THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 2009 – 98/47 – KHASAB, OMAN
After a very restful night, we awake to the mountains of Oman passing by outside our bedroom window. Since we need to be on the dock to meet our dhow cruise at 8:45, we order a breakfast of eggs Benedict, fresh berries and blueberry muffins to the room…very nice! As the ship docks we watch some early morning dockside scenes which make us thankful we live in the United States. At 9:00AM, we are lead across the dock area to a dhow complete with oriental rugs, cushions and pillows on the deck. We spend an interesting four fours exploring one of the fjords, Khor Ash Sham. It is about 17km long and known for Telegraph Island,the location of the manned British telegraph station for the cable laid in 1864 to connect India to Basra, Iraq. If you really pissed, your superior off back then, this is where he sent you! The dhow anchored here and most of us took a swim and snorkeled. The water is very clear, very salty and surprisingly cool. Dick floated vertically in the water with his shoulders out of the water and with tropical fish dancing around him. The area is teaming with colorful fish and some coral. We also saw green turtles and had great fun watching dolphins race and jump alongside the boat. The water is so clear that in one place we watched reef sharks and stingrays cruising along the bottom.
We did a sail by of several fishing villages that are only accessible by boat. Due to the heat in the summer months, people only live here nine months out of the year and the children board in Khasab during the week to go to school. The government does provide free power and free water, brought by barge, to the villagers! It is really a desolate place! On the way back to the docking area, the dhow motored by an area of the harbor that is home to a thriving smuggling set up.Small, fast outboard motor boats are being loaded with all kind of goods to be smuggled into Iran, about 50km away, to night.Do not tell anyone, but capitalism is at work and one of the main cargoes is liquor!
Back at the ship, we get cleaned up and have lunch. Dick goes in search of the seafood buffet and Carolyn orders a club sandwich and potato chips from room service.
The ship is running a shuttle bus from the ship to the “new souk” and a place to eatin Khasab. We know that the souk is closed from 1:00 until 4:00, but thinking it might be worthwhile to walk around we go into town. Wrong! We ride in on the 2:30 bus and out again on the 2:45 bus.Actually, we did not even get off.
The ship sails at 4:45 since everyone is aboard. We are now heading to pirate waters. The crew has put up some deterrents today like razor wire and sealed off some open areas at the rear of the ship.There is also an LRAD installed on both sides of the ship. This electronic noisemaker can cause severe pain to anyone in its range and path.
The dinner menu sounds good. We will eat in the main dining room and are invited to join the staff Captain’s table. It is also the gala Captain’s welcome cocktail party tonight so it is formal.
Due to the Somali pirate situation, we will sail straight though the area skipping the other Oman port of call. I think we are both looking forward to relaxing for a while though we will have to see how seven days at sea works out! We have bought the maximum internet package so maybe we can catch up on the blog and the picture sorting.
We were to be guests of the staff captain at his table for dinner but he canceled and Theresa, the chief purser, hosted us. We had an oval table for nine so we could only really visit with the persons to our right, left and immediately across from us. Dick was seated next to Lady Felicity C.F. Marsh and across from her husband, Lord Richard W. Marsh. They hit it off immediately as Lady Marsh worked in the banking and finance industry prior to marrying Lord Marsh some thirty years ago and Lord Marsh has been very active in business; working for Nissan in the UK at one time. They were fascinated with our trip and it all made for a very pleasant evening’s conversation.