Traditional Boat Sailing with the Best!
Did I mention Saleh AL Jabri, who was chosen as the Captain of the Jewel of Muscat? Probably not – but Google it NOW! Well, he’s a super cool Dude in charge of the OmanSail Centre in Bandar Rawda. He was friendly enough to make the effort to talk to Kiera and I whilst Marc was fixing up the boat, and we were chilling by the pool, drinking strawberry and banana milkshakes, and doing BootCamp pushup training in the pool bar. He took us camping on Jetti Beach when we couldn’t stay on our boat, and was the one who recommended we come down to Musannah (thank you, saleh).
In June, we were invited down to Sur, about 200km from here, to sail on a renovated traditional sailing boat called a Badan; which is effectively a miniature dhow, with the same sail configuration. This was a timely opportunity, since we had been on the subject of bucket lists for the few previous weeks. No 1 on Kiera’s list – she wants to get arrested and spend a night in jail. My bucket list is empty now, since I am living the dream, and saw the Northern Lights FIVE times this Winter! Marc’s bucket list had ONE thing on it, which hadn’t changed since I met him, and that was to sail a dhow, and see how it tacks! So we rented a car, and we drove to Sur (with about 300kg of anchor chain in the boot, which we picked up from Ruwi on the way!
So, to cut a long story short – we got there, had breakfast, went to a museum, and then went out on this boat’s maiden voyage. Marc got on there first, on account of this being his dream. It turns out you tack a dhow by releasing the top mainsheet and letting the boom drop on the front end. Swing it all around the mast, then pull the top of the boom down again to set the sail. This particular boat had a rudder which wasn’t big enough to give any steering power, so we had to push the nose around with the support boat. That gave me a chance to take some awesome close ups with Alessandro’s really cool camera!
Now then, when they said ‘renovated’, I was expecting to see an old boat. In actual fact, only a few of the ribs were original, everything else had been recently handcrafted to exact specifications (or exact as far as they could find the specs from old drawings etc). The crew were awesome, and comprised mainly of the crew who crossed the Indian Ocean from Muscat to Singapore on a similar, but slightly larger boat.
Thank you, Saleh, for an awesome day!