came back with a list of things, one saying no agent is required for vessels under 30 tons. Great we are only 10 tons. Also we each had a current 3 month visa. Once ashore we were driven by the Warf Police to customs and immigration to report in. The young Policeman (the Police run most things here) said we had a ‘very good visa’ so we presumed all was well. But no, the older guy made us wait for an hour and a half. When we asked why he would say just wait. Then an Agent turned up who proceeded to say we could not check into Salalah without him. Oh dear things really did start to go downhill, and Alec was determined to stand his ground producing the letter from Port Control which the Agent did not want to see, saying it was wrong, wrong wrong!!! We left with a bit of a standoff saying we would go back to Port Control and sort this out. Next day being Friday we did nothing as it is the weekend here. Saturday morning we visited Port Control who again told us ‘no Agent is needed’!! Rob and Suzy were flying in that evening so we hired a car to pick them up and then the next day we were to go off exploring. We set off out to the Port gates with our car pass and passports which one must have, to drive to the airport only to be stopped, and directed to the Police Station. In we go and were asked ‘where is your Agent!’ Again we explained everything – Agent not needed. Wrong again Alec! We are told to wait. Twenty minutes later the Agent turns up. Things got a little difficult and Alec was called many things. A phone call was now made to the Coast Guards head man. I was asked to talk with him. After that call we were allowed to go to the airport to pick up Rob and Suzy, agreeing we would all have a meeting in the morning to sort this out once and for all.

Before we had even left the boat the following morning the Port Pilot came by and asked us to go to the Police Station for our meeting. Everyone was there. Port Control, the Coast Guard, Us and the Agent. We were asked our story, which took all of a couple of minutes, then the others told theirs, in Arabic, for an hour and a half. Voices were very raised at times. We just sat watched, listened and waited. Then we were asked where our guests had spent the night – on the boat – how did they get onto the Port – we drove them in – how did they get past the gate – the police let us in – Oh BIG problem, they needed a different pass. Everyone then left the room except us and the Coast Guard Man. He said the Agent was about to make a very big issue out very small one, so take him on as your Agent and pay up and it will all go away!! The agent wanted US$200 – far too much but it had got to the stage that we decided this was probably very good advice. Port Control were upset and left saying it was not the end of the matter as far as they were concerned. We left to go exploring after getting a new gate pass for one and all.

Next day Port Control phoned and invited us all for lunch at the local club here which is very nice, again saying that this problem needed to be sorted. Hope that is all done when we have left. After lunch one of them took us out to one of the local wadies to show us frankincense trees. We ended up driving up onto a plateaux and then dropping into a very deep wadi under sheer cliffs which went straight up into the mountains. It was truly spectacular. As we drove in Alec says ‘great Bin Laden training camp !’ We hop out of the cars as there is a true Bedouin camp here along with their herds of goats. We were chatting away with our guide Said interpreting when suddenly a gun goes off. OK Alec maybe you are right. Then another shot, and another. It was just a couple of the lads showing off – we hope. They did guide us to a frankincense tree which Said had missed. After that we saw the trees all over the place.

Then there was the visit to Job’s tomb. The locals believe that he is buried here in the mountains behind Salalah. Alec, Rob and I have visited this place before, but Murray and Suzy had not. So off we go. His tomb is covered by a three metre long green shroud and you can also see his footprint in the rock outside the door which would be a man’s size 16 at least!! As Rob says ‘one foot before the grave!!’

Well that was adventure one. The next little incident was when we were driving through the hill country behind Salalah. This Dhofar Region, here in the South of Oman, is climactically different from the rest of the country due to the effects of the monsoon rains which occur from June to September, turning the area into a completely different country. The area turns green overnight and clouds and mist shroud the mountains. Springs and waterfalls flow, and the grass grows, consequently the local people are able to farm herds of Camels, goats, sheep cows and donkeys. The hill country is like one big farm with no fences so the animals can wander everywhere. Yes that means across the roads as well. And yes that is just what happened. Alec was NOT driving – and neither was I – when once such small cattle beast decided to cross in front of us. The car breaks were not what they should be ,and, well, machine and beast made contact. The car came off second best. That prime rump put a dent in the bonnet. Our beast bounced off the bonnet, but got up and shook himself and walked away. We drove on down to a local coffee house, and while sipping the hot sweet local brew, we were approached by two local young herdsmen who wanted to know what was the problem with the car. No problem we said but decided it was time to move on as the hill country telegraph may be working quicker than what we thought. Now a report has to be made with the rental car company. We drive straight there to do that and ask for another car. No problem – well maybe a slight one. A police report needs to be made regardless. Our Indian Rental Agent explains that cows are very expensive, camels even more!! The boys explain the whole story and the Rental Agent says it is best if he says he had the accident at the airport and no one else is involved. The boys also manage to get a discount on the excess one has to pay. That is sorted.

That evening Murray Rob and Suzy flew out to Dubai. Alec and I have been trying to behave since they left. We cannot get over how kind everyone is here. We have become very good friends with all the Police, and Alec and the Agent are now good (paid) friends.

We hope to leave within the next two or three days heading for Al Mukalla in Yemen, with the comforting words from an Omani fisherman we met on Masirah Island who asked us where we were heading. When we mentioned Yemen his reply was ‘ Yemen Bad. Bang Bang Bang!!!!.

Will sign out for this note

Lots of love

The Admiral and The Commander

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