solo kayaking around musandam

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  • Thursday: Pushed off the beach at 10.30 am. Perfectly calm. Six and a half kph, occasion-ally seven. Max speed recorded on GPS 8. Stopped at small beach and cove on the head-land that separates Khor Sharia and Ahmeds Khor (where Mark and I went). Rested only fifteen min-utes or so.

    Thought Id avoid Lima because of the village, though it looked as though there was a good deal of deserted beach to the right (north) of the village. Headed for the next Khor, sun setting. Small beach with a few houses. Everything dark grey and mauve. Mountain coastline merging with the sea and the sea blending with the sky, a sort of marbled effect.

    Couldnt go back to Lima, so landed. Four houses, four families (see Google Earth). Half a dozen men and some younger boys came to meet me. All very curious. One stood out from the rest. Very present-able type, spoke some English: Ahmed Hassan.

    I asked if I could stay the night. They helped me pull up the kayak. Ahmed wanted to know where I had come from, where I was going. I told him. He said he was a police officer at the Customs Office in

    Khasab. Prior to that he had worked at the Customs-post at Thabit (the Omani border at Sham). He asked if I had a passport and visa. I offered to show him, but he said no need. No problem.

    They then all left to let me prepare for the night and have my meal. Ahmed offered me a roof for the night. I declined. He then said hed come back when I was settled. He told me he had four houses in various locations. How one family had moved from Lima and settled in Dubai. They never came back. His father was here, an older man with one eye. The place was called Marawi.

    He showed with his torch the way the track went up

    Sea Kayaking Notes:

    Solo paddle around the Musandam Peninsula

    Four day kayak trip around Musandam from Dibba to Ghalilah.

    Evening light, paddling along the coast near Lima to eventually stop for the night at Marawi.

    Stop for a breather.

  • through the gap between the tip of Ras Marawi and the island at the point. Rudder touched the bottom.

    At Marawi one of the boys had told me that high tide was at 6.30 pm. I made a mental note of this for the Bab Musandam crossing. Absolutely no landing places between Marawi and Khor Habalayn. Ras Marawi, then Ras Samid, then on the other side of Khor Qabal, Ras Secun, then high vertical cliffs all the way to Ras Sarkan at Khor Habalayn.

    Fortunately it was flat calm with no wind whatso-ever. This would be a difficult stretch in rough or windy weather. Didnt know what landing spots there were on the southern side of Khor Habalayn, but knew there was one quite near Ras Dillah to the north. So kept paddling and crossed Khor Habalayn.

    the narrow wadi to the settlement in the mountains. Jebel Khatamah, where his family also had a house. He would get a boat back to Khor Negd on Friday afternoon, then by car to Khasab, ready for work on Saturday morning. Helicopters sometimes took them. They landed at Lima, but also on occasion at Marawi.

    I showed him my GPS, checked our position on the map. He was very much on the ball. Read the map straight off, told me the names of places.

    Tuna and sweet corn with milk for supper. Also Arab bread and cheese. Tomato soup. Tea. Raisin cake. Slept well.

    Friday: Left at 7.30am. Flat calm. Ahmed had told me that there was a mili-tary base at Khor Qabal, the next Khor along, and that it was a forbid-den area. So no resting place there. Just squeezed

    First nights stop: Light fading nearing the tiny hamlet of Marawi.

    Paddling past Ras Dillah at the en-trance to Khor Haba-layn. Photo taken by American couple in a powerful motor boat on a previous occa-sion (hence Im pad-dling in the wrong direction.)

  • Shisah and make for the beach Tim and I withdrew to after having failed to get through Bab Musandam.

    About an hour and a half from point to point. In addition another hour or fifty minutes rounding Ras Khaysah finger and paddling in to the bay the other side round Ras Qabr Al Hindi.

    Saw a dozen or more twitching fins, long, black, thin and curved, near the rock. Very close to my kayak. Sharks perhaps? Two osprey flew over head. Later saw them perched on the second rock island off the finger Ras Khaysah.

    In the evening, rounding Ras Al Hindi, saw four rays somersaulting in the air. Saw one do this earlier on the first day. Very strange antic. Like tossed pan-cakes, but squarish, grey on one side then white on the other. Quite a high leap. Several feet in the air.

    As I headed for the beach in the last of the suns rays, a large powerful launch bore down on me from behind. I knew it wasnt a fishing boat and turned to greet it fearing the worst. Sure enough, an Omani Coast Guard motor launch with three men on deck, one with a gun in his hands.

    The captain spoke good English. Asked where I had come from. I said Lima. And before Lima, he asked.

    One hour to get across the mouth of the Khor. Couldnt see a beach and didnt fancy adding to my mileage by going back into the Khor, so decided to paddle on. Saw a beach in the bay immediately around the point, but decided to carry straight on across the next Khor Gubbat Ash Shabus.

    Headed on for the beach Tim and I camped on on the last trip. All the way flat calm. Parallel to the rock that sticks out in the middle of the shallow curved bay I noted a landing spot. But if one had got this far, better to go a bit further to the beach at the top corner where the finger of Ras Khaysah starts. This is where Tim and I camped before. I pulled in. Still dead calm. Coming across this bay I saw a fishing boat. As far as I remember the only boat I had seen all day. On this stretch very few fishing boats com-pared with the west coast down to Khasab. Spent an hour there.

    Didnt feel like stopping so early in the day, and well rested so decided to make the big crossing of Khor

    Second night, on a beach round the cor-ner from Ras Qabr Al Hindi, and near the entrance to the Musandam Gate (Bab Mu-sandam). Across the water, Iranian Baluch-istan.

    Camping in Khor Habalayn on an earlier occasion.

  • I said Dibba. Where are you going? I said Khasab. Do you have a passport and visa. Yes. Can I see it? I point to the beach and to my unreachable hatch covers. He dismisses that idea. And takes my name and address. Then he relaxes. Says its dangerous. I say Ive done it before. Point to my sponsons tucked under the bungee cords. Explain that with this device I am unsinkable. Also that I have plenty of food and water. He clearly thinks Im daft. Only one of you? (No one understands this.) Why no friend? You are going to sleep here? As he heads off, he shouts, You need a girlfriend to keep you warm.

    The beach not as nice as I had remembered it. As it was the place we had retreated to after a frightening attempt to get through Bab Musandam last time, no doubt my memories were coloured. I somehow pic-tured a sweeping curve of fine white sand with palm leaf sunshades. Anyway, it was very good as Musan-dam beaches go, all coral pebbles, no sand. Small patch of almost flat ground above the high tide level.

    At night, the sea breaking on the beach formed an arc of electric light. Mesmerising. Also as it washed around a half submerged rock. The play of light was fantastic, darting this way and that. Fish leaping out in the bay caused periodic flashes of light.

    Put a rock on the beach to mark the high water mark.

    Above and Below: Perfect calm heading to-wards the Musandam Gate (Bab Musandam) - known by sailors as Dead Mans Gap.

  • Moved it periodically as the tide came in. Reckoned that high tide was around 7.30 pm. This meant I had timed it nicely for Bab Musandam the next morning. Should hit it at the slack at around 8 am.

    Saturday: Got up at 6 am as usual woken by my watch alarm. Made a cup of tea in the dark, had some cereal. Small cartons of long life milk good for trips like this. Packing getting more efficient and quick. Lots of dry bags. One for clothes, one for sleeping bag and thermarest, one for gas stove and mess kit, two for food. Enough food for a week or more, plus nuts and raisins, dates, energy bars of one kind and another, raisin cake, almond cake, tiny tins of sweetened condensed milk, 48 small bottles of Masafi water. If the weather turned nasty, I could sit it out on a beach like this for days if need be.

    Looked out over the sea. Thirty-five kilometers due east across the Strait of Hormuz was the coast of Ira-nian Baluchistan. Midstream out there the tidal flow, according to my Admiralty chart, was about 3 knots. It didnt say what the maximum flow was through the Musandam Gap, merely showed a few wavy lines to indicate that this was an area where there is a tide rip with standing waves or overfalls.

    All this food, water and gear made the 17-foot kayak weigh a ton, but made it very stable in the water. Au-guring well for the passage through the Musandam Gap, a pod of dolphins described effortless arcs as they surfaced close to the beach.

    I paddle cautiously up towards the gap between Ras Al Bab and Musandam Island the north eastern tip of the peninsula. This time I keep close to the cliffs of the headland. Not a ripple in sight. Paddle out midstream and find Im barely drifting. Now head west across the top of Musandam towards Khor Khumzar. See a beach with a house or two at the end of Khor Maawi, just before Khor Khumzar. When Tim and I struggled along here last year in fading light it must have been out of sight or wed have headed for it.

    Everything has been so smooth. Ive completed the east coast section turned the corner through the gap, the weather still perfect, just a pleasant, cold breeze to keep one feeling fresh. The passage across the top could be done i