Musandam Peninsula, Oman

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Paul
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Musandam Peninsula, Oman

Post by Paul »

Deleted.

Thanks for the feedback everyone. It's very much appreciated.

Paul
Last edited by Paul on Wed Dec 27, 2006 6:02 am, edited 4 times in total.

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maryinoxford
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Post by maryinoxford »

Thanks, Paul. Great report. And what an interesting mix of boats taking part.
Not in Oxford any more...

Christov_Tenn

Post by Christov_Tenn »

I enjoyed your report - you're a good writer. Nice pictures, too. Chris

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chrstjrn
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Post by chrstjrn »

Printed and read all 9 pages. Chris is right: you're a good writer. I usually have trouble getting through trip reports of this sort, but not this one! This might make a good article for publication in Sea Kayaker (in which case you would want to delete it off of here :-(... ). And that's a great set of photos in the gallery!

A couple of questions:

1- Do you have any advice on how to rig LH rudders? Could your problem have been avoided if your carabiners had been facing either in or out?

2- Did anyone have a satphone? Your communication issues with the cellphone coverage were instructive. If I remember correctly, Iridiums have email capability. In your area, Thurayas work better (better signal-- their earth station is in the UAE, after all) and cost less than Iridiums.

As an aside, I used to work as, among other things, the technical contact for some Iridium phones (and also InMarSats) in your area of the world. The reasons one would buy Iridium rather than a Thuraya (or an InMarSat, for that matter) are: 1) worldwide coverage, even on the poles, and 2) the Iridium branch of Hughes was bought, after it went bankrupt, by a consortium of USG agencies-- thus, if you are especially concerned about non-NATO types listening to your conversations, you might prefer Iridium. For your purposes, Thuraya would seem the clear choice. (Personally, since I don't know where I'll live next, I often consider buying an Iridium. Aside from the wilderness advantage, when your flight is delayed in who-knows-what-country, you could always pull out that Iridium and call ahead to your pickup and tell them what is happening!)
Chris T.
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krudave
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Post by krudave »

Stunning report, Paul. Some aspects of the old Navy clusterfletch, but a great adventure, nonetheless!

That landscape is eerie and beautiful. I could really dig paddling there, despite the heavy winds. I would imagine, though, that it would not be possible as a small, unsupported expedition. That dhou looked like a very welcome and sturdy platform in a blow.

BTW, I think I have a buddy in AbuDhabi, Jim Halstead, teaching at a business school. Any chance you know him? He is a US citizen, and has been there for maybe 8 years or so. Not a kayaker, but he does golf.
Dave Kruger
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Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.

Alm

Post by Alm »

Yeah... Baja looks like Bahamas after these deserts. Solo unsupported trip there would've been scary.

With those rudder caribeaners (answering Chris' question) - what happened to Paul, was caused by another kayak coming close (when rafting together). But another caribeaner, the one on the rudder lifting line, caused me the same problem in solo trips, - and more than once. Darn thing hooked itself to the loop at the top of the rudder pin, when I lifted the blade - and locked there. Eventually, I tied the line to the blade, and got rid of the caribeaner. For those who don't assemble their boats too often, there is a smaller thingy in marine stores, called "shackle" - Folbot rudder is using it. Harder to open and close, but accidental locking on something is almost impossible. It would require cutting/opening the loop on the end of the cable ($20 tool, $2 pack of crimps), and then crimping it again. Or - cutting the caribeaner through the "eye" and discarding it (easier than crimping).

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chrstjrn
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Re: Musandam Peninsula, Oman

Post by chrstjrn »

Paul wrote:Deleted.

Thanks for the feedback everyone. It's very much appreciated.

Paul


:D

Me and my big fat mouth. Now I have to re-subscribe to Sea Kayaker!

Saved that printout from the recycle pile...

Paul: maybe you should try shopping that to NG Adventure or Outside before SK-- they might pay better and certainly have a larger audience. Please let us know when and where it's going to be published.
Chris T.
Klymit Packraft
In storage in the US:
~'91 Klepper A2 w/ BSD schooner rig
'64 Klepper Passat/Tradewind
'64 Klepper T12
Early '90s Old Town Canoe
Previous:
'04 Pakboat Puffin II
'05 Swift (prototype)
'84 Hobie 16.

Paul
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Post by Paul »

Do you have any advice on how to rig LH rudders? Could your problem have been avoided if your carabiners had been facing either in or out?
The carabineers that connect the rudder control lines to the rudder assembly should face up. I had them facing down. This should avoid the problem that I had. The solution Alex mentioned should work for the line that lifts the rudder. Something as seemingly inconsequential such as which way to clip the carabineers could create a big problem at the wrong time if not taken seriously. It really did look as I was going to lose that rudder or she was going to lose a finger. And that was right before we went into the storm; can't imagine not having the rudder for that!

Thuraya would be the way to go. As it was, I was surprised I had cell phone communications for half of the trip. That's pretty good considering the population density is about 1 person per square mile for much of this region.
That landscape is eerie and beautiful. I could really dig paddling there, despite the heavy winds. I would imagine, though, that it would not be possible as a small, unsupported expedition. That dhou looked like a very welcome and sturdy platform in a blow.

BTW, I think I have a buddy in AbuDhabi, Jim Halstead, teaching at a business school. Any chance you know him? He is a US citizen, and has been there for maybe 8 years or so. Not a kayaker, but he does golf.
I would love for you all to come down and we could arrange a paddlefest. Perhaps a folbot style flotilla in the Gulf?!!

The Musandam peninsula has been done unsupported, typically in 3-4 days. Diane's friend had done the trip with another paddler maybe five years ago, and he advised her not to do it, saying it was the scariest thing he's done. I suspect they had some bad weather. Weather is the critical factor, as you'd expect. The weather here for paddling is generally very good, accept for when there are these wind storms. But lack of camping spots and communications as well as the inability to get up to date weather forecasts make it a bit trickier than usual. If there are no storms it's managable but still more risky than usual due to the above factors. Personally, I find the area around Muscat prettier; there's more variety in the terrain.

The name Jim Halstead doesn't ring a bell, but it's a small community and I could run into him tomorrow.

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tsunamichuck
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Great pics

Post by tsunamichuck »

Didn't get the chance to read your report ( surf was up on Tahoe) but the pics were awesome. I was chuckling about your comment on the surf skis. They are very efficient paddlecraft. I could hold 6 kts in mine pretty easily.
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krudave
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Post by krudave »

Paul, on the carabiner issue: any possibility a locking 'biner would solve the problem? Might demand going to a larger one.

I've used very small SS shackles on my G II rudder horn for years, per Harry Shin's mod (in the Folbot mod section on this site). They demand pliers to tighten properly so they do not come undone. I have never moused mine, but I suppose I should. BTW, I always thought this was spelled "mause" -- not so. Here's wikipedia's contribution: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shackle#Mousing
Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
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Folbot Kodiak, Cooper, and Edisto; three hardshells; Mothership: Surf Scoter the Bartender; dinghy Little Blue Duck.

Paul
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Post by Paul »

It's baaack!






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Kayaking the Strait of Hormuz


It was 8:15 AM when I reached “the Gap,” a 100-yard break in the Musandam peninsula that separates the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. I rested in the lee of 400-foot cliffs with other paddlers as we waited for the remainder of our group to arrive. We had 65 miles of cliff strewn coast line with a very long fetch left to reach our destination, and a two-day old weather forecast called for gale force winds. Most of the people in our group were novice kayakers and the levels of apprehension were high. Today’s agenda: Cross through the Gap and enter the Indian Ocean together, then paddle around a headland and head south 13 miles to reach camp four.

Forty-five minutes later we paddled through the break in the peninsula during the flat water of low tide. The water through the Gap, an area known for particularly strong currents, undulated tranquilly. I reckoned that we would make camp by lunch time. But as we approached the headland conditions changed. In a matter of minutes we would be facing 35 knot headwinds, eight foot seas and a tidal current that was strong enough to push us back into the Persian Gulf.


In December 2006 I participated in the Musandam Challenge—a 93-mile paddle around the Musandam peninsula—for the purpose of raising charities for the blind in Oman. Gulf for Good (G4G), a Dubai, UAE-based organization that arranges adventure challenges in order to raise charities for good causes around the world, organized the trip. Participants in G4G challenges raise funds--$2,200 in this case-- which are then donated to handpicked local organizations. Our donations went to Al Noor Association for the Blind, the sole non-government organization serving the blind in Oman. Previous challenges included a trek to Everest base camp, climbing Kilimanjaro, and cycling in Thailand. This particular challenge called for a ‘moderate’ level of physical fitness and no previous sea kayaking experience. There were 27 participants spanning 10 nationalities, with three coming from the UK specifically for the Challenge. Twenty kayakers utilized ten Ocean Kayak Zest double kayaks that G4G purchased for the event. Three people brought their surf skis, one planned to use their Innova Safari, and two were borrowing Kaskazi Skua single kayaks that were on loan from Andy Jackson, the G4G director that was leading this Challenge. I brought my Long Haul Mark I folding kayak.

Our trip would began in Khasab, Oman, continue around the peninsula and finish in Dibba, Oman, seven days later. A dhow, or Arabic sailing vessel, and its crew were hired by G4G to carry the camping equipment and food. In addition, as we would be paddling in remote waters, a high-speed boat was hired for emergencies. Andy Jackson would skipper this safety boat. We were instructed that the dhow would lead the formation of paddlers while the safety boat would follow behind the paddlers. The precept was for no kayaker to pass the dhow under any circumstance.

The Musandam peninsula resides at the northern-most tip of Oman and creates one side of the Strait of Hormuz. It is an enclave region, separated from the rest of the country by the United Arab Emirates. The peninsula is rugged, mountainous and sparsely populated. Cliff walls thousands of feet high rise from the sea mile after mile, rendering but a few spots to camp. With its fjord-like coves and inlets, some refer to the area as the Norway of Arabia. The handful of small fishing villages that stipple the peninsula are accessible only by sea. At its nearest point, Musandam is only 33 miles from Iran.

Some have Kayaked around the peninsula before, but not many. Last year an Englishman completed his expedition around the entire coast of Oman in a sea kayak. The trip was completed in three, month-long stages spread over 15 months and involved a support crew that followed by Land Rover. Other expeditions around the peninsula are less well known and have been conducted by a handful of individuals seeking adventure. Stories from experienced kayakers who paddled the Straits speak of foreboding currents, rough waters, and few spots to camp. Andy, the leader of our trip, paddled this route twice. A rotator cuff injury he suffered forced him to skipper the safety boat during this trip.

Day 1
We met in Dubai at 7:30 AM and were transported by bus to Khasab, Oman. There is one paved road heading into the Musandam peninsula, and it ends is in this small, coastal village. Venturing further requires a boat or 4x4. The final stretch of our two hour bus ride shuffled us down a narrow coastal road that snaked along the water’s edge before climbing up over a mountain. From this vantage point I had a breath-taking vista across the Gulf to Iran. Sparkling under the morning sun, the Gulf appeared serene. Afar from shore, however, I noticed white caps forming in the area not protected by the headland. We were now in Shamal season, and I contemplated what what type of weather we would have on our journey. Shamals—strong northwesterly winds that tend to last three days, create giant dust storms, and churn up the sea—are dangerous business for kayakers. I quietly hoped for a week of calm seas and sunny skies.

Since we were donating a significant monetary sum to the country of Oman, we graciously received a royal send off from Her Highness Sayyida Aliya bint Thuwani Al Said, a member of the royal family in Oman and also the patron for the Al Noor Assosciation for the Blind. Here, on a beach in the middle of nowhere, Her Highness arrived in a caravan of Land Cruisers and Range Rovers. Fifteen folding chairs were lined up with one large sofa chair in the middle. A carpet was unfurled and a bouquet of flowers placed on a table where HH would sit. Unfortunately, it was too windy to hear any of the short speeches given that afternoon. After Andy’s speech, he marched over to say that considering the audience of royalty, film crews and reporters, he wanted no one to capsize when launching into the surf.




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HH in the blue scarf.
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Preparing for launch in Khasab

A 15-20 knot headwind created six-foot spilling swells into Khasab bay when we put in. The dhow, anchored off the beach, teetered on the waves like a see-saw. I was one of the fortunate ones who managed to not capsize in the dumping surf. Our first campsite was four miles east-northeast. The swells, now very steep and close together, were on the cusp of breaking. A direct path to camp would put my kayak broadside to these oncoming waves. Not wanting to test if I could withstand such a pounding without capsizing, I headed north-northeast and planned to cut back once just north of the camp. Suddenly, it seemed, I was alone. I could see one or two kayaks far to the right and, Gus, who paddled his surf ski, lay ahead of me. The dhow, safety boat and all other paddlers were nowhere to be found on the horizon. “Everyone was ahead of me! This is not good,” I thought. I paddled harder so that I would not fall behind farther. I choked my paddle so tightly my hands cramped when I released my grip. A spell later Gus paddled back to me, said the large waves were giving him a handful, then shot off like a rocket. It shocked me how quickly he was able to navigate through rough waters in his 17 inch wide craft. Throughout the week he and Wayne, one of the other surf skiers, continually impressed me with their skills in navigating challenging seas in their skinny boats.

Some time later the safety boat sped up to me, seemingly, from out of nowhere. Andy shouted that I was heading too far north, pointed me towards the camp, then sped off as fast as he appeared. I made the adjustment and a short while later I became the fourth kayak to reach camp one, behind two surf skis and one of the Skua singles. I felt relieved as I pulled my kayak ashore.

The events of the first day were a baptism by fire. Paddlers fought to stay upright in seas that were far rougher than anyone expected. The group failed to stay together on the water. At least five of the doubles capsized while launching, some as many as four times. Another team of paddlers capsized four times crossing the bay. Upon landing, one paddler flipped over and cracked his head on a rock. Blood gushed down his face. Fortunately, he was OK—the appearance of blood belied a minor injury. Some mentioned that if they couldn’t do a better job of remaining upright it would be dangerous and irresponsible to continue on. While our group was large and included a dhow and safety boat, it was evident that poor conditions would force everyone apart, leaving individuals alone on the water. At the close of the day everyone realized completing the Musandam Challenge was going to be serious business.

Day Two
I awoke at 4:30 AM to the sound of rain falling and my tent flapping in the wind. The foot box of my sleeping bag was soaked. By 6:00 AM everyone was up, eating breakfast, and telling tales of rain soaked, leaky tents. By 7:00 AM the skies cleared and we were off paddling on placid seas. A few hours later we completed 12 miles and reached our campsite—a large, sandy beach across from the Omani naval station situated on Goat’s island. Security reasons keep the beach off limits; I figured the involvement of the royal family, the philanthropic nature of our trip and a little cajoling by Andy had something to do with our group being to first to ever camp in this beautiful spot.

I saw numerous, torpedo-sized yellowfin tuna marauding sardines throughout the day. The force with which these giants churn water is an awesome sight, indeed. Although I have been fly fishing from my kayak for years I have never been able to land something as strong and powerful as a three-foot tuna. The sheer abundance of large yellowfin in these remote waters would give me the opportunity to change that. I spent a few extra hours in my kayak that afternoon trolling and casting with my ten weight fly rod to an abundance of tuna within a paddle length from my kayak. Despite being in yellowfin utopia, I could not manage to entice any of these great fish to strike my fly. I paddled back to camp empty handed for the second time, and reminded the group of that old yarn, 'that's why the sport is called fishing, and not catching.' Perhaps the third time would be the charm.

Sitting around the camp fire that night, Andy said the forecaster at the Omani naval station conveyed to him that a storm was coming. While he did not give more details, “storm,” in this region at this time of year, typically means at least near gale force winds. Another, older forecast called for calm weather over the next three days. I sent an SMS to my friend who works for the UAE Navy, requesting a forecast. By the time the next morning rolled around I still hadn't heard back from him. Considering the Omani naval officer's forecast, the fact that we would soon be paddling a more exposed coastline, and that we'd have no radio contact for the next two days, I was a little nervous as I paddled off that morning.

Camp Two:
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Day Three

We paddled ten miles under sunny skies with winds out of the northwest at 15 knots. On the way to our campsite we stopped in Kumzar, another small fishing village accessible only by sea. As we approached the bay of Kumzar I hoisted my Long Haul spinnaker sail, caught a nice breeze, and zipped along at six knots. By the time I landed there were hordes of Kumzari children—far more than what this small village appeared able to support—on the beach, greeting and investigating their visitors. The 20-30 children were fascinated with the kayaks, the gear, and eager for every photo opportunity. Among them were no girls. I later noticed a group of girls sitting high up on the beach, watching from afar. I volunteered to stay behind to watch the kayaks while the rest of the group went to grab some tea at the village restaurant. I had no idea how challenging it would be to keep the children and the goats that roamed the beach off our kit, and I have three kids of my own. One goat in particular kept sticking his head below the deck of Diane’s Innova Safari. Twice I shunned the beast and it turned and ran away by trampling over the canvas skin on my kayak. If only the children would have listened so well. They were eager to push GPS buttons, fiddle with deck riggings, and drag the kayaks around. Whenever I said, “No,” they simply repeated, “No, No, No,” as if they’d heard it all before. A little while later an older local man saw the mayhem, took off his sandal, raised it high in the air as if to beat someone with it, and charged down the beach yelling at the children. The kids left skid marks. The man departed and five minutes later the children were back.

Later that day I over heard Diane wondering aloud about how the children at Kumzar had gotten into her stuff and taken a bite out of the middle of her banana. I confessed to her it was a goat.

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Kumzar mayhem

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Kumzar village

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The tide was coming in as we left Kumzar beach making the waves much larger than when we arrived. A few dumping waves crashed over my deck and gushed into the cockpit as I was preparing to launch. I pulled my kayak back to the beach and prepared for a traditional launch: I sat inside and waited for a wave to rush beneath me. As my kayak began to mysteriously slide down the rocky beach toward the bursting waves I looked around to find a group of Kumzar’s boys—about 10 strong—attempting to launch me out to sea. “My hull!” I thought. It was a fitting end to our brief visit. We paddled out of Kumzar cove into six to eight foot swells. As we rounded the point, Andy’s son, Ben, caught a huge barracuda—about five feet long—from the safety boat. A few kilometers later we paddled up to a rocky beach that would serve as our camp. We set up our tents, many of which were still soaked, with the smell of dead fish in the air. I couldn’t quite make out where the smell was coming from.

Police boats supply many of these remote villages with water, usually on a weekly basis. There were several huts and a water tank at the far end of the beach. I walked down with my dromedary bag to find several Omani men sitting on the ground, relaxing. They gave me an approving nod as I pointed toward the water tank, asking if I could fill up with water. Coming back I observed thousands and thousands of dead sardines spread all over their yard. I estimated 75 square yards comprised the surface area. I was later told these men use sardines to make fertilizer, and that sardines make the best fertilizer possible in this part of the world. Mystery odor solved.

A few of us took the speed boat out to see the Gap. Seeing the force of one ocean drain into the other through this relatively narrow opening, it was immediately clear to me that our task was serious business—crossing through the Gap had to be timed properly. Andy shared his testimony with us about his last passage through here in a kayak. Determined, he made it through, and then waited 45 minutes for his partners to make it through in their double kayak. It took them longer because their paddle snapped in half. Although it was unclear to me exactly what caused their paddle to snap, the message was clear that if there was going to be trouble on our trip, it was going to be here. Our group would make the crossing the next morning during the slack water of low tide. I was apprehensive.

Making our way back we saw a procession of Iranian smugglers in three small motor boats. The short distance between Iran and Musandam makes smuggling a practical endeavor. The Kasab port bustles with Iranian traders who arrive with goats on their 15 foot skiffs and depart with electronics, cigarettes and various and sundry items.

Late afternoon a school of fish in a feeding frenzy stirred just off the beach. I grabbed my fly rod and quickly changed my saltwater fly to one that more closely resembled the sardines that I had just observed down the beach. I hopped in my kayak and paddled off in near perfectly flat water to catch some fish. As the sun dipped into the horizon the fish began to aggressively strike my new and improved lure. I caught four small Jack Crevalle and lost another four or five, one of which was big. I was elated that I had finally found what seemed to be more palatable bait.

I sensed some nervous trepidation among the group that night as Andy mentioned that the next day would be the most challenging of the trip. We would paddle 21 miles—nearly the same amount we had covered since starting the journey three days ago. We had to pass through the Gap before the tide changed, round a headland, and make a six mile crossing along exposed coastline far from shore. Also, we would enter the Indian Ocean, and be exposed to a much longer fetch than at any other point on the trip. Being out of radio contact, we had no updated weather forecast. Perhaps the pleasant weather we enjoyed this day meant the Omani Naval officer’s forecast for a storm was wrong. All paddles were to be on a leash and everyone was to be sure they had their whistle handy. The good news was that the prevailing winds would be at our backs once we rounded the headland.

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Approaching Kumzar

Day Four
We paddled for the Gap: five miles northeast, at 7:00 AM. Despite headwinds of 15-20 knots we made good time by paddling in the lee of the peninsula. I felt mentally and physically determined to handle the day’s challenges. The first group of paddlers made it to the Gap by 8:15 AM. We rafted-up and waited for the others to arrive before continuing.

As we were rafted together, the carabineer that latches my rudder control line to my rudder inadvertently became hooked to the deck line of Julia and Mark’s kayak. The stern of my kayak was now connected to the bow of their kayak. With swells rolling under our kayaks an inordinate amount of stress was being placed on my rudder assembly—either it was going to break or Julia was going to gash her fingers trying to unhook the carabineer. Just as I pulled the knife from my vest to cut their deck line, Julia successfully freed our kayaks.

At 9:00 AM we paddled through the Gap into the Indian Ocean. We were set to round the headland three miles southeast and then proceed south for another 13 miles. The flat water of low tide quickly morphed into much larger waves. As we approached the headland the wind shifted, strengthened, and now blew directly at us from the southeast. “Where is the tailwind?” I thought. Cresting, eight-foot waves came from all directions as they refracted off the cliff walls. The tide had turned and now ripped around the headland and flowed back through the Gap into the Persian Gulf. Waves crashed over my deck, slamming me from the side, and, a few times pushed me laterally five or ten feet. I could only see two other kayaks and had no idea where the dhow and safety boat were. The sea conditions were now by far the worst I have ever kayaked in, and I was nervous about capsizing and being too far from help should I need it. Paddling at full force my GPS displayed that I progressed at half a mile per hour. I was becoming exhausted. The sea state was too rough for me to reach into my cockpit for a granola bar and water. With camp four still 13 miles away, I realized we were not going to make it in these conditions. Episodes from the book Deep Trouble flashed through my mind.

Sometime later the safety boat went flying by me with three or four kayakers aboard. Shortly thereafter the dhow went by me as well with someone on it shouting over a megaphone and giving me a hand signal to go around the headland and into a cove—we were making an emergency landing. I was relieved that we were not going to attempt the six mile crossing in these conditions. As I made it around the final the turn in the cove I stopped paddling, and the wind and current pushed me along at over four to five knots.

We landed on Tar Beach, a small but aptly named beach for the thick, black, sticky residue that covers the ground. Someone should drop an oil rig there. It was noon. We had covered about four miles in three hours. Most everyone seemed to be in good spirits despite the scare. Of the 25 kayakers (two had dropped out after day one), 11 made it to Tar Beach on the safety boat. Abdul Fattah, owner of the dhow and an Omani native, was on the beach talking with some of the local fisherman. Curious, I asked him what they were saying. “The fisherman can’t believe you are paddling all the way from Khasab to Dibba, especially in these conditions,” he remarked. Indeed, one never sees local fisherman out in heavy seas like this. I asked him if the storm we were having was a Shamal. He said it was not. He called the storm something else, which I couldn’t quite make out. More important, he said these types of winds generally only last for a day. I had a hot cup of coffee and was hopeful his forecast would prove correct.

Fifteen minutes later a crew member on the dhow – anchored in the lagoon – shouted over the megaphone, “Two kayaks upside down in the water!” We stood silent on the beach aghast to see two large objects blown across the water about 500 yards out. Andy took a headcount when we landed; all were accounted for. Difficulty communicating with the crew of the dhow crew demanded the message be repeated, “Two kayaks in the water!”

At this point, Andy decided that we should change course: instead of crossing the six mile bay we would paddle around its perimeter. While I was surprised that we would be heading back out on the water, I was now fully confident that my Long Haul kayak could take a hammering before capsizing. After lunch we paddled six miles down and cross wind to the lee of Red island. Along the way I passed two large oil barrels being blown around and realized this is what the crew perceived as two upside down kayaks. Waves continued to pound away on the port side of my kayak. While in the lee of Red Island we surveyed the conditions: The wind strength was not abating, the seas remained incredibly rough, and we were still eight miles downwind from camp four. Andy called the rest of the day off. We could have camped where we were but this would have put us too far behind schedule. We loaded the kayaks on the dhow and safety boat, and motored to camp four.

When we finally got cell phone coverage I received a message from my friend in the UAE Navy. It said, “from tomorrow evening a bad development; possible thunderstorm. Seas up to 9 ft, wind NW to NE 20 -25 knots, with gusts to 35 knots. Doesn’t look good….”


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Approaching The Gap

Day Five

I woke at 4:00 AM to rain and a leaky tent. Will today be like yesterday? I wondered what lay ahead for us—calm seas or turbulence. As it turned out it poured rain all day, but we had calm seas—not a bad trade in my book.

We arrived in Limah, about 20 miles away, in just over five hours. Limah, a beautiful coastal village, resembled an oasis nestled into the foothills of an arid mountain zone. I caught a false albacore along the way. It was smallish, but fun, and put a good bend in my fly rod. Eager for more, as the group paddled to shore I stayed out to try and catch some of the tuna that I saw jumping in Limah Bay. Half an hour later the fish disappeared, I needed to stretch, and Andy came looking for me in the speed boat. He later said I was out so far that he couldn’t see me from shore. The deluge of rain continued the entire afternoon. These were now the heaviest rains the area had experienced in 90 years.

Day 6

Time was running out. My yellowfin sightings had dropped drastically since day two, but I was still hopeful. Late that afternoon I caught two more barracuda, but was now beginning to see them as a nuisance—their razor like teeth destroyed my saltwater flies, they have very little fight in them once hooked, and they were unpopular fare among the group.

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Limah beach
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Day 7

The final 11 miles were hard for me. I started half an hour behind the group and spent the entire day trying to catch up. The blisters on my hands were hurting. I caught one more barracuda that morning. With just a few miles left to go, it was becoming clear to me that the yellowfins would elude me on this trip. I reminded myself, “This is why it’s called fishing, and not catching.”

At 11:00 AM we paddled into Dibba harbor to a crowd of curious fisherman. Our original plan, to drive back to Khasab over the mountain by 4x4, was foiled as the heavy rains washed out the roads. After a hot lunch at a local Indian restaurant we boarded the dhow for a ten hour journey back to Khasab.

We had calm waters the entire way back. When the sun went down the waves of the dhow kicked up a spectacular show of bioluminescent plankton—a constant stream of flickering, bright green lights melted into the sea as we motored along. There is something about cruising on a dhow on a placid, moonlit evening in remote stretches of the Indian Ocean. It’s hard to beat.

Participating in the Musandam Challenge was a great way to give something back to Oman and to help its people in need. The funds generated by our trip will purchase specialized software, enabling the blind to learn use computers. On top of all this, I met a diverse group of people with common interests and paddled in sea conditions that challenged me far more than expected. It was a great experience.

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Dibba Harbor

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Kumzar girls

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Wayne and his surf ski, departing Limah.

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Last edited by Paul on Tue Jan 15, 2008 12:13 pm, edited 8 times in total.

Kapitän von Klepper

Post by Kapitän von Klepper »

Paul,

Thanks for bringing this back. Somehow I missed it the 1st time. I'm curious, did you solicit for publication?

Andreas

Paul
knight of the folding kayak realm
Posts: 362
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 1:06 pm
Location: Spruce Head, Maine

Post by Paul »

Yes, I submitted it to Sea Kayaker and it was rejected. They said it was written too much in newsletter style (whatever that means), and was not descriptive enough; it didn't describe the scene enough to give the reader a sense of being there.

Christov_Tenn

Post by Christov_Tenn »

Paul, I preferred your writing to most of the stuff I've read in the niche rec glossies. You're a good writer. I'm looking forward to your next trip report, hopefully about the Nautiraid sailrig you got :)

Chris

Paul
knight of the folding kayak realm
Posts: 362
Joined: Sat Apr 16, 2005 1:06 pm
Location: Spruce Head, Maine

Post by Paul »

Thanks, Chris. I have been able to use the Nautiraid kayak a few times and want to submit a quick review on it. I haven't used the sail rig yet but will try to do so soon.

Paul

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